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Sincere Catholics should always strive to be good citizens. This is a natural part of our duty to love our neighbour. Difficulties arise however, when the governing body enacts laws which are either contrary to God’s law or which usurp the rights of the Catholic Church. Such usurpation of rights was clearly in evidence during the Covid-19 restrictions. In Ireland, the Health Services Executive issued directives for religious services which included both a ban on the use of Holy Water and on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. (see pages 16-19 of this document hse-covid-religious-settings) These directives, which amounted to an impingement on the freedom of Catholics to worship God, were assiduously followed by our bishops, without question. As an example of this compliance, here is the link to the Killaloe Diocesan guidelines.
In a similar fashion, the rights of Catholic parents to have their children protected from classroom sex-education in Catholic schools has been undermined by the Irish bishops’ blind compliance with State legislation in this area. It would seem that the bishops of Ireland give more weight to State legislation than they do to the traditions and laws of the Catholic Church.
Pope Leo XIII addresses this very issue in his encyclical letter ‘Sapientiae Christianae’. In the previous article – (The Duties of a Catholic Part 2) Pope Leo XIII spoke of love of country and love of the Catholic Church and mentioned that sometimes a conflict can arise. He continues:
“As to which should be preferred no one ought to balance for an instant. It is a high crime indeed to withdraw allegiance from God in order to please men, an act of consummate wickedness to break the laws of Jesus Christ, in order to yield obedience to earthly rulers, or, under pretext of keeping the civil law, to ignore the rights of the Church; “we ought to obey God rather than men.”(Acts 5:29) This answer, which of old Peter and the other Apostles were used to give the civil authorities who enjoined unrighteous things, we must, in like circumstances, give always and without hesitation. No better citizen is there, whether in time of peace or war, than the Christian who is mindful of his duty; but such a one should be ready to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than abandon the cause of God or of the Church.” (Sapientiae Christianae 7)
The closure of the Catholic Churches in Ireland and across the world during the so-called pandemic was a usurpation of both the duty and the right of Catholics to worship Almighty God. If the pandemic was really as dangerous as the authorities made out, then Catholics had all the more need for the grace of the sacraments as they faced possible death. Instead, the sacraments were withdrawn from the people of God with the full co-operation of our bishops. Those of us who called for the Catholic Churches to remain open, and who insisted on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue were castigated and called selfish by those who complied and enforced the unjust laws in our Catholic churches. Pope Leo XIII is on the side of those of us who resisted.
“Hence, they who blame, and call by the name of sedition, this steadfastness of attitude in the choice of duty have not rightly apprehended the force and nature of true law. We are speaking of matters widely known, and which We have before now more than once fully explained. Law is of its very essence a mandate of right reason, proclaimed by a properly constituted authority, for the common good. But true and legitimate authority is void of sanction, unless it proceed from God, the supreme Ruler and Lord of all. The Almighty alone can commit power to a man over his fellow men; nor may that be accounted as right reason which is in disaccord with truth and with divine reason; nor that held to be true good which is repugnant to the supreme and unchangeable good, or that wrests aside and draws away the wills of men from the charity of God.” (Sapientiae Christianae 8)
The command to keep holy the Sabbath day, is a Divine Law which cannot be abrogated by any earthly authority. The civil state does not have the authority to regulate how Divine Worship is carried out in the Catholic Church. Therefore the regulations forbidding the use of Holy Water and the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue were invalid and should not have been obeyed. This is not to say that the State lacks authority. Catholics have a true and proper respect for civil authority but they are also aware of the limitations of civil authority and of the possibility for the State to abuse its power.
“Hallowed, therefore, in the minds of Christians is the very idea of public authority, in which they recognize some likeness and symbol as it were of the Divine Majesty, even when it is exercised by one unworthy. A just and due reverence to the laws abides in them, not from force and threats, but from a consciousness of duty; “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)” (Sapientiae Christianae 9)
But civil authority is not absolute and therefore obedience is not always due to the civil authority. Indeed, there are times when Catholics have a duty to disobey the civil authority even to the point of death.
“But, if the laws of the State are manifestly at variance with the divine law, containing enactments hurtful to the Church, or conveying injunctions adverse to the duties imposed by religion, or if they violate in the person of the supreme Pontiff the authority of Jesus Christ, then, truly, to resist becomes a positive duty, to obey, a crime; a crime, moreover, combined with misdemeanour against the State itself, inasmuch as every offense levelled against religion is also a sin against the State.
Here anew it becomes evident how unjust is the reproach of sedition; for the obedience due to rulers and legislators is not refused, but there is a deviation from their will in those precepts only which they have no power to enjoin. Commands that are issued adversely to the honour due to God, and hence are beyond the scope of justice, must be looked upon as anything rather than laws.
