Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bully for Burke

On May 8, 2009, the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Burke, Archbishop-Emeritus of St. Louis, and the current Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, gave the Keynote Address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. We must give thanks when our shepherds challenge those who wield the secular sword. Some of Archbishop Burke's comments bear repeating, and repeating, and repeating.

Under Obama's administration, the few hard-fought restrictions against abortion have unraveled. The Obama administration has exercised a moral choice, and it is against the Natural Law. It has according to Archbishop Burke chosen "a path which more completely denies any legal guarantee of the most fundamental human right, the right to life, to the innocent and defenseless unborn. Our nation, which had its beginning in the commitment to safeguard and promote the inalienable right to 'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' for all, without boundary, is more and more setting arbitrary limits to her commitment .... Those in power now determine who will or will not be accorded the legal protection of the most fundamental right to life." The right to life, a fundamental natural right, is trumped by a fictitious "right" to privacy which is construed in such a manner as to prevent the state from interfering with a woman's right to kill a fetus. But recent events show an even more ominous turn. "With unparalleled arrogance," Archbishop Burke notes, "our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation upon the faithful, indissoluble, and inherently procreative love of a man and a woman in marriage, and, in violation of what nature itself teaches us, to replace it with a so-called marital relationship, according to the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society." It is the arrogance of believing that it can define fundamental human institutions that pre-date it, and are more fundamental than it. In trying to re-define the family, the state acts with as much hubris as if it were going to re-define God, or re-define the law of gravity.

The Archbishop gives specific examples or recent events, and, in his mind, these betray "a consistent pattern of decisions ... which is taking our nation down a path which denies the fundamental right to life to the innocent and defenseless unborn and violates the fundamental integrity of the marital union and the family."

Archbishop Burke reminds us of "the most serious responsibility of Catholics to uphold the natural moral law." It is part of our duty as Catholic citizens, and demanded as part of the virtue of patriotism. The natural law "is the irreplaceable foundation of just relationships among the citizens of our nation." If the Natural Law is ignored or contradicted by our politics or our positive law, our politics and our positive law must be denounced.

President Obama speaks a lot about hope, and it was perhaps this to which Archbishop was alluding when he stated: "Let us say once again: we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day." But the hope that Obama offers is of limited value with the "great hope." "This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us."

The Archbishop continues: "The change which brings hope can only be the renewal of our nation in the divine love which respects the inviolable dignity of every human life, from the moment of its inception to the moment of natural death, and which creates and gives growth to new human life through the love of man and woman in marriage. Any hope which is incoherent with the great hope is truly illusory and can never bring forth justice and its fruit, peace, for our nation and world."

Archbishop Burke is well aware that we must dialogue with those who do not share our faith, and we must respect those different than we are. However, "[d]ialogue and respect for differences are not promoted by the compromise and even violation of the natural moral law." We need not accede to the validity of a murder's crime to speak with him, nor can we consent to any group that promotes abortion or un-natural unions. Opposing the current culture is burdensome; it is not always pleasant for those with peaceful dispositions not prone to being belligerent. "If we as individuals or our Catholic institutions are not willing to accept the burdens and the suffering necessarily involved in calling our culture to reform, then we are not worthy of the name Catholic."

"In a nation set so firmly on a path of violation of the most fundamental moral norms, Catholics and others who adhere to the natural moral law are pressured to think that their religious commitment to the moral law as the way of seeking the good of all is a merely confessional matter which cannot have any application in public life. ... On the contrary, the common good depends upon the active engagement of religious faith in the public forum."

As patriotic Catholics, must be "simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just." It is our duty, in "addressing the critical issues of our nation," that both "the Church and we, as her faithful sons and daughters, intervene on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being." This is what the God of Love commands. And it is not a matter of promoting a confessional state, or of violating the establishment clause. Archbishop Burke explains:

"Our uncompromising commitment to protect the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and to safeguard the integrity of marriage and the family are not based on peculiar confessional beliefs or practices but on the natural moral law, written on every heart and, therefore, a fundamental part of the Church's moral teaching. At the same time, what is always and everywhere evil cannot be called good for the sake of accomplishing some other good end. All of us must be concerned about a wide range of goods which are important to the life of our nation, but the concern for those goods can never justify the betrayal of the fundamental goods of life itself and the family. We must take care to uproot from our moral thinking any form of relativism, consequentialism and proportionalism, which would lead us into the error of thinking that it is sometimes right to do what is always and everywhere evil."

Though there are many issues which confront us, and with which we must take sides, there are some that are clearly preeminent. With respect to these, which are the right to life and the right to the integrity of marriage and the family, "there is no element of the common good, no morally good practice, which a candidate may promote and to which a voter may be dedicated, which could justify voting for a candidate who also endorses and supports the deliberate killing of the unborn, euthanasia or the recognition of a same-sex relationship as a legal marriage. The respect for the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and for the integrity of marriage and the family are so fundamental to the common good that they cannot be subordinated to any other cause, no matter how good it may be."

"As Catholics, we can never cease to work for the correction of gravely unjust laws. Law is a fundamental expression of our culture and implicitly teaches citizens what is morally acceptable. Our efforts to assist those who are tempted to do what is always and everywhere wrong or are suffering from the effects of having committed a gravely immoral act, which are essential expressions of the charity which unites us as citizens of the nation, ultimately make little sense, if we remain idle regarding unjust laws and decisions of the courts regarding the same intrinsic evils. We are never justified in abandoning the work of changing legislation and of reversing decisions of the courts which are anti-life and anti-family."

"The most treasured gift which we as citizens of the United States of America can offer to our country is a faithful Catholic life." If that is so, then any watering down of the Catholic life, and any refusal to shoulder the burden of confronting a culture of death and family attack, is an act that betrays God, the Church, and our country.

The speech is worth a read:

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