On Resistance: What are the Options?
By James Kalb
What do Catholics do when late-term abortion is declared “sacred ground,” and “gay marriage equality” is treated in our fundamental law as a basic requirement of justice and decency?
We should stand our ground, of course, but that’s easier said than done. Man is social, and today he must find ways to live with others in a society of complex interdependencies. With that in mind, it matters that the Supreme Court, which counts as our highest authority on matters of public principle, insists that our public order is based on an understanding of human life radically opposed to natural law. And it matters even more that we live under a regime of Hope and Change that wants to remodel attitudes and human relations in the name of “equality,” “tolerance,” and “inclusion.” Those words are sacred in today’s politics. No mainstream social authority or political force seriously disputes them or the project of social reconstruction they are thought to demand. To do so is to be banished as a bigoted extremist, and religious and philosophical convictions that lead some in that direction are targets for suppression.
How should we act as the policies that result from such views become more intrusive and their effects on everyday life more pervasive? Politics is mostly a matter of prudence, and the problem with prudence as a guide is that it is very difficult to apply in times of confusion. That says nothing against it as a standard, but it does make it very difficult to know what we are to do as Catholics, citizens, and human beings under present circumstances.
The Catechism tells us that
Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it.
It follows that
Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.
So not all groups that try to exercise political authority deserve to be treated as governments. If a gang of criminals takes over a town, or a foreign invader subjects a region to brutal and inhuman occupation, obedience to their commands is not normally required. But how do we apply such principles in the case of a regime that has wide public and institutional support, even though its fundamental proclaimed principles are directly opposed to natural law, good public order, and rights as basic as the right of children to a father and mother and of babies not to be killed? That is the situation in which we find ourselves today.