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Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal George’

An interesting story out of Chicago about Church, family, public statements, and regret:

“When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church’s liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I’m sorry,” George said. “I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation.”

In his comments, broadcast on Fox Chicago television on Christmas, George addressed what he perceives to be religious discrimination in the name of gay rights. While discussing the pride parade, he cited the anti-Catholicism of the KKK in the early 1940s.

“You know, you don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.” George told the Fox Chicago reporters. “So I think if that’s what’s happening, and I don’t know that it is, but I would respect the local pastor’s, you know, position on that.”

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The trend regarding state mandates toward religious organizations is to offer a very narrow statutory exemption from these laws for a subset of such entities, mainly parishes, while requiring all other organizations—religious schools, charities, hospitals, universities—to bow to secular laws and requirements. The argument is that these activities are “secular” in nature, and that the churches engaged in them may not bring their religious beliefs to bear on these properly secular activities. There is a concerted effort on the part of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and some labor unions to eliminate Catholic ethical and religious control over Catholic hospitals, charities, nursing homes, and other facilities. If this effort is successful in bringing the courts to tell the Church which of its ministries are Catholic and which are not, then the Catholic Church (along with other religions) will be forbidden to respond to the Lord’s command to serve the poor, the sick, and the abandoned in his name. Such laws will not be held to violate the free exercise clause so long as they have no discriminatory purpose. In other words, consistent with the free exercise clause, the state could require hospitals to perform abortions so long as it imposed this requirement on all hospitals.

From Francis Cardinal George, God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World

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Cardinal George of Chicago is one of the Catholic Church’s sharpest thinkers and clearest voices on the relationship of law and culture in the United States today. I am working my way through his new book, God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, and will occasionally post excerpts.

When American law was mostly common law, as it was when Holmes addressed his Boston listeners, its relationship to culture was harmonious, because the law was almost wholly derivative from the culture. The common law was conceived of as the distillation of shared practice, of culturally common activities. The law was not any judge’s say-so or even the say-so of the judiciary as a body; judicial declarations counted, rather, as so much evidence of the law. The law remained the common practices of the people, discerned more or less adequately by judges but not made or determined by them.

. . .

We live in an age of statutes, administrative rules, executive orders, treaties, and judicial decisions conceived differently—more creatively and more like legislation—than was the common law. Law characteristically is, for us, the purposive ordering of norms, first imagined, debated, and then given life, once and for all, on a certain date, down at city hall, up in the statehouse, or in a court in Washington, D.C. All these forms of law, these enactments, bind by dint of someone’s or some institution’s authority, not by dint of prior custom and practice. The modern relationship between law and culture is therefore fragile, more complex and problematic.

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