Tag Archives: religious freedom

Protect religious freedom by exercising it, defending for others

Roman Catholics are in the crosshairs – in the West and around the world. The reasons are deeply, and tragically, ironic.

Like much else that afflicts the Church and the world, the solution lies in fidelity to the truth.

Within the West, the Church is the target of scorn, triggered by clerical sexual abuse of male adolescents. Less remarked, but equally insidious, is the gross hypocrisy of bishops and the Vatican ignoring the scourge of priestly unchastity with adults, even as the Church teaches chastity for all within their vocations.

Here’s the irony: Catholic minorities outside the West are being tortured, forced from their homes, unjustly imprisoned, and murdered in no small measure because of their association with the Church’s teachings on the human person — including sexuality, marriage, the value of life, the evil of oppression, and the absolute right of every human being to religious freedom.

Unfortunately, religious persecution is spreading globally. According to Pew Research, over 80 percent of the world’s population live in nations where religion is highly restricted. Numerically Christians suffer the most, with Muslims not far behind. Catholics are particularly vulnerable in the Middle East and Asia.

In Iraq, the depredations of ISIS have devastated the Chaldean Catholic community, the largest of the Iraqi Christian groups. Today Catholicism in Iraq is at risk of being eliminated, as are other non-Muslim minorities. This is a tragedy for the Church, and a national security threat for the United States. Unless non-Muslim minorities can be enticed back, the opportunity for stabilizing pluralism in Iraq will have been lost – perhaps forever. The sons of ISIS and Al Qaeda will return.

In China, the government is accelerating its cruel oppression of Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Protestants, and Catholics. Unfortunately, the Vatican has signed an accord permitting Chinese Communists to control bishop appointments. Among other things, this means China’s bishops will be less likely to witness to the truth about Beijing’s assault on human dignity.

Religious freedom is also declining in the West, including in the United States. For over two centuries religious freedom was styled as “the first freedom” of America because it was understood as necessary for individual, social, and political flourishing. That understanding is now under assault. Many seek to remove religion from American public life, especially in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

For example, the “Equality Act” recently introduced in Congress would make SOGI a protected class under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, exposing Catholic institutions to lawsuits and financial ruin. It would likely mean loss of tax exemptions for Catholic schools, forcing parents of children with gender dysphoria to facilitate their “transition” to another sex, and driving small business owners who won’t participate in same sex weddings out of business. The inexorable logic of this law, whose premise is that Catholics are like racists, could lead to legal requirements that the Church perform same-sex marriages.

How should Catholics respond to such threats? First, exercise your freedom (there is a reason the First Amendment guarantees “free exercise” of religion). This means more than attending Mass. It means proclaiming and witnessing to truth about justice, human dignity, marriage, and sexuality, and voting and entering into civic engagement accordingly.

Second, defend religious freedom for others – as the Church does in its 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom. Demand the same freedoms for American Muslims, Jews, and all others that you seek. Demand that your government’s foreign policy advance religious freedom for everyone.

Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that faith and reason are “the two wings by which we fly to the truth.” We need both wings if we are to live our lives as the Catholics we are called to be. And we need both if we are to live up to his exhortation: “Be not afraid!”

THOMAS FARR , member of the Northern Virginia Chapter, is president of the Religious Freedom Institute, a D.C based non-profit that advances religious freedom for all people, as a source of human dignity, social and political flourishing, and international security. He was founding director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom (1999-2003), and of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center (2011-18). He was an associate professor of the Practice of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service from 2007-2018.

Business meets faith – and they get along well

“Don’t let the collar fool you,” our executive director (and Legatus member) Janet Morana tells the new employees of Priests for Life, as she speaks about my role as national director.

She helps our staff – which consists of approximately 50 people in various branch offices — to avoid a common misconception people have about the connection between their work and their faith.

The misconception is that somehow, conducting business in the context of faith means being less business-like, or exempting oneself or one’s company from the very best practices and highest standards of the profession with which one is associated.

Faith does not justify being less qualified, less disciplined, less professional, less precise, or less determined to succeed. If anything, conducting business as believers means we are more compelled to strive for excellence.

Why? Because we know that our work not only means earthly progress but heavenly progress, and by our professional excellence we seek to give God the glory, as His sons and daughters.

Indeed, the Church teaches that the good we bring into the world by our professional work endures into the world to come! (see Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 36-39).

Janet tells our Priests for Life employees, therefore, that the priest who is also their employer is going to be no less demanding than any other employer.

Let’s take a practical example that often arises: the need for good planning. As people of faith, we believe in the Holy Spirit and rely on his inspirations. But it would be silly, and indeed contrary to faith, to think that this stance of faith exempts us from board meetings, rigorous business plans, training sessions, and accountability to deadlines.

On the contrary, the intelligence we exercise in strategic planning, the wisdom to consult our own experience and that of others, and the discipline to set and keep deadlines, are in themselves gifts of that same Holy Spirit. Planning should never be divorced from prayer, but neither should prayer replace planning.

