Can’t Shout Hosanna about Hosanna-Tabor

I respectfully disagree with Bishop Lori when he hails this Supreme Court decision as a victory.

A church school asked an employee to resign because of her ill health. She refused and threatened to sue. The church school fired her. She sued.

We march on Washington every January to assert this principle: The government/the state/the civil power bears the burden of protecting the innocent from grave injustice.

People are free to do many things. No one, however, has the freedom to kill an unborn baby. This must be prohibited by law.

Likewise, no one has the freedom to fire an employee arbitrarily and unfairly. Laws prohibit this, because justice prohibits this.

(I beg you, dear reader: If you know more about this than I do, which is enormously likely, please correct my mistakes here.)

Now, did Hosanna-Tabor School unfairly fire Cheryl Perich? We do not know. Perhaps they did; perhaps not. Her firing may, in fact, have been fair. In justice, both parties enjoy the right to argue their side of the case before an impartial judge.

But in this particular case, such an argument will never occur. The Supreme Court has found that the government cannot intervene in this dispute. Why? The First-Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion prohibits the government from doing so.

I disagree profoundly with this reasoning.

Are churches as liable to human failings–including injustice in employee relations–as any other institution of sinners? Yes. No reasonable Christian could or would disagree.

Governments, too, are so liable. Governments may begin to get the idea that they should run the church(es). Hence, the invention of the “ministerial exemption” by which churches are protected from lawsuits. The official ministers of any church serve at the pleasure of the church and the church alone, according to this provision of law. The government may not intervene in any way.

The problem here is: Protecting the Church from the burden of making reasonable arguments to defend Herself does not help Her. It impedes Her proper mission, isolating Her from public life.

E.G.: Is it unjust for the Church to limit Holy Orders to men alone?

According to the Supreme Court, the Church need not answer this question. It is a “theological” matter. No claims of justice can be made by aggrieved parties when the disputed point is “theological.”

My dear friends, if we cannot make reasonable, convincing theological arguments, then may God help us. Theology ≠ Esoterica. Theology = reasoned discourse based on Divine Revelation. (Including reasonable arguments as to why what we say is divinely revealed IS, in fact, divinely revealed. Not that we can prove it. But no one can demonstrate our assertions about Divine Revelation to be arbitrary, because they are not; they are reasonable.)

If we cannot explain why there is, in fact, no injustice in limiting Holy Orders to men, then we suck.

If we cannot explain–based on science and reason–why we cannot perform abortions, we suck.

If we cannot explain–based on logic and anatomy–why two men cannot marry each other, or two women, we suck.

Please, Supreme Court: Do not protect us from the burden of making these arguments! You do us no favors by doing so; in fact, you treat us like an intellectual cripple.

The fact of the matter is that making these arguments gives us joy and vigor! Our duty, our lifeblood is to speak the truth humbly, patiently, with love and respect for all.

If, someday, they put bishops in jail for refusing to ordain women, praise God! If they send police officers into Catholic hospitals to try to collect unpaid fines for refusing to dole out contraceptives, praise God!

The truth will always win in the end. We Catholics are not unreasonable kooks who hide behind esoteric mysteries to avoid explaining ourselves. Everything we believe and teach is perfectly reasonable. If an unreasonable state oppresses us for it, then to God be the glory, because it will only serve to win souls to Him.

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