Thursday, July 24, 2014

Frank Cocozzelli on Opus Dei Ties of Supreme Catholic Men: "I Am Concerned about the Strong Influence of an Ultra-Traditionalist Catholic Mindset on the U.S. Supreme Court"

In light of the recent Hobby Lobby ruling of the five Supreme Catholic men, Talk to Action has chosen to republish an outstanding series of articles Frank Cocozzelli posted at that site in 2007, about the close ties of most of these five Supreme Catholic men to the ultra-secretive, wealthy, and very influential right-wing Catholic movement Opus Dei. Here are some excerpts from each of the three articles in the series:

[S]imply defining Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and too a lesser extent, Samuel Alito merely as "Catholic" does not tell the whole story. They adhere to a more severe, less independent form of Catholicism than most American Catholics--certainly more to the right of the mainstream of most of my fellow co-religionists. Former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan could be aptly described as "Catholic" -- but these justices are more accurately Catholic Right. At least three of the Justices have-to varying degrees ---links with the very conservative and secretive Opus Dei, a lay (non-clerical society) group that has the status of "personal prelature," an entity that answers only to their prelate in Rome.

As an American, a Catholic, an attorney and a lover of liberty I am concerned about the strong influence of an ultra-traditionalist Catholic mindset on the U.S. Supreme Court. Unlike the many mainstream and even conservative Catholics who have served on the bench, there are indications that some members of the current court  may want to use their powerful positions to impose their particular orthodoxies on the rest of us.

What certain Opus Dei members and cooperators are trying to accomplish is quite simple. They simply want to make the federal judiciary-and secular government in general, the enforcement arm of Vatican doctrine. It is the ultimate example of church and state acting as one.

I highly recommend Frank's three-part series to Bilgrimage readers. With the overt political use of the courts this week to attack the Affordable Care Act and (potentially) remove healthcare coverage from millions of needy citizens of the U.S., with the unrelenting attacks of the U.S. Catholic bishops on a healthcare act that extends healthcare to millions of citizens living on the socioeconomic margins of society, and with the recent attack of the five Supreme Catholic men on the contraceptive mandate of the ACA, we're a hair's breadth from theocracy in the U.S., it seems to me.

And that theocracy has a decided right-wing Catholic cast to it, insofar as it emanates from the five Supreme Catholic men and the bishops to whom they're very closely connected. Just as it has a decided Opus Dei cast to it . . . .  Justice Alito's majority opinion in Hobby Lobby freely admits that what concerned the majority set of Supreme Catholic men in this case was the specific Catholic preoccupation with certain contraceptives re-envisaged as abortifacients, and Alito's majority statement seeks to impose as a norm for all Americans in their secular lives the unique, sectarian view of a minority of right-wing Catholics (as represented by the USCCB), and to call this norm "religious freedom."

The reasoning employed by Alito in his majority ruling is tantamount to, "Because the bishops say so." The ruling accepts at face value the sincerity of claims by those opposing the contraceptive mandate of the ACA that their consciences are grieved due to the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage, even when they themselves had previously covered the very same contraceptives they now want to call abortifacients in their healthcare plan prior to ACA. It also accepts at face value the contra-scientific assertion that certain emergency contraceptives are abortifacients, and demands that all American citizens of any or no creed accede to this counter-scientific assertion.

Because the U.S. Catholic bishops say so.

Those concerned about the future of American democracy should be very concerned about the fact that the highest court in the U.S. is now stacked with Supreme Catholic men most of whom have direct ties to the ultra-secretive, wealthy, and very influential right-wing movement Opus Dei. See also Mike McShea's commentary on this issue at Last Civilized Yank.

The graphic: Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptist Association, in which he states his "reverence" for the will of the American people as they demanded that their national legislature "should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." As James Hutson notes, the text originally stated, "thus building an eternal wall of separation between Church & State," but Jefferson expunged the adjective "eternal" to assuage New England Federalists who had charged him with being an atheist.

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