Another aspect of the relationship between faith and the business environment is that one’s place of business should be a place where the religious freedom of the employees and the employer can live nicely together.

A Christian business is not a religious community; the employees can be of different faith backgrounds. And Christian employers want their employees – whatever their faith may be – to feel free to express and practice it.

And the same goes for the employer. His or her practice of the faith is not at all an imposition of religion on the employees. This was made clear in the whole battle over the Obama HHS Mandate, which sought to force employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs in the health insurance offered to their employees. Priests for Life, as well as Legatus and many others, challenged this mandate in court. We ultimately prevailed.

But one of the arguments the other side made – and a common misconception – was that we were forcing our employees to adopt our religious beliefs and practices. Not at all. Rather, the legal argument was that the government could not force us to violate our faith as we conduct our business.

My friend Joe Brinck told me long ago that on his business stationery he had the motto, “We Defend Life from Fertilization to Natural Death” – a simple, powerful example of being God’s witness in the workplace.

The Christian faith is based on the Incarnation. God really does get mixed in with human flesh and blood, relationships, families, businesses and nations. We can, indeed, each be a faithful believer and a top-notch professional.

FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Make religious liberty great again

President Donald Trump said he’d promote commonsense policies that would “Make America Great Again” and would stand up to politically correct bullying from the left. So why isn’t he doing that in the case of religious freedom? Twice now, he has failed to stand up for commonsense policy on religious liberty when liberal opponents lashed out against it.

Ryan Anderson

Back in February, he caved to the protests of liberal special interest groups as he declined to issue a robust executive order on religious liberty that had been leaked to hostile press. And in early May, he issued a rather weak executive order on “free speech and religious liberty” that does not address the major threats to religious liberty in the United States today.

President Trump’s executive order, while welcome, is woefully inadequate in meeting the challenges of our time. Congress must act, therefore, to address the major threats to religious liberty in the United States today. It must correct the violations that took place during the previous administration, and prevent future administrations from violating the religious liberty rights of Americans.

Trump’s EO contains three main components. First, it contains general language about the importance of religious liberty, saying the executive branch “will honor and enforce” existing laws and instructing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “issue guidance” on existing law. Second, it instructs the Department of the Treasury to be lenient in the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment—a law limiting the political activities of 501c3 organizations—as applied to religious organizations. And third, it instructs the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (HHS) to “consider issuing amended regulations” to “address conscience-based objections” to the HHS contraception mandate.

So why is it weak? The first component simply reiterates what already exists—the federal government should be honoring and enforcing our religious liberty laws anyway. On the second, legislation—such as the Free Speech Fairness Act—is required to actually address the Johnson Amendment, which doesn’t concern the most pressing religious liberties facing Americans. And on the third, the EO merely tells the agencies to “consider” new regulations, but the Supreme Court has already unanimously instructed the federal government to resolve the case of Little Sisters of the Poor and other HHS mandate cases.

Much more is needed. Congress should give President Trump the opportunity to sign robust religious liberty protections. Lawmakers must take the lead not just on these three issues, but on the most pressing religious liberty challenges of our day.

Congress can start by passing the Russell Amendment, the Conscience Protection Act, and the First Amendment Defense Act.

The Russell Amendment protects the abilities of religious organizations to make staffing decisions in keeping with their religious identity and mission. It provides protections and exemptions consistent with the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to all religious organizations that contract with the federal government or receive grants.

The Conscience Protection Act creates a private right of action that allows people to sue in federal court if they believe there has been a violation of the Weldon Amendment, which prevents federal, state and local governments that receive certain federal funds from discriminating against health care entities that decline to “provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”This would address unlawful policies in California and New York that force all health care plans to cover abortion.

The First Amendment Defense Act prevents federal agencies from discriminating against individuals or institutions for following their convictions about marriage as a man-woman union by revoking their nonprofit tax status, or denying them government grants, contracts, accreditation or licenses.

President Trump promised to sign into law both the Conscience Protection Act and the First Amendment Defense Act. Congress should send them to his desk.

These protections would take nothing away from anyone. They simply would ensure that the public square remains open to all religious voices, even when those voices diverge from the government’s view on contested questions. They would protect diversity, pluralism and tolerance. They are a license to participate.

As I explain in my new book from Oxford University Press, Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, religious liberty is a birthright of all Americans. And yet over recent years, Americans have seen their religious liberty rights under assault as never before. Congress must act so that all Americans may seek out and serve God and their neighbors according to their own convictions, not the government’s.

RYAN T. ANDERSON (@RyanTAnd) is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author of the new book “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination” (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Catholics and Campaign 2016

Serious Catholics bring to American politics a distinctive way of thinking about public life that’s built on four core principles, drawn from the Church’s social doctrine.

George Weigel

George Weigel

The first principle is personalism, or the human rights principle. It teaches us that protecting the inalienable dignity and value of every human life is the first requirement of a just society. The second principle is the common good, or the communitarian principle. It teaches us that our individual rights should be exercised so that all society benefits from our labors.

