Catholicism Archives

Does the Pope Shop at Hobby Lobby

No, but he does seem to be watching their Supreme Court case.

Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told U.S. President Barack Obama they were concerned about "religious freedom" in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Obama’s health care plan.

The talks included "discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, including "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a Vatican statement said.

Obama’s 2010 healthcare law, widely opposed by Republicans, includes a provision that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in their health insurance plans.

Catholic and other religious groups say the mandate forces them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

Just wondering if all those Democrats who have been falling all over themselves over the Pope when he seems to be saying something they like (whether or not he’s actually saying what they think he’s saying) will take note of this rather obvious political stance.

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    I don’t know how much the Vatican’s Chief Justice holds sway in terms of official church policy, or how much his opinion reflects the position of the Catholic church, but I thought I’d pass this along.

    In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine –and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

    “It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the magazine.

    The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to “restrict” religion.

    “Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

    Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying “such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”

    “In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly,” Burke told the magazine. “It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.”

    Since this was transcribed by Life Site News, you know there’s an abortion angle, and there’s just a bit more at the link.

    The freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship is a distinction that I’ve heard elsewhere, and it’s good to hear it given voice by someone at the Vatican. These days, it’s almost like you lose that First Amendment right upon leaving the church building. You don’t, even if you own a business (i.e. Hobby Lobby). This is a serious concern.

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      This issue has been in the news before, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen an opinion from this high up in the Catholic church.

      To deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians who are Catholic, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “makes perfect sense” because it is a discipline that goes back to St. Paul, “the very first years of the Church,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis and now the chief justice at the Vatican’s highest court.

      In an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Dec. 13, Cardinal Burke explained that it is necessary to protect the Sacrament, the Communion wafer offered at Masses, from “being profaned, being violated by someone receiving unworthily,” someone “who knows that he or she is unworthy and yet presumes to come forward and to take the Holy Eucharist.”

      For our Catholic readers, what’s your take on this?

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        Good news on the religious liberty front. Gabriel Malor writing at Ace of Spades give a great rundown of the main points of the district court judge’s ruling with regards to forcing the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to cover, or exempt themselves, from the ObamaCare™ requirement that they cover contraception or abortion. In a snark-less post, it’s just a matter-of-fact examination of the ruling, and why this may have a very tough road to the Supreme Court, assuming it’s appealed that far.

        Some highlights (but, as they say, read the whole thing):

        This is the first litigation to result in a final injunction against the contraception mandate for religious non-profit organizations that come within the Obama Administration’s purported exemption to the mandate.The 7th, 10th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all found the mandate to be an unacceptable burden on the free exercise of religion for for-profit businesses that don’t come under the exemption. This case is important, though, because it recognizes that even the act of having to claim the exemption is an unacceptable burden on religion.

        Very late in this case, the government realized that, although the Archdiocese and its constituent organizations are covered by the mandate, the regulations might not actually force a third party they designate to provide the objectionable contraception coverage. The judge was not amused:

        The Obama administration has handed out so many exceptions to the law, it can no longer claim the law serves a compelling purpose.

        The administration, as it has frequently done with respect to disobeying laws it does not like, argued that it had to enforce the contraception mandate in such an infringing manner because it could not do it any other way. The district court pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking:

        A very interesting and damaging ruling.

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          Overcoming Such Unanimity

          Ben DeBono is one of the co-hosts of a podcast I listen to, "The Sci-Fi Christian".  I have the distinction of having named their alien mascot, "Theo".

          Ben is a recent convert to Catholicism, while I am a  long-time Protestant. And yet there are commonalties that people tend to ignore too often. He highlighted one of those commonalities in a recent Facebook post.

          Here’s a thought experiment for Christians arguing for biblical support of homosexuality and/or homosexuall [sic] marriage:

          On the subject of homosexuality theologians as diverse as the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther and every other major pre-20th century Christian thinker stand in complete agreement. Such unanimity is all but unprecedented in the tradition. Even a doctrine as fundamental as the Trinity has greater diversity of thought than homosexuality.

