Catholic Archbishop Suggests Separating Marriage From The State
Separation of marriage from the state gathers surprising steam in mainstream Catholic discourse
By Martin Hill
LibertyFight.com
November 25, 2014


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"Leviathan doesn't care if you see Jesus in your grilled cheese sandwich - unless you suggest that other people should see him too." - Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

[Note: This article was featured On LewRockwell.com, And again on LewRockwell.com here: Government Censorship of LRC.]


An idea which has been promoted by libertarians for years has surprisingly surfaced among mainstream Catholics: separating marriage from the state.

This notion, which is being bandied about by a Catholic bishop and has now surfaced for consideration in a mainstream Catholic newspaper, is evidence that more people are developing a distrust and rejection of an overbearing government.

The rejection of 'civil' (state) marriages is not being presented as a libertarian principle, but the roots of this idea are undeniable. Separation from government interference has been demonized by some modern socialist-leaning Catholics.

Libertarianism and opposition to financial regulation has been falsely characterized in some instances as not caring for the poor, for example. But this marriage issue has become relevant to Catholics in recent years with the state attempting to redfine what "marriage" is.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, in a lecture given October 20, 2014 titled STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND, was the first prominent clergyman to broach the topic of separating marriage from the state. He said:

"As to marriage and the family: I think we'd be foolish to assume that the gay marriage debate is over, even though many believe we've lost it - at least for now. The struggle is not over. The issue now becomes how aggressive gay issue activists will be in punishing and discriminating against those with traditional views. Tactics can easily include denying licensure and accreditation, revoking tax exemptions, imposing liability under public accommodations statutes and employment anti-discrimination acts, closing access to government contracts and grants, and other such acts.

Given the bitterness driving much of gay issue activism over the past decade or more, religious freedom will be a growing area of conflict. A friend recently suggested that the Church should get out of the civil marriage business altogether. In a way, it makes sense. It's hard to see how a priest or bishop could, in good conscience, sign a marriage certificate that merely identifies spouse A and spouse B. This dramatizes, in a concrete way, the fact that we face some very hard choices in a new marriage regime. Refusing to conduct civil marriages now, as a matter of principled resistance, has vastly more witness value than being kicked out of the marriage business later by the government, which is a likely bet. Or so the reasoning goes. I don't necessarily agree with this approach.

But in the spirit of candor encouraged by Pope Francis, I hope our nation's bishops will see the need to discuss and consider it as a real course of action."

The bishop's remarks, along with comments he made at a press conference afterwards, were widely reported in the Catholic media, such as here, here, and here: [ Archbishop Chaput blasts Vatican debate on family, says 'confusion is of the devil'].

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Chaput the Archbishop of Philadelphia on July 19, 2011. His biography at the Archdiocese website is here and a full listing of his homilies, columns, etc. is here.

Most recently, Helen Alvari, a law professor at George Mason University, penned an op-ed which ran on the front page of Our Sunday Visitor, titled Should the church abandon civil marriage? 'Our Sunday Visitor' is distributed freely in many Catholic churches nationwide, and I was surprised to find this article jumping off the counter of the church vestibule last week. I have been a long-time advocate of separating marriage from the state, as evidenced by this 2009 article I wrote entitled Gay marriage battle distracts statists of both parties. Here is an excerpt, including some court cases and even an 1884 Papal Encyclical on the inappropriate role of 'the state' in marriage:

Both the left and right constantly advocate some sort of government meddling in marriage. Even those who hold a limited government view, however, are rarely heard advocating absolutely no government involvement in marriage. California's Prop 8 is another example of divide and conquer, an issue of little significance other than to distract and divide the public, keeping the left and right fighting amongst each other. For those well meaning traditionalists and Christians who are worried about what the state schools teach your kids regarding marriage, if you don't know by now that your kids are not best served by keeping them far away from "public" government run schools, you're not doing your job.

