We should be clear, as writers like Paul Rahe have pointed out, that this subjection of Catholicism to the control of the state is being carried out by officials that many of them voted for in great numbers and with enthusiasm. We have not been able to imagine that the Catholic Church in its essential moral teaching would come to be seen as an enemy of democracy and human “rights.” Yet, these new versions of democracy and human “rights” embody positions that diametrically oppose human life, marriage, basic morality, and the nature of transcendence. No one who cannot accept this new version of “rights” will be a member of the new state that has come to exist before our very eyes. The “inversion” of morals is almost complete. It is “sinister.”
As George Rutler remarks, St. Paul would not have been much surprised at this turn of events. There is a “logic” already in place that, if allowed to go further by the continuation of the present regime, will reduce the Catholic presence to a mere shell, perhaps a “remnant,” to recall an Old Testament term. True, there will still be institutions that call themselves “Catholic.” Willingly, they will accept the funds of the state on its own terms. We may even anticipate a situation in which we see two churches calling themselves “catholic,” one accepting government funds and terms, the other, much reduced, not accepting them.
Rutler’s term, “post-comfortable Catholicism” is both a witty and an accurate description of where we are. If this is indeed our “last free election,” we will not be overly surprised if most of us accept it, well, comfortably.
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