          Regardless of how you view the authority of tradition, doesn’t such complete agreement deserve to be acknowledged and taken seriously? If you say yes, how can you justify the near complete lack of engagement with the tradition by those arguing for an understanding of Christianity that is pro-homosexuality? Wouldn’t such a drastic change on this issue demand a lengthy and complete engagement with the tradition?

          If you say no, how do you justify the implicit claim that your interpretive abilities are superior to 2,000 years of unanimous teaching on this issue – Protestant, Catholic and otherwise?

          Ben shows that, over the millennia, smart Christian guys from all over the spectrum, have been unified on this topic. I made a similar point 2 years ago when I noted that the Bible speak of homosexuality 100% negatively, and of marriage 100% heterosexually. I said essentially the same thing, "Ignore all of that collected wisdom at your peril."

          The religious Left has been accepting homosexuality as a "non-sin" over the past 40 years, and same-sex marriage as blessed just for the past 10 years or so. Relatively speaking, however, this is nothing compared to the unanimity of the faith for the last 2,000 years. If one is going to throw out 2 millennia of doctrine, you had better have a good argument that a) this is really what the Bible says and b) the other guys were wrong. Yelling "Equality!" is not such an argument.

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            The Culture War and Voting Patterns

            Religious folks who have traditionally voted Democrat are (finally) beginning to reconsider.

            For the first time since the black community’s political realignment with the Democrat Party in the 1960′s, a nationally prominent black Pastor has called on the black church community to leave the Democrat Party in a movement dubbed "EXODUS NOW!" Bishop E.W. Jackson’s call to "come out from among them" is apparently being heeded by many black Pastors and Christians across America and creating a stir in many churches. There is concern at the highest levels of the Democrat Party.

            And here.

            Bishop Thomas John Paprocki from Springfield, Illinois, is getting attention after making some strongly-worded comments about those Americans who opt to vote for President Barack Obama in November. In a column and video that was posted by Catholic Times, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Springfield, Paprocki targeted portions of the Democratic platform that “explicitly endorse intrinsic evils.” He also warned that supporting certain politicians could place peoples’ “eternal salvation…in jeopardy.”

            While he noted that it’s not his job to to tell people who do vote for, the faith leader said that he has a duty to speak out about moral issues. Despite his stated problems with the Democratic Party platform — the initial removal of God, its stance abortion and its support of gay marriage – Paprocki spoke relatively favorably of the Republican platform.

            If you hold to a particular religious belief, or even if you hold to none at all, whatever beliefs you have ought to inform your vote. No, this is not a case of some "religious test" that would be Constitutionally prohibited. The Constitution applies to government. The government cannot prohibit someone from running for office based on their religion. The people, however, are free to apply whatever standard each one wishes.

            And now we may be seeing the beginnings of something of a backlash to policy and platform decisions by Democrats. When people start to take their religion seriously, it could change the political landscape dramatically. It ought to.

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              Can a Person of Faith Be a Democrat?

              Given the events of the past 24 hours at the Democratic National Convention, this suddenly becomes a fair question. Yesterday, delegates went ballistic when party officials tried to reinsert previously omitted language about God and Israel into their platform. Needless to say this created some bad optics for the Democrats as well as creating news at their convention. This was such a grave unforced error it’s not clear yet how much damage has been done.

              But taking this in conjunction with the party’s full fledged endorsement of abortion on demand (“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”) as well as the ongoing controversy over the HHS mandate regarding conception and suddenly you get the feeling that there is outright animus towards people of faith.

              This is not necessarily new but never has it been more obvious. As John Hinderaker points outs, “The Democrats, bluntly put, have become the party of those who don’t go to church.” Although I would disagree with him over whether religious beliefs informs ones view of the issues of the day (it does) he is absolutely correct to suggest that the Democratic platform is in direct opposition to the values that Jews, Christians, and Catholics in particular hold.

              This point is further illustrated in Al Mohler’s excellent essay on the stark worldview choices we are facing in this election.