For those advocating homosexuality and so-called 'gay marriage', begging the state to meddle in your affairs is a sad and tragic act of ignorance. Both sides of this debate are fighting for more state intrusion into an arena where the state should have no valid business. Let's take a look at what courts have ruled regarding marriage contracts. Do you believe, like the state does, that the state is 'guardian of your morals'? Good grief.:

  • "...This state is a party to every marriage contract of its own residents as well as the guardian of their morals. Roberts v. Roberts, 81 Cal App.2d 871 [Civ. no. 15818. Second Dist., Div. two. Oct 17, 1947]

  • "In fact, the entire familial relationship involves the State. When two people decide to get married, they are required to first procure a license from the State. if they have children of this marriage, they are required by the State to submit their children to certain things, such as school attendance and vaccinations. Furthermore, if at some time in the future the couple decides the marriage is not working, they must petition the State for a divorce. Marriage is a three party contract between the man, the woman, and the State. [West v. West, 689 N.E.2d 1215 (1998)]

  • "The state represents the public interest in the institution of marriage. Linneman...... This public interest is what allows the State to intervene in certain situations to protect the interests of members of the family. The State is like a silent partner in the family who is not active in the everyday running of the family but becomes active and exercises its powers and authority only when necessary to protect some important interests of family life. Taking all this into consideration, the question no longer is whether the State has an interest or place in disputes such as the one at bar, but it becomes a question of timing and necessity".... [West v. West, 689 N.E. 2d 1215 (1998)]

For skeptical statist Catholics, let's look at what Pope Leo XIII wrote about state involvement in marriage in his Encyclical HUMANUM GENUS (On Freemasonry) from April 20, 1884:

  • "What refers to domestic life in the teaching of the naturalists is almost all contained in the following declarations: that marriage belongs to the genus of commercial contracts, which can rightly be revoked by the will of those who made them, and that the civil rulers of the State have power over the matrimonial bond; that in the education of youth nothing is to be taught in the matter of religion as of certain and fixed opinion; and each one must be left at liberty to follow, when he comes of age, whatever he may prefer. To these things the Freemasons fully assent; and not only assent, but have long endeavored to make them into a law and institution. For in many countries, and those nominally Catholic, it is enacted that no marriages shall be considered lawful except those contracted by the civil rite; in other places the law permits divorce; and in others every effort is used to make it lawful as soon as may be. Thus, the time is quickly coming when marriages will be turned into another kind of contract - that is into changeable and uncertain unions which fancy may join together, and which the same when changed may disunite. ...With the greatest unanimity the sect of the Freemasons also endeavors to take to itself the education of youth. They think that they can easily mold to their opinions that soft and pliant age, and bend it whither they will; and that nothing can be more fitted than this to enable them to bring up the youth of the State after their own plan..."

I also couldn't help but notice at the time that the plethora of "Yes on 8" signs were often accompanied by MCCAIN/PALIN signs. Obama supporters were more likely to vote no on 8. For those caught up in this nonsense, let me remind you that McBama and O'Cain are both criminal puppets who don't give one lick about you, your family, abortion, gay marriage, or America. Behind closed doors they are laughing at you, along with the global elite who pulls their strings. The state doesn't care about you. The government doesn't care about you. The politicians don't care about you.


Galations 5:1 "For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."


In 2012, Archbishop Chaput was interviewed by the National Catholic Register about Obamacare and gave the following common-sense replies:

Q. The U.S. bishops have spoken in favor of a universal right to health care.
A. The bishops really do believe it. Health is a basic human right; we have a right to be healthy. There's no declaration on the part of the Church that that has to be accomplished through government intervention. There are many ways of approaching health care, and I think it's very important for Catholics to understand the fact that the Church, seeing health care as a basic human right, does not mean [to say] there's a particular method of obtaining that [right that's] better than another.

Following are some very notable quotes and excerpts from Archbishop Chaput's 10/20/14 speech:


"The problem we face at the moment is that, in the United States, that freedom is more and more constrained."

"Leviathan doesn't care if you see Jesus in your grilled cheese sandwich - unless you suggest that other people should see him too."

"The trouble with any habit of power is that service becomes privilege. Privilege becomes entitlement. And entitlement breeds abuse and resentment."

"Tocqueville said that 'despotism, which is dangerous at all times, [is] particularly to be feared in democratic centuries.'"

This isn't jingoism. Chesterton said that 'my country, right or wrong' makes as much sense as 'my mother, drunk or sober.' A good man will hate the drunkenness, but he will never stop loving his mother."

"Religion is to democracy as a bridle is to a horse. And only religion can moderate democracy, because it appeals to authority higher than democracy itself. But there's a problem, and it's this. Religion only works its influence on democracy if people really believe what it teaches. "


"Of course, this doesn't explain the anger many Catholics feel toward their own religious leaders. That has different roots. Blaming problems of Catholic identity on the material ambitions of ordinary Catholics has just enough truth in it to sound plausible. But it's also a convenient cheat. For the past 20 years, the clergy abuse crisis has badly eroded the confidence many Catholics have in their own bishops. And we bishops have too often deserved the resentment -- not only of our people, but also of our own good priests. We earned it by responding with the wrong priorities, slowly, defensively and at times even callously; trying to protect reputations and the standing of the Church at the expense of the innocent and the suffering."

