Catholics & The Law…

Comment

Increasingly, we see the legalisation of  immorality.  People of good will who believe they are doing the right thing, in the name of Christ, refuse to co-operate with bad laws. Two examples spring to mind: the Irish bakers who refused to take an order for a cake for a same-sex wedding, and the two Glasgow midwives who would not facilitate abortions.   Does St Thomas More offer any insight to us on the matter of how to treat of bad laws – and if so, what lesson? Would he have advised the bakers to take the cake order?  Would he have urged the two midwives to facilitate the abortions?  Or are the words of St Thomas More in the famous “Devil” speech ambiguous? 

The idea for this thread came following a number of conversations and observations about people, including Catholics, who appear to change their minds about a particular immorality once it become law. Are they following the example of St Thomas More, by taking a “high” view of the law of the land?  Or would St Thomas More recoil to think that he could be represented as a supporter of man-made laws which contradict the law of God? 

28 responses

  1. I think the key here is prudence. St Thomas More, knowing he had a wife and family to support, didn’t say a word regarding the King’s marriage, but neither did he give any kind of formal assent. Only when he was forced to publicly approve of the law did he speak out against it.

    I think we have to speak out against immoral laws but we also have to be prudent. The same sex “marriage” debacle is a prime example. I wrote to MSPS and the press, speaking out against it. However, I say very little about it at my place of work. If I’m asked my opinion, I try to explain it as charitably as possible, but most of the time I remain silent. If push came to shove, I’d like to think that I would put my Faith before my employment.

    I do not believe we can ever give approval to immoral laws. However, we must be prudent and exercise caution and prudence.

    What does everyone else think?

  2. Petrus,

    I think that is a stupendous post, and it is exactly what I think.

    The only thing is, St Thomas More couldn’t have imagined the shocking laws we have today, so maybe (since he wouldn’t have to suffer the death penalty) he would have spoken out a bit more if he was alive today. I’m not sure, and my gut feeling is that you are right – people with families, as he had, and I think you have, need to be prudent. Shouting your objectives from the rooftops at work won’t make a blind bit of difference and would likely only lead to people writing you off as a nutcase.

    We can’t have that, Petrus! LOL 😀

    • Michaela

      I wondered exactly the same thing – would St Thomas More have spoken out more today? However, I think in those days the divorce and remarriage of a Catholic King, as well as that King usurping the pope’s authority, would have been quite shocking and indeed unthinkable.

  3. Madame Editor,

    Pardon my ignorance on whether or not MPs of the SNP are allowed to vote in Westminster on matters of life or death throughout the nation, but there is a new Bill on the table known as the Robert Marris Assisted Dying Bill by means of which Mr Marris is seeking to obtain the Law’s connivance in Euthanasia of vulnerable sick people/Legalised Suicide by those seeking it.

    We saw how David Steel’s Bill on Abortion was quickly stripped of its supposed safeguards and that practice is now regarded as a common right for women.

    Doubtless, the same will happen to any safeguards about protecting lives in the circumstances with which this Bill seeks to concern itself.

    I have contacted my MP asking her to be present in the House and to vote against this Bill.

    May I urge fellow bloggers to download this short booklet and to take the recommended action to prevent this Bill becoming Law.

    Here is a link to the booklet:

    https://www.spuc.org.uk/documents/assisteddyingbookletjune2015

    Time is of the essence.

    • I’ve always been extremely doubtful of the efficacy of writing to one’s M.P./M.S.P. in the hope of influencing their votes on for example, the Assisted Dying Bill and other similar issues. If your M.P.’s moral compass was last spotted floating to the bottom of the Marianas Trench (as my M.P.’s was), I’d probably just be wasting ink, paper and 62p.

      I must however compliment the culture of death supporters on the choice of title for their Bill. It appears that, not content with having all the best tunes, the Devil has now commandeered one of the best euphemisms. I look forward in the next couple of years to the Household Goods Redistribution Bill (legalising burglary) and the Anxiety and Despair Abolition Bill (legalising all drugs from classes ‘A’ to ‘Z’).

