Catholic Archbishop Lectures Supreme Court Justices on Church and State

October 5, 2010

This past Sunday, according to CNN , the Catholic Church's controversial "Red Mass" was held at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC. Among those present at the invitation-only event were Vice President Joe Biden, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. (The Court is now composed of six Catholics and three Jews. Justice Breyer was the only non-Catholic in attendance; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has refused to attend because she has grown tired of being lectured by Catholic officials.)

The sermon at the mass was delivered by Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, a Vatican theologian with strong ties to the Religious Right. As in past occasions, the Church apparently used this year's Red Mass as an oportunity to push its dogma on hot-button issues including abortion policy, gay rights the separation between church and state, and the evils of "humanism." According to observers , Di Noia lectured his audience on the importance of "Positive law," which, according to him,

. . . rests on certain principles the knowledge of which constitutes nothing less than participation in the divine law itself: the pursuit of the common good through respect for the natural law, the dignity of the human person, the inviolability of innocent life from conception to natural death, the sanctity of marriage, justice for the poor, protection of minors, and so on.

Later, Di Noia reportedly argued that "the democratic state does not so much confer the most fundamental human rights and the duties of citizenship as acknowledge their existence and source in a power beyond the state, namely in God himself," and that democracies are in danger of adopting the view that "man can find happiness and freedom only apart from God."

"This exclusive humanism," he continued, "has been exposed as an anti-humanism of the most radical kind. Man without God is not more free but surely in greater danger . . . The eclipse of God leads not to greater human liberation but to the most dire human peril. That innocent human life is now so broadly under threat has seemed to many of us one of the many signs of this growing peril."

As in past years, this year's Red Mass was scheduled at the start of the Supreme Court's new term, which began yesterday. It is readily apparent that the Church employs this event as a method to influence government policy. That the Church freely does so with the Vice President and six of the nine Supreme Court Justices in attendance speaks volumes about the sorry status of church-state separation in modern America.