No Compromise


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ABSTRACTNo Compromise - George Weigel - National Review Online Get FREE NRO Newsletters   Log In   |   Register Follow Us Everywhere         April 16 Issue  Subscribe to NR  Renew  April 16 Issue   |   Subscribe   |   Renew Home The Corner The Agenda Campaign Spot The Home Front Right Field Bench Memos The Feed Media Blog Critical Condition Larry Kudlow David Calling Exchequer Phi Beta Cons Planet Gore UK Between the Covers Radio Derb Tweet Tracker NR / Digital Subscribe: NR Subscribe: NR / Digital Give: NR / Digital NR Renewals & Changes Shop! Donate Media Kit Contact Zubrin: Carbon Emissions Are Good Derbyshire: March Diary Costa: The Ron Johnson Factor Hanson: Iran’s Win, Win, Win Bomb Habeeb: Too Young to Die Sowell: Argument from Disparity Charen: Violence and Family Breakdown Fonte: Saving Sovereignty Prager: They Don’t Know Us Lowry: Meltdown with Keith Olbermann Pipes: It’s Not Road Rage, It’s Terrorism O'Sullivan: The Significant ‘Little War’ Lopez: Desperately Seeking Women Ponnuru: The Culture Warrior Geraghty: Senate 2012 Outlook Fund: Penny Anti Interview: Ringing a Bell for Liberty Barone: The Constitution’s Comeback Sowell: The Death of Mrs. G Murdock: Socialist Hong Kong? New on NRO . . . Close To: Your Email: Your Name: Subject: March 14, 2012 9:00 P.M. No Compromise The U.S. Catholic Bishops, united in defense of religious freedom. By George Weigel Archive Latest RSS Send Print Text   Comments 100 George Weigel  I n May 1953, the Polish government ordered the implementation of a decree giving the state the authority to appoint and remove Catholic priests and bishops throughout the country: The Catholic Church was to become a subsidiary of the Polish state; its clergy would act as agents of state power; and its educational and charitable activities would be approved (or rejected) by a state intent on bringing the most important institution in Polish civil society to heel. The bishops of Poland, who had tried for years to find a modus vivendi with the Communist regime, now drew the line. Meeting in Kraków under the leadership of the country’s primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, the Polish episcopate issued a memorandum deploring the government’s attempt to turn the Church “into an instrument of the state” as a violation of the natures of both church and state. The memorandum concluded memorably: “We are not allowed to place the things of God on the altar of Caesar, Non possumus ! [We cannot!].” Americans accustomed to religious freedom may, at first blush, find it hard to imagine any possible analogy between our situation today, in the midst of the debate over the HHS “contraceptive mandate,” and that of Poland’s Christians in 1953; of course those brave men and women faced challenges far beyond those facing American believers today. Yet the structure of the moral and political argument, then and now, is eerily similar. In both cases, an overweening and arrogant government tries, through the use of coercive power, to make the Church a subsidiary of the state. In both cases, the state claims the authority to define religious ministries and services on its own narrow and secularist terms. In both cases, the state is attempting to co-opt as much of society as it can, while the Church is defending the prerogatives of civil society. Advertisement The March 14 statement of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “United for Religious Freedom,” does not contain the kind of rhetorical flourishes that reached a dramatic coda in the Poles’ ringing “ Non Possumus! ” Still, the U.S. bishops have drawn an unmistakably clear line in the sand. Resisting pressures from both within and without the Church to retreat from their hitherto firm and unified opposition to the administration’s HHS mandate and its bogus “accommodation” of religious concerns, the Administrative Committee — which includes bishops from across the spectrum of Catholic opinion and which does the conference’s most urgent business between the semi-annual meetings of the entire episcopate — strongly reaffirmed statements by the conference president, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, and by individual bishops, that both the mandate and the “accommodation” are unacceptable. Moreover, the statement affirms, against charges of exaggeration, that present administration policy represents a threat to religious freedom of “unprecedented magnitude” that must be “rejected.” And as for those who have long sought to play divide-and-conquer in this affair — from government officials to journalists to advocates of Catholic Lite — they, too, are sent an unmistakable signal in the March 14 statement: “We will not be divide.......