Editor's Note: Today we bring you a piece from Cory Lang. Enjoy!
“Sic semper tyrannis!” as Brutus and John Wilkes Booth supposedly have said to Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln respectively. Loosely translated it means, “Death always to tyrants!” This phrase was widely used in Revolutionary America and can still be found in several states in some form or another. To the American colonists, their tyrant was King George III, who, along with the British Parliament, imposed taxes and other unjust laws onto the colonists. What angered the colonists were not just the laws themselves, but the fact that they had no say in the drafting of those laws. Make no mistake, these people considered themselves to be British citizens, some whose families have been living in the “New World” for several generations. They still looked to London as the valid government of their affairs. What was at issue is that King George III took it upon himself to treat the colonists as second-class citizens who do not have access to the parliamentary process. To summarize the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers declared that this system of governance in which men have no say in the manner by which they are to be governed is unjust and must be abolished. They then listed the grievances against the Crown that showed just exactly how the rights of the colonists were trampled upon. King George III rejected this declaration, sent his army to force the colonists to submit to his will, and the rest is history.
We are now in the same position our forefathers were in 250 years ago. Our civil and religious liberties are being curtailed for the sake of “equality.” This begs the question if we really have representation in government. Is our voice really being heard or are we at the mercy of those in power? Consider that gay and trans rights were not voted upon in Congress, but rather imposed on us through the courts. It is not a law, but rather an edict that forces a business to accommodate same-sex pseudo-marriage arrangements, whether that may be making a cake, providing flowers, or hosting the reception. It was an Executive Order, not a law, that allows transsexuals to use whichever bathroom they identify with at the expense of those who are uncomfortable with this arrangement. Those same people have their feelings and religious convictions discarded and labeled as “bigots” and “hateful.” Where is their voice? Where are their rights? Where is their recourse for common sense and decency?
Thus is the dilemma of the idea of Democracy. Democracy’s strength is also its greatest weakness: everybody gets to vote. Because everybody gets to vote (regardless of their comprehension level of the various issues affecting them and our country), inevitably the idea will form that what is right and wrong, good and bad, and ultimately of Truth itself, is decided by a majority vote. With Democracy, there will always be a winner and a loser. Now you may say that we can simply elect out of office those who are not representing us the way we want them to. But what about the courts? Abortion rights were not won through Congress, but through the courts. Gay rights were not won through Congress, but the courts. Religious liberty is being attacked by the courts, not Congress. Those judges are placed there by the President, and the President is elected by (in most cases) the majority vote. In Democracy, there is always a winner and a loser, and Catholics are losing big time.
What does the Catholic Church say about Democracy or any other form of government? Let’s look at Au Milieu des Sollicitudes, an encyclical by Pope Leo XIII addressed to the French bishops in 1892. In talking about government in general, Pope Leo XIII remarks:
"in truth it may be affirmed that each of [the forms of government] is good, provided it lead straight to the end--that is the common good, for which social authority is constituted--and finally, it may be added that from the relative point of view, such and such a form of government may be preferable because of being better adapted to the character and customs of such or such a nation. In this order of speculative ideas, Catholics, like all other citizens, are free to prefer one form of government to another, precisely because no one of these social forms is, in itself, opposed to the principles of sound reason or to the maxims of Christian doctrine."
In other words, the Church couldn’t care less what kind of government is in power so long as that government is rooted in Moral Law and has as its aim the common good of its constituents. What is the common good? For Catholics, the common good is a life in which a person’s liberties are respected, free to worship God, and live a life that is in agreement with Church teaching. The ultimate goal of the common good is the salvation of all souls under the care of that particular form of government. As Pope Leo XIII alluded to, government is not an end unto itself, but a means. As long as government does not hinder a soul’s journey to Heaven, the Church will promote that form of government.
Does our government hinder our journey to Heaven? On the surface, no it does not. We are free to go to Mass whenever and wherever it is available. We are not hindered to attend Adoration, pray the Rosary, or exercise personal devotions. But does the government promote the common good? The answer is an emphatic NO. Many Catholics vote for pro-abortion and pro-same-sex pseudo-marriage candidates all because those candidates stand for certain social justice issues like poverty and the false notion of “equality.” The Church has had a hand in bringing about this dis-connect among Catholic voters with the idea of the “Seamless Garment” argument which erroneously asserts that all evils in society are on the same plane. Well, no that is not true. Abortion is markedly more evil than poverty. The Seamless Garment argument was introduced by Cardinal Bernardin (who I personally believe was the worst prelate in American history) and many courageous priests and bishops have struggled ever since to eliminate the notion that you can, in good conscience, vote pro-abortion. That is a Utilitarian approach to morality that the Church has repeatedly condemned. Pope Paul II in Centesimus annus warned us of the danger this kind of approach to Democracy can have on the common good. He states:
"The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate. Thus she cannot encourage the formation of narrow ruling groups which usurp the power of the State for individual interests or for ideological ends."
That is what is happening in America. First it happened with abortion, now it is happening with same-sex pseudo-marriage. Narrow ideological groups have co-opted the democratic process to ram their version of reality down our throats. As Catholics, we must oppose these groups because the common good is under attack. Some have proposed a so-called “Benedict Option” in which we Catholics would live in relative isolation and wait out the immoral storm that is raging. I don’t think that’s the best answer. Rather, I would propose a radical living out the Gospel in which we live in the world and preach the Gospel by our actions. Show people the beauty of the Catholic Faith by our charitable actions. Continue to vote, even if only for a personal affirmation of the pro-life cause. As far as Democracy is concerned, I believe this is our best course of action against the ideologies of abortion and homosexuality. Remember, no form of government is perfect. Democracy certainly has its flaws and I personally do not believe in a democratic society. But as of right now, one can legitimately wonder if our government is still democratic in nature. Or has it turned into something else?
We are living under a tyranny, to be sure. But ours is not a tyranny of any one man, but of ideology. I truly believe our nation is under demonic siege with the sole purpose of snatching as many souls as possible from God. St. Paul eloquently proclaimed, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual [power] of wickedness in the heavenlies.” (Eph. 6:12) Our struggle is not against Democracy itself, but against those who have hijacked the system for their own benefit. Unlike our forefathers who had to take up arms against tyranny, our weapons are not guns and bullets, but the Eucharist and the Rosary. Do not be disheartened by the political oppression of our religious freedoms and the violent attacks on Natural Law. Be encouraged, rather, by the promise of Our Lady and the title of this post: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”