ROME HAS AN AMERICAN AGENDA

It is not separation of religion (AND SPECIFICALLY ROMAN CATHOLIC DOGMA) from the governance of the nation

Advocacy for freedom of religion in the public square is a red herring. There are no restrictions on religion in the public square OF American society.

New world evangelization: Synod's agenda includes America:

When Blessed John Paul II launched the project he called the new evangelization, he made it clear that it was aimed above all at reviving the ancient faith of an increasingly faithless West: "countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing," now menaced by a "constant spreading of religious indifference, secularism and atheism."

Those words are commonly taken to refer to Christianity's traditional heartland, Europe. Yet Pope Benedict XVI, who has enthusiastically embraced his predecessor's initiative, has made it clear that the new evangelization extends to other secular Western societies, including the United States.

In a series of speeches to visiting U.S. bishops last fall and earlier this year, Pope Benedict reflected on the "spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization," giving special emphasis to a "radical secularism" that he said has worn away America's traditional moral consensus and threatened its religious freedom. . . .

Vatican II teachings not optional, ex-Vatican official tells conference

The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are neither optional nor second-class, but must be seen in the proper context, the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said Sept. 26 as he opened a conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

The talk by Cardinal William J. Levada focused on three events that share an Oct. 11 date -- the opening of Vatican II 50 years ago, the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 20 years ago and the upcoming opening of the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. . . . 

A JFK for the New Evangelization?

. . .The young, Catholic Ryan, House Budget Committee chairman and now vice-presidential running mate to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, appears to take his faith seriously, including in discerning matters of public policy. What a great day for Catholics to have him on a national ticket, to have him at the forefront of policy and politics!

The prospect of Ryan as vice president is an important moment for Catholics — or, at least, it will be, if we take what he represents seriously in our own civic participation.

Kennedy’s ‘separation’: Sincere but wrong

The model for the Catholic in public life for far too long — for over 50 years now — has been John F. Kennedy, who asserted in his famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association that “the separation of Church and state is absolute.” Kennedy thus established a model for the privatization of religious faith in public life.

In a 2010 address marking the anniversary of Kennedy’s speech at Houston Baptist University, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, then of Denver and now the Archbishop of Philadelphia, described Kennedy’s approach as “sincere, compelling, articulate — and wrong.” It was “wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life,” Archbishop Chaput said. It has left a detrimental “lasting mark on American politics” having “profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation.

“Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage,” he stated.

“Real Christian faith is always personal, but it’s never private,” Archbishop Chaput went on to say. “I’m here as a Catholic Christian and an American citizen — in that order. Both of these identities are important. They don’t need to conflict. They are not, however, the same thing. And they do not have the same weight. I love my country. I revere the genius of its founding documents and its public institutions. But no nation, not even the one I love, has a right to my allegiance, or my silence, in matters that belong to God or that undermine the dignity of the human persons He created.”

A historian might argue Kennedy had to do what he did, given the religious discrimination Catholics endured in the early 20th century in a country that historian Paul Johnson has described as having been “born Protestant.” That said, the late Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans, a Kennedy family friend, in his book “The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots,” observed: “From my perspective, Kennedy went overboard in emphasizing his independence from the Catholic Church, essentially promising an arm’s length manifesto as well as a wall of separation between himself and the Church …”

Defending religious freedom and conscience rights

Ryan has joined a ticket that was already serious about defending the role of faith in public life. Referring to vocal Catholic-led opposition to the onerous threats to conscience rights imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to offer contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs in any employee benefit plans, Romney told an Ohio audience last month that President Obama and his administration “are going to usurp your religious freedom by demanding that you provide products to your employees, if you’re the Catholic Church, that violate your own conscience.”

Speaking to a solidarity with all people who respect religious freedom on this issue, he added: “I feel that we’re all Catholic today.”  [Red font added]

He went on to articulate that it is not just those at religious-based organizations whose conscience rights are threatened by the HHS mandate, but businessmen as well. We’ve seen this in Denver, where the Hercules company, run by a Catholic family, won an injunction just before the Aug. 1 implementation began. Romney said the “attack on religious freedom…is a dangerous and unfortunate precedent.”

This was far from the former Massachusetts governor’s first encounter with religious-liberty threats. As governor, he came to defense of Catholic Charities and Catholic hospitals. As a candidate in the primaries going into 2008, the Mormon gave a major address on religious freedom — which was widely anticipated as being modeled after the Houston 1960 speech — in which he did a reverse JFK:

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation “Under God” — and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders — in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, Nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from “the God who gave us liberty.”

Ryan also happens to defend the lives of the unborn, in contrast to the Catholic who is currently serving as vice president. In a 2010 essay, Ryan wrote:

[A]fter America has won the last century’s hard-fought struggles against unequal human rights in the forms of totalitarianism abroad and segregation at home, I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect. I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” The freedom to choose is pointless for someone who does not have the freedom to live. So the right of “choice” of one human being cannot trump the right to “life” of another. How long can we sustain our commitment to freedom if we continue to deny the very foundation of freedom — life — for the most vulnerable human beings? . . .

Will the Bishops crack down in this election cycle?

(Cf.  A. T. Jones on the Papacy and America; SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS AND THE ABORTION QUESTION: WHERE SHOULD WE STAND?; Coercion or Conversion)

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you, the hour and the end!"  Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)

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