Local Jesuit agitator, Fr Frank Brennan, thinks that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference got it wrong when they made a “blanket determination, in the absence of any published reasoning [???!!!] distinguishing both formal and material cooperation and permissible and impermissible material cooperation” declaring that Australian Catholics should “seek other avenues of defending human rights” than through financial support of the now officially pro-abortion Amnesty International.
In an article in Eureka Street entitled “Don’t Boycott pro-choice Amnesty” he argues that “within the framework of Catholic moral reflection…the issue does not permit such a blanket determination” because of all the other worthy things Amnesty does. Or more or less that anyway. He imagines a fictional situation in which a conscientious Catholic financially supporting Amnesty “could ask that Amnesty establish bookkeeping practices which would quarantine flagged payments from abortion activities.” Ha! Amnesty officials have already made it quite clear that they will do no such thing–even if it were possible!
And then he has the gall to quote Bishop Anthony Fisher’s excellent article in his defence. I don’t think the good bishop would agree with Fr Brennan on the way he applies the principles outlined in his paper. (Is this a backhanded revival of the old animosity between the Dominicans and the Jesuits?)
Yet it should be noted that this is not a “Jesuit vs Church” issue, as the leading exponent for ceasing support of Amnesty Internation in the Catholic Church in Australia is also a Jesuit, Fr Chris Middleton, Principal of St Aloysius College in Sydney. You can read what he had to say here.
All I can say is, taking up the idea of Archbishop Chaput quoted in an earlier blog: Fr Brennan better be confident of explaining his rationale for continuing to support Amnesty International to Jesus and the victims of abortion when he meets them.
Encounter did a full program on the recently held annual Helder Camara Lecture here in the Archdiocese. The speaker was Archbishop Roland Minnerath, a former Vatican diplomat and former Professor of History at the University of Strasbourg, who (as Archbishop of Dijon) also acted as an adviser to the French Government. His topic was “Caesar’s Coin: How should Church and State interact?”, and mainly concerned freedom of religion rather than the “other side of the coin”, religion in the public square.
The Encounter website just gives the full text of the speech, not the actual transcript of the program as such, and therefore leaves off the questions at the end. Which is a pity, because the program ended with the following exchange (which I have transcribed for your personal benefit, dear Reader):
Question from the floor: Your grace, one of the architects of the declaration on religious liberty was John Courtney Murray. Towards the end of his life he was interested in exploring the implications of religious freedom within the church. I wonder if you can speak briefly to that issue.
Archbishop Roland Minnerath: Well, I think as a matter of concept it doesn’t fit. Religious liberty is liberty in society and towards the State. This does not mean that there should be no liberty in the church, because God created us free, so it cannot be against liberty. Hm? But it’s not the same topic, you know? You cannot say “In the church you have freedom of religion”. You have freedom of religion to quit! To change your religion! Okay?
But once you say, “I am committed to the Catholic faith”, you accept it as a whole. As I do. If you really do not agree, you change. This is religious liberty. It’s the liberty to change one’s religion. For instance, if you would say, “Well I want to be in the church and I want to claim my right to say there is no Trinity”, right? You have this right to say that, that there is no Trinity, but you are probably wrong! But you cannot say that and say at the same time, “I want to be a Catholic Christian”. It is impossible.
So the idea of religious liberty has to be taken as it is, an individual liberty to adhere or not to a religion, or not to have in religion, or to be against all religions. This is your liberty. But once you say, you are in the church, you have decided to commit yourself to Christ, and to what the church teaches about Christ. And this is true in my case and your case.