My Thoughts

Been thinking a lot—these pandemic days there is not much else to do—about church and state. The thought that keeps rising is “What would Jesus say—and do—if he were here and now?” Ran across something I wrote last year that reminded me of the answer.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once warned us that “A religion that doesn’t interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.”

Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle him in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Hero’di-ans, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled, and they left him and went away (Matthew 22:15-22).

What Archbishop Sheen said is analogous to what Jesus said to the Pharisees in this way: God’s way must always take precedence over Caesar’s (the secular order or the state) and religion must necessarily interfere whenever the secular order infringes or interferes with obedience to God’s law; should religion choose not to interfere, the secular order will inevitably interfere with religion, taking its silent acquiescence as tacit permission to interfere ever more. Such interference is overtly obvious in today’s secular order (e.g. abortion, anti-religious laws, removing God and religion from public schools, countering religious beliefs by such organizations as the Little Sisters of the Poor, and many more.) And here, I must add, closing churches, limiting attendance, mandatory emaskulation, anti-social distancing, contact tracing, and even arrests for non-compliance. 

Church leaders have gone overboard to kowtow to the demands of the state, even requiring their employees and ministers sign “compliance” orders. This is much akin to the forced Oath of Succession demanded by King Henry VIII which Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher and others refused to take and were arrested and subsequently beheaded. I sincerely hope we haven’t sunk so far down that rabbit hole … yet.

Our religious leaders have forgotten what Jesus said; they most certainly have forgotten what Archbishop Sheen warned us more than a half-century ago. Wake up America.

Just my thoughts for a Wednesday, for what it is worth.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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