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I received the following from Lifesite -- a Web newsletter out of Canada that issues daily reports on the Culture Wars: “The Joint Committee on Human Rights, composed of members of Parliament and the House of Lords, issued a report February 26, recommending that religious schools be forced to modify their religious teaching to comply with the sexual orientation regulations. The report stated that while the regulations ‘would not prevent pupils from being taught as part of their religious education the fact that certain religions view homosexuality as sinful,’ schools would not be permitted to teach ‘a particular religion’s doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true...”
The committee defended its recommendation by prioritizing rights, “We do not consider that the right to freedom of conscience and religion requires the school curriculum to be exempted from the scope of the sexual orientation regulations.”
I was so stunned by this quote that I thought there must be a mistake and so I went online and looked up the report. The story was accurate.
To some it may seem like a little thing, after all teachers can tell the children what their religion teaches as long as they don’t tell them it is objectively true.
But how precisely is any believer supposed to do that? Are priests or nuns or devout lay teachers supposed to tell children that the faith to which they have dedicated their lives isn’t objectively true? If it isn’t objectively true, what is it? A comforting myth? Or worse, a lie made up by some men to oppress others.
There are those who believe that Christianity is just an oppressive myth. We don’t demand that they tell their children Christianity is objectively true, but if freedom of religion means anything it means that we have the right to believe and to proclaim -- in Catholic schools, in the public square, and from the housetops if we want to -- the truth that God has spoken through His Son and His words are true. We are obliged to pass on what we have received. No government has the right to tell believers their religion is not objectively true. No government has the right to keep parents from raising their children in the faith.
This is no small thing. It was no small thing when St. Thomas More was asked to affirm King Henry VIII’s divorce from Queen Catherine and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. It was no small thing when the early Christian martyrs were ordered to offer incense to the emperor as God. People have died for less.
The teachings of the Church are not old fashioned and out-of-date; they speak truth to the spirit of every age. And just to be sure that the men of every age hear the word of the Lord clearly, God sends prophets to address the never-ending parade of false ideologies which tempt people away from the unchangeable truth.
The Church speaks prophetically to each generation and never has that prophetic voice been stronger. In John Paul II and now in Benedict XVI we have prophets who see clearly the dangers and deceits of this age. They have warned us again and again against being tempted by the spirit of sexual utilitarianism which degrades the human person and violates the law of love.
In “Love and Responsibility” John Paul II, then a bishop in Poland answered false ideology of sexual liberation and laid out the truth about human sexuality. His words were clearly prophetic.
As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Benedict XVI has warned repeatedly about the dangers of redefining marriage. In the document “Consideration regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons” he called for “more specific interventions... aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society.” Catholic clergy and laity have a moral obligation to address these issues, not only in their churches, in Catholic schools, but also in public forums. According to Benedict XVI, “this question relates to the natural moral law.” In other words the teachings of the Church in this area are not leftover from an unenlightened past, they are not something that applies only to Catholics, they are objectively true, because they are founded on natural law, in harmony with revelation, and supported by the consistent witness of 4,000 years of believers. They must be defended as such. On this there can be no compromise.
We should not be surprised that those who follow the spirit of the age -- those who have given their allegiance to the ideology of sexual Utilitarianism -- should want to silence prophets. Silencing prophets has been tried before and failed. The voice of ancient prophets rings down to us through the ages. Their persecutors are seen as the villains of history. Unfortunately, those nations that did not listen to their prophets suffered the consequences.
The question that faced them, faces us: Will we listen to the prophets God has sent us or will we ignore them to our peril?
Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”