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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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The Secular & the Sacred Should be in Sync about Abortion

Separation of Church and State but Not from God

We are very privileged to be Catholics and Americans.  The very first article in the Bill of Rights states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

This article repudiates any notion of a national church; however, it does not mean that people of faith have to discard their religion and values to interact in the public forum.  Too many interpret the separation of church and state as an agnostic or atheistic stance that would strip religious references, displays and opinions from the everyday lives of our people and from public institutions like our courts and schools.  Indeed, the article actually says the opposite.  While special deference is given the Judeo-Christian faith as a historical element of our origins; this is essentially a demand for toleration of our faith diversity.  Along with this religious liberty, the article protects speech and assembly and makes possible the power of the press.  It is a uniquely American trait that we earnestly spurn censorship and believe that everyone has a right to his say and to address grievances.  This runs smack against what some label as the “cancel culture” and the domination of tech companies over online social forums. It even rubs against an old European continental view of banning books and demanding official approbation of religious texts.  No matter if from the left or right, the issue is always CONTROL.

While we would be wary of error or heresy, we are Catholics and as Americans do not have to hide our religion. God forbid that any would be ashamed of Jesus Christ. We bring all that we are as believers to our practice of citizenship.  When it comes to practical decisions, policies and laws— we desire a voice even when we will not win every argument.  We do not stand with our country, right or wrong; but rather, we stand with our country when she is right and we stand correcting her when she is wrong.  There are many convictions and values that emerge from or are touched by faith:  just as we desire religious liberty, we do not go out of our way to inhibit or to condemn the faith (or lack thereof) of others; we seek to be truthful to God and to our neighbor (lies are from the evil one); we seek to be honest and forthright in our dealings with others (stealing is always a failure to love our neighbor); we are urged to be generous and giving to others; we believe marriage between a man and woman (along with family life) is a foundational building block to a healthy society; we oppose human subjugation through slavery, prostitution, pornography, illegal immigrant exploitation, and unjust job situations; we contend that promises are made to be kept, especially in contracts and in the marital covenant, and while it should go without saying, “thou shalt not kill” is not a suggestion but a divine command. While Islamic extremists might regard blasphemy as the highest crime, the Western world has evolved to give this place to violations of human life, in theory if not always in practice.  This is not to say that offenses against almighty God are not serious; but we have come to appreciate in light of the passion of Christ the infinite mercy of the Lord.

Those who demand a strict separation of church and state often oppose the values of believers and seek to undermine any arguments they might make in the public forum.  We see this frequently in contemporary debates. The impression is given that people who live their faith cannot be full citizens.  This ideology demands that Christians must disavow Christ and the values of the Gospel.  This is nonsense, but such is often the situation.  Those who would classify the wrong of abortion as thoroughly a creedal designation remote and unaffiliated with an objective assessment of the natural order, do damage both to human reasoning and undermine genuine universal moral law.  Apart from the selfish fads and whims of the times, even a more reliable secular humanism should realize that everything in the tree is first found in the acorn.  The child in the womb is a human being and, barring accident or crime, the trajectory will realize this truth at the end of nine months.