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By Deal W Hudson and Keith A Fournier

11/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There is much more to life than politics. However, participation in politics is a part of faithful citizenship

The positions being espoused and lifestyles being affirmed as "progressive" by those currently using the term as a political label are anything but. They turn the clock back on true human progress.They show us that we are dealing with competing definitions of human freedom, human flourishing and human progress. What is also threatened in this particular election is the vital role of religious faith and institutions and the values and services they offer society. 

Highlights

By Deal W Hudson and Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: catholic Vote, progress, progressive, Faithful citizenship, HHS Mandate, Pro-Life, pro-Marriage, pro-Freedom, Religious Liberty, Religious Freedom, Deal W Hudson, Keith A Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - For almost forty days we have been writing a series of articles entitled "Catholic Countdown to Election 2012". For some reason, our counting seemed to get lost along the way and we were about to fall one day short. So, we thought on the Lord's Day, the last Sunday before the election, we would address themes which are, in a sense, outside of time.

From antiquity Christians have pointed to this day as the "eighth day", the day on which the new Creation began in the Resurrection. The Catechism reminds us, "Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday." (CCC# 2174)

There is much more to life than politics. However, participation in politics is a part of faithful citizenship and fulfilling our obligation of building a truly just and civil nation worthy of the human person. It is also a key to authentic progress. Today, we focus on a broader perspective. We want to consider whether the current political, cultural and policy agenda calling itself "progressive" is progressive at all.

The term implies progress toward something better. In fact, much of the agenda being offered under the moniker of "progressive" is regressive. The dictionary defines "progressive" as an adjective, meaning "Moving forward; advancing."  We have lived through the word games many times in the last few decades.

The misuse of the word "progressive" is one more example of what the late great C.S. Lewis, in his "Studies in Words" called "verbicide." Lewis warned about allegedly "progressive" governing schemes wherein a collectivist ideology built upon moral relativism is unleashed in his book entitled "The Abolition of Man." In it we find these insightful words, "A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery."

One of his Essays found in "God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics" and entitled "Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State" warned, "Let us not be deceived by phrases about 'Man taking charge of his own destiny.' All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be." 

There is a concerted effort to paint those who adhere to the classical Jewish and Christian vision of the human person, the family and a truly just civil society as "backward." We are deluged with direct and indirect efforts to portray us as committed to a kind of return to some perceived "dark age". In fact, what we offer is the path to true progress. True progress passes through authentic human freedom.

We are further accused by some of forcing "our view" on others. While those who engage in this kind of word game, using the word "progressive" to promote a regressive political, social and cultural revolution, are actually the ones who are intolerant of any view other than their own. Let's consider three of many policy agenda items of the political "progressives" of our age and consider our alternative claim.

1) Abortion on Demand

Abortion on demand is the current state of the law in the United States since the infamous decisions of Roe and Doe. Our youngest neighbors in the first home of the whole human race can be killed by surgical instruments, chemical weapons or suction, at any time, for any reason. While restrictions on the practice are being slowly enacted in the States, the current state of the federal law has not changed.

However, our medical science has advanced. We now routinely reach into the womb and offer surgery to these same children in order to help them live fuller lives after birth. Our criminal codes have advanced.  We now prosecute a criminal offender who, in the course of committing another felony, takes their lives as well as their mothers. We take 4D images of them and send them to our friends. Sadly, the same technology guides the abortionist in his or her execution of those who are "unwanted". 

We all know the truth, that child in the womb is our neighbor. We also recognize the Natural Law written in every human heart which gives us the basis for our criminal codes. The real "Right" is the Right to Life. Without life there can be no other "rights" or liberty. The Right to life is the foundation of the prohibition against killing our innocent neighbor. All human persons have a right to life.

Those currently stealing the label "progressive" made up a so called "right" to reach into the womb for any reason and kill the innocent child. They now use the police power of the State to secure this fictional "right." Is reaching into the first sanctuary of the human race and killing the first immigrants, the first refugees, properly called "progressive"?   

Defending the intentional killing of children in the womb at any time and for any reason is grounded in a counterfeit notion of "freedom" as a raw power over those who are vulnerable and not wanted. Those who defend this practice are not "progressives", in any proper sense of the word, they are barbarians.

2) Marriage, Family and Society

Some within the movement currently called "progressive" are committed to a future where homosexual sexual practices are considered morally equivalent to the sexual expression of marital love between a man and a woman and the positive law enforces the equivalency.  Is that really "progressive"?