      • Spudeater,

        Well, maybe in your case, if you’ve been as successful in writing to your MP/MSPs as you’ve been in affixing that avatar to your email address, maybe you should have an MP/MPS letter writing by-pass… 😀

        However, I remember s former Parish Priest telling us that the local MP told him that, on a matter of morality, which escapes my memory at the moment, she didn’t have a single letter, and was therefore unable to raise the issue in the spirit of “some/many/lots of my constituents are concerned, my post bag contains letters from people who are very disturbed at this proposed law…” blah blah. Not a single communication on the issue, she said. I did, that day, hang my head in shame.

        So, I think to fulfil our duty in the public square, we must bash our heads against a brick wall, if that is how it seems. Whether the MP/MSPs choose to ignore said bashed heads, is on their consciences.

        After all, what if Thomas More had said, well, if the majority of the Bishops are going along with it…. if the Duke of Norfolk can sign… why should I put my head (literally) on the line?

        It’s always the same question – why me, why not him/.her/them?

        Great question. I wish I knew the answer!

  4. Leprechaun

    All the media brainwashing we have had over the past few years showing the elderly in the worst possible light, such as seeing them shuffling through nursing homes like zombies with a nurse on each arm and forever telling us how they are taking up much needed hospital beds will ensure that this Bill gets through alright.

    The latest wheeze is to ask who will look after gran and grandad in the future.

    The answer to that is probably the head butcher in the local abattoir.

    • Frankier,

      I can understand your anxiety as you’re probably among that large group of people that are ageing by the day. I, however, saw my clinical psychologist this morning and she confirmed in her report that I was not only ‘immature’ but also ‘actually regressing’ so there’ll be no need to save me a seat in that care home – or a slab at the abattoir.

  5. I agree with Petrus and Michaela that St Thomas More would, indeed, be prudent in how to deal with the bad laws being fired at us these days. I think the key is that, in whatever way we possibly can, we should resist and expose the immorality of these laws, being outspoken where possible and writing to all those with influence. Leprechaun has provided an example of what we can all do – write to our MPs about the latest bid to introduce euthanasia. Thanks, Leprechaun.

    What St Thomas More would definitely NOT do, is nothing. That’s for sure.

    • Editor

      Doing nothing is absolutely out of the question. St Thomas More spoke to individuals privately and counselled the King himself.

      I would like to ask bloggers a question. If, in my workplace, I am a manager. The company policy is to allow employees a day to attend a family wedding. If an employee comes to me and asks to attend a same sex “wedding” am I bound to follow company policy and give them the day ?

      • Petrus,

        I think you would be bound to give them the day for the ss wedding. You’re not approving it by allowing what they have a right to under the law. Not approving it would mean they would just complain to your superior and they’d get it anyway, and you’d be the bad guy. You don’t need to smile and tell them to have a good time, just do what you have to do to the minimum necessary. That’s my opinion anyway.

      • Petrus,

        If your company has a stated policy to give a day off to all staff attending family weddings, and you refused a person because they were attending a same-sex ‘wedding’, unfortunately, under current employment law, you could definitely be prosecuted for discrimination. So the choice would be yours – say no and face the inevitable legal consequences, or say yes. I’m not a moral theologian, so I couldn’t say whether your granting the day off to a person attending a same-sex ‘wedding’ under those circumstances would be blameworthy – surely the fault lies with the staff member who is attending the ‘wedding’? I know I wouldn’t attend one – even if it was a very close family member.

        There is a third option – if you have the authority to do so – withdraw the entitlement for all staff, then there can be no argument for ‘discrimination’ because nobody would be entitled to it. It does sound like quite a rare privilege anyway. I’ve never known a company to do it – compassionate leave, yes, but not days off for weddings. If staff then wanted to attend a family wedding – ‘same-sex’ or otherwise – they could use their annual leave entitlement, then it’s their business what they do on their day off.