"If we don't radiate the love of God with passion and courage in the example of our daily lives, nobody else will -- least of all the young people who see us most clearly and know us most intimately."

"We defeat ourselves too easily. We have all the resources we need. The late Saul Alinsky called himself a radical, and he was clearly good at what he did. But I've always felt that his book, Rules for Radicals, was a kind of 'Machiavelli for people with short attention spans.' His rules, his pressure tactics, his deceits, manipulations and organizing skills, are finally based on a fraud. They're not 'progressive' at all. They're the same tired grasping for power that made the world what it is. The truth is, Alinsky wasn't nearly radical enough. Radical means this: Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven; for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. We don't need to 'succeed' in living the Beatitudes. But we do need to try - every day, consciously, with all our hearts. If we do that, the Beatitudes irresistibly transform the world by transforming us."

[At the very bottom of this page in the beige box are more extensive excerpts of this excellent speech by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.]

RELATED:


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    Catholic Archbishop: "Leviathandoesn't care if you see Jesus in your grilled cheese sandwich, unless you suggest..." http://t.co/IKWcuoKAgd

    — Martin (@LibertyFight) November 25, 2014

    Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, TargetLiberty.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, HenryMakow.com, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, SaveTheMales.ca, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, FromTheTrenchesWorldReport.com, BeforeItsNews.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.



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    More links / Catholic Information:

    "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. the choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." [CCC 1733]

    "Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. the right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of the common good and public order." [Catechism of the Catholic Church 1738.].


    Click here to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    Pray the Rosary Daily for Peace
    Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet Daily


    A 'Mission' lecture series on The Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell: - By Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea

    This is an absolute must-hear from my favorite website, AudioSancto.org. I highly recommend this five part series of free audio lectures by this traditional Catholic priest on the most important things which we all will face. (Of course we will experience only three of the four last things, since a person can not go to both Heaven and hell.)

    Prelude to the Mission
    On Death
    On Judgement
    On Hell
    On Heaven

    Here is Fr. Relyea's website which has several more talks on various subjects: StPiosFriary.com


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    Did you know that the United States government willingly helped slaughter tens of thousands of Catholics in North America only 80 years ago? It was called the Cristero War, a Masonic led slaughter of Catholic freedom fighters. Below is our work documenting the matter. I also highly recommend the excellent film For Greater Glory which was released in July 2012.

    Part 1: When the U.S. government supplied ammo & military planes to kill thousands of Catholics 9/18/13
    This is an expose on the U.S. government's role in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Roman Catholics in Mexico fighting for their freedom to simply practice their faith. For naive well-intentioned Catholics who believe that we should always trust the government, these documented facts should be a real wake up call. As Archbishop of Baltimore Michael Joseph Curley stated at the time, "Our government has armed Calles's killers!"

    Part 2: Admitted Fact: U.S. Govt supplied 10 Million rounds of ammo, 10,000 Rifles, planes & tanks to slaughter thousands of Catholics 10/17/13
    LibertyFight.com has further documented many original sources which confirm for the record that the U.S. Government supplied directly from United States arsenals ten million rounds of ammunition, ten thousand Enfield rifles, machine guns, & military aircraft to slaughter innocent Catholics. We found Testimony taken at the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations heard in 1920 and the original New York Times newspaper articles reporting the military supplies ordered by president Herbert Hoover.

    Part 3: U.S. Senate Testimony On the Cristero War April 29, 1920
    On Thursday, April 29, 1920, The United States Senate Subcommittee on Foreign Relations heard Testimony taken at Washington D.C. Among the many people who testified were Fr. Francis P. Joyce, a Captain and Chaplain in the United States Army, Monsignor Francis C. Kelley, President of the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America, and Catholic nun Mother Elias De Sta Sacto, of the Discalced Carmelite Order. Note that this testimony was taken on April 29, 1920, which proves that the countless abuses, murders and sacrileges enacted upon Catholics by the Mexican and United States Governments began much earlier than 1926 and extended much later than 1929, as is the period commonly referred to when discussing the 'Cristero War.'



    Fr. Charles E. Coughlin had one of the most popular radio shows in the country in the late 1930's. At his height of popularity, upwards of thirty million listeners tuned in to his radio show each week and he received 10,000 letters per week with a clerical staff of over 100 people. He advocated a sound money system, abolition of the Federal Reserve, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and was a stringent opponent of Communism, which he pointed out was funded by corrupt Jewish interests and international bankers.

