Building a Culture of Religious Freedom
A friend of mine, a political scientist, recently posed two very good questions. They go right to the heart of our discussion today. He wondered, first, if the religious freedom debate had “crossed a Rubicon” in our country’s political life. And second, he asked if Catholic bishops now found themselves opposed—in a new and fundamental way—to the spirit of American society.
We should begin by recalling that even at the height of anti-Catholic bigotry, Catholics have always served our country with distinction. More than eighty Catholic chaplains died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. All four chaplains who won the Medal of Honor in those wars were Catholic priests.
Time and again, Catholics have proven their love of our nation with their talent, hard work, and blood. So if the bishops of the United States ever find themselves opposed, in a fundamental way, to the spirit of our country, the fault won’t lie with our bishops. It will lie with political and cultural leaders who turned our country into something it was never meant to be.
That said, let’s turn to my friend’s first question. The Rubicon is a river in northern Italy. It’s small and forgettable, except for one thing. During the Roman Republic, it marked a border. To the south lay Italy, ruled directly by the Roman Senate. To the north lay Gaul, ruled by a governor. Under Roman law, no general could enter Italy with an army. Doing so carried the death penalty. In 49 BC, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his Thirteenth Legion and marched on Rome, he triggered a civil war and changed the course of history. Ever since then, “crossing the Rubicon” has meant passing a point of no return.Continue reading at www.thepublicdiscourse.com