by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke stated that it is “critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law,” especially in defense of life and the family, in an interview with CNA/EWTN News on November 28, 2011.1
The Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura warned about the possibility of religious persecution in the United States. Asked if he could envision U.S. Catholics even being arrested for preaching their faith, he replied: “I can see it happening, yes.” According to the high-ranking prelate, the Church could be accused of “engaging in illegal activity, for instance, in its teaching on human sexuality.”
However, the combative cardinal does not want Catholics to do nothing in face of this. He emphasizes that Christians must “stand strong, give a strong witness and insist on what is right and good for us both as individuals and society.”
Is Religion Opposed to “Human Rights”?
That persecution has already manifested itself in many ways, for example, by obliging several dioceses to give up child adoption services because they are unable to agree with adoption by same-sex couples — a betrayal of Catholic principles on the immorality of homosexual practice.
The Secretary of State has now given a specific doctrinal reason to justify religious persecution by claiming that the Church is an obstacle to the implementation of human rights! Indeed, if “human rights” are identified with the “rights of homosexuals,” by condemning homosexual practice the Church would be setting up obstacles to respecting “human rights.”
These concepts are found in the Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day, presented by the Secretary of State to the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission in Geneva on December 6, 2011.2 The document affirms that “gay rights and human rights... are one and the same.”
For the Secretary of State, “obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs.” The Remarks argue that alleging religious principles to reject the “rights” of homosexuals “is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.” Thus, the Remarks say, “slavery… was once justified as sanctioned by God [all emphasis ours].”
The Secretary of State continues: “[N]o practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.”
Therefore, religion is supposedly a factor of persecution and violence. Furthermore, when religion is seen as opposed to “human rights,” it begins to be looked at as inhuman and thus unnatural. Thus, the struggle on behalf of human rights presumably requires combating religion – any religion – regardless of is doctrines and practices.
A Religion Closed Up in Church
The Remarks by the Secretary of State distinguish between religious belief and practice: while there is freedom to believe in religious precepts, putting them into practice requires conformity with the new “human rights” theory, that is, the person must resign himself to accepting the legitimacy of homosexual behavior.
Indeed, the Remarks read,
“Universal human rights include freedom of expression and freedom of belief, even if our words or beliefs denigrate the humanity of others. Yet, while we are each free to believe whatever we choose, we cannot do whatever we choose, not in a world where we protect the human rights of all.”
Religion is thus reduced to mere interior beliefs without consequences in real life.
Now then, to the Catholic religion in particular, this distinction is an absurdity. The reason is that morals – that is, the set of principles that regulate human behavior before God and neighbor – are not dissociable from dogma. Indeed, it is in his practical life that man bears testimony to his faith and leads his life according to the Law of God. On the other hand, revealed morals is an explicitation of natural law, accessible to man through the light of reason, which also originates in God, the Creator of all things.
As a consequence, not only moral theology would no longer make any sense but also the moral philosophy and ethics found in every manual of philosophy beginning with the Greek and Roman pagans.
Can Homosexual Behavior Be Equated with Race?
At the same time, the Remarks liken LGBT people to “races” and “religious minorities.”
“Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”
“Costs are incurred whenever any group is treated as lesser or the other, whether they are women, racial, or religious minorities, or the LGBT.”
However, a behavior such as the practice of homosexuality cannot be equated with a physical type or a cultural standard. While ethnic characteristics are inherited with the genetic patrimony and cultural features passed on with upbringing, individual behavior depends on the person’s free will. There is no such thing as a scientific proof of the existence of a homosexual gene that would lead people compulsively to act in a homosexual fashion. Nor is the anatomy or physiology of homosexuals different from those of other human beings.
The same God Who revealed truths on what we must believe also revealed truths on how we are to live.
The Liberty of the Children of God
We Catholics belong to a militant Church. Militant, because She is in this world and must face the “world” in the spiritual sense of the word, that is, “the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.”3
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Footnotes1. David Kerr, “Cardinal Burke reflects on his first year in the Sacred College,” http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cardinal-burke-reflects-on-his-first-year-in-the-sacred-college/. [back]
2. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Remarks in Recognition of International Human Rights Day,” Dec. 6, 2011, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/12/178368.htm. [back]
3. 1 John 2:16. [back]
4. Cf. Romans 8:21. [back]