Ringing a Bell for Liberty

Archbishop Chaput holds forth:

The public discourse of Catholics needs to be guided by charity and respect for others, but above all by truth. The truth can be difficult, so we often want to soften its edges. But this just wastes time and compounds our problems. Candor can be uncomfortable in the short run, but it’s much healthier in the long run.

The point is this: We need to be frank with each other as Christian adults, frank in our public witness and frank in our own self-criticism. Again, we also need to be prudent and kind — but not at the expense of courage, and not at the expense of speaking the truth.

via Ringing a Bell for Liberty – Interview – National Review Online.

That right there is how bishops are supposed to behave and speak!  I was a bit proud of Chaput for doing speaking in a balanced manner.  Given the absolute mess here in Philadelphia left by his predecessors we need this kind of leadership.  He continues:

Christianity is a “political” religion only in the sense that it has wider implications than the individual. Christian faith is communitarian; it places both personal and social obligations on the believer. It requires certain actions. It’s never merely private.

Which is why this Fortnight for Freedom is kind of a problem for me. Mind you I don’t have any real objection to the protest itself since it is quintessentially American to act up and speak up for one’s rights.  And Americans have a right to do so!  The First Amendment is the first for a reason.  The Founders knew these rights were important.  Liberties are precious and ought to be defended vigorously.

But as the bishop said above, Christianity isn’t really about freedom or liberty in a larger sense.  As a disciple of Christ, I have certain obligations, specifically “charity, justice, courage, [and] mercy,” as the good bishop said. I have freedom in Christ, but I’m not free to do as I please.  The irony here is that the other side of this HHS mandate debate is also acting up about liberty specifically the fundamental issue of a woman controlling her own healthcare.   So when Chaput said this:

The central issue in the HHS-mandate debate isn’t contraception. Casting the struggle as a birth-control fight is just a shrewd form of dishonesty. The central issue in the HHS debate is religious liberty. The government doesn’t have the right to force religious believers and institutions to violate their religious convictions. But that’s exactly what the White House is doing.

I winced.  The entire reason the bishops are leading this charge for religious liberty is to resist the government mandating they provide contraception.  So how exactly is birth-control not central to this issue?  If the Catholic Church encouraged the use of contraception as good sexual ethics, would we be here right now?  Would the Church be lauding the government for supporting good morality?  I think we all know the answer to these questions.  So while I’m loathe to check Bishop Chaput, I’m going to follow his lead and say that claiming the central issue isn’t contraception is also “a shrewd form of dishonesty.”  Honesty demands better.