        Also, don’t forget, that although not involving unnatural vice, many ‘marriages’ between men and women are not valid, or pleasing to God – registry office marriages for example. Would you be concerned about the rightness / wrongness of giving someone a day off if they were attending one of those? Business and work life is a minefield for Catholics and I do empathise, as I used to work for a government dept and suffered first-hand because of the ultra-political correctness.

        I was asked on one occasion to contribute to a collection and sign a ‘Civil Partnership’ congratulations card for a male colleague who was contracting a CP with his same-sex partner. I declined to do either, and the look of dismay and shock on the face of the (practising Anglican) woman who was doing the collection said it all. I could give other examples of when I fell foul of the PC brigade. It’s one of the (many) reasons I got out.

        • It is indeed a minefield. No, I wouldn’t have authority to change policy like that. I don’t even know who would have such authority.

          I think there are situations where you can decline something for moral reasons, signing a card etc, but the situation I ask about is one in which I would have to give the same entitlement to everyone. At the end of the day, we do need to work and whilst I’m not one for compromising thr Faith, I think I would have to grant such a request.

          A priest once said from the pulpit that unless we have moral authority over someone then we shouldn’t pass comment on their actions unless we are asked to give an opinion. A manager doesn’t have moral authority over an employee, therefore how should we deal with these two situations:

          A. “Petrus I have great news, Bob and I are getting married”, says Jim.

          B. “Petrus this is my husband, Bob. This is my manager, Petrus.”

    • Let us not lose sight of the fact that the reason why St.Thomas More’s courageous opposition to the king is still being talked about in the 21st Century, albeit by an ever dwindling number of people (most now I’m sure wouldn’t even know its briefest details), is mainly because he was the second most powerful man in England at the time. What could he hope to achieve today if he was in an equivalent position and conscientiously opposed unjust legislation? He could resign his position thereby creating a media furore for a week or two, appear on TV and eloquently state his reasons for doing so and then address a series of public meetings of broadly like-minded people but when it came to the crunch, as in 1535, he would eventually have to concede defeat (in worldly terms) and live in a land where those laws were firmly on the statute book.

      What chance then does your average Joe Shmoe have of meaningfully affecting proceedings? To my mind, there’s a tidal wave of turpitude sweeping across Britain and indeed worldwide which can only be turned back by divine intervention and ultimately, it’s prayers,sacrifices and yes, even martyrdoms that would help to effect that Transformation more so than principled, public opposition whose success is far from guaranteed, if at all.

      • Spudeater,

        “… it’s prayers, sacrifices and yes, even martyrdoms that would help…”

        Count me in for (a) and (b) above… 😀

        • Ed.,

          You’re a better man than I. No, sorry, woman…. hold on, that’s not right either…. well, you know what I mean. I myself have only signed up for (a) as I tried (b) a couple of times and then vowed never again. It REALLY hurt my pride.

          • Spudeater,

            I thought I might as well give (b) a whirl. Nothing beats a trial, and the consensus view seems to be that I am nothing if not trying – in the extreme 😀

            • Ed.,

              Isn’t in the Book of Proverbs that says “Self-knowledge is the beginning with wisdom.” Or have I just made that up ?

  6. To A: I would be tempted to say ‘Congratulations to you both! When do I get to meet the two lucky ladies?

  7. I remember a woman that I used to work with who was a big film fan and once told me that she saw A Man for All Seasons at the cinema and it was one of only two films that she’d been to see where the audience left at the end in complete silence.

  8. Maybe I’m missing something here but, regarding Leprechaun’s alert above regarding the Assisted Suicide Bill, was that not thrown out of Holyrood recently? The Bill, I mean. Only asking.

  9. Eileenanne,

    You’re right, these nuns are certainly worthy of our prayers. But where is the USCCB in all of this? Why are the American Bishops so silent in the matter?