    There is a well circulated clip of Fr. Coughlin on stage at an Illinois rally shouting about the treasonous politicians in Congress who refused to oppose the Federal Reserve Bank's control of American money, noting "They're not even Americans, these so-called Democrats and Republicans!" [Father Coughlin speaks against the Federal Reserve.] An influential critic of president Roosevelt and America's empirical foreign policy, Coughlin became the target of FDR himself, who was temporarily successful in getting Coughlin kicked off the air.

    LibertyFight.com has put together seven articles documenting specific aspects of the brilliant and heroic work of Father Charles E. Coughlin. I have compiled hundreds of newsletters, pamphlets, books and recordings written and spoken by this priest who to this day is shamefully and dishonestly smeared as un-American and an 'anti-semite'. In reality the exact opposite is true. A close examination of Fr. Coughlin's work is important for a revealing documented historical perspective. Also, it relates to the situation today because the same war-mongers, bankers and internationalists about to start World War III by getting the U.S. entangled in a completely fraudulent, unwinnable, an unnecessary war in Syria. As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun.

    I encourage everyone to download Fr. Coughlin's absolutely invaluable books and listen to his recordings. More posts of interest will come in the following weeks and months as time permits. The story of how I came across this great historical figure is here. Resources are at the bottom of this page.

    Catholic Priest Exposes War Agenda in 1939: "The propagandists are at work in government, in journalism, and in the cinemas. Forewarned is forearmed!" 11/13/14

    1938: Fr. Coughlin explains the causes of Jewish persecution in Germany, warmongers falsely attack him as an Anti-Semite & Nazi December 1, 2013

    Fr. Coughlin explains the Federal Reserve, 1940: This privately owned corporation 'thrives on misery' and is 'leading this country into chaos' 11/10/13

    Easter 1939: Father Charles E. Coughlin warns of the war propagandists, their system of financial control & their evil "blood business"


    1938: Fr. Charles E. Coughlin calls out Rabbi for lying about Henry Ford & Jewish persecution in Germany December 18, 2012

    J.P. Morgan war propagandists plot to control the media: U.S. Congressional Record, 1917 August 30, 2013

    Father Charles E. Coughlin's famous 1938 radio address entitled Not Anti-Semitism But Anti-Communism

    When the U.S. government supplied ammo & military planes to kill thousands of Catholics September 18, 2013
    Fr. Coughlin weighed in on Mexico's slaughter of Christians as it occurred, criticizing the silence on behalf of the U.S. government and media

    LINKS:
    Iamthewitness.com Fr. Coughlin Archive Page This is where I first found Fr. Coughlin's programs.
    FatherCoughlin.org A lot of memorabilia here
    Archive.org: Old Time Radio Programs, Fr. Coughlin - a lot of MP3 audio files here

    Father Coughlin speaks against the Federal Reserve


    Father Charles E. Coughlin Archive Page

    "...My friends, have we not learned that modern wars settle no disputes? By this time are we not dissillusioned? Do we not realize that wars are the enemy of democracy? Do we not appreciate that poor men- the laborers and farmers- pay for all wars- pay with their lives or their liberties?"

    Fr. Charles E. Coughlin of Royal Oak, Michigan had one of the most popular radio shows in the U.S. during the late 1930's. At his height of popularity, upwards of thirty million listeners tuned in to his radio show each week and he received 10,000 letters per week with a clerical staff of over 100 people. He advocated a sound money system, abolition of the Federal Reserve, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and was a stringent opponent of both Nazism and Communism, which he pointed out was funded by corrupt Jewish interests and international bankers. Fr. Coughlin exposed war-mongers and government propagandists, which made him a real threat to the establishment. He was a devout and influencial priest who stressed the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ. The government banned his programs and threatened to arrest and imprison him. I consider Fr. Coughlin one of the wisest and greatest American heros ever. His material is an absolute treaure, a must-see. His work, in retrospect, was prophetic and still holds true today. .


    [PLEASE NOTE: These are only excerpts, chosen and emphasized in bold text by LibertyFight.com. To see the speech in its' entirety click the link below.]

    STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND
    2014 Erasmus Lecture
    October 20, 2014
    +Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
    http://archphila.org/archbishop-chaput/statements/+CJC_Strangers%20in%20a%20Strange%20Land_Erasmus%20Lecture_10-20-2014.pdf

    The problem we face at the moment is that, in the United States, that freedom is more and more constrained. The dismemberment of any privileged voice that biblical belief once had in our public square is just about complete. The most disturbing thing about the debate around gay marriage is the destruction of public reason that it accomplished. Emotion and sloganeering drove the argument. And the hatred that infected the conversation came far less from so-called "homophobes" than from many gay issue activists themselves. People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality, marriage and family have gone in the space of just 20 years from mainstream conviction to the media equivalent of racists and bigots.

    This is impressive. It's also profoundly dishonest and evil, but we need to acknowledge the professional excellence of the marketing that made it happen. We also need to thank God for the gift of this difficult moment, because conflict always does two things. It purifies the Church, and it clarifies the character of the enemies who hate her. Conflict is good when the issues matter. And very few issues matter as much to the course of a nation as the nature of marriage and family.


    So what do we do now? Believers don't have the luxury of pessimism. And the idea that we can retire to the safety of some modern equivalent of a monastery in the hills, isn't practical or warranted. Our job is to be the healthy cells in a society. We need to work as long as we can, as hard as we can, to nourish the good that remains in our country - and there's a deep well of good that does remain -- and to encourage the seeds of a renewal that can only come from our young people.

    ...So I want to tell you why I love this country. I love it because human beings are more than intelligent software stuck in a capsule of clay. We're creatures of place. Our bodies matter. The soil under our feet matters. Home matters. Communities matter. The sound and smell and taste of the world we know, and the beauty of it all, matter. There's something cheap and unworthy in a heart that has no roots; that feels no love of country.

    This isn't jingoism. Chesterton said that "my country, right or wrong" makes as much sense as "my mother, drunk or sober." A good man will hate the drunkenness, but he will never stop loving his mother. That kind of love is why, despite 200 years of anti-Catholic prejudice, 80 Catholic chaplains died serving this nation in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It's why five of them earned the Medal of Honor. Despite all of the sins and flaws of this country - and their name is legion - this is, at its best, a nation of laws; of opportunity; of real liberties and rights; and of public institutions based on the nobility of being human.

    ...Christian Smith edited a whole book on America's secular revolution between 1870 and 1930.v It explains a lot, and it's worth reading. But for those who want the short version, there was a coup. The secular team won. The religion team lost. There was nothing accidental or inevitable about the outcome. In the words of Smith, it "was an intentional political struggle by secularizing activists to overthrow a religious establishment's control of socially legitimate knowledge." It worked. And the results have trickled down through our courts, universities, mass media and legislatures ever since. This is bad news. It's bad because religious faith plays a key role in sustaining the American experience. In a liberal democracy, the source of political legitimacy is the will of the sovereign individual. This is expressed through elected representatives. Anything that places obligations on the individual -- except for the government itself, which embodies the will of the majority of individuals -- becomes the target of suspicion.

    ...Tocqueville said that "despotism, which is dangerous at all times, [is] particularly to be feared in democratic centuries."


    ...Religion is to democracy as a bridle is to a horse. And only religion can moderate democracy, because it appeals to authority higher than democracy itself. But there's a problem, and it's this. Religion only works its influence on democracy if people really believe what it teaches. Nobody believes in God merely because it's useful - and if people try, they make themselves liars. To put it in Catholic terms, Christianity is worthless as a leaven in society unless people actually believe in Jesus Christ, follow the Gospel, love the Church and act like real disciples with passion and purpose. If they don't, then religion is just another form of self-medicating. And that essentially sums up the way too many people in my generation have lived out their baptism.


    ...Until the past five or six decades, American culture was deeply Protestant. That was part of the genius of the country. But it meant that Catholics -- and Jews as well -- lived through long periods of prejudice. And so they've often struggled with a sense of exclusion and inferiority. This isn't new information. But it's useful to remember nonetheless. The effect of being seen as outsiders has always fueled a Catholic passion to fit in; to find a way into the mainstream; to excel by the standards of the people who disdain us. We succeeded -- wonderfully. And in that success, we can find the seeds of the disinterest and complacency we struggle with as a Church today.

    ...Of course, this doesn't explain the anger many Catholics feel toward their own religious leaders. That has different roots.... Blaming problems of Catholic identity on the material ambitions of ordinary Catholics has just enough truth in it to sound plausible. But it's also a convenient cheat. For the past 20 years, the clergy abuse crisis has badly eroded the confidence many Catholics have in their own bishops. And we bishops have too often deserved the resentment -- not only of our people, but also of our own good priests. We earned it by responding with the wrong priorities, slowly, defensively and at times even callously; trying to protect reputations and the standing of the Church at the expense of the innocent and the suffering.