The third principle is called, technically, subsidiarity; we can call it the free association principle. It teaches us that all concentrations of power are dangerous; that political responsibility should be exercised at local levels, not just nationally (or globally); and that the free associations of civil society (like the family and the Church) are the first schools of freedom.

And the fourth principle is solidarity, or the principle of civic friendship. It teaches us that the free and virtuous society is bound together by more than legal contracts — it must be bound together by a sense of mutual obligation, care and concern.

These principles are expressions of two more basic Catholic convictions: that freedom is not mere willfulness (“I did it my way”) and that human beings are more than twitching bundles of desires that the state is obliged to help fulfill. In the Catholic view of things, human beings are capable, with the help of grace, of choosing the right thing for the right reason, and doing so as a matter of habit — all of which makes for freedom rightly understood. Moreover, the Church teaches that human happiness is found through making our lives into a gift for others, rather than merely asserting ourselves and our willfulness against others.

This view of what makes for human flourishing and these bedrock principles of the Church’s social doctrine suggest that there are three priority issues that Catholics should promote in Campaign 2016 — and at every level: local, state and federal.

The first of these, of course, is the right to life from conception until natural death. Ours is now a society in which entire classes of people can be subjected to lethal violence because they’ve been declared beyond the reach of the law’s protection. That’s what the Supreme Court declared in its 1973 and 1992 decisions creating and then reaffirming the abortion license; that’s what various states have done in permitting euthanasia; and we can be sure that pressures are going to increase for removing the “burdensome” — those who are physically disabled or cognitively handicapped — from our midst. Against this culture of death, Catholics must propose a culture of life that cherishes life at all stages and in all conditions, and that cares for those who are experiencing crisis pregnancies or the burdens of age, illness or handicap.

The second priority issue is religious freedom in full. There have been unprecedented assaults on religious freedom over the past seven years at every level of government. Catholics must insist — and must persuade all people of good will — that religious freedom is not simply freedom of worship (although it surely includes that). Religious freedom includes the freedom of religious institutions to be themselves and to conduct their educational, charitable and social service ministries according to the standards set by their conscientiously held religious convictions. Absent a robust renewal of religious freedom, Catholic institutions risk becoming mere extensions of the state. That would be bad for the Church and bad for American democracy (click for a related story).

The third priority issue is the restoration of limited, constitutional government. The modern state seems to have an inexorable tendency to expand the reach of its power and to swallow up both free associations and smaller governmental units. Pope Pius XI recognized this tendency in the 1920s and addressed it in his landmark social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 when he cemented the principle of subsidiarity into the foundations of the Church’s social doctrine. In American terms, our federal system is an expression of that principle. That is why Catholics are called upon to defend the prerogatives of state and local government over the encroachments of federal power and to resist the rapid expansion of the administrative state — those bureaucracies that increasingly govern our lives.

In promoting these principles in American politics, Catholics should bring to Campaign 2016 the Church’s longstanding conviction that voting is an exercise in moral reasoning and moral judgment, not an exercise in raw emotion. In doing so, Catholics can elevate our politics and help rebuild our increasingly tattered culture, proving once again that U.S. Catholics are the best Americans they can be when they’re the best Catholics they can be.

GEORGE WEIGEL is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

Emerging threats to religious liberty

It’s guaranteed. The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to exercise their faith freely. And that right is what allows citizens to practice the corporal works of mercy through the activities of ministries and nonprofits.

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

But in recent years, religious liberty has come under attack with increasing frequency and severity. Who’d have ever thought the government would try to force the Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., to facilitate coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their employee health plans or face millions of dollars in annual fines?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has exempted well-connected wealthy corporations like Exxon, Boeing and CocaCola from complying with the mandate. But it could only muster a disingenuous “accommodation” to the Little Sisters of the Poor that would require them to sign a document authorizing the government to use their health plan to cover objectionable drugs and devices. Believing that the government’s proposal is an “accommodation” is like believing that hiring a hit man eliminates a person’s moral culpability for ending the victim’s life.

Now churches themselves are under attack. In April the New York Times quoted an activist who demanded the Church be “made” to “take homosexuality off the sin list.” Time magazine ran a column advocating that nonprofit tax status be stripped from religious groups “that dissent” from the government’s marriage policies.

Prudence requires that, given such serious threats, religious institutions take steps now to protect themselves. We should urgently encourage private schools, hospitals, ministries and other organizations we support to audit their governing documents to find weaknesses and make strategic decisions.

The Heritage Foundation recently published a special report to help ministries through this process. Protecting Your Right to Serve: How Religious Ministries Can Meet New Challenges Without Changing Their Witness is full of examples of how unsuspecting schools and other nonprofits were slapped with lawsuits on everything from housing and employment discrimination charges to licensing requirements that force professionals to violate their consciences. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found a Catholic college in Charlotte, N.C., guilty of sex discrimination because its health plan didn’t cover contraceptives. A Catholic school in Macon, Ga., dismissed its music teacher when he announced a same-sex “wedding,” but now his sex-discrimination case is pending after an unfavorable ruling in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is even wielding its influence to advance “transgender rights” via a June announcement that employers must allow men who believe they are women into women’s restrooms.

