The USCCB’s Ad Hoc
Committee for Religious Liberty has just published “A Statement on
Religious Liberty” titled,
“Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”. This exhortation is
filled with erroneous statements and tragic historical examples from
our country’s history when certain Catholic principles were
compromised – which the USCCB holds up as shining examples of
In the first place,
the Faith teaches that our most cherished liberty is our
liberation from Original Sin and the consequences that follow (eternal
death), which Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ has obtained for us
through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
As for man’s
“liberty”, mankind has been endowed with free will, but only to use
for good – that which corresponds with Truth (i.e., Christ
and His Church) – but not to do evil. Or as the Catechism asks: “Why
did God create you?” Thus error never has any rights. However,
the secularistic and anti-Catholic principle of religious liberty
denies this reality and instead, makes error equal to Truth.
Certainly we must
fight for the liberty of the Catholic Church – that is, the ability
for her to fulfill her divine mission to save souls, promote the faith
(particularly in society) and enact the corporal acts of mercy.
However, this is a much different thing than defending
religious liberty, a false notion that originated with the Protestants
and condemned as an error under the generic title of “Liberalism”.
USCCB is exhorting Catholics to legitimately defend the Church’s
liberty via the false principle of “religious liberty” – and in doing
so, has presented a series of historical fallacies from our country’s
ecclesiastical history which exemplifies another error: “Americanism”,
condemned by Pope Leo XIII in
Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae.
historical examples of Americanism, we refer our readers to the
excellent articles of the late Dr. Justin Walsh published in The
Angelus magazine from February 1999 to September 2000; chief
amongst them is
“Heresy Blossoms Like a Rose”.
articles deal specifically with the historical infection of
Americanism amongst the United States hierarchy and many of their
practical consequences. From these it is easy to see how the
Americanist error eventually crossed the Atlantic and strongly
influenced the Second Vatican Council’s document on religious liberty,
Dignitatis Humanae, which most of the American hierarchy
strongly supported and advocated.
It is tragic that
the United States’ bishops who attended the Council (and those who
came after) did not heed their fellow American, Msgr. Joseph Fenton
(+1969), who vigorously fought the errors of religious liberty via his
editorship of the American Ecclesiastical Review and his books.
Instead the hierarchy thought that cozying up to the liberal
establishment would bring to the American Church peace. But as it was
not based upon Truth, it was ultimately a false peace and doomed to
fail as we are seeing today.
It is thus that we
are today witnessing the fulfillment of the famous quip “the
revolution eats it own”. We are now face-to-face with the outcome of
the American bishops’ support of religious liberty as they are being
coerced to jettison the Church’s moral teachings. Furthermore, the
USCCB’s unstinting praise and support of our country’s supposed
religious liberty doctrine is paradoxically ironic, as this has always
been elusive for American Catholics.
From the first –
starting with Lord Baltimore’s Maryland colony before it even left the
English dockside - the principle of religious liberty was applied
unequally to the Protestants. These same Protestants – while enjoying
religious freedom - also ensured that the local colonial laws in our
country generally forbade Catholics from practicing their religion in
public or holding civil office. But even worse, they supplanted
America’s original Catholic soul (paid with the blood of first
Spanish, then French missionaries) and heritage with their heretical
Despite all this,
for the defense and continuance of America's religious liberty the
USCCB has requested:
days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St.
Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this
"fortnight for freedom"—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our
liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who
remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St.
John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and
Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on
Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis,
and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American
heritage of liberty.
This suggestion is
astonishing because all of these saints opposed the error of religious
liberty – in fact, one could say they died because of this error
since they were martyred for Christ, Who is the only Way and Truth.
Thus they were unwilling to compromise – either morally and more
importantly, doctrinally – or to admit that any other way (“paths
to salvation” as Vatican II puts it) was acceptable.
We must pray –
particularly to the saints that the USCCB suggests - that the American
bishops will clearly speak with the authority of the Church that has
been bestowed upon them to defend the true and only Ark of Salvation
against her enemies with her own principles rather than of her
1 See Pope Gregory
Syllabus of Errors.
2 Go to
www.angelusonline.org to read
“Heresy in the Making”,
“Heresy Blossoms Like a Rose”,
Americanist Vision Since 1932”,
“The Knights of Columbus”,
“Roman Catholicism and American Utopianism”,
“In the Beginning There was Maryland”.
3 See Dr. David
Allen White’s conference on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (available
from St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary Audio), wherein he
shows how Melville depicts the Calvinist soul of America.