Editor's Briefing

Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

State using ‘extortion’ against Catholic charities, says Archbishop

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Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has a major essay in the November issue of First Things. He argues that “a new and belligerent kind of secularism, alien to the American character, now threatens the mission of Catholic charitable ministries”.

The whole essay is worth reading. While the archbishop emphasises the differences between America and Europe, many of his points are also applicable to Catholic charities in Britain.

Too often, public officials no longer respect the Church’s service to the common good or the guarantee of her freedoms under the Constitution. More and more, Catholic ministries find themselves bullied by civil authorities that seek to meddle in their operations and dictate the terms under which they provide their services…

Government interference – in effect, a kind of extortion – is a growing pattern. The leverage used against the Church is financial. Today, public functionaries and lawmakers often pressure Church-related agencies by threatening to cut funding for their programmes or to revoke their historic exemption from paying taxes.

Archbishop Nichols has spoken of the Government imposing a “new morality” on Catholic charities. Archbishop Chaput makes a similar point.

Critics rarely dispute the Church’s work fighting injustice, helping community development, or serving persons in need. But that’s no longer enough. Now they demand that the Church must submit her identity and mission to the state’s promotion of these newly alleged rights – despite the constant Catholic teaching that these behaviours are personal moral tragedies that can lead to deep social injustices.

As a result, the original links between freedom and truth, and between individual rights and moral duties, are disappearing in the United States. In the name of advancing the rights of the individual, other basic rights – the rights of religious believers, communities, and institutions – and key truths about the human person, are denied.

In squeezing the Church and other mediating institutions out of the public square, government naturally assumes more power over the nation’s economic and social life. Civil society becomes subordinated to the state. And the state then increasingly sees itself as the primary shared identity of its citizens.

You can listen to Archbishop Chaput discussing this essay here.

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Written by Luke Coppen

October 18, 2009 at 8:14 am

Posted in America, Bishops, charity

One Response

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  1. interesting


    October 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm

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