Despite the discouraging actions of federal agencies and some activist judges, Americans’ strong commitment to religious liberty is reflected in our state and federal laws and our culture. States have passed their own versions of the federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect what President Clinton once called “the most precious of all American liberties.”

Today religious groups can take advantage of over 2,000 religious exemptions and accommodations in state and federal law. The Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby decision that closely held family businesses cannot be forced to comply with the HHS abortion pill mandate. I’m cautiously optimistic that the Little Sisters will prevail and once again be able to focus on caring for the 13,000 elderly poor in their homes around the world.

But optimism is no substitute for preparation. Each organization’s board should conduct a “mission audit” to understand where any potential weaknesses are and to consider adjusting their governing documents to stand on a stronger legal footing. The board should take these three steps:

1.) Evaluate how well its documents and operations reflect its religious mission. 2.) Identify specific pressures it is likely to face from local, state, and federal laws and regulations. 3.) Make strategic decisions to protect the mission, better utilize protections under the law, and prepare a plan to deal with potential challenges.

The Special Report was written as a guide to help religious organizations navigate through choppy waters, but it should not be construed as legal advice. It’s wise for organizations to retain an attorney well versed in nonprofit law. If your organization can’t afford an attorney, it should consult with an experienced religious liberty legal organization that can provide pro bono services.

RYAN NICHOLS is the associate director of coalition relations at The Heritage Foundation, a leading national think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Religious freedom and the family

MONSIGNOR JOSEPH SCHAEDEL writes that Catholics must stand for religious liberty . . .

Monsignor Joseph Schaedel

Monsignor Joseph Schaedel

by Monsignor Joseph Schaedel

It’s obvious that one of the greatest threats to our Catholic ideal of marriage and family is the absurd notion that the government or the courts can redefine marriage. God defined it permanently thousands of years ago.

Those who follow the news have heard of the political war in my state of Indiana over our RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act). I’ve always lived in Indiana, and I have never seen such a political circus in my life! Many people have asked me about the RFRA, but I sort of avoided the question. I’m not afraid to discuss the religious freedom law, but I’m not interested in talking about it with people who have no idea what they’re talking about — or who have no interest in knowing the facts.

In each case, when I was questioned, I asked the inquirer if they had read the bill. So far not one of them has. I learned the hard way back in grade school that it’s not a good idea to report on or even discuss a book or article you’ve never read. Trying to do so makes you look stupid.

When I was ordained a priest 33 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think we would see clergy being forced to officiate at “weddings” that directly contradict the minister’s own faith. Nor did I ever imagine the president of the United States and his administration dragging the Little Sisters of the Poor into court so as to force them to pay for objectionable medical procedures and products that cause abortions.

The controversy swirling around Indiana’s RFRA made constant use of the word “discrimination.” We need to make a distinction between “discrimination” and “unjust discrimination.” We all discriminate. We discriminate between Coke and Pepsi, Shell and Exxon, the choices discriminating parents make for families about schools, and so forth.

The Catholic Church discriminates: Non-Catholics may not receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass. Persons previously married may not remarry in the Catholic Church unless they receive a Church annulment. Women may not be ordained. We’re not the only ones: Only Mormons may enter the Mormon Temple. Only celibate Orthodox priests can become Orthodox bishops. And so on.

Unjust discrimination is something else. This is when we decide against or in favor of someone for reasons which violate the human dignity and rights of that person (made in God’s image) often on the basis of race, color, or creed. And nowadays we are aware that it’s often done on the basis of religion, gender or sexual identity.

The sad part is that unjust discrimination is all around us. Catholics are at the top of the list. For example, at the end of March, Toronto’s city council voted to bar a woman from the Toronto public health board because of “her Catholic views.” Did you read this in the mainstream media or see it on any major news network? Of course not. And you won’t. This is nothing new. A dozen years ago, a non-Catholic author named Philip Jenkins wrote a book called The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice (Oxford University Press, 2003).

There are innumerable instances of unjust discrimination against other religious groups and various groups of people. A major difference is that most don’t have huge amounts of money — like some groups do — to pay big public relations firms to stir up people in sympathy for our plight.

A case in point would be the current ruckus against the archbishop of San Francisco. The archbishop wants to make sure that all Catholic high school teachers live, work and teach in such a way that does not contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church. His opponents are spending lots of money on high-profile professional PR firms to oppose him.

The Catholic Church teaches that all unjust discrimination and prejudice is clearly wrong; it is sinful. Of course, the spotlight in our current Indiana situation seems to be on persons of same-sex attraction and those who wish to redefine marriage. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has three specific sections referring to homosexual persons. The Catechism clearly states that “they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (# 2358).

