Without Objective Truth, Based On Natural Law, Society Will Reach A Dead End!
Miami, Fla., Apr 26, 2013 / 12:04 am (CNA) Discussing the push for same-sex “marriage,” Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami told judges and lawyers at the city’s 2013 Red Mass that freedom and law must be based on reality and objective truth.
“When a democracy bases itself on moral relativism and when it considers every ethical principle or value to be negotiable … it is already, and in spite of its formal rules, on its way to totalitarianism,” Archbishop Wenski preached during his homily on April 24.
“The might of right quickly becomes might makes right.”
The Red Mass is traditionally an annual Mass of the Holy Spirit for the sake of legal professionals. The Mass preceded a reception of the Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, in which Judge Beatrice Butchko received the “Lex Christi, Lex Amoris,” or “Law of Christ, Law of Love” award.
Archbishop Wenski opened his homily by quoting Abraham Lincoln, who noted that even “if you call a tail a leg,” a cow still has only four legs, “because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”
The archbishop noted that same-sex “marriage” has been pushed as “a cause for equality,” and that withholding benefits from homosexual couples given to married heterosexual couples is “alleged to be discriminatory.”
“Of course, as fair-minded citizens we do hold that no one should be denied a job or a house; no one should be subjected to harassment or bullying because of one’s apparent sexual orientation. We should oppose any and all unjust discrimination,” he clarified.
However, to “recognize and favor” the marriage of straight couples “as a natural fact rooted in procreation and sexual difference is in no way unjust to homosexual couples any more than it is unjust to heterosexual couples who cohabitate without the legal benefits and protections of a civil marriage.”
The state justly favors stable heterosexual relationships because they serve the common good, he said, just as only businesses which create more jobs in an area receive tax breaks, and military veterans receive benefits that others do not.
Government recognition of marriages exists to “encourage and support … the optimal conditions for the raising of future generations of its citizens,” he explained.
Archbishop Wenski said the legalization of “gay marriage” will “fundamentally change this,” opening a Pandora’s Box of “unforeseen, and to be sure, unintended consequences.” He noted that the adoption of no-fault divorce 40 years ago has similarly had unintended but devastating consequences on society.
“Rather than see the institution of marriage as expressive of the complementarity of sexual difference between a man and a woman, ordered for the raising of children, the proponents of so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ would now redefine marriage for all as existing solely for the gratification of two (and why just two?) consenting adults,” he pointed out.
The archbishop continued, showing that American jurisprudence has gone from an acknowledgement of self-evident truths and unalienable rights based on the Creator to a belief in a supposed “right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
That line was part of the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, co-authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, on the “right to abortion.”
Archbishop Wenski called this an “endorsement of moral relativism,” which determines truth “by one’s own will” rather than “the nature of things.” Same sex marriage, he said, is the “most current poster child” for this viewpoint.
On the other hand, the view held by Christianity, and the Founding Fathers, is one that believes “men and women are not self-creators but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received, and it must reflect the reality of things.”
Without objective truth based on natural law, society will reach a “dead end,” the archbishop said.
“And our pluralistic society has reached this dead end when it seems to be based precisely on a common agreement to set aside truth claims about the good and to adopt instead relativism governed by majority rule as the foundation of democracy.”
Such a society loses the true understanding of justice, and is ruled only by the untempered will of the majority, he explained.
But this was not the vision of America’s founders, Archbishop Wenski noted. Rather, their “vision of freedom was one of ordered liberties, a vision remarkably congruent with Catholic social thought.”
He suggested that Jefferson, Adams, Monroe and Lincoln all shared a common vision of law, justice and freedom with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More, the patrons of lawyers and politicians, respectively.
“They found meaning in the reality of things, the reality of the created order – an order accessible to human reason,” the archbishop said.
“They would certainly concede that both the State and the Church, each within its respective sphere, might regulate marriage; but they would never pretend to usurp the authority to create the meaning of marriage.”
Archbishop Wenski concluded by telling the assembled judges and lawyers that they “do well to recall St. Thomas More’s example and to seek his prayers.”
“May you be, in his words, ‘for the greater glory and honor of God and in pursuit of His justice…able in argument, accurate in analysis, strict in study, correct in conclusion, candid with clients, honest with adversaries, and faithful in all details of the faith.’”
