“Private & Consenting” With “Public” Religious Consequences

When it came to certain social issues (abortion, contraception, marriage, etc…) we often heard the statement that these items dealt with “private issues” or “issues between consenting adults.” Thus any public debate or movement to counter them (either in speech or in the political sphere) was seen as “out of bounds.” That’s changing. What was termed “private” has suddenly not only become “public,” it’s becoming “policy” - with serious negative consequences for the Catholic Church and Her individual members.

There are some that would say that I’m crying “wolf” but apparently the US Bishops don’t think so. Witness their concern about the erosion of religious liberty and their call to a “Fortnight for Freedom.A recent Zenit article outlines how the Church, and Her individual members who hold the belief against same-sex marriages, have begun to be be affected. Conscientious Catholic members have also seen their businesses impinged upon in negative ways. In some cases, according to the article, the specter is more dire as some activists and politicians are pushing for such stands to warrant criminal charges.

The Catholic Church’s position on this issue has already precipitated legislation that has forced the Catholic Church to risk going against Her own teachings, or decide to no longer provide certain services that she has traditionally offered. An example is the decision of the (arch)dioceses in Washington, D.C. Boston and Illinois to no longer provide adoption services.

The Zenit article put some troubling data on something I have sensed for a while now. During the adoption services debate, I began to hear accusations of “hate crimes” out of certain circles leveled against the Catholic Church. Back then, concern about using, for example, RICO statutes was seen as overblown. I didn’t think such concerns were overblown back then. I found it alarming that someone even brought up the idea that it could (or should) be used against the Catholic Church because of Her stance on same-sex marriages. I am even more alarmed now.

The same-sex lobby is not insignificant, they are well funded, well-connected and politically active. They will continue to fight for this issue in the legislature, in the judicial courts and in the courts of public opinion to which they are entitled by the way. The problem is summarized by a quote from Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services. He said that, “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated.”

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