Family and marriage are sacred; they cannot be “redefined.” But anyone who thinks they might be able to hide behind the federal RFRA or Indiana’s RFRA in order to unjustly discriminate anybody is out of luck. They need to read not only the RFRA, but also the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

MONSIGNOR JOSEPH F. SCHAEDEL is the chaplain of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter and pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Indianapolis.

Awaiting Francis

Will the Holy Father tackle the tough issues when he visits the United States? . . . 

by Judy Roberts

As excitement builds for Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States in September, many Catholics are hoping the Holy Father will seize the opportunity to speak out on the issues that most concern them.

During his six-day trip, Pope Francis will address Congress and the United Nations, meet with President Obama, and preside over the first World Meeting of Families to take place in North America. Each venue would seem to offer him a platform for concerns like the plight of persecuted Christians, threats to religious freedom and the family, and the dangers inherent in embracing contraception and abortion.

Meeting with Obama

Leonard Leo

Leonard Leo

What the Holy Father will say remains to be seen. According to a White House statement, the Pope’s Sept. 23 meeting with President Obama will cover such issues as “caring for the marginalized and the poor, advancing economic opportunity for all, serving as good stewards of the environment, protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities.”

However, parts of the Pope’s conversation with President Obama are likely to be private, giving the Holy Father an opportunity to discuss concerns that are not necessarily on the agenda.

Leonard Leo, a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter, said the Pope and the President obviously share some similar perspectives on economic and immigration issues. However, Leo said he hopes the meeting will focus on areas where there is not agreement, such as the sanctity of human life, the natural moral order in relation to marriage, and freedom of conscience.

“We’re having a crisis in our country on the issue of conscience,” Leo said. “I think that the Holy Father having a dialogue with the President on that issue would be very useful. It may or may not have an impact, but I think it’s important.”

Leo, who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society and co-founder of the Catholic Association and the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, said he also thinks the Holy Father will be in a good position to articulate the underpinnings of the Church’s teachings on life and traditional marriage, which are not widely understood.

Leo said he also hopes that Pope Francis will be able to discuss religious freedom with President Obama.

“The President’s vision is freedom of worship,” he said. “He’s perfectly happy to have us say our prayers in the pews. He’s not particularly happy with seeing religion in the public square, and America has a long history of embracing freedom of religion, which pertains to freedom of conscience.”

Religious freedom and the U.N.

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said he expects that the Holy Father will challenge President Obama on a broader understanding of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

“Religious freedom is certainly ripe for conversation,” he said, both in the context of Christian businesses that want the right to refuse participation in same-sex weddings and those that object to providing abortifacient contraceptives in their health plans.

Ruse, whose group monitors and seeks to affect social policy debate at the United Nations, said when Pope Francis visits the U.N. on Sept. 25, he would not anticipate him talking about abortion, population control and contraception — concerns that are known to roil the international body. At the same time, he said, he will be disappointed if the Pope doesn’t mention them.

“He already says that we shouldn’t obsess on these types of issues, so I suspect that he will follow his own advice, which will be unfortunate because the African countries in particular are most upset at the imposition of this radical sexual ideology on their countries by U.N. agencies and western non-governmental organizations.”

Ruse said Pope Francis will likely talk about the environment, poverty, global inequality, human rights, and perhaps the plight of Christians in Africa and the Middle East — issues of concern to the U.N. on which the Holy Father has spoken.

“All these are very good things,” Ruse explained. “Tucked in among them I would love to hear him talk about what he himself has referred to as the gender ideology, which is being imposed on the developing world by western elites.”

On his return flight from the Philippines earlier this year, the Pope warned wealthy western nations against forcing this ideology — which holds that gender is not biological, but cultural — on developing nations by tying it to foreign aid and education.

Leo said the most important issue the Pope can address at the U.N. concerns what the international community is going to do about the persecution of Christians around the world. Neither the U.N. Council on Human Rights nor the General Assembly is doing enough about it, he said. “That’s what the Church can bring to bear at a meeting of the U.N. because we can speak with persuasive force and expertise.”

World Meeting of Families

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia — where the Pope will take part in the World Meeting of Families from Sept. 26-27 — told Legatus magazine it’s obvious that family life is a signature concern of Francis’ pontificate.

In light of that, he said, “I think the Pope will press Catholics to take their faith more seriously and to conform their hearts and their behaviors to the truth of Catholic teaching about the family. That’s the only guarantee of a healthy family, and healthy families are the only guarantee of a healthy and humane society.”

Added Ruse: “I think it’s going to be a remarkable moment for him to speak to American Catholics about the importance of family and religious belief.” Ruse said he hopes the Pope is in a “rally-the-troops” mood because it’s a time when the American people are in need of leaders who will lead, particularly in the wake of court actions that have overturned the will of the people expressed in votes to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Archbishop Chaput said he thinks Francis’ popularity means his U.S. visit will have a positive effect on Catholics who have drifted from the faith.

“Our work will begin after the Pope returns to Rome,” he said. “We need to live the kind of Christian witness that will draw alienated people more deeply back into the Church.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Learn more:

WorldMeeting2015.org

PopeFrancisVisit.com

America is broken

Sen. Rick Santorum calls on Legatus members change the culture despite the odds . . . 

