“Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”: A problematic document of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has just published “A Statement on Religious Liberty” titled, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”...
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 Catholicism.
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”.
Unfortunately, the 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.
Regarding these 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”.
Dr. Walsh’s articles deal specifically with the historical infection of Americanism amongst the United States hierarchy and many of its practical consequences. From these articles, 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 Calvinist one.
Despite all this, for the defense and continuance of America's religious liberty the USCCB has requested:
…the fourteen 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 (or “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 opponents.
1 Syllabus of Errors.
2 “In the Beginning There was Maryland”.
3 Available from St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary Audio), wherein he shows how Melville depicts the Calvinist soul of America.