Archbishop Thomas Wenski: We “Cannot But Oppose the Evils of Abortion, Euthanasia,
Fetal Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning and So Called Same Sex “Marriage.”
Dear faithful in Christ:
Archbishop Thomas Wenski
As we approach a very important general election, I remind those of you who are citizens of this great nation and eligible to vote that voting is not only your right; it is your duty, As scriptures teach us, we are our brother’s keeper, and voting responsibly is one way to promote the common good of our brethren in society. (Discover the Presidential Candidates’ Positions On The Real Social Justice Issues. (Please, Click HERE Now!)
The welfare and future of our nation’s communities depend on the people we entrust with public responsibilities. No bishop or priest will tell you for whom to vote – however, as your pastors we do legitimately try to guide our people through the maze of complex moral issues that underline the public policy positions espoused by the different candidates and their party platforms.
For this reason, we make available to you the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Questionnaire which details where candidates stand on important issues that may come before them. At the same time, while we are not taking a position on the other amendment initiatives, we strongly urge you to support both amendment 6 (Yes) which will enable the legislature to restore rights of parents and prohibit public funding of abortion, and amendment 8 (yes) on Religious Liberty that would protect faith-based groups’ freedom to serve in our State. Besides what is available through your parish bulletin, additional information can be accessed on both the Archdiocese of Miami’s website, and the Florida Catholic Conference website. (They also made this available for the president’s position. (Please, Click HERE Now!)
While some may resent this particular exercise of our teaching ministry, I would hope that most Catholics of good will welcome these interventions. All of us need help in making difficult decisions. As Catholics we have good counsel in our Church teachings on our civic responsibility to pursue the common good, as well as in prayer. These are important elements that help one arrive at the best prudential decision.
Our system of checks and balances built into our governing structures by our founding fathers reflected an understanding of the human person founded in our Judo-Christian tradition.
And whether as citizens or as elected officials, if we are to be faithful to the truth about the human person, we must oppose uncompromisingly policies and laws that undermine the common good precisely because they originate in a defective understanding of the human person.
For this reason, the Church -clergy and laity- while agreeing to disagree on other matters of prudential judgment cannot but oppose the evils of abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and so called same sex “marriage.” In these areas, there can be no other legitimate Catholic position.
Beyond these fundamental issues, and closely related to them, is the issue of religious liberty which must be defended from current attempts to undermine it by limiting people of faith’s freedom to serve in ways congruent to their faith and morals.
As Catholics, we best contribute to our democratic process by voting as faith filled and faithful citizens; that is, in a way coherent to our Catholic beliefs and teachings. Whether you can vote or not, I ask you to pray; and if you are eligible to vote, then I ask you to do so with an informed conscience.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Thomas Wenski
Archbishop of Miami
Archbishop Thomas Wenski: President Obama is Imposing His Views on the Populace
Archbishop Thomas Wenski: I love this pic!
Archbishop Thomas Wenski: Miamiarch.org
In this particular battle in our nation’s “culture wars,” the two opposing sides are fighting about the understanding of man and his relationship to truth and reality.
One side — and today “gay marriage” is its poster child — holds that anyone can essentially create his or her own reality. This side holds for a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things but by one’s own individual will.
The other side holds men and women are not self-creators but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received and thus must reflect the reality of things. Or, as the Book of Genesis says: “Male and female, He (God) created them.” (Genesis 1:27).
The former’s position, like that of the secular utopias of the 20th century, is a recipe for tyranny; the latter’s position promises a freedom that is only achievable through adherence to objective truth which we do not, and could never, invent.
In seeking to redefine the legal definition of marriage to include same sex unions, President Obama and other proponents of “gay marriage,” in effect, are imposing their views and lifestyle on the larger populace. Once legal, the state’s coercive power will punish those who refuse to embrace gay marriages.
For example, public officials — regardless of their views on the rightness or wrongness of homosexual acts — will be obliged to officiate at same sex “weddings,” and public schools will be required to teach their acceptability to children whether parents concur or not.
Even First Amendment freedoms will not be protected from assault.
Marriage has been primarily about the raising of children (who seem to be hardwired to be best raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other). Society has a legitimate interest in favoring such traditional marriages as a way of investing in the future of society by providing for the human flourishing of upcoming generations.
