Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 4/30/2009

The second part of Bishop Serratelli's 2 part series on Tolerance. I've been slacking in posting because the pollen and the trees have been kicking my butt.

Tolerance: The Trojan Horse of Secular Liberalism- Bishop Serratelli’s weekly column from April 30, 2009 with my emphasis and comments.


In today’s society, the principle of tolerance has become the clarion call for people of diverse views, moral convictions and religious beliefs to live together with a sense of civility to one another. By its definition, tolerance is inclusive. It seeks to embrace all individuals in a society that does not condemn individuals simply because they are different. In terms of liberal secularists, tolerance is based on cultural diversity. It is a pragmatic way to keep the peace.

Yet, tolerance alone does not always work. The drive to equate same sex unions with marriage and to give them the same legal definition as marriage has also become an occasion for intolerance. Those who are committed to marriage as an institution designed by the Creator for a man and a woman are labeled discriminatory and unjust. (That we are.)

Most recently, this type of attitude surfaced during the Miss USA 2009 pageant. On April 20, 2009, one of the judges, Perez Hilton, who is quite open about his views, asked Carrie Prejean, Miss California, her view on legalizing gay marriage. Miss Prejean was not unaware of the trap that was being set for her. (Of course she wasn’t, this wasn’t your typical “beauty queen” question.) After affirming the freedom of choice (interesting choice of words, then again I’m on high alert with Obama being at Notre Shame next week.) that Americans enjoy, she went on to say, “…I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman.” Some in the audience booed her response, but others applauded even louder.

Miss California did not express an outrageous conviction. But Perez Hilton believes that her answer cost her the contest. His subsequent name calling of Miss California clearly revealed the inability to allow someone to disagree with the agenda that is behind the move to redefine marriage. (These so called promoters of equality for all, are so prejudiced it’s not even funny.)

Miss Prejean should be commended for her honesty and integrity. (I totally agree, God bless this young woman for standing up and not conforming to what society says she should believe and be.) Not everyone agrees. The Executive Director of Miss California USA/Teen USA has stated that he is “personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.” In a word, there is no room for disagreement. Is this not a form of intolerance? (I dare to say it is.)

The issue of tolerance and intolerance on the issue of marriage is not an academic question. If society labels those who oppose the legalization of gay marriage intolerant and discriminatory, the trajectory is set to curtail religious freedom. Anti-discrimination laws can then be invoked to monitor and control churches in the areas of sex education in the schools, the hiring of employees, the use of church facilities and in many other areas. (Unfortunately, even in our own diocese, this is happening, because children and their parents are in the public school frame of mind and CCD or Religious Education programs leave a lot to be desired when it comes to teaching Catholicism. Often times I feel that I’m too conservative for a Catholic school or church or as I like to say I’m too Catholic for them, which is sad, as I do nothing other than my duty as a Catholic, go to Mass on Sunday and uphold and teach the teachings of the Catholic Church.)

In our culture, tolerance has come to mean different things for different groups. But it certainly does not mean neutrality. This is clearly the case in growing confrontation between the secularist agenda and the Catholic Church in terms of health care. (Yes, which makes my decision to attend nursing school an interesting one, however it is at a hospital affiliated with the Catholic Church. I have yet to hear about my application, in case anyone was wondering.)

The Church has always favored responsible parenthood and has taught natural family planning as the moral means to achieve this goal. (While I am not a fan of natural family planning, I understand why it is used by some, but it is to be used to plan a child not to say we don't want a child right now so we're going to use NFP to not have children.) Based on the objective nature of human sexuality, the Church teaches that artificial contraception contradicts an authentic expression of marital love between a husband and a wife and, therefore, is morally unacceptable. For this reason, Catholic institutions do not include contraception in their health insurance for their employees. (I remember wanted to call him, Bishop Serratelli with an issue I had with my coverage when I worked for the Diocese of Paterson, but I don’t remember off hand what it was. I know the Archdiocese along with Oxford offers Catholic care which falls under this, maybe things have changed since I last had health coverage.) Up until recently, the laws included exemptions for conscientious objections clauses and protected the freedom of Catholics to live according to Catholic teaching in this area.

Today, however, secular liberals are experiencing great success in removing this freedom. At least eighteen states have enacted "contraceptive mandate" laws. The laws bear names such as The Women's Health and Wellness Act or The Women's Contraceptive Equity Act. These laws mandate health insurance plans to cover the costs of contraceptives. Any failure to do is punishable as discrimination.

Without the freedom to express one’s views and not be punished for them, without the freedom to hold to one’s moral and religious beliefs and live according, the dignity of the human person is denied and the common good of society itself is diminished. Government does not have the right to treat believers as a “divisive minority whose rights must always yield to the minority secular agenda, especially when religious people are overwhelmingly in the majority” (Cardinal Pell, “Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular,” Divinity School of Oxford University, March 6, 2009).

Both Homer in the Odyssey and Virgil in the Aeneid relate the story of the Trojan horse. After a long, unresolved 10-year siege of Troy, the Greeks built a huge figure of a horse. Inside the horse, they left their warriors and sailed away. The Trojans took the horse into their city as a trophy for winning the war. During the night, the Greek warriors stealthily crept out of their hiding place, opened the city gates for the rest of the Greek army that had returned under the cover of dark and destroyed the city. What, at first, was seen as the sign of victory actually became the cause of defeat.

Today, our society has happily overcome many prejudices that divide us. We have managed to live in peace with people whose views and religions differ from one another. Secular liberals, however, market a truncated tolerance that leaves no room for those who oppose their secular agenda. If society welcomes such tolerance within its city gates, will it not be the Trojan Horse that brings the demise of a free society? (Oh it probably will be, this country is so far away from where it was with morals, and the sad part is that we, America, are not as bad as other countries.)

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