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Pope Francis Sees True Liberty in Government Protection of Common Good

Good Catholic Amy Coney Barrett cast the deciding vote on the United States Supreme Court Wednesday night to block enforcement of a New York state order telling churches in coronavirus hotspots that they must limit attendance.

Good Catholic Pope Francis I wrote a letter to the religious litigants’ local paper published yesterday to remind the faithful that public health restrictions to fight coronavirus fit quite well with good Catholic thinking:

With some exceptions, governments have made great efforts to put the well-being of their people first, acting decisively to protect health and to save lives. The exceptions have been some governments that shrugged off the painful evidence of mounting deaths, with inevitable, grievous consequences. But most governments acted responsibly, imposing strict measures to contain the outbreak.

Yet some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom! Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate.

It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything [Pope Francis I,  “A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts,” New York Times, 2020.11.26].

Pope Francis sounds kind of like Governor Jim Justice, a good Baptist. Both men recognize that the common sacrifices we make for the common good are not attacks on our freedom. Quite the contrary: limits on individual action to protect the common good are the foundation of real liberty and the fullest possible expression of our personal autonomy. If certain individuals run about masklessly shouting about Freedom™ and paying no heed to the risk posed by coronavirus, more people, including people who are trying to be cautious, will get sick, die, and have no freedom.

Listen to Pope Francis, and to a couple other good Catholics, Dr. Jill Biden and President-Elect Joe Biden. Do your part. Participate in our shared sacrifices (and boy, if you think not being able to crowd into church for an hour every Sunday is “devastating and spiritually harmful,” try working the ICU 12 hours every Sunday amidst coronavirus) to protect the common good and the liberty of all.


  1. Jake 2020-11-27 09:52

    Hats off to Pope Francis! His deep concern for the lessers of humanity has been evident since becoming Pope. He lives as he teaches, also. My thoughts re: the lawsuit ruled on by the supremes is that the two plaintiffs (the Catholic Church and Jewish synagogue in New York) were mostly concerned about potential drop in collection baskets, not religious freedom restrictions!

  2. Jenny 2020-11-27 10:07

    The Roman Catholic and Pope Francis also sees protection in safeguarding pedophiliac priests.
    All of the Popes, including Pope Francis, knew about the inhumane atrocity of moving pedophilias from parish to parish, and IT IS STILL HAPPENING. More boys and girls will continue being raped and scarred for live because old corrupt white men won’t step up and do anything about it.
    If there is a shortage of Priests, then they need to get off their mysogynistic asses and give women the opportunity to enter the Priesthood. That would solve the problem right there.

    The Catholic Church lost any crediblity with me a long time ago and I made the right decision to leave and never look back.

  3. cibvet 2020-11-27 10:13

    It appears that eventually the law requiring seat belts or not driving under the influence will make it to the supreme court which will then overturn the laws as it restricts individual freedom to do as one pleases. I am against adding justices, but it may be necessary to provide “john dale herd immunity” from fools.

  4. bearcreekbat 2020-11-27 11:13

    There is a disconnect here. I thought the Pope was the direct link with God for members of the Catholic Church and that all behavior by members of that church’s regional and local leadership and congregation was subject to compulsory guidance by the Pope.

    If this understanding is correct, then how did the Catholic Plaintiff in the case challenging New York’s virus restriction obtain permission to sue the State? That lawsuit appears to be 100% inconsistent with the Pope’s above statement requiring church deference to public health protection governmental decisions.

    Perhaps I am simply misinformed about the relevance of the Catholic Pope when it comes to the behavior of local Catholic Churches? Does Catholic doctrine permit rejection of the Pope’s (hence God’s) guidance whenever that guidance conflicts with personal quirks and desires?

  5. jerry 2020-11-27 11:43

    God took the backseat on this one bcb. This is all about the collection plates, the God of money.

  6. o 2020-11-27 12:23

    bearcreekbat raises and interesting question that I, even with a Catholic upbringing, do not know the answer to: how independent can a diocese be of the mother HRC church?

    The suit was filed by Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

    This decision makes curious precedence. Now “freedom of religion” also includes the church’s prerogative to create a proven danger to the public (not only its parishioners’) welfare. It looks like GOP Second Amendment fervor has found another outlet.

