Sunday, May 31, 2015

Henry VIII and SSM/HHS Mandate persecution

As I have been watching the attacks on people of faith by the government and proponents of same sex so-called marriage, I was suddenly reminded of what happened in England under King Henry VIII.

The surface issue back then was marriage, but the underlying issues were more complex. Henry was motivated by sex, lust, self-indulgence, and power and ambition. He wanted what he wanted, and he didn't want anyone to tell him what he could have or do.

When he couldn't get what he wanted from the Catholic Church, he sought to undermine the faith, to coopt Catholics, to use the legal system to force English Catholics not just to avoid interfering, but to accept, endorse and even participate in what he wanted. He used pressure, arrests, and even violence to coerce others to go along.

Many English Catholic politicians and Church officials went along. They rationalized and compromised,  and in some cases readily embraced what Henry demanded. Some did so just to save their careers and lives; some were so shallow in their beliefs the first place that going along really wasn't a problem.

They betrayed their faith.

Some did resist. Two prominent figures - Bishop John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More - were not willing to betray their faith, and both were executed. There were other Catholics who are less well known who also remained true to their faith like those saints. Some lost their livelihoods and positions. Some lost their business and homes. Some went to jail. Some were executed. Church land was seized. Monasteries and convents were closed.

All faithful Catholic faced persecution for refusing to compromise their beliefs and just go along with what government and society was pressuring them to do.

We are seeing some of the same patterns today when it comes to the HHS Mandate for abortion and contraception, and same sex so-called marriage. Social pressure is being used. Laws have been passed to require cooperation. People of faith have been forced to defend themselves in court. Business have been forced to close. Individuals have lost their jobs. Fines have been levied. Physical threats have been made (though not by the government - at this point).

Promises have been made that there will be protections for churches and church organizations, but given the pattern of political and legal actions thus far, those promises seem tenuous. I would not be surprised to see attempts to force churches to pay for abortions, and ministers and priest to officiate at illegitimate weddings. I would not be surprised to see preachers and homilists face charges of hate speech for preaching the teachings of their faith, and churches losing their tax exempt status, or being financially destroyed by lawsuit  after lawsuit.

We've already seen Catholic politicians betray their faith. Catholic members of the Democratic Party basically have to abandon key parts of their faith if they want to win party support and have a chance of being elected. The poison is making inroads into the Republican Party as well. A local Catholic Republican Congressman, for example, accepts abortion under some circumstances, and one of the current GOP presidential candidates is pro-choice and pro-SSM.

I expect things to get even worse. I even wonder about how this might affect me some day - I already have to keep my mouth shut at times, and I could see me losing my job for standing up for the Church's teachings.

Will all this lead to an Anglican-type schism in the Catholic Church? I seriously doubt it will be anything as formal, but that indeed there will be many Catholics who will simply cease to practice their faith. I could see the number of practicing Catholics shrinking dramatically, and some Church institutions closing. I could see the Church being forced to curtail to even quit some of the social ministry activities in which it currently engages.

But I keep praying that is not the case. I keep praying that hearts and minds will be opened.

I keep praying.

Pax et bonum

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