    • Why are the American Bishops so silent in the matter? Why are they always silent when they should be fighting undisguised evil? Maybe speaking up would mean losing popularity and hence fewer invitations to Presidential and political banquets? Maybe defending Church teaching would be divisive since the modern Catholic must keep up with the world if s/he is to be part of the new evangelizing efforts 🙄 It’s sad, sickening and very disheartening. .

  10. Simone Weil said ‘Every sin is an attempt to fill a void’. With each successive recent generation therefore and society in general having drifted further and further away from God, it naturally follows that the ‘void’ to be filled assumes ever greater proportions. Necessity dictates that the efforts that have to be made to replace or even obscure this void must become increasingly extreme, hence the depraved and diabolical nature of the laws being passed the world over.

    This catastrophic loss of the spiritual dimension in people’s personal lives and in public life as a whole is commonly expressed in the popular sentiment ‘If it doesn’t hurt anyone, then it’s fine by me’ which is the equivalent of saying that each of us is in fact an island – a philosophy directly contrary to the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Couple so prevalent a mindset with the power of the herd mentality and the terrible reality of lives lived in thrall to the material world and conditions are ripe for further inflictions of morally bereft legislation that will leave those trying to live good Catholic lives increasingly beleaguered. And while we should bear in mind that Padre Pio said ‘Our children won’t have enough tears to shed for the sins of their fathers’, it’s also (divinely) reassuring to call to mind Luke 18:7-8 : ‘And will not God vindicate his elect who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you he will vindicate them and swiftly’.

  11. I’m not sure whether or not this is the correct thread for the following, which I’ve copied from Fr Ray Blake’s blog. Not sure what to make of it, but since it clearly touches on Canon Law, the priesthood and – as ever – Pope Francis, and since it (to me, anyway) gives the appearance of saying we should be more accepting of clergy abandoning their vocations (although I’m open to correction on that) and since, further, it follows on nicely from Spudeater’s latest reflections on sin, I think this may be the most appropriate thread to place it for discussion if anyone thinks it merits a word or two…

    FATHER RAY BLAKE WRITES…

    I used to know lots of priests in the Roman dicasteries but they have been queuing up at Rome’s airports and leaving for their home dioceses with the intention of never returning. The problem is the Pope bullies their bosses and their bosses bully them, so they go. Even the most thick skinned and dedicated can only put up with a certain degree of insults and contempt. That, and an increasing degree of “South Americanisation” makes the Holy See more and more difficult a working environment. For the thin skinned and sensitive, as the Pope’s world inevitably narrows, every morning in Sta Martha brings more insults.

    The Roman exuent is based on a simple choice, ‘Do I stay or do I go?’ Going is easier than staying. Last night I discovered a priest with whom I overlapped with at the seminary, who I heard had left, is actually an Anglican clergyman and is also now the head of that strange virulently anti-Catholic group, the Protestant Truth Society.

    In the last week or so on Catholic social media the story of a priest who has resigned and apparently embraced a gay lifestyle or simply has come out as a homosexual, seems to have captured people’s prurience and some pretty unpleasant speculation. And yes, in my diocese my bishop was forced to resign.

    Whenever a priest or a bishop leaves the ministry it is very easy simply to blame them and fail to question what lies behind their leaving. Priests are unhappy with bullying and are leaving Rome. It is the unhappiness and bullying that has forced them out. A good employer might ask if something can be done to end that situation, like telling the Pope to lay off, or simply making him aware of the unhappiness his actions are causing.

    When a priest or bishop leaves it is easy for members of the Church to simply be angry rather than examining their conscience. If a priest chooses a libidinous lifestyle surely we should be asking why a community which professes brotherly love, compassion, mercy is so bad at offering to its ministers. Why is it that a priest should feel he is more likely to find the help and support he feels he needs outside the Church rather than within it. Why does he become disillusioned with the Gospel and, err…, illusioned by a gay life style? Why is the love of his people, but more importantly, the pastoral care of his brother priests and his bishop, his Father-in-God so lacking? ‘The Church is a field hospital’, if that is so then why are so many people dying in it rather that being restored to health? Source

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