              All of this begs the question whether a devout Jew, Christian or Catholic can sincerely also identify themselves as a Democrat. I frankly can’t see how anyone can.

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                Is the Pope Republican?

                Chris Matthews, a Catholic Democrat, isn’t sure, at least about the bishops, and neither was Sister Simone Campbell, executive director at the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. While discussing the requirements that the Catholic Church must provide insurance for contraception (against its teachings), Matthews asked if the bishops were all aligned with a certain political party, based on their views on this.

                MATTHEWS: Do you think they’re all Republican, the bishops?

                CAMPBELL: I don’t know if they’re all Republican, but it sure seems that they’re speaking from the, the playbook, sort of possibly as surrogates for the Republican Party, I don’t know. But they certainly are engaged in politics that seem much more aligned with the Right.

                Noel Sheppard, covering this for NewsBusters, comes up with the numbers regarding Catholics and political party.

                Catholics in this country historically have been solidly Democratic, although this has waned in recent years.

                As EWTN News reported in February, a 2011 Pew study found 48 percent of Catholics surveyed said they were Democrat or Democrat-leaning compared to 43 percent claiming to be Republican or Republican-leaning.

                As such, it seems absurd to think all Catholic bishops are Republican.

                So no, the Pope isn’t necessarily Republican, but he is Catholic. Matthews ought to know that. But for the Left, everything is political. Even religion.

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                  From CNS News, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

                  Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, and 42 other Catholic dioceses and organizations around the country announced on Monday that they are suing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for violating their freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

                  The dioceses and organizations, in different combinations, are filing 12 different lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country.

                  The suits focus on the regulation that Sebelius announced last August and finalized in January that requires virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including those that can cause abortions.

                  The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics should not be involved in them. Thus, the regulation would require faithful Catholics and Catholic organizations to act against their consciences and violate the teachings of their faith.

                  Earlier, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had called the regulation an "unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and asked the Obama administration to rescind it.

                  “We have tried negotiation with the Administration and legislation with the Congress–and we’ll keep at it–but there’s still no fix," Cardinal Dolan, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement released by the conference this morning.

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                    Friday Link Wrap-up

                    If celibacy is to blame for the sexual abuse in the Catholic church, how does that explain the continuing abuses in the public schools? (Hint: it doesn’t.)

                    Here are 4 hard truths of health care reform. (Hint: if they promised something, it’s generally not going to happen.)

                    "[I]f you come down hard on Limbaugh because he has crossed a line, you must come down hard on Schultz and Maher because they have crossed the same line…." (Hint: Schultz and Maher supporters haven’t.)

                    New York City Mayor Bloomberg, not content with nannying the well-off on what they can and can’t eat at restaurants, now is denying food to the homeless because it might be too salty. (Hint: That’s not compassion.)

                    If they had been Republicans, this would have been racist. (Hint: They’re Democrats.)

                    Is Zionism humanitarianism? (Hint: Yes.)

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                      Only in California (v. 8) UPDATED

                      A la carte Catholics need a la carte priests
                      Or, Doctrinal statements are there for a reason.

                      Remember the recent incident where a lesbian was denied Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral? From the OC Register comes an example of personal preference attempting to force its way into Christian belief. In Do Catholics love and accept others? Not this priest, we read (emphasis added),

                      I’m what you’d call an a la carte Catholic.

                      Too convenient? Maybe.

                      Especially in times like these, when a priest like Rev. Marcel Guarnizo uses his position in the church to deny someone like Barbara Johnson, who happens to love another woman instead of a man, communion during her own mother’s funeral.

                      Now, there are many reasons I’m an a la carte Catholic, one of which is that I see nothing wrong with homosexuality; nor do I believe in a God who would turn his back on his own children just because of their sexual orientation. Dare I say that a large portion of the heterosexual marriages among us don’t put the whole man-woman union thing in the best light. Besides, who are we to deny anyone the experience of looking at their husband or wife 10 years in and wondering, “Was I high as a kite the day I committed my life to you?”