  7. Jenny 2020-11-27 12:48

    BCB, very good question and you could ask every Catholic that reads Cory’s blog and they would most likely shrug their shoulders and not know the answer. Such a powerful institution needs to be held accountable but it will go on pretending they have taken care of its serious problems.

    What I know about the RCC is that there are a lot, and I mean a lot of authoritarian chauvinistic conservative priests that run the Churches, in the US anyway. The priesthood also is a good place for pedophiliac males to hide in because they know they will be protected. It really is your classis Boys Club – the abuse of power is rampant and the sad truth is, deep down their corrupted sick souls, they don’t really want to change. They know they can’t, there would be too much to lose so they have Pope Francis throw out a bone every once in awhile to satify the masses.

  8. Richard Schriever 2020-11-27 13:25

    Ms. Barrett – if she is truly a a good Catholic, must surely admit that unlike the constitution of the US and other human-made institutions, and SCOTUS judges, the God-made Pope is infallible. OR maybe she isn’t so good.

  9. Mark Anderson 2020-11-27 13:41

    Well I guess certain members of the Supreme Court equate spending time in church with buying booze in a liquor store. I mean the liquor store is open so the place of worship should be too, right? You know you always spend an hour or more picking your brand, breaking into song and meeting and greeting others when buying don’t you? Sitting in rows breathing and listening to the owner proselytize about the various brands of wine. Of course they are the same.

  10. Donald Pay 2020-11-27 13:58

    There’s a lot of talk on the right about the Mayflower Compact this November, supposedly as an answer to the 1619 Project. The righties like to think the Compact, which wasn’t called a compact till much later, was about “Freedom!” It was actually more about (white male) majority rule, and the formation of a government to restrict the freedom of some men who were threatening a sort of anarchy that would doom the already precarious position of the Mayflower settlers.

    The goal of the compact was simple: reduce death and survive by bonding each one together. They more or less forced the hand of those on board the Mayflower who cried loudest for freedom. Of course we know the Wampanoag were not a part of their polity, not that the tribes realty wanted to be.

    The lesson of the Mayflower Compact is that people form government by giving up a bit of their freedom in order for all to survive.

  11. jerry 2020-11-27 15:32

    Mr. Pay, of course Spain (400 years before) this letter and France, 100 years before as well. These puritans were late to the alter and then tried to claim it as theirs.

    The tribes already belonged to the first Democracy in North America, indeed, the world. Why would they want to be involved with a bunch of white racists and wife beaters? Answer, they wouldn’t.

    ” Iroquois Confederacy, self-name Haudenosaunee (“People of the Longhouse”), also called Iroquois League, Five Nations, or (from 1722) Six Nations, confederation of five (later six) Indian tribes across upper New York state that during the 17th and 18th centuries played a strategic role in the struggle between the French and British for mastery of North America. The five original Iroquois nations were the Mohawk (self-name: Kanien’kehá:ka [“People of the Flint”]), Oneida (self-name: Onᐱyoteʔa∙ká [“People of the Standing Stone”]), Onondaga (self-name: Onoñda’gega’ [“People of the Hills”]), Cayuga (self-name: Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ [“People of the Great Swamp”]), and Seneca (self-name: Onödowa’ga:’ [“People of the Great Hill”]). After the Tuscarora (self-name: Skarù∙ręʔ [“People of the Shirt”]) joined in 1722, the confederacy became known to the English as the Six Nations and was recognized as such at Albany, New York (1722). Often characterized as one of the world’s oldest participatory democracies, the confederacy has persisted into the 21st century.”

  12. mike from iowa 2020-11-27 15:36

    The entire world would be better off with less religion and less wingnuts forcing their alleged kristian gospel on the rest of us. Justice Sotomayor read her enemies the riot act when she reminded them they had a chance to dress drumpf down for his anti-Muslim screeds and didn’t do it, but jumped on Cuomo because it was kristians allegedly being gored.

    from above link…
    Sotomayor brushed aside allegations that Governor Cuomo had made anti-religious statements, which would mean that his coronavirus orders be subjected to strict scrutiny by the Court. Just a few years ago, she pointed out, the Court declined to consider President Trump’s remarks and comments in its evaluation of the so-called “Muslim Ban,” limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries. In her opinion in the DACA case earlier this year, she likewise noted that the majority did not give weight to Trump’s comments (about Mexicans) in that decision, either.

