On November 13, 2008  J. Francis Cardinal Stafford spoke before the International Conference to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.   His speech attracted singificant attention for its controversial viewpoint.  You can read the full text of the speech by clicking here.   Dr. Robert Moon, a member of the ReligiousLiberty.TV advisory panel responds.   Editor

 

" . . .if Obama, Biden and the new Congress are determined to implement the anti-life agenda which they spelled out before the election, I foresee the next several years as being among the most divisive in our nation's history." Cardinal Stafford 

"Widespread religious skepticism was the outcome. Nothing is recognized as definitive and "meaning itself is forever postponed."[26]  A  movement toward "a dictatorship of relativism" is the diagnosis which Pope Benedict XVI has given to this phenomenon. 

Is the current struggle between Catholic Moral Theology and Social policy, and Secular society political policy on an unavoidable collision course? The Pope's recent phone conversation with Pres. Obama and Pres. Obama's executive order making possible the use of American funds to support abortion internationally have profound implications for a potential collision course. Cardinal James Francis Stafford's November 13, 2008 Address to Catholic University of America, "Being True with Body and Soul"provides valuable insights from a Catholic perspective to complex religious-state-secular questions.

Moral Theology is the Catholic teaching about how man must live to obtain favor with God. Social policy is the body of social principles and moral teachings written in papal, conciliar, and other official documents.

The most recent is "Sacramentum Caritatis" (Exhortation on the Eucharist) by Pope Benedict XV1. Cardinal Stafford's address links sex and the Eucharist in a most interesting manner which bears much reflection. It should be recalled that Protestants have no Moral theology- ethics would be the closest consideration. It should also be recalled that the U.S. was formed by the "Protestant ethic" and that Catholic moral and social teachings in the high places of government are of recent origin.

Cardinal Stafford's address notes the current court rulings regarding adoption and artificial insemination, with their implications for Catholic institutions and thus the "coercion" of Catholic conscience. It traces the rise of Secularism to Jefferson in his "Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom" Jefferson said: "Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free. . .who being Lord both of body and mind, yet choose not to propagate it by coercion of either. . ." Jefferson's concern was also coercion and specifically the coercion of conscience caused by religion. It is particularly interesting that Jefferson and Cardinal Stafford have the same problem in mind – "coercion". The question, of course, is what is the best way to solve the problem of coercion.

The address is a forthright presentation of the Catholic position regarding the technological mindset which it projects forward to President Obama and his cabinet. The Cardinal lays the charge of "Deathworks" at the feet of the current administration. By this he means any and all acts which are "anti-life" including social engineering and the regulation of birth.

One of the philosophical problems he encounters, however, is whether in the case of aids couples should use prophylactics. Official church policy teaches that a state of "one flesh" is not attainable by the use of prophylactics The Cardinals solution is for the world to move from the "Ice age" of technology and secularism back to the "High Desert" of the Eucharist. It is only in the union of "one Flesh" with the "Bride and Bridegroom" that man is complete. Thus the "one flesh" of man and wife are corollary to the "one flesh" of the Bride and Bridegroom – unity with Christ and the church via Eucharist.

Jefferson, on the other hand, might contend that while God created both man and woman he also gave them both "reason" and that the church in unity with the state has most often abused both conscience and reason.

The facts are that both church and state are capable of coercion. One question the reader should consider is this: Is conscience more likely to be respected in a Nation where there is "separation of Church and State" or in a nation where the state adopts the "moral and social policy" of the church? A second question which needs to be considered is: does secular relativism have the potential to impose a state course of "social policy" and are we moving in this direction? Finally, is there a middle ground to these issues which avoids unnecessary religious or state coercion?

 Idealism always attempts to paint issues black and white. The reader will have to contemplate the heart wrenching question of sex, aids, prophylactics, and reason to resolve these issues.

Read Cardinal Stafford's Speech, "Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: "Being True with Body and Soul" here.

 
 

17 Comments

  1. Norm says:

    The article puts into perspective the struggle between a Religious and a Secular society. It invites the knowledgeable to ask if America developed as a Theocracy or a Pluralistic society. It helps us appreciate that America developed as a society where the Rights" of all are to be respected,coercion
    discouraged and separation of Church and state respected.

  2. Norm says:

    The article puts into perspective the struggle between a Religious and a Secular society. It invites the knowledgeable to ask if America developed as a Theocracy or a Pluralistic society. It helps us appreciate that America developed as a society where the Rights" of all are to be respected,coercion
    discouraged and separation of Church and state respected.

