Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

3 Illinois Catholic Dioceses Are Fighting Back

Last week I put up a post about how Illinois' new "civil unions" law was forcing the Rockford Diocese to stop providing adoption & foster care services. At the time none of the other Catholic dioceses in the state had made any announcement about what actions they would take. Yesterday 3 of them, Springfield, Peoria, & Joliet, banded together & filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court. The suit was in response to the law as well a letter sent out in March by the Attorney General’s office. It stated that the office “received notice that Catholic Charities ... discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation” in the provision of foster care & adoption services & demanded that Catholic Charities turn over a wide range of documents in response.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the charities are in full compliance with Illinois law in their current practices. They area also asking for an injunction against further action by Illinois government officials to the contrary. According to the lawsuit both the Illinois Human Rights Act exempts religious adoption agencies from the provisions relied upon by the Attorney General’s office. Additionally it says that the new Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act includes an express protection for the religious freedom of entities like Catholic Charities.

Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, which is representing the charities in the lawsuit had this to say about the lawsuit: “Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois. Catholic Charities has a clear right under Illinois law to pursue its charitable good works in the true spirit of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount, faithful to the essential tenets of its Catholic faith. We will advocate strongly to protect Catholic Charities’ continuing its mission of social service.”

As I said last week what this boils down to is an attack on the Catholic Church & what it stands for. It is persecution by the government, plain & simple. While there is no threat of physical torture or death, what is going on in Illinois (& elesewhere) is no different than what went on in the Roman Empire when Christians were told they had to worship the pagan gods. If they offered a bit of incense they could go free, if not then they lost their freedom. But the early Christians knew they couldn't give in without betraying their faith. In Illinois we are seeing 4 of the Catholic Dioceses following in their footsteps & refusing to comprimise the faith.

As I was working on this post, I couldn't help but think of what St Polycarp said when he faced death. As Polycarp was being brought into the city, the Irenarch Herod, accompanied by his father Nicetes, met him. They took him up into the chariot, they seated themselves beside him, & said "What harm is there in saying, Lord Cæsar, & in sacrificing, with the other ceremonies observed on such occasions, and so make sure of safety?" Polycarp refused.

Polycarp was brought before the procouncil. The procouncil said "Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists." (Under the definition of the term at the time, atheist meant those who denied the Roman Gods, not someone who didn't believe in a god or gods.) Polycarp did say "Away with the atheists," while pointing at the pagan crowd making it clear he thought they were the atheists not him. Then the proconsul urging him, "Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ." Polycarp declared "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?" Additional attempst met with the same resistance on Polycarp's part. At 1 point before he said "You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why do you tarry? Bring forth what you will."

Those people in Illinois attacking the Catholic Church would do well to remember what Polycarp said. They may do harm in the short run, but in the long run it is themselves that they will do eternal harm to if they don't repent.


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