Witness

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 06, 2003

Not only did he fail to back down and apologize, but he carried the battle further into his opponents' lines. Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said that Catholic politicians who work to nullify Catholic doctrine put their souls in jeopardy. Squeals of outrage, predictably, could be heard as far as Hyannisport and St. Petersburg. Now Henry has an op-ed in the Toronto Globe & Mail in which he shows he is neither a fool nor a coward.

It is disingenuous to ask religious believers not to base their contribution to society and political life -- through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy -- on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good. The mantra of "separation of church and state" in our Canadian context is simply a crass secularist attempt to discount and marginalize persons with religious faith. ...

What is at issue is the duty to be morally coherent within one's conscience, which is one and indivisible. There cannot be two parallel lives: on the one hand, the so-called "spiritual" life, with its values and demands, and on the other, the so-called "secular" life in a family, at work, and in the social realm of public life and culture.

Note that Henry is being quite generous to the Catholic pols he's rebuking. He concedes that they are merely walling off their lives of political duty from their lives of faith, sacraments, and prayer --as if such spiritual lives are really flourishing in the pertinent individuals . A less gracious man might wonder whether, in reality, these cherished spiritual lives were simply a sham, whether in fact raw political expedience had wholly eclipsed any remnants of Catholic conviction in that part of their being in which important decisions are made.

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