  3. Brandon says:

    In my opinion, the push towards secularism or a Godless state is like a religious unto itself. This religion has its own agenda which is often ant-family, anti-life, and all around against most forms of organized religion. This type of agenda will cause an eventual clash in our country which is still heavily religious and spiritual.

  4. Brandon says:

    In my opinion, the push towards secularism or a Godless state is like a religious unto itself. This religion has its own agenda which is often ant-family, anti-life, and all around against most forms of organized religion. This type of agenda will cause an eventual clash in our country which is still heavily religious and spiritual.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I think it is pretty clear already that Obama's effect on America is far from a "divisive" one. Every where I look there seem to be more and more unified people. It is a palpable phenomenon, and I hope it continues.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I think it is pretty clear already that Obama's effect on America is far from a "divisive" one. Every where I look there seem to be more and more unified people. It is a palpable phenomenon, and I hope it continues.

  7. manoj Tripathi says:

    The reason for collision is abortion and if abortion were to be banned, the number of unwed mothers and unwqnted babies would increasse the growing population of the world maniifold. Religion has to change with the times. It can not be based on the tenets of the past. This situation in the 18th or 17th or earlier centuries was not what it is today. We have to look at things in the present perspective. There shoud be no cause of conflict between religion and the policy makers.

  8. manoj Tripathi says:

    The reason for collision is abortion and if abortion were to be banned, the number of unwed mothers and unwqnted babies would increasse the growing population of the world maniifold. Religion has to change with the times. It can not be based on the tenets of the past. This situation in the 18th or 17th or earlier centuries was not what it is today. We have to look at things in the present perspective. There shoud be no cause of conflict between religion and the policy makers.

  9. Scott says:

    The fact of the matter is that it does not matter what the Pope thinks. He is a religious figure trying to dictate to a political machine in a completely different country. I am also tired of everyone talking about how giving money to other countries to promote birth control, safe sex, and informed decisions regarding abortion is ALL about abortion. It is NOT! Funding poor countries, as well as our own, on sexual education is a responsibility we have to the world!

  10. Scott says:

    The fact of the matter is that it does not matter what the Pope thinks. He is a religious figure trying to dictate to a political machine in a completely different country. I am also tired of everyone talking about how giving money to other countries to promote birth control, safe sex, and informed decisions regarding abortion is ALL about abortion. It is NOT! Funding poor countries, as well as our own, on sexual education is a responsibility we have to the world!

  11. Sam says:

    I do not think that church and state are on a collision course. Pres. Bush certainly tried to make that so, but I think that Pres. Obama will significantly curb this, especially by his reintroduction of science and reason into his policy and advisors.

  12. Sam says:

    I do not think that church and state are on a collision course. Pres. Bush certainly tried to make that so, but I think that Pres. Obama will significantly curb this, especially by his reintroduction of science and reason into his policy and advisors.

  13. Ali Agins says:

    So the unmarried Cardinal claims that the use of a condom will prevent the couple from "becoming one flesh".

    It is joining together in marriage that makes "one flesh".

    There are millions of couples all over the world that are unable to have sex for a variety of reasons. They remain together and celebrate being "one flesh".

    Marriage is about LOVE. It is not just for procreation. Why then do elderly people get married? Because there are benefits to having a loving partner.

    The RCC has a huge problem with homosexual priests and then they have their spokespersons try to set an agenda for married couples all over the world that would prevent them from a safe way to keep their families to a size that is right for them. To deny a condom to one with AIDS or other STDs is insane.

    Linking marriage or sexual union with the eucharist??? Jesus broke the bread and said it was HIS body.
    Cardinal seems to be really reaching!

  14. Ali Agins says:

    So the unmarried Cardinal claims that the use of a condom will prevent the couple from "becoming one flesh".

    It is joining together in marriage that makes "one flesh".

    There are millions of couples all over the world that are unable to have sex for a variety of reasons. They remain together and celebrate being "one flesh".

    Marriage is about LOVE. It is not just for procreation. Why then do elderly people get married? Because there are benefits to having a loving partner.

    The RCC has a huge problem with homosexual priests and then they have their spokespersons try to set an agenda for married couples all over the world that would prevent them from a safe way to keep their families to a size that is right for them. To deny a condom to one with AIDS or other STDs is insane.

    Linking marriage or sexual union with the eucharist??? Jesus broke the bread and said it was HIS body.
    Cardinal seems to be really reaching!

 
 
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