Many people are saying that America is broken and, yes, it is broken.

But that’s no reason to lack hope. It is every reason to be energized, because you are here at a time in American history when your country needs you, when you and everything you do can make a difference to have the hand of God put over America again. God’s hand was removed because we let it happen. It happened on our watch.

Senator Rick Santorum

Senator Rick Santorum

Hostile culture

If you’re like me, you were once living a life you’re not proud to talk about. But things in my life changed and put me on a different course. Marriage turned my life around when I dedicated myself forever and unconditionally to my wife, and she to me, under God. And when children came along, something else in my life changed: faith. Until then, faith was part of my life, but it wasn’t at the center of my life. It didn’t drive what I did; it was just something that I did on Sunday — and sometimes not even then. There was no personal, intimate love for our Savior.

There are millions of people in America who are just like I used to be — lost, despite being full of ambition and thinking they’re very successful, but missing something in their lives. More and more people are like that because, unlike in the past when there was a culture of faith in America, that’s no longer the case. God has been kicked out of the public square, the schools, popular entertainment.

Mother Teresa said that God does not call us to be successful: He calls us to be faithful. After fighting so hard in the Senate repeatedly to pass a bill outlawing partial-birth abortion and repeatedly losing against President Clinton, in the eyes of the world I was a failure. But I learned that in the eyes of God, success or failure was not mine to determine.

Amidst all that fighting and losing, all those debates and press coverage served to expose the full horror of abortion to the American people. For the first time since Roe v. Wade, attitudes on abortion began to change. So in what we thought was losing, God gave us a victory.

When you’re doing what John Paul II always admonished us — “be not afraid” — the culture will not be kind to you. But God will bless your sacrifices. He will bless the failures.

Fixing America

America is broken because we are afraid to fight. Surveys report that 75-80% of Americans believe in God, that about 40% of people call themselves conservative, and only 15-20% are liberal. Yet who is transforming our culture? How are they winning when there are more of us? They are winning because they are committed, they are united, they fight everywhere. They will not tolerate dissent.

Now we have people here who have had the courage to stand up, and you’re paying a price. But don’t you feel good about taking a stand, doing what you’re being called to do? Many of you are doing it in your businesses, but are you doing it in your schools? What about your churches? Is your pastor one of those pastors who doesn’t feel comfortable talking about those things that may drive people out? Are you holding him accountable for it? Let me assure you that the folks who don’t want to hear about those things, they’re chewing his ear every time he may have the courage to speak out.

Look back at the American Revolution, when everything was stacked against the colonials fighting the British. How did they win? Read the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence if you have any doubt how they won: “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” How many of us are pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to fight for the gifts that those men fought and died for?

The hardest thing to do is not winning and establishing freedom, but maintaining freedom. We have our lives. We have important things to do. But we don’t live at a time in America when we can afford to stop fighting.

Historian Christopher Lasch wrote, “Every day we get up and tell ourselves lies so that we can live.” We say, “I can’t do anything. What can I do?” I have a one-word answer: something.

Now again, you are doing something. You’re members of Legatus. But you folks are powerful people, influential in your community and your church. You need to look deep inside and ask yourself, “Am I doing all I can do to serve Him and the country He blessed so much? Or am I telling myself lies, so that I can live and do what I want to do?”

SEN. RICK SANTORUM is CEO of EchoLight Studios. He served as a U.S. Senator representing Pennsylvania from 1995-2007. This article is from a talk he gave at the Legatus Summit on Feb. 7, 2014.

Reforming capitalism for freedom

MICHAEL M. MILLER writes that our economy needs serious reform — business as usual is not acceptable. However, a correct diagnosis of the problem is in order before making significant changes. He also argues that the free market requires serious moral restraint — especially on the part of those with power like big businesses and government  . . . . 

Michael M. Miller

Michael M. Miller

In the wake of the financial crisis, one of the recurring themes among business and political leaders is the need to reform capitalism and create new ways to think about business and the role of profit.

The common narrative is that “business as usual” doesn’t work. We’ve tried the free market and while it made money for some, it also caused the housing boom, the financial crisis, and created a society where all that matters is making as much profit as possible. The financial crisis is calling us to come up with new models of how we should arrange the economy. There are two issues here: first, a new way of looking at business and second, the reform of the current economic system. Let me address both, beginning with business.

It’s good that business leaders are making an effort to understand that business is about more than just profit. Profit is important, of course, but as Blessed John Paul II reminded us, profit is not the main purpose of business. The main purpose is to serve human needs and wants. Profit is one of the indicators that reveals whether you are meeting those needs.

I also agree that business as usual is not enough. We’ve had some serious moral crises in business from fraudulent accounting to big banks colluding with the government to receive special bailouts. What’s more, business is not outside the requirements of morality. Most corporate social responsibility programs have a serious flaw — they are relativistic. You can’t build a culture of business ethics if there is no truth and no right and wrong. Though mainstream business leaders rarely talk about it, business has the moral and social responsibility to cultivate a healthy moral ecology. This means honesty and obeying the laws; it also means respecting families and not exploiting women to sell products.