  13. mike from iowa 2020-11-27 15:40

    Barrett, like Go Suck, Thomas, Alito and Kavernmouth are All good extreme idealogues first and foremost. Their loyalties do not lie with the constitution od these United States of America.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-27 18:02

    Good read, Donald. By your description, the Mayflower Compact tells the story of the social contract in a particularly telling context, one in which the participants in the compact are isolated and really are just one step away from a literal state of nature in which they would see their freedom disappear almost instantly as they would starve or freeze or suffer some other awful death without the help of neighbors.

  15. John 2020-11-27 20:24

    The problem is the justices, judges, and lawyers have a willful blind spot for, and an illiteracy of science and STEM. Thus they create other dogmas to justify their constipated rulings.

    His Eminence, Pope Francis, is the greatest Pope in generations, perhaps a century. He’s walked the talk. Lived the word. Persecuted the pedophiles. The office of the Pope is the best, imperfect, moral authority of the western world. Pope John Paul assisted bringing peace to Sarajevo. I was there as soldier to enforce the tenuous peace. I’m not, and have never been catholic, and am largely agnostic. Yet, only a fool would not realize the moral authority, however, imperfect, the Papal Office has on the world. Pope Francis identified anti-maskers as selfish. He likewise knows and says the church is not a mass gathering, rather a community of practicing believers. The man is not perfect. The man is not god, nor would ever claim being, yet cheap attacks on him are unwarranted.

  16. DaveFN 2020-11-28 01:18

    The court is, if course, in this time of a pandemic, effectively performing a cutting off of one’s own nose to spite one’s face. That’s how self-righteousness typically functions.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-28 09:06

    Pope Francis appears to understand, like President-Elect Biden, how to learn from his own suffering and turn that into positive messages and action for the common good.

    I can’t wait for the Pope and our 46th President to meet… and for Uncle Joe to exclaim, “Wow! This is a big f—ing deal!”

  18. jerry 2020-11-28 09:06

    Catholics and Jews now seem to be QANon and now anti-vaxxers. No shoes, no shirt, no vaccine shots, no service. How about that. Put these sub-humans into the vacuum they so desire. Let them percolate among themselves and just leave the rest of us the hell alone.

    “Last week, Facebook axed the biggest anti-vaccine group on its platform. “Stop Mandatory Vaccination,” which at one point had more than 200,000 followers, was a cesspool of anti-vaccine propaganda, where members regularly peddled and profited off “natural remedies” while discouraging each other from seeking traditional medical care.

    But the group hadn’t violated a policy against spreading dangerous health misinformation, or pushing vaccine falsehoods, or hawking unproven “cures” when it suddenly disappeared last Tuesday night — no such rules exist on Facebook. It was shut down for promoting QANon.”

    QANon may just go by the way of the Shakers.

    We can just wait for them to croak off and that will be that. Doubtful they will leave any kind of cool furniture though, these guys and gals are takers not builders.

  19. Rosa A. Stratman 2020-11-28 12:31

    The new member of the Supreme Court is very religious like so many Republican conservatives, but in practice, they are not Christians.

    16 You will know them by their fruit.

    Do you pick grapes from thorns or figs from thistles?
    Matthew 7 – 16 (Catholic Bible)

  20. John 2020-11-29 08:25

    Jerry, thanks for your ‘no shirt, no shoes, no vaccine shots, no service’.
    There was a time, forty-ish years ago and earlier, when one traveled internationally, that one had to present a passport AND a current shot record, the International Certificate of Vaccination. The yellow shot record booklet had update annotations of vaccinations, with the dates, stamped sign-offs, etc. Its use and customs officers’ demands has largely fallen out of practice.
    We should return to that ‘shot record’ process, albeit in modern form in lieu of the old yellow booklet.

  21. o 2020-11-29 10:19

    To take a bit of a detour, President Kennedy faced sharp criticism that he would be beholden to the Pope in matters of policy; almost a theocratic criticism. Now that we have