Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Protecting Children  

In Fr. Frank Pavone's most recent bi-weekly column, he makes an important argument regarding protecting children in reference to the recent statements by pro-abortion "Catholic" politicians that the Church should not get involved in politics:

Prominent pro-abortion politicians have recently been heard repeating the message, "I don't tell Church leaders what to do, and Church leaders shouldn't tell public officials what to do." This is their considered summary of the "separation of Church and state."

Yet it seems that public officials have indeed told Church leaders what to do as the problems related to child sexual abuse by clergy have been addressed in the last couple of years. And in the course of addressing this problem, public officials are carrying out their duty. After all, they have to protect children, no matter who the abusers are.

The public officials addressing this problem are not telling the Church what to believe, what sacraments to administer, or what prayers and readings belong in the Sunday Mass. All these things and more are left to the proper Church authorities to administer, in a legitimate autonomy and "division of labor."

Yet obviously if Church leaders fail in the protection of innocent life, the state has the right and duty to step in. The state cannot pretend that it is free to ignore these abuses because of "separation of Church and state." Human suffering cannot be buried in abstractions.

The shoe also fits the other foot. While the Church does not make rules for mail delivery, or the delineation of county lines, or the administration of the army, the Church nevertheless does have some business telling the state a thing or two. This is especially true when the state is failing in its duty toward innocent children -- or anyone else -- in the matter of their fundamental human rights. Again, human suffering cannot be buried in abstractions about "separation of Church and state". Both Church and state have the duty to defend human beings, and unless they uphold each other in that common task, neither can properly fulfill it.

People should always have freedom of belief. The truth that the Church proclaims has its own power to attract people to embrace it. Belief is not something to be imposed by law. Yet law must limit what the believer can do. What should we say about someone who kills you because he "doesn't believe" your life is valuable? It is not his
belief that violated the law, but rather his action against you. Wouldn't public officials have to take a stand against
that action, even while upholding the criminal's freedom of belief?

The killing of the unborn by abortion, because some don't believe that life is as valuable as yours or mine, is the most obvious battleground on this point.

A public official recently said that this is not "the Catholic Republic of America." I heartily agree. This is America, proud of its freedom of religion, and equally proud of its protection of human rights. The two can go together, as long as we realize that "separation of Church and state" can never mean that either one looks the other way when
human rights are being violated.

Fr. Pavone exposes the disingenuousness of those who do not want to be told that their personal view is in opposition to the teaching of the Church. These are often the same folks who want to meddle in Church affairs. Indeed, for the pro-abortion "Catholics", they are already interfering in Church affairs by trying to muddy the waters of the clear and consistent teaching of the Church that abortion is immoral. It is the responsibility of the Church to propose the Truth even to those who are obstinate in their opposition to it. It is her responsibility because the Church constantly is called to draw all of us into the fullness of the Truth. May we all have ears to hear.

Click here for more information about how to receive Fr. Pavone's bi-weekly column.

Posted by David at 7:08 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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