Letter #34, 2015: Prison

September 3, 2015, Thursday — Prison


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“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” —Widely attributed to Thomas Jefferson (some say this quotation is apocryphal)

“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”—Henry David Thoreau, whose treatment of civil disobedience in the face of unjust laws influenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Innocent Prisoner

An innocent woman is in prison tonight in Kentucky. Her name is Kim Davis.

She is in prison because one of the laws of her country, the United States of America, is unjust.

She has, rightly, refused to obey that law.

According to that unjust law, she must abandon her own deeply held belief and accept the justice of the law, or be arrested and jailed.

She has chosen to accept arrest and jail rather than abandon her belief. (Here is a link to a detailed story about the case by the New York Times.)

So begins a confrontation that was inevitable, a conflict between judicial tyranny and individual courage.

And it is a story that could be of interest to Pope Francis, who has said all children deserve and have an inalienable right to a father and a mother.

Indeed, a Church source advises that Francis may soon decide to delegate a personal representative to visit Kim on his behalf…


This case is the result of a wrong and unjust law passed on June 26 by the US Supreme Court when it ruled to permit homosexual “marriage” throughout the US. (Note: The ruling passed in a close 5-4 vote; but two of the 5 approving Justices should have recused themselves, because they had already presided over homosexual “marriages” and so had prejudged the case before hearing arguments; this means the vote was not only very close but actually illegitimate from the outset).

Kim is the first of many US citizens unwilling to abandon their principles before such an unjust law.

The consequence today? One of the saddest — and most shocking — things ever to happen in modern America: an ordinary American citizen has been dragged off to prison simply for refusing to violate her Christian beliefs on marriage.
Kim Davis, 49 (photo), a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, is an Apostolic Christian.

She was sent to jail for contempt by federal judge David L. Bunning after she stood by her refusal to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples seeking them under the tainted June 26 US Supreme Court decision which imposed homosexual “marriage” on all 50 states — including states whose people and legislatures had voted to prohibit it.

Davis said she had “no choice” because issuing the licenses would have conflicted with her religious beliefs.

Though lawyers for the homosexual couples had asked the judge to fine Ms. Davis rather than send her to jail, the judge imposed jail time anyway, saying he thought a fine would be insufficient to force her compliance.

A Form of Tyranny

So this is what it has come to: the US government is applying force to induce a person to do what she knows is wrong.

This is clearly a form of tyranny.

An unprecedented new type of dictatorship has begun to take power in America.

The Christian opposition to homosexual “marriage” has become, in the eyes of this regime, pernicious — something to be severely punished.

And so Pope Francis, who arrives in the US on September 22, in less than three weeks, will touch ground that day in a land whose public officials are increasingly hostile to everything he has had to say about marriage and the family since the start of his pontificate.

And now this hostility, long gloved, is showing its fist.

The Pope’s Position

The Pope has in recent months — echoing positions he has taken for many years — given unswerving support to the family composed of a father, mother and children.

One of the most compelling points he makes, repeatedly, is that children have a right to both a mother and father.

“It is necessary to insist on the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its intangible assets,” Francis said on November 17, 2014 in a talk in Rome. “The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.” (link) (Note: The full text of the talk is below.)

As cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, before his election as Pope in March of 2013, Jorge Bergoglio took pains to condemn homosexual marriage as the work of the “Father of Lies” seeking to “destroy God’s plan,” warning that in jeopardy are “the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and mother and willed by God.”

Indeed, children raised by homosexual couples are by definition “motherless” or “fatherless,” from their most tender years — “discriminated against in advance,” as the Pope has said — a situation universally found pitiable by sympathetic people, and now institutionalized.

It is another injustice harming the weak and defenseless in a society which is well practiced in exploiting — even killing — the weak and defenseless for its own interests, as the recent revelations about Planned Parenthood have made crystal clear.

It is important to note that in this matter even some self-described homosexuals have said they oppose homosexual “marriage” because they agree with Pope Francis that all children deserve and have a right to a father and a mother.

Paddy Manning, a Irish Catholic man who identifies himself as a homosexual, is a well-known blogger who was vocal in his opposition to approving gay marriage in Ireland this spring. Manning pointed out that “marriage is, at its heart, about children, and providing those children with their biological parents.” (link)

Another well-known blogger in Ireland, a self-described “gay agnostic” named Keith Mills, agrees that “everyone knows marriage is almost always about children.” He says that homosexual marriage will necessitate the prevalence of surrogacy in order for homosexual “spouses” to acquire children. Surrogacy, he says, “turns children into commodities, putting adult desires above the rights of children, having babies made to order and wombs for rent.”

Even some adult children raised by homosexual parents — parents who by all accounts provided safe, loving homes — have come out against homosexual “marriage” on the basis of their own personal experience of having been intentionally deprived of a mother or a father, and the pain that has resulted.

Robert Oscar Lopez, who is married and a father — and believes marriage is a lifelong commitment — was raised by his mother and her female “partner.”

Now in his forties, he details at length the ways in which his life has been handicapped by having been deprived of a father while growing up. (see lifesitenews.com/news/growing-up-with-two-moms-the-untold-story)

So, it is not just the tenets of Christianity that contradict the notion of homosexual “marriage”; it is the experience of many individuals.

In nations like the US and Ireland, unless these recent laws approving homosexual “marriage” are reversed, many children will inevitably experience the injustice of denying this logic. As Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said of the Irish vote in May, “I think you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles; it is a defeat for humanity.”

