Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on President Trump’s remarks on religious liberty delivered at the U.N. today:
President Trump continued his legacy of defending religious liberty with a stellar address at the United Nations today. He offered many examples of religious persecution around the globe, stating that 80 percent of the world’s population lives in nations where religious liberty is either restricted or banned altogether.
In one of the most startling statistics mentioned by President Trump, he said that “11 Christians are killed every day for following the teachings of Christ.” That alone is worthy of the kind of international dialogue that the U.N. was founded to address. But we need more than dialogue: the perpetrators need to be brought to justice.
The most ground-breaking aspect of President Trump’s statement came at the end. “The United States is forming a coalition of U.S. businesses for the protection of religious freedom. This is the first time this has been done. This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.”
This is a huge improvement over the Obama years when religious liberty was privatized to mean freedom to worship. People of faith want an expansive and robust interpretation of religious liberty—we are not satisfied to attend religious services.
The next battleground for religious liberty is the workplace. No one should be forced to engage in any religious practice, but neither should they be told to check their beliefs at the office door. Reasonable accommodations can and should be made. This is what the president is getting at, and we welcome it.
Trump also noted the hypocrisy of those who preach the wonders of diversity, which frequently is code to neuter religious liberty. “Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning, or censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”
St. Therese has an upside-down interpretation of the mustard seed of faith that rings true.
The life of faith is the greatest, most exhilarating life in the world. Sometimes. Other times it is the most tedious, thankless life in the world.
It’s supposed to be that way.
The Church explains why in Sunday’s readings, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.
A Sunday warning: You may not believe anything Jesus has to say, at first.
First, he says “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Um … I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that, and no one I know can. Does that mean we don’t have even a smidgeon of faith?
Second, he says, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?”
It seems to me like most of the congregation should raise their hands. That’s exactly what we would say.
Few of us would say what Jesus says is the expected response to such a servant: “Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished.”
But think again and what Jesus says makes a lot of sense. First, the mustard seed.
I love St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s take on the mustard seed. She wrote, “for a soul whose faith equals but a tiny grain of mustard seed, God works miracles, in order that this faith which is so weak may be fortified; yet for his intimate friends, for his Mother, he did not work miracles until he had put their faith to test.”
In other words, according to her, Jesus is not saying, “any amount of faith can do miracles.” He is saying, “Only small amounts of faith can do miracles.”
One after another, over three days, three more cardinals – like the Germans Walter Brandmüller and Gerhard Müller before them – have aimed severe criticisms at the “Instrumentum Laboris,” the base document of the upcoming synod on the Amazon, as well as at the general state of confusion into which they see the Church plunging.
The first is Cardinal Robert Sarah, Guinean, prefect of the congregation for divine worship, in an interview with Edward Pentin for the “National Catholic Register” of September 23:
The second is Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, American, former president of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, in a statement signed together with Kazakh bishop Athanasius Schneider, made public September 24:
The third is Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Venezuelan, archbishop emeritus of Caracas, in an interview with Inés San Martin for “Crux” of September 25:
> Venezuelan cardinal: Synod document strong on ecology, weak on ecclesiology
Of the three, Sarah is the only one who will take part in the synod, and his words in this regard are reproduced in their entirety further below.
As for Burke, this is how his statement begins:
“No honest person can anymore deny the almost general doctrinal confusion which is reigning in the life of the Church in our days. This is particularly due to ambiguities regarding the indissolubility of marriage, which is being relativized through the practice of the admittance of persons cohabiting in irregular unions to Holy Communion, due to the increasing approval of homosexual acts, which are intrinsically contrary to nature and contrary to the revealed will of God, due to errors regarding the uniqueness of the Our Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, which is being relativized through erroneous affirmations on the diversity of religions, and especially due to the recognition of diverse forms of paganism and their ritual practices through the ‘Instrumentum Laboris’ for the coming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon.”