Let’s move to the issue of reforming the economy. There is incessant talk about the need to reform capitalism, but my first question is: What do we mean by capitalism? Unfortunately, the term “capitalism” has become proxy for “that which is bad” and often becomes a substitute for the sins of greed and avarice. There’s another problem — and a more serious one. In common parlance word “capitalism” is usually identified with a free-market economy both by its detractors and defenders. But capitalism and the free market are not always the same thing. There are many different varieties of capitalism: oligarchic capitalism, corporate capitalism, crony capitalism, managerial capitalism, and free-market capitalism to name a few.

Most of the critics of capitalism lament so-called “market fundamentalism” or “unfettered markets,” but we don’t have anything of the sort. What we have in the U.S. is a type of managerial-crony capitalism where big business and big government collude to make regulations that serve their interests. When things went wrong with our managerial capitalist system, instead of assigning blame correctly we blamed this mythical free market.

Our economy does need reform, but if we are going to address a problem we have to identify it correctly. The problem is that our diagnosis is wrong. The source of the financial crisis was not “market fundamentalism” but a complex interrelationship of government regulation, lobbying by interest groups, the manipulation of interest rates and the money supply, big business and government collusion, and political and social policy all mixed in with age-old vices like greed and imprudence.

There is a tendency to think that the default position of capitalism is a free market and that regulations and government interventions are necessary to resist this return to what is called “unfettered” or “savage” capitalism. But this is a serious misconception. In practice, the free market requires serious moral restraint — especially on the part of those with power like big businesses, government and interest groups. They have to exercise restraint and virtue not to use their power to gain an unfair advantage by colluding or lobbying the government for protection. One of the most important, though often neglected, elements of authentic corporate social responsibility is for companies to help maintain and encourage a free and competitive economy that enables entrepreneurs to compete — even if this means a possible loss to their own business. Too often companies, once they become successful, look to government to undermine the free and competitive economy that they benefited from.

Free economies are like free societies. As William Allen said well, you cannot have self-government without self-governors. In the same way you cannot have a free economy without free and virtuous people. A real free and competitive market, to use Lord Acton’s line, is “the delicate fruit of a mature civilization.”

MICHAEL M. MILLER is a research fellow at the Acton Institute and director of PovertyCure, which promotes entrepreneurial solutions to poverty in the developing world.

Freedom fighter

A 2013 Legatus Summit speaker, Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori engages the culture . . .

Imagine picking up your morning paper and reading these headlines: “Priest Fined for not Marrying Same-Sex Couple,” “Catholic Hospital Closed for Refusal to Perform Sterilizations,” and “Notre Dame University to Close, Refuses to Offer Employees Abortion Coverage.”

Though these headlines sound far-fetched, they’re not. Archbishop William Lori, Baltimore’s newly appointed archbishop, has been working day and night to make sure these headlines are never printed. He is the U.S. bishops’ point man on religious freedom — an issue that grows more pressing by the day, despite the fact that it’s all but ignored by the mainstream media.

Secular erosion

Archbishop Lori has been the chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty since September 2011. He led last summer’s “Fortnight for Freedom” and speaks regularly to Catholics and the news media. He has testified before Congress several times.

“In the past, there was much more overtly anti-Catholic activity in this country,” he told Legatus magazine. “Today, things are more under the surface. The dangerous things happen behind the curtains. This is why it’s so important for us Catholics to reveal what’s going on and to hold officials accountable for making rules which are anti-Catholic and anti-religious.”

The issue of religious liberty affects an enormous array of human activity, which is why Archbishop Lori believes it’s so important to engage the culture.

“There are challenges to religious liberty in every state with same-sex ‘marriage,’” he said. “Catholic social services are being discriminated against because they don’t offer contraception. Student groups are being decertified because of their Christian principles. There is also the ever-present battle to take all religious symbols out of the public square. Individuals sometimes find their professional licenses revoked because of their Christianity.”

Archbishop Lori, who will be speaking on religious freedom at the Legatus Summit in February, said the threats to our first freedom take place on many levels, especially the judicial and legislative. But the biggest challenge is cultural.

“As secularism takes hold, more and more people marginalize the faith,” he said. “This is when religious liberty is imperiled.”

Solutions

As the bishops’ leader on religious freedom, Archbishop Lori offers various solutions.

“First, like the pro-life movement, we need to pray,” he said. “This must be the engine that drives the protection of religious liberty. Right now we have a rosary novena going on, and there is a national prayer for religious liberty. I foresee that this fight is going to take a long, long time.”

He also believes that Catholics must continue to engage their elected officials. They must write to members of Congress and demand legislative relief.

“It’s good for bishops to testify before Congress, but it’s better for them to hear from the faithful,” he said.

Archbishop Lori believes that Catholics must also become better informed about the issues affecting the Church in the public square.