You are fully aware, venerable brothers, that this is the very contention of the Apostle St. Paul, who, in writing to Titus, after reminding Christians that they are “to be subject to princes and powers, and to obey at a word,” at once adds: “And to be ready to every good work.”(Titus 3:1)
Thereby he openly declares that, if laws of men contain injunctions contrary to the eternal law of God, it is right not to obey them. In like manner, the Prince of the Apostles gave this courageous and sublime answer to those who would have deprived him of the liberty of preaching the Gospel: “If it be just in the sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”(Acts 4:19-20) (Sapientiae Christianae 10)
It takes great courage to disobey civil authority when most of the population is eager to obey out of fear for their health. But when the government forbids Catholics to worship God, then Catholics must resist the government because worship of God is of a higher order than obedience to civil authority. State legislation which is harmful to the practice of the Catholic faith is also harmful to the State, because it brings the State into conflict with the laws of God. Catholics who resist such laws are behaving in a way which shows greater love for their neighbour than if they obeyed the unjust laws. At the same time care must be taken that one does not become a rebel. As Pope Leo XIII says above, the Catholic only deviates from those laws which are offensive to God. In all other aspects the Catholic is an obedient citizen.
It might seem strange to be going back over the Covid situation, but, it is vitally important that ordinary Catholics have a correct understanding of what constitutes the duty of obedience in civil matters. This is important in a time when many of our bishops do not seem to be aware that they have a duty to manfully resist the State in certain matters. We are now told, in not so many words, that dialogue and accompaniment with civil authorities are more important than obedience to the commandments and precepts of God and His Catholic Church. Lofty statements may be issued condemning some unjust laws, but there is little evidence of any real resistance to a State which actively seeks to corrupt its citizens through unjust laws and practices.
I have recently written to all of the Irish bishops about their compliance with State laws which impose immoral sex-education on primary school children. The bishops’ response to these unjust laws, rather than resist them, is to promote their own classroom sex-education programme. The problem is, that the programme which is recommended by the Irish bishops, exposes young children in primary schools to sexually explicit videos produced by the Irish Health Services Executive. This is the same body which is responsible for the murder of at least 30,000 unborn human beings in their mother’s wombs in the last four years alone.
In my response to two of the Irish bishops I said the following.
“In chapter seven of St Matthew’s Gospel Our Lord tells us the following.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
Bishop (name), in recommending the HSE as a ‘good resource’ for information on human sexuality, you are sending Catholic parents to gather ‘grapes from thorns or figs from thistles’.
The information that the HSE provides with regard to human sexuality is evil in nature. They do not discourage masturbation, regarding it as normal and possibly beneficial. They provide contraception to children without their parents’ consent. They refer for abortion. They perform abortions. They have sent children with gender dysphoria to the now disgraced Tavistock clinic. They support homosexual sexual relations.
Bishop (name), do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Why are you sending Catholic parents in your diocese to the evil resources of the HSE through the Flourish programme?” (Letter to Irish Bishops – John Lacken)
Irish Catholics will be aware of the lack of a positive response that parents receive to such letters but nonetheless, we must keep holding our bishops to account where the education of our children is concerned. Parents are primarily responsible for what happens to their children and parents have a duty to protect their children from all harm regardless of where that harm originates, be it a secular sex-education programme or one promoted by their local bishop.
“Wherefore, to love both countries, that of earth below and that of heaven above, yet in such mode that the love of our heavenly surpass the love of our earthly home, and that human laws be never set above the divine law, is the essential duty of Christians, and the fountainhead, so to say, from which all other duties spring. The Redeemer of mankind of Himself has said: “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth.”(John 18:37) In like manner: “I am come to cast fire upon earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?”(Luke 12:49) In the knowledge of this truth, which constitutes the highest perfection of the mind; in divine charity which, in like manner, completes the will, all Christian life and liberty abide. This noble patrimony of truth and charity entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Church she defends and maintains ever with untiring endeavour and watchfulness. (Sapientiae Christianae 11)
It would seem that, in Ireland, our bishops have grown tired and are no longer as watchful as they should be. Our bishops have been browbeaten by the State, through the use of the secular media, which constantly reminds us of the clerical child abuse scandals, into acceptance of immoral and child damaging sex-education programmes. Another form of child abuse has been introduced into our schools in the name of protecting children from child abuse. This is a direct manifestation of diabolical evil. It breaks one of the prime theological moral principles – it is never permitted to do evil even though good may come of it. However, despite the professed good intentions of those who promote classroom sex-education, in this case, no good will come from the evil of classroom sex-education. Parents must protect their children from this evil. Parents will have to resist the secular state and Catholic parents will also have to resist their bishops who promote classroom sex-education. We must also pray earnestly for our bishops that their minds be enlightened to see the evil they are supporting.
To be cont’d…
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