Same sex “marriage” — if allowed to prevail in law — will result in the devaluation of all marriages with terrible consequences to society. That marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman is certainly part of Catholic teaching — in fact, in our teaching, this union is seen as a covenant and is a sacrament.
However, marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the sake of family is not a product of religious sectarianism. Nor is marriage a creation of the state. It is founded in nature itself.
Marriage understood as a union between one man and one woman as an institution precedes church and state — if not a creation of church or state, neither has any authority to change the nature of marriage.
The common good demands that the understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman not be lost.
Thomas Wenski is Archbishop of Miami.
Archbishop Wenski: Reveals Long List of How President
Obama’s “Promises Are Not Being Kept”
This is a “frontal assault”
“This is Unacceptable”
BY Archbishop Thomas Wenski
In May 2009, President Obama gave the commencement address at Notre Dame University and received an honorary degree. That Notre Dame would confer an honorary degree on an elected official who advances abortion rights in contradiction to Catholic teaching caused no small controversy among many Catholics throughout the United States.
Those who supported Notre Dame felt vindicated, however, when in his speech the president promised to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion,” stating that his administration would provide “sensible” protections for those who wanted no involvement in the procedure. This would presumably include healthcare providers, social-service providers, and consumers who might otherwise have to pay through their healthcare plans for other people’s abortions.
Obama later reiterated this position to Catholic newspaper editors, stating that he would make such protections “robust.”
Fast forward to late 2011, and the record shows that the president’s promises are not being kept. In fact, it seems that pro-life Catholics such as Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and the Catholic Health Association’s Sister Carol Keenan — who trusted the administration’s position that abortion was not part of the healthcare bill — along with Notre Dame’s leadership have been played by the president.
His administration is running roughshod over conscience protection provisions long part of the law that find their justification in the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion, a foundational human right. It is one thing for an administration to support and promote an agenda; it is quite another to force those who disagree with it to violate their moral and religious principles.
The long line of evidence is disturbing. As a first step, the administration reversed earlier regulations enforcing federal conscience laws, stating instead that it would pursue the same goals by educational outreach on rights of conscience.
In the final healthcare bill passed in March 2010, traditional protections for conscience rights were omitted; instead, a provision was included that would subjugate conscience rights to federal and state “emergency” service laws. In other words, any abortion declared an “emergency” (broadly defined) by a government requires a health-care provider’s full cooperation, regardless of his or her views on the matter.
Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a rule which will require almost all health plans to include coverage for sterilization and contraception — including abortifacient drugs. This will force almost all employers — including Catholic organizations — to pay for such procedures, regardless of any moral objections. HHS seemingly wants to regard fertility as a disease — and elective abortion subsidized by the taxpayer as healthcare.
The most recent frontal assault on conscience rights has come in the form of federal contracts and grant announcements, which have begun to require grantees to help provide all legally permissible family planning and obstetric/gynecological services, regardless of the provider. A large number of grants under the State Department’s AIDS program, for example, now require “integration” with family planning and “reproductive health” services, ignoring the conscience clause the program’s authorizing statute passed by Congress.
When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently said it could not meet a similar requirement inserted into an HHS grant announcement for services to human trafficking victims, and pointed out that the requirement violates existing federal conscience laws, its funding was discontinued — hurting victims of human trafficking since few if any other entities have the track record and nationwide capacity to serve them.
Catholic social and healthcare providers — the largest private network in the nation — are at risk of being left out of all federal programs, despite their well-earned reputation for providing superlative service to the American public. In effect, the Obama administration is telling these Catholic providers to surrender their conscience rights and their Catholic ethos or shut their doors.
Regardless of one’s position on the morality of abortion, we — and elected officials on both sides of the aisle — should be concerned with these developments. If religious and conscience rights of some Americans can be violated by the government, everyone else’s rights are also in jeopardy.
This is unacceptable, for it undermines our nation’s promise of “freedom and justice for all.” The president should honor his pledges to U.S. Catholics — and other Americans — and instruct his agencies to reverse course and protect conscience rights.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Miami Archdiocese.