For this reason, a number of Catholic bishops have urged civil disobedience. For example, Louisiana bishop Michael Jarrell stated in a letter to his flock following the Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual “marriage”: “Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation. This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

“I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office,” Bishop Jarrell went on. “In some cases civil disobedience may be a proper response.”

As in most things, the redoubtable St. Thomas Aquinas can be relied on to shed light on this uncomfortable, but essential, issue: Are we justified in defying our lawfully constituted government when it asks us to cooperate in what is evil?

Thomas says in De Libero Arbitrio i, 5, in his Summa Theologiae: “That which is not just seems to be no law at all.” He continues: “Wherefore the force of a law depends on the extent of its justice. Now in human affairs a thing is said to be just, from being right, according to the rule of reason. But the first rule of reason is the law of nature, as is clear from what has been stated above. Consequently every human law has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature. But if in any point it deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law…”

Kim Davis has defied the unjust law of a tyrannical government in the name of all that is good and holy.

May God grant us the wisdom and courage to join her, if we are so called, in saying “no” to the encroaching Culture of Death, in all its forms, even at the expense of our comfort, our convenience, our freedom… our very lives.


Synod Hall

Monday, 17 November 2014

By Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I cordially greet you and I thank Cardinal Müller for the words with which he introduced this meeting.

1. I would like to begin by sharing a reflection on the theme of your colloquium.

“Complementarity” is a precious word, with multiple values. It can refer to various situations in which one component completes another or compensates for a lack in the other. However, complementarity is much more than this.

Christians find its meaning in the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, where the Apostle says that the Spirit has endowed each one with different gifts in order that, as limbs join the human body for the good of the organism as a whole, so the talents of each one contribute to the benefit of all (cf. 1 Cor 12).

To reflect upon complementarity is but to ponder the dynamic harmonies which lie at the heart of all Creation.

This is a key word: harmony. The Creator made every complementarity, so that the Holy Spirit, the Author of harmony, could create this harmony.

It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the theme of the complementarity between man and woman.

In effect, this complementarity lies at the foundation of marriage and the family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our talents and those of others, and where we begin to acquire the art of living together.

For most of us, the family is the principal place in which we begin to “breathe” values and ideals, as we develop our full capacity for virtue and charity.

At the same time, as we know, in families tensions arise: between egoism and altruism, between reason and passion, between immediate desires and long-term goals, and so on.

But families also provide the environment in which these tensions are resolved: this is important.

When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, we must not confuse the term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relationships of both genders are confined to a single and static model.

Complementarity assumes many forms, since every man and every woman brings their personal contribution — personal richness, their own charisma — to the marriage and to the upbringing of their children. Thus, complementarity becomes a great treasure. It is not only an asset but is also a thing of beauty.

2. Marriage and the family are in crisis today.

We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people reject marriage as a public obligation.

This revolution of customs and morals has often waved “the flag of freedom,” but it has, in reality, brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

It is ever more evident that the decline of the culture of marriage is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills that disproportionately affect women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.

The crisis of the family has produced a human ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection.

Although humanity has come to understand the need to address the conditions that threaten our natural environment, we have been slow — we have been slow in our culture, even in our Catholic culture — we have been slow to recognize that even our social environments are at risk.

It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology and make it move forward.

3. It is necessary to insist on the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its intangible assets.

The family is the foundation of co-existence and a guarantee against social fragmentation.

Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.

This is why, in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I stressed the “indispensable” contribution of marriage to society, a contribution which “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple” (n. 66).

And this is why I am grateful to you for the emphasis that your colloquium has placed on the benefits that marriage can provide children, the spouses themselves, and society.

In these days, as you reflect on the complementarity between man and woman, I urge you to emphasize yet another truth about marriage: that the permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.

Let us think especially of the young people who represent our future: it is important that they should not let the harmful mentality of the temporary affect them, but rather that they be revolutionaries with the courage to seek strong and lasting love, in other words, to go against the current: this must be done.

I would like to say one thing about this: we must not fall into the trap of being limited by ideological concepts. The family is an anthropological fact, and consequently a social, cultural fact, etc. We cannot qualify it with ideological concepts which are compelling at only one moment in history, and then decline.

Today there can be no talk of the conservative family or the progressive family: family is family! Do not allow yourselves to be qualified by this, or by other ideological concepts. The family has a force of its own.

May this colloquium be a source of inspiration for all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for people, families, communities and societies.

In the same context I would like to confirm that, God willing, I will go to Philadelphia in September 2015 for the Eighth World Meeting of Families.

I thank you for the prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. I too pray for you and I bless you from my heart. Thank you very much.


Note: For those who would like to travel with us on pilgrimage:

We have several pilgrimages schedule in the coming year. For the complete schedule, click here.

On December 8, 2015, and again on November 20, 2016, we will be in Rome when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door to begin the Special Jubilee Year of Mercy, and when he closes the door to end the Jubilee Year. If you would like to join us on one or more of these pilgrimages, email now for more information…

We also often travel to Norcia, in central Italy, where there is a flourishing Benedictine monastery we visit.

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What is the glory of God?

“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.

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  1. Joe McGovern says

    Tyrant is no different when imposed by the Catholic Church or any religion for that matter. Imposing your religious views is a violation of the First Ammendment. Not everyone follows Christianity as the rule of the land, and jamming your beliefs down someone’s throat is no different than the King of England imprisoning Catholics for not following his faith. Our Founding Fathers had a better understanding of the “ills” of religion, and the supposed will of the Christian faith. I do not believe she should have been thrown in jail, but removing her from her position was a warranted action. Have you ever read the First Amendment In it’s entirety, or just the parts you want to hear.