                      And captioning a photo of the Holy Sacraments (emphasis added),

                      To me, Holy Communion is symbolic of God’s love for us; a priest has no right to deny that to anyone who comes searching for it

                      Now, the writer of this piece is certainly entitled to her own beliefs. And she’s certainly entitled to attempt to push her beliefs on others. But she’s sorely lacking doctrinal knowledge and clear thinking by proposing that Catholics – or even this particular Catholic priest – do not love others simply because they follow the tenets of their faith. That she disagrees with the tenets of the Catholic faith is irrelevant.

                      You see, the issue of faith – religious faith – in our culture has become not one of objective reality but of subjective experience. When someone makes claims or statements such as “I see nothing wrong with…” or “nor do I believe in a God who…” or “who are we to deny…” or “To me…” we are seeing the expression of personal preference as the determining factor in one’s belief system. As I stated above, there is nothing inherently wrong with such a worldview and, as the tolerant individual I am, I believe people are certainly free to think that way.

                      But if they consider themselves to be tolerant, then they need to stop pushing their views into realms that are inconsistent with their own. The Catholic church, via the Word of God, has declarative statements on the meaning of Holy Communion. What you or I happen to want it to mean is irrelevant. Taken a step further, God, through His Word, has made declarative statements regarding His character, who he is, what he is owed, etc. Whether or not you or I agree with him, or would want to believe in a God like him again, is irrelevant.

                      UPDATE:

                      Lo and behold, the priest in question has come forward with his account of what transpired. From Crisis Magazine (HT: Joe Carter),

                      A few minutes before the Mass began, Ms. Johnson came into the sacristy with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her revelation was completely unsolicited. As I attempted to follow Ms.Johnson, her lover stood in our narrow sacristy physically blocking my pathway to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.

                      If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.

                      ###

                      And, the rest of the Lesbian vs. Catholic Church story
                      Not an Only in California story, but related. It seems that the lesbian-denied-holy-communion is a practicing Buddhist as well as a gay rights activist. Hmmm.

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                        Links for Monday, 13 February 2012

                        The HHS Mandate Edition

                        Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate
                        Read the entire post,

                        1.The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals.

                        2.The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral.

                        3.The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception.

                        4.Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate

                        5.Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate.

                        6.The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates.

                        ###

                        Message from Chuck Colson
                        If the administration does not back down, religious liberty—as clearly articulated in the Constitution and in court cases—will be gravely impaired. And your organization, like mine, will face the question of civil disobedience.

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                        Manhattan Declaration – Sign it

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                        Tightening the Screws
                        From the article,

                        Perhaps the Government’s own attempt to kick this can down the road until after the elections will be cited as evidence. In its announcement of January 20, 2012, HHS stated that “birth control… is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.” If contraception is already the most commonly taken drug in America, then it seems hardly necessary to shove a requirement to provide it down the throat of the Catholic Church and other religious organizations.

                        ###

                        National Petition to Stop HHS Mandate – Sign it

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                        Obama Tries to Spin His Way Out
                        From Mere Comments,

                        Abstinence for 15-year-olds is considered impossible–how in the world can they possibly control themselves? But obesity is something we can fix by teaching them to control their appetites for certain foods and eating veggies. What a country.

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                          The Catholic Church Fights Back

                          President Obama may have picked the wrong fight when his administration announced they were forcing the Catholic Church to provide contraceptives including the morning after pill to their employees. In his unforced error, the President may have awakened the sleeping giant of the Catholic Church and set the wheels in motion for a permanent political shift. From the Daily Mail:

                          Prominent Catholic leaders across the U.S. have threatened to turn voters against President Obama over his controversial plans to offer free birth control.

                          The fight is over a provision of the health reform law announced on January 20 that would require health insurance plans — including those offered by institutions such as Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities — to offer free birth control including sterilization.

                          According to estimates, there are some 70 million Catholic voters – and many could be posed to vote against the president in the crucial upcoming election.