Burke continues by claiming – with examples taken from Church history – not only the right but also the duty to speak openly in defense of true doctrine, even by calling the pope back to his task of “confirming the faith,” as requested by Francis himself, who is remembered for these words he spoke at a previous synod, in 2014:
“One general and basic condition is this: speaking honestly. Let no one say: ‘I cannot say this, they will think this or this of me…’. It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels… A Cardinal wrote to me, saying: what a shame that several Cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the Pope, perhaps believing that the Pope might think something else. This is not good, this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say all that, in the Lord, one feels the need to say: without polite deference, without hesitation.”
Finally, as for Urosa Savino, he says that the Church does well to promote an “integral ecology” for the Amazon, but the preparatory document for the synod says too little about “the main work of the Church [which] is evangelization, bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, to all populations,” including the urban populations of the Amazon, not only the indigenous dispersed in the forests.
“These people require a direct, explicit, open evangelization of Jesus Christ.” Urosa Savino continues. But this is “little touched” in the document, which “presents an almost idyllic Amazonian population, the perfect man, the noble savage of Jean-Jacques Rousseau,” when instead these are “normal people with the same problems, virtues and defects as all people in the whole world,” and “to them too we have to bring the Gospel.”
“The text ,” the cardinal goes on to say, “talks a lot about accompanying, following, understanding and dialoguing with, but little about the need to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that, in some ways, explains the reality of the growth of the Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in the region, while the Catholic faith in the Amazon is not growing with the same force.”
And for this lack of growth – Urosa Savino continues, alluding to the request to ordain married men – “the cause is not in the shortage of priests.” He recalls that between the 1800’s and 1900’s much of Venezuela suffered a grave scarcity of priests, and yet “the faith was lived and maintained. It is not just a matter of receiving or not receiving the sacraments, but of the experience of the faith that was had, that arrived through the catechists to the families, that communicated them to their children.”
Theo Đức Hồng Y Jorge Urosa người Venezuela, tài liệu chuẩn bị cho Hội nghị thượng đỉnh sắp tới của Vatican về khu vực Amazon là “thiếu sót, yếu kém” vì Chúa Kitô bị trình bầy sai lạc. Theo Urosa, cựu Tổng giám mục của Caracas, tài liệu được gọi là tài liệu làm việc (instrumentum laboris) là sai lầm khi đề cập đến Chúa Giêsu Kitô là “người Samaritanô nhân hậu.”
Chúa Giêsu Kitô không bao giờ thể hiện mình là người Samaritanô nhân hậu, ĐHY Urosa nói với Crux ngày 23 tháng 9 rằng: “Người Samaritanô nhân hậu là người chúng ta phải bắt chước bằng cách giúp đỡ người khác. Chúa Giêsu Kitô giới thiệu mình là Đấng Cứu chuộc, là Đường, Sự thật và Sự sống, là Phục sinh, như Ánh sáng của Thế giới. Đây là một lỗ hổng, một điểm yếu của tài liệu làm việc.
Trong cuộc phỏng vấn, ĐHY Urosa đã nhấn mạnh “hai mục tiêu chính” của Hội nghị Giám mục ngày 6-27 tháng 10 về khu vực Pan-Amazon: “Thứ nhất là thúc đẩy một hệ sinh thái không thể thiếu cho khu vực Amazon. Và thứ hai là đề xuất những con đường mới cho Giáo hội trong khu vực đó.”
Sự bảo vệ của Amazon là rất quan trọng, ĐHY Urosa nói, “tạ ơn Chúa, Giáo hội đã thực hiện một sáng kiến rất có giá trị để bảo vệ nó.” “Tuy nhiên, vấn đề của Amazon theo quan điểm giáo hội vẫn chưa được trình bầy tốt.”thê
Hơn nữa, ngài lập luận rằng hầu hết những người nói về Hội nghị “chỉ chạm vào các khía cạnh sinh thái và văn hóa xã hội, và rất ít về các khía cạnh giáo hội và mục vụ. Có một sự mất cân bằng, bởi vì công việc chính của Giáo hội là truyền giáo, đưa Tin Mừng của Chúa Giêsu Kitô đến với thế giới, đến tất cả dân tộc.”