The positive law of the Nation, under their agenda, will force us to call to be a marriage what can never be a marriage - or face the punitive police power of the State. They want homosexual relationships, incapable of achieving the ends of marriage, to be given the same legal status as a marriage. The new Orwellian "newspeak" surrounding this campaign calls it supporting the "freedom to marry", when it is in reality, opposing marriage.

Marriage is not simply a "religious" construct.  The Natural Law reveals - and the cross cultural history of civilization affirms - that marriage is between a man and a woman, open to children and intended for life. Marriage is the foundation for the family which is the privileged place for the formation of virtue and character in children, our future citizens. The family is the first society, first economy, first school, first civilizing and mediating institution and first government. Defending true and authentic marriage between a man and a woman is defending the common good of society.

Added to all of this, there is a game plan: make defending marriage sound "religious" and then argue that such "religious" positions have no place in public policy. However, marriage as between one man and one woman is not only a "religious" position. It is an objective and ontological truth which cannot be changed by changing the definition of a word and then using the police power of the State to force us all to bend the knee to the new definition. To confine marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its very definition.

3) Religious Freedom

We close by reminding our readers of the policy concern which strikes at the very heart of the mission of our Church and our participation in it, no matter our state in life or vocation, religious freedom. In May of 2011, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathered in Rome for its 17th annual plenary session. Its theme was "Universal Rights in a World of Diversity - The Case of Religious Freedom". The gathering reflected the deep concerns the Holy See has repeatedly expressed over growing threats to the fundamental human right to Religious Freedom.

Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Academy, "Since man enjoys the capacity for a free personal choice in truth, and since God expects of man a free response to his call, the right to religious freedom should be viewed as innate to the fundamental dignity of every human person, in keeping with the innate openness of the human heart to God. In fact, authentic freedom of religion will permit the human person to attain fulfillment and will thus contribute to the common good of society."

"Aware of the developments in culture and society, the Second Vatican Council proposed a renewed anthropological foundation to religious freedom. The Council Fathers stated that all people are "impelled by nature and also bound by our moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth"

Only months into his pontificate, in December of 2005, the Pope told the Roman Curia: "The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time."

"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience."

"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, he addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States (Baltimore, Washington and the archdiocese for the Military Services) gathered for their ad limina visit. He warned of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres". He warned the Bishops that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion."

On January 20, 2012, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration, issued a mandate requiring all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans. The alleged exemption provided for religious employers did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission outside of our church buildings. The purported accommodation which followed was a fraud, a shell game, which accomplished nothing.

Perhaps it could have been considered an act of charity that the President gave the Catholic bishops a year to consider whether or not they would conform to the demands of the unjust mandate. But an act of charity must always be ordered to the good, and the willingness to give the bishops more time to consider whether or not to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization does not fit that criterion. It displayed, in our opinion, arrogance of power.

Catholics believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic. For an institution to receive an exemption from the Obama administration it must serve only members of its own denomination.

As many of our good bishops and leaders pointed out, even the ministry of Jesus would not qualify for an exemption. Well, the ministry of Jesus continues through his Body, the Church, of which we are members. We cannot - we will not - comply with this mandate. This HHS Mandate not only injures the Church and religious institutions it injures American society. It harms the common good.

This HHS Edict is not only a roadblock on the way to true progress, it is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion which is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Birth Certificate of our Nation, the Declaration of Independence, affirmed the existence of inalienable rights and self evident truths. Those Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness are endowed by our Creator and not conferred by a Government. They cannot - they must not- be taken away by Government. Religious Liberty is at the heart of the very understanding of Right to Liberty in the Western tradition.

The Competing Visions of Progress

We know there are many, many other issues and concerns which need to be addressed, applying the principles offered by Catholic Social Doctrine to the arena of public policy. We hope to continue to do that in the future. However, there is a hierarchy of application and urgency in the three areas we addressed above.

The positions being espoused and lifestyles being affirmed as "progressive" by those currently using the term as a political label are anything but. They turn the clock back on true human progress.They show us that we are dealing with competing definitions of human freedom, human flourishing and human progress. What is also threatened in this particular election is the vital role of religious faith and institutions and the values and services they offer society. 

It is the promotion of faithful, monogamous marriage, family, authentic human freedom, the dignity of every human person - and the insistence that there are objective truths that can be known and unalienable rights that are endowed on all men and women - which have guided true progress in human history. Such a vision has helped to overcome the slaveries that have arisen from flawed ideologies that have treated people as property to be used and manipulated.

Such a vision of progress has inspired leaders to speak truth to power, condemning the lies that elevate power and function over the primacy of the person, thereby suppressing the deeper and higher values that civilize and set people and Nations free. This is the vision of progress which should inform our Vote on November 6th.

---


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