    Leviathan doesn't care if you see Jesus in your grilled cheese sandwich - unless you suggest that other people should see him too.


    ...I've had the privilege of knowing many, many good men and women of my generation - Christians, Jews and people with no religious faith at all; people who've made the world better by the gift of their lives and their joy in service to others. But the biggest failure, the biggest sadness, of so many people of my generation, including parents, educators and leaders in the Church, is our failure to pass along our faith in a compelling way to the generation now taking our place. We can blame this on the confusion of the times. We can blame it on our own mistakes in pedagogy. But the real reason faith doesn't matter to so many of our young adults and teens is that -- too often -- it didn't really matter to us. Not enough to shape our lives. Not enough for us to really suffer for it.

    ... If we don't radiate the love of God with passion and courage in the example of our daily lives, nobody else will -- least of all the young people who see us most clearly and know us most intimately.

    ... We defeat ourselves too easily. We have all the resources we need. The late Saul Alinsky called himself a radical, and he was clearly good at what he did. But I've always felt that his book, Rules for Radicals, was a kind of "Machiavelli for people with short attention spans." His rules, his pressure tactics, his deceits, manipulations and organizing skills, are finally based on a fraud. They're not "progressive" at all. They're the same tired grasping for power that made the world what it is. The truth is, Alinsky wasn't nearly radical enough. Radical means this: Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven; for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. We don't need to "succeed" in living the Beatitudes. But we do need to try - every day, consciously, with all our hearts. If we do that, the Beatitudes irresistibly transform the world by transforming us.


    ...We can start by returning hatred with love. Martin Luther King liked to say that it's not enough to love our enemies; they need to know we love them. It's a hard discipline, but how we treat those who disagree with us proves -- or disproves --what we claim to believe about God.

    ...We especially need to believe God when he tells us, again and again in Scripture, to "fear not." Pressure on believers is an unintended gift to believers. The tepid leave. The strong get stronger.

    ...Finally we come to our duties in the public square. As I've said many times before, we have serious obligations as believers to care for the poor, the immigrant, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Those duties belong personally to you and me, not just to the government -- though government clearly has an important role. If we ignore the poor, we will go to hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is the surest way to dig a chasm of heartlessness between ourselves and God, and ourselves and our neighbors.

    ...And lest we forget: The poor include the unborn child. The abortion struggle hasn't suddenly disappeared. There are no human rights without a fundamental right to life. Abortion is the assassination of hope. It's the murder of a society's future. There's no way to contextualize or diminish the evil of a law that allows the killing of innocent, unborn human life. Nor is there any way for any Catholic to accept or ignore that kind of legalized homicide when it comes to decisions in the voting booth or anywhere else.As to marriage and the family: I think we'd be foolish to assume that the gay marriage debate is over, even though many believe we've lost it - at least for now. The struggle is not over. The issue now becomes how aggressive gay issue activists will be in punishing and discriminating against those with traditional views. Tactics can easily include denying licensure and accreditation, revoking tax exemptions, imposing liability under public accommodations statutes and employment anti-discrimination acts, closing access to government contracts and grants, and other such acts. Given the bitterness driving much of gay issue activism over the past decade or more, religious freedom will be a growing area of conflict. A friend recently suggested that the Church should get out of the civil marriage business altogether. In a way, it makes sense. It's hard to see how a priest or bishop could, in good conscience, sign a marriage certificate that merely identifies spouse A and spouse B. This dramatizes, in a concrete way, the fact that we face some very hard choices in a new marriage regime. Refusing to conduct civil marriages now, as a matter of principled resistance, has vastly more witness value than being kicked out of the marriage business later by the government, which is a likely bet. Or so the reasoning goes. I don't necessarily agree with this approach. But in the spirit of candor encouraged by Pope Francis, I hope our nation's bishops will see the need to discuss and consider it as a real course of action.

    ...Each of our lives matters. And our journey does not end in the grave. What we do has consequences for our own eternity and those around us. Our lives gathered together as communities of faith and as a nation shape the conscience and the future of the "city upon a hill" that John Winthrop imagined, and that we have inherited. We were made by God to receive love ourselves, and to show love to others - love anchored in the truth about the human person and the nature of human relationships. That's our purpose. That's why we were created. We're here to bear each other's burdens; to sacrifice ourselves for the needs of others; and to live a witness of love for the God who made us - not only in our personal lives, but in all our public actions, including every one of our social, economic and political choices.