Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No pope but Caesar!

Let me get this straight. The State of Connecticut wants to pass a law removing all authority over a Catholic parish's affairs (not any other church, mind you, just Catholic) from the bishop and handing it to a lay council.
(a) A corporation may be organized in connection with any Roman Catholic Church or congregation in this state, by filing in the office of the Secretary of the State a certificate signed by the archbishop or bishop and the vicar-general of the archdiocese or of the diocese in which such congregation is located and the pastor and two laymen belonging to such congregation, stating that they have so organized for the purposes hereinafter mentioned.

(b) The corporation shall have a board of directors consisting of not less than seven nor more than thirteen lay members. The archbishop or bishop of the diocese or his designee shall serve as an ex-officio member of the board of directors without the right to vote. [Emphasis mine]

(c) The members of the board of directors shall be elected from among the lay members of the congregation at an annual meeting of the corporation. The members of the board of directors shall serve for staggered terms of not more than three years. The members of the board of directors shall owe a fiduciary duty to the corporation and the members of the congregation...

What in the name of every deity ever postulated makes these neo-Know-Nothing yahoos think they have any authority at all over the internal workings of the Church?

Forget for a moment that it's only the Catholic Church being targeted. (Although think about this, Protestant brethren: would you want the state to replace your board with a bishop?) Let's suppose for a moment that the entire Supreme Court was on crack the day this law came before it and it was upheld. No matter how many government fatbottoms stamp their approval on it, it's still unenforceable.

The moment the authority of the bishop is removed from a congregation, it ceases to be a legitimate part of the Catholic Church. Period. Rome will not recognize it; no other diocese or parish in the world will recognize it. Not just those in communion with Rome, either. No church that believes in apostolic succession will. And should the state-sanctioned council bring in a priest to celebrate Masses and hear confessions, I suspect those will be invalid as well. (I know they'll be illicit; I'll have to ask my Lovely and Brilliant Wife whether transubstantiation can actually occur outside the bishop's authority.)

The Catholic Church is not a government agency. It is not a corporation as such. It is not a democracy. It predates every government on earth (except the Japanese Empire), and it will outlast all of them, too. The state simply has no authority over the Church, and the Church has a long (and infuriating) history of ignoring dictates from caesar.

The very most that the State of Connecticut could manage (with the sound of flapping porcine wings in the background) would be to force the Church to abandon its property in the state to the puppet church, while the actual Church members met without state sanction, much like they do in China.

Naturally, I don't think it's a coincidence that the congressworms proposing this bill are all heavy supporters of same-sex marriage and abortion, two issues on which the Catholic Church has been their biggest and most organized adversary.

This is the same state that pioneered efforts to force Catholic hospitals to dispense abortifacients. Tell me again why the Church continues to operate charities of any kind in Connecticut?

Ed Morrissey gives a good non-Catholic analysis of the bill here.

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