What is the divine law?
God loves. He loves without limit, without condition. To obey God’s law is to love generously, unconditionally. Whenever anyone acts in the name of the Church, this law must be the guide.
If someone asks me to baptize his child or to help him find a way to feed his family, can I refuse by saying, “I’m sorry, I only serve U.S. citizens?”
If a young lady comes and says, “My boyfriend wants me to…” Could I, with genuine love, hand her a little package and say “Just be careful?” Or doesn’t love demand something else? Like: “God loves you more than that.”
The law of divine love binds the Church in all Her works. This is our fundamental thesis in these four sermons about the sentence: We cannot co-operate with evil, even if the civil law stipulates that we must.
Now, we can hardly discuss the moral obligations of the Church in American in 2012 without reflecting for a moment on some of the agonizing failures we have suffered through, in a number of dioceses, during the past decade.
When any adult abuses a young person, God gets mad. Angels cry. The law of love gets violated in a uniquely cruel and dastardly way.
But when someone who represents God’s Church does it, it’s worse. It’s not just a terrible sin; it’s a terrible scandal.
The law of love must rule our Church. Don’t we have to emerge from the sex-abuse scandal all the more dedicated to disciplined obedience of God’s law? More generous, more concerned with the defenseless and the innocent?
Remember our friend from a couple of month’s ago, the atheist debater? We had a theoretical debate with him about the meaning of life. Literally: the meaning of the word ‘life.’ Atoms, molecules, cellular ATP—yes, life consists of these things. But that’s not all life consists of. There’s also the business of everlasting, pure love.
Human life, the odyssey of love. It begins when two human gametes come into contact with each other. Apparently, getting human gametes into contact with each other—it involves no inconsiderable delight for the happy parents. So I am told. Anyway, a genetically unique cell comes into existence.
That was us, you and me, at one point in time. Very small and defenseless, aching with everything in us to fold ourselves into the warm, delicious blanket of mommy’s uterine wall.
Now, let’s pause. For anyone who cares one lick about justice, the abortion and abortifacient debate gets settled right here. In fact, pretty much the whole contraceptive debate does. The “Pill” and other contraceptives work sometimes by preventing the implantation of the new baby in the uterine wall.
If there’s even a chance that something might cause a tiny, little person to die an obscure death, then the Church can’t have anything to do with it. To take action against nascent human life involves as dastardly and destructive an abuse as can be conceived.
The Church has no interest in impeding anyone’s exercise of his or her God-given freedom. It’s just that we insist that freedom belongs to everyone, not just the strong. The weak and defenseless have the same rights as the powerful and the full-grown. We Catholics live and let live; we love tolerance. We just have a thing about drawing the line when it comes to abusing any weak and vulnerable person.
Hence: a fundamental conflict that has troubled our beloved land for over a generation now. Some people say that children in the womb can be sacrificed on the altar of some supposed other, greater freedom. We say that any so-called freedom that needs abortion or artificial contraception as a guarantee of its exercise—this really is no freedom at all. Rather, it is slavery. Serving anything other than truth and justice for all, serving anything other than God’s pure love: it’s slavery.
Some wise people predicted the current crisis our Church faces a long time ago. They said: If the government concedes a so-called right to abortion and artificial contraception, then everyone else’s right to object will eventually disappear. This “eventually” has now arrived.
Push always eventually comes to shove. The Church will always reach out to try to help poor and vulnerable people. That’s our mission. The pro-abortion forces will inevitably insist that women must be offered contraceptives and abortions, because—supposedly—that’s what makes women free. Bam. Irresolvable conflict.
We Catholics want nothing more than to live as peaceful, law-abiding citizens. That said, we do not and cannot just shamble through life in a state of blind submission to any and all edicts made by the powers that be.
Next week we’ll reflect on one final question: Where does the authority of any government’s laws actually come from?