“It’s sadly apparent that many Catholics are not informed [of the government’s hostility to the Church] because schools and hospitals are still open. It’s not as if these buildings are being burned. But this is a fight which is below the surface through subtle instructions. When you analyze it, it’s a sea change. It’s a real alteration of the way in which the Church and state interact.”

In addition, Catholics must better understand Church teaching and then impart it to others. “The new evangelization takes stock of the new situation in which the Church finds herself, how people find happiness, how they communicate, what they regard as important, where there is brokenness. It’s helping to see how the Gospel responds to our questions, concerns and emptiness.”

Archbishop Lori recalls how Pope John Paul II said that we must show how Jesus is the answer to every person who comes into the world: Jesus is the answer to the needs of every heart.

There are a number of good books, he said, that explain limited government and religious freedom — such as Archbishop Chaput’s Render Unto Caesar. Catholics must equip themselves to speak knowledgeably on this issue.

Catholics can also join legislative networks — like their own state’s Catholic conference. And the U.S. bishops have a text message campaign for religious freedom. If you text the word “freedom” to 377377, you will receive regular texts directly from the USCCB.

Tackling the Issues

The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate is enemy No. 1 for Catholics who value religious liberty. The mandate demands that all businesses offer employees health insurance that provides contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs. Religious organizations are exempt if they serve only members of their faith and exist only to propagate their faith’s doctrine.

“The HHS mandate goes too far,” said Chris Gunty, associate publisher of the Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper. “Because Catholic Charities hires people who are not Catholic and serves people who are not Catholic, they are not exempt.”

In fact, every Catholic hospital, university, and charity could be fined excessively under the mandate, forcing them to close.

More than 100 plaintiffs in more than 35 lawsuits are fighting the mandate in court, said Kim Daniels, co-director of Catholic Voices USA. “Archbishop Lori has been a tremendous leader in defending religious freedom. He’s been involved in this issue for a long time, and he’s really engaged.”

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association, agrees. “He has been everywhere on this issue. The bishops have called for lay people to get involved in this fight, but the flock needs a shepherd. And he has been an incredible shepherd. His leadership has been stellar and invaluable.”

Archbishop Lori also led the fight to defeat Maryland’s same-sex “marriage” ballot measure. However, it failed on Nov. 6, losing by a narrow margin (52-48%). “We will continue to witness to the values of marriage … the union of one man and one woman, as the most sound, secure and loving way to bring children into the world,” he said in a statement.

Though Maryland law allows religious organizations to opt out of renting property or performing services for gays, Archbishop Lori knows there are deeper problems. Once a state allows gay “marriage,” religious liberty begins to erode.

Gunty, a member of Legatus’ Baltimore Chapter, concurs. “There was a bed and breakfast in Vermont that refused to rent their location for a same-sex ‘marriage’ ceremony. They were sued. The ramification is that they can’t rent out their facility for anything anymore.

When same-sex ‘marriage’ becomes the law of the land, then to hold another opinion becomes politically incorrect, and people will take action against you.”

Archbishop Lori says the fight for religious liberty will be an ongoing battle — and it will require lay leadership, and Catholic business leaders will be invaluable.

“People are looking for leadership,” he said. “If a person is a leader in business, for example, and a totally committed Catholic, they can give a reason for their hope. The way we overcome indifference is by a burning love for Christ and by asserting that faith confidently.”

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is Legatus magazine’s senior sta“ff writer.

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Your invitation to the 2013 Summit

Jeb Bush

The clock is ticking down to Legatus’ 2013 Summit — and excitement is building toward the Feb. 7-9 event at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. Because a capacity crowd of more than 500 participants is anticipated, organizers suggest booking a room as early as possible.

“The schedule is full of speakers that will entertain, educate and enrich our spiritual lives,” said Laura Sacha, Legatus’ conference director. “Even though we will be in Arizona with the desert as our backdrop, we will be immersed in the Louisiana culture as our host, the Baton Rouge Chapter, brings their flavor to the Summit.”

Jose H. Gomez

The Summit’s theme, “The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion,” takes its inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Porta Fidei (The Door of Faith). The roster of speakers and special guests is impressive. Confirmed faculty include:

• Gov. Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and convert to the Catholic faith

Matthew Kelly

• Baltimore Archbishop William Lori

• Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez, Legatus’ ecclesiastical advisor

• Legatus’ international chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs, Houma-Thibodaux (La.) diocese

• Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

• George Weigel, papal biographer and author of Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning

Ken Cuccinelli

• Catholic author and motivational speaker Matthew Kelly

• Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), author of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

• Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general

• Tommy Lasorda, former L.A. Dodgers manager

• Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, formerly Rosalind Moss, a convert form Judaism and foundress of the Daughters of Mary, mother of Israel’s Hope

• Mike Piazza, former Major League Baseball catcher with the New York Mets, L.A. Dodgers, Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Oakland A’s

• Fr. Frank “Rocky” Hoffman, executive director of Relevant Radio

• EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, master of ceremonies

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