One of the more memorable (and apocryphal) quotes to come out of the Second World War was the quote of Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, the Japanese commander and mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the attack he was supposed to have said: “I fear all we have done is wake a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” This quote was given a dramatic flourish at the end of the 1970 movie Tora! Tora! Tora! I couldn’t help but recall this in the last week since religious liberty in the United States has been attacked by the action of the Obama Administration. Indeed, I must reiterate the point I’ve made before: the Obama Administration is at war with the Catholic Church. Since this decision, however, it strikes this writer that “the sleeping giant” is waking up. Consider the following statements:
Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York:
The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are “free”—but it is naïve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there’s no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.
Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.
The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.
Bishop David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh:
It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!” There is no other way to put it….
As I wrote to you last September, with this mandate the democratic process is being ignored while we are being ordered to ignore our religious beliefs. And we are being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation; to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States.
Bishop Alexander Sample, Bishop of Marquette:
A common paragraph from the letters of several of the bishops:
People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
Pope Benedict XVI:
As we know, in vast areas of the world the Faith is in danger of being snuffed out like a flame that no longer has any sustenance. We are at a profound crisis of faith, at a loss of a religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge for the Church of today. The renewal of the faith must therefore be the priority in the undertaking of the whole Church in our times.
It seems as if the sleeping giant has been roused to anger. A righteous anger it is. We are at war; let us acknowledge it and join our commanders–the bishops.
What next? How to combat the no-longer furtive attack on the Church and the transcendent? Utilize the powerful tools at our disposal: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Rosary. Families, parish associations, and all people of goodwill need to redouble their efforts to teach their children about God and His Church. Most importantly, in season and out, we must underscore that loving Christ means loving the Church. She is His Bride; one cannot truly love Him without loving Her. The reality on the horizon is that our bishops may one day be jailed. So too, many of our priests.
This week there was also a news story that a statue of the Blessed Mother–the one carried by Don Juan of Austria on the quarterdeck of his flagship in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571–was found. Currently it is being restored (see the image, left). In addition to being a wonderful find, the statue seems to this writer to be a metaphor for the state of the Church in the United States. She is badly damaged; beaten up, even. Many of these wounds are self-inflicted, but many more are from an environment inhospitable to her preservation. Yet, that which remains is beautiful. The visible eye of the statute shows us the love of tender Mother of God and Lady of the Rosary; and it also shows us the determination of the Destroyer of Heresy and the Lady of Victory.
If the readers will indulge me, I have one other tactic that may aid in the Catholic offensive in this battle–one that would, assuredly, make the powerful quake. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Cardinal, Archbishop, and Bishop in the United States–cultivating “a renewal of faith” called for by the Holy Father–marched to the White House, saying the Rosary, with this statue of Our Lady from the Battle of Lepanto held aloft? Wouldn’t it also be wonderful if the faithful were galvanized to join with their shepherds and commanders for such a public display of a confident and triumphant Catholic Faith? Perhaps this is a fantasy. Perhaps not.