                          Catholic League head Bill Donohue said: ‘Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,’ CBS New York reported.

                          ‘This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets.’ Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who was promoted to the status of a Cardinal just weeks ago, spoke out about the issue.

                          ‘It’s not about contraception. It’s about the right of conscience,’ he told reporters. ‘The government doesn’t have the right to butt into the internal governance and teachings of the church,” he said.

                          ‘This is not a Catholic issue, it’s an American issue. We’re strong on this issue of conscience, and that’s what’s at stake here.’

                          Catholic clergy on Sunday called on the faithful to write Congress to protest new birth control rules from President Barack Obama’s administration, stepping up a campaign that began a week ago with denunciations from the pulpit at Masses across the country.

                          Catholics are traditionally staunchly pro-life despite their tendency to vote for Democrats. But over the past couple of election cycles, Catholics have slowly begun to wake up to the fact that many prominent Democrats who also profess to be Catholics (think John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi) don’t hold the same values as those that the church endorses.

                          The Catholic Church is rising to the challenge because they realize this controversy is not just about abortion. It’s also about religious liberty. And they are finally realizing that Democrats that they have worked to elect over the past several decades are not their allies. It’s about time.

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                            Obama’s War Against the Church

                            It’s starting with the Catholic church but it won’t be long before all churches will be targeted. But the Catholic church isn’t going to take this lying down.

                            The controversy began when the Obama Administration informed Catholic institutions that the new healthcare law requires them to pay for contraceptives. It’s not just birth control pills, either. They are also requiring them to provide the so-called “morning after” pill to anyone who wants them. The Catholic church has responded that the rule violates their teaching and they will not abide by it. In fact, they are calling for parishoners to stand up in civil disobedience. Archbishop Jose Gomez is among those calling for action.

                            While the first impulse would be to say this is merely a political dispute, it is anything but. This is a salvo in an ongoing war against Christians. Catholics and Evangelicals have an opportunity to band together for the greater good. When you have people of different faiths and political backgrounds come together for a common cause (as can be seen in this video) then you know you have a huge issue on your hands.

                            On one hand, there is a constitutional crisis that is being brought about by the administration’s actions. Their edict is a clear violation of the First Amendment. For years, liberals have misinterpreted the phrase “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” to mean that the church cannot influence government. But the amendment was worded this way to prevent exactly the sort of action that the administration is taking. Government should not interfere in the affairs of the church. That’s exactly what’s happening here.

                            But there is another issue at stake. As Elizabeth Scalia put it in her recent article, “With the administration’s decision, the covert culture of death has finally made a truly overt move against the culture of life.” The adminstration has stripped away any pretenses that they were in any way supportive of those of us who strongly believe in life.

                            This is not simply a controversy involving the Catholic Church. It is part of a larger war against people of faith. It’s also a wake up call to Americans to realize that their country and the rights that we hold so dear are being taken away from them right before their eyes.

                            Martin Niemoller, founder of the Confessing Church in Germany during World War II, famously summed it up:

                            First they came for the communists,
                            and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

                            Then they came for the trade unionists,
                            and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

                            Then they came for the Jews,
                            and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

                            Then they came for the Catholics,
                            and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.

                            Then they came for me
                            and there was no one left to speak out for me.

                            It’s time to stand up against tyranny. It’s time to stand up in civil disobedience to this government. It’s time for change. It’s not about supporting one candidate over another. It’s about standing up for what is right. It’s about standing up for truth. There’s a war on. Are you ready for battle?

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                              Taxes and Morality

                              Daniel Hannan, writing for the London Telegraph, poses the following question.

                              Now that [Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams is intruding into the debate about a financial transactions tax, I’d like to ask him a question. Which does he consider more meritorious – to give your own money to good causes…or to force your customers, clients and shareholders to do so in the name of ‘corporate social responsibility’? Which has more virtue – to ‘sell that thou hast, and give to the poor’, or to be expropriated through the tax system?

                              His article is a good, short read on the subject.

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