“Marriage is a Life-Long Union Between
a Man and a Woman”
The Most Rev. Thomas Wenski is Archbishop of Miami, SunSentinal – Those who see “same sex marriage” as progress towards a more “tolerant” society will, with characteristic intolerance, label their opponents as “intolerant,” “bigoted,” “homophobic” and so on. However, to defend marriage as a monogamous union between one man and one woman is not bigotry. Nor are the efforts of those who seek to enshrine in state or federal constitutions the “traditional” understanding of marriage intolerant.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski
In America, we value our privacy and that of others — and so today, most agree that one’s sexual orientation shouldn’t necessarily be anyone else’s business. And even those Americans who hold homosexual activity to be immoral and sinful are increasingly tolerant of homosexuality as a “private” phenomenon. They might invite the person who experiences same sex attractions to conversion and, in place of behavior viewed as sinful, propose chastity — but they do not invoke the coercive power of the state to force such a conversion.
Marriage has been primarily about the raising of children (who seem to be hardwired to be best raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other). The state has had a legitimate interest in favoring such traditional marriages as a way of investing in the future of society. Of course, in recent years, the state has often retreated from vigorously promoting these interests. Sometimes this occurred through legislation (e.g. no-fault divorce laws); sometimes through judicial fiat (e.g. Roe v. Wade).
In our nation’s culture wars, the two sides are fighting about the understanding of man and his relationship to truth and reality. One side — and today, “gay marriage” is its poster child — holds that anyone can essentially create his or her own reality. This side holds for a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things, but by one’s own individual will. The other side holds men and women are not self-creators, but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received and thus must reflect the reality of things. Or, as the Book of Genesis says: “Male and female, He (God) created them.” (Genesis 1:27).
That marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman is certainly part of Catholic teaching, which holds it to be a sacrament. However, marriage as an institution predates both church and state. Since it is not a creation of church or state, neither has any authority to change the nature of marriage.
The common good demands that the understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman not be lost.
The Most Rev. Thomas Wenski is Archbishop of Miami.
The New Age Movement Is Incompatibile
with Sound Christian Doctrine and Practice
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Miami –
Archbishop Thomas Wenski
Despite the secularism of our age – or perhaps, because of it – many people are rediscovering an interest in spirituality. One can go to almost any commercial bookstore and discover whole sections devoted to the theme.
Unfortunately, most of what sells as “spiritual reading,” usually classified under the heading of “New Age,” does not demand any more faith or belief than going to the movies. Not all that is marketed under the rubric “spirituality” is “chicken soup” for the Christian soul. Indeed, much of it, if consumed indiscriminately or unwarily, could prove poisonous to the life of faith. While New Age writings may seductively appeal to the legitimate longing of human nature, they are fundamentally opposed to Christian revelation.
Spirituality in our Catholic tradition is more than just narcissistic navel gazing. It is not a self-absorbed seeking after self-fulfillment found through esoteric teachings or practices. Christianity’s invitation is to look outwardly and beyond – to a “New Advent” of the God who calls us to a dialogue of love, a dialogue which invites us to conversion and submission to his will.
Authentic spirituality for the Christian is not so much about our search for God but God’s search for us. Spiritual life is a relationship with the Triune God entered into through our participation in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection through baptism and the living of a life of discipleship. This personal relationship with God grows through his free gift of grace and sheds light on our relationship to our fellow men and women and indeed on our relationship to the world.
New Age spirituality – born as a reaction to contemporary culture but nevertheless its child – certainly represents a new challenge to the Church today. Yet, there is very little that is “new” in New Age teachings. A joint statement issued a few years ago by the Pontifical Council for Culture and well as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue quotes the Holy Father, who warns with regard to the “return of ancient Gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age: We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practicing Gnosticism – that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words.”
That statement entitled “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life,” offers an insightful analysis of the New Age movement and its incompatibility with sound Christian doctrine and practice. It specifically cautions against using the Enneagram, which in recent years has enjoyed some popularity among Christian groups and has even been promoted by some Catholic religious communities. The Enneagram, a pseudo-psychological exercise supposedly based on Eastern mysticism, introduces ambiguity into the doctrine and life of the Christian faith and therefore cannot be happily used to promote growth in an authentic Christian spirituality.
In Novo Milenio Ineunte, John Paul II urged parishes to become “authentic schools of prayer.” As he says: “we who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Savior of the world, have a duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead.” (n. 33)
As “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life” says: “To those shopping around in the world’s fair of religious proposals, the appeal of Christianity will be felt first of all in the witness of the members of the Church, in their trust, calm, patience and cheerfulness, and in their concrete love of neighbors, all the fruit of their faith nourished in authentic personal prayer.”