If we accept that freedom is the image
of God in humans, then we have two issues for the
Church to confront; her failures in that area and
the forces of enslavement that surround her.
may or may not be as great as her detractors claim.
The Crusades, the various Church/state partnerships
of the great ages of exploration and colonization,
the trail of martyrs and the silenced voices of independent
thinkers, and, of course, her scandalous record of
honesty and transparency have gone on in the name
of some abstract principle, but never in the interest
of human thriving.
not mean that the Church is in the same league as
Nazism, the Terror of the French Revolution, the various
pogroms of Czarist and Leninist Russia, or the Roman
Empire or some the terrorist organizations floating
around in our contemporary world. But, lilies fester
foulest and there is no excuse for the Church to be
anything at all at any time than a community deeply
committed to the freedom of all humanity.
freedom -- and the absolutely most important -- allows
every man, woman or child to seek and carryout the
will of God in their regard. This is the freedom that
comes with being created; as such it predates every
other freedom and any other freedom or source of freedom.
A government or a 'religion' or a state or some '-ism'
that does not recognize this right in every human
being does so in direct opposition to the God whose
first action is freely to create and fashion his image
in his creatures.
a situation of poverty, disease and ignorance is one
in which people cannot really concentrate on deepening
their relationship with God. The church, over the
centuries, has fostered health care initiatives, education
and social welfare programs. But this has not happened
to create some sort of paradise on earth, a human
Utopia. We were not made for anything in this world,
but for the God who is its source. Thus all of her
caritative efforts are directed to the one goal of
freeing people up from the state of wage slavery or
chronic illness or ignorance so that they can then
pursue their relationship with God. To a starving
man, bread must seem a god.
in mind, it becomes easier to see why the Church can
so easily criticize capitalism as a way of acquiring
wealth that enslaves the poor even as it criticizes
socialism as a totalitarian economic system that breeds
lack of initiative and loss of individual dignity.
The real problem in either system is that it does
not make room for religion to direct the human heart
to love of God and neighbor. Indeed, the Church is
clear in its assertion that governments first obligation
is to allow the citizenry to seek that which the government
cannot provide, access to the God who is over all.
Secularism is the end of human freedom, imprisoning
humanity on the surface of the earth.
the big-stroke outlines of the mysterious thing that
is freedom of religion. We will do some more detailed
examples next week and thereafter.
and truly and strikingly (not strikingly) yours,