That’s a good question!

The response hinges on whether religious freedom is a fundamental human right. If it is, then any violation is serious, though some are more serious than others.

Roll back the clock a bit. If someone had told Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott that their outrage over women being denied the right to vote was unjustified because women in Asia and Africa were being treated far worse, often in conditions approaching slavery, do you think they should have piped down?

A violation of life (as is sometimes the case for persecuted Christians) is as grave as they come, but a violation of conscience in religious matters is also serious, so much so that it’s explicitly protected by our Constitution’s First Amendment.

Hopefully this can actually raise awareness among Americans that Christians around the world suffer such unjust persecution. The Internet is very good at bringing us closer to them — I have friends on Facebook from countries that are extremely difficult for Christians to live in — and somehow we have something more in common now than before.

Anyway, that’s mostly in the realm of personal opinion. Thanks for writing, and God bless you!

- Father Shane

"The most recent statistics on religious affiliation in the U.S. indicate that there are approximately 69 million of us who currently claim to be Catholic. I often think about what would happen if all of us simultaneously decided to come to church on any given Sunday. We obviously would not have the seating capacity to accommodate all those who would want to attend Mass—even if our parishes had to double or triple or quadruple the numbers of Masses on a given weekend—we would not be able to provide a seat for all 69 million Catholics who sought to attend Mass on any given Sunday. But what a splendid problem it would be to attempt to try to handle."
— Archbishop Wilton Gregory (Atlanta)

(Source: georgiabulletin.org)

"When I was growing up, many of us thought the real Catholics in the community were the priests and the nuns, and the rest of us were just hanging around. But when we say that each of us is called to holiness, it means each of us has the same responsibility of taking care of the Church, and the same call to be part of the Church."
— Archbishop Jose Gomez (Los Angeles)

(Source: the-tidings.com)


Getting my outrage out through design.

No. I’m sorry, but I am so tired of the misconception that the HHS mandate debate is about Catholics (and other religious organizations) trying to outlaw birth control.

No matter what the Church teaches about birth control, contraceptives, and abortificants, that is not what this debate is about. This debate is about religious organizations being forced by the U.S. government to violate their own moral teachings. This is not denying women birth control, but refusing to violate religious beliefs and paying for something that these organizations believe to be immoral.

A woman’s choice to engage in sex is an act of free will. A woman’s choice to use contraceptives/birth control is an act of free will. No one is denying women the freedom to engage in sex, or the freedom to obtain contraceptives/birth control.

Some people bring up an argument of “Sure, the Constitution says ‘Freedom of Religion,’ but a religion’s rights only apply as long as they don’t infringe on an individual’s rights.”  But this is not a case of trying to take away anyone’s rights to obtain contraception. And the argument can be turned the other way. Isn’t a demand that organizations go against their moral teaching infringing on their rights for the sake of the individual’s perceived “rights”?

And since when is FREE contraception/birth control a “right”? One can just as easily argue that free healthy food a “right,” and that companies (or grocery stores) need to provide their employees with free fruits and vegetables. In fact, I think that concept would be easier to argue, as it would help a higher percentage of the population, and because eating is a necessity to sustain life, while sex, however much the majority of the population does it and enjoys it, is most often a recreational activity (and before you try to argue that sex is necessary to sustain life — yes it is, in the sense that we would have no procreation without it. But if procreation is the goal, contraceptives and birth control aren’t part of the equation, are they?)

My point:

  • This is NOT a debate about legality of birth control/contraceptives. 
  • This IS a debate about it being unconstitutional to force an organization to violate its religious and moral beliefs.
  • While this debate involves religious organizations, it is NOT about those religious organizations trying to force women to live without access to birth control. It is about those religious organizations (and the individuals who are a part of them) trying to preserve their CONSTITUTIONAL freedom of religion. 
  • People choose places of employment based on insurance plans already; why is this so different? 
  • Wake up. Read both sides. Instead of listening to sound bytes or your friends’ enraged gossip, look at both sides of the argument. 
  • This isn’t about Christians telling women what they should or shouldn’t do with their bodies (though they certainly have various teachings regarding the subject). This is about the government telling sacred and secular organizations that they have to violate their moral beliefs or teachings.  This “image” of someone being tied up by bonds of the Church? It’s completely innacurate. It is not the argument at hand. 
  • This is not “The Catholic Church vs. the Rest of Society.” Plenty of non-religious groups are involved, also arguing against this portion of the HHS mandate.



This is the poem I wrote that won 2nd in our school art show

The conclusion is very Catholic, echoing as it does St. Thomas Aquinas’ Contra Gentes I, c.3, p.3. Except that St. Thomas, being from Naples, probably would have suggested grabbing something other than a beer. :-)

(Source: davidbaunach)


At the Carmelite convent where I stayed over the weekend.

"Love looks to the eternal. Love is indeed ‘ecstasy,’ not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and this towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God."
— Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est.


I agree with you!

  • Believing that anyone has more rights to a woman’s womb than she does is evil.
  • Believing that someone is “inferior” or “unholy” because of whom they love is evil.
  • Jesus promoted love and acceptance.
  • Catholic views and morals belong to the past.

But I think we can agree on even more… Take for example our premise that the unborn child is a person. So if you’ve got a tiny daughter-person dwelling in a woman’s womb, the woman can have rights over her womb, but not over her daughter’s life. It’s vaguely like someone who says that, by virtue of private property, he can burn down his shed whenever he likes; but if a bedridden handicapped person happens to be in it at the time, the law won’t be indifferent to that. I don’t think we’re disagreeing about rights over a woman’s womb, but about whether the daughter there is a person or not. Isn’t that the real disagreement? Maybe if we phrase it that way, we can get somewhere better.

If we were to call someone “inferior,” we would fault against Matthew 23:9, and if we were to call anyone “unholy,” we would fault against Matthew 7:1. And most especially it’s prohibited in our Catechism: “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard [homosexual persons] should be avoided.” Personally I’ve never called anybody “inferior” or “unholy” (at least as far as I can remember), which would be rather absurd for anyone whose life is dedicated to trying to build others up and get them to heaven.

So I wonder what exactly you’re thinking of when you say that we’re guilty of discrimination. I know it’s what you hear about all the time from everywhere, so it’s not your fault for thinking so.

But yes, our views are from the past. And I believe — that’s what this blog is all about — that our views are for the present and the future too, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), so either we’re just as wrong as we were yesterday as we’ll be tomorrow, or we were right then and we’ll be right forever.

But be that as it may… let’s love and accept everyone together, you and I. Sound good?

God bless you!

- Father Shane

I also have a lot of people who ask me, “Are you going to be a…priest, then?”

ME: No, women can’t be priests in the Catholic Church (this is usually accompanied by a “what-the-hell-you’re-Catholic-too-you-must-know-this” look)

THEM: Oh. But if they change that, you’ll become one, right?

ME: No.

THEM: You don’t want to be a priest?

ME: No.

THEM: *confused*

Like anything having to do with ministry or theology is equivalent to the role of a priest…because being a camp counselor is the same as being a professor at university, right? Or like the priesthood is the “elite,” the CEO in the big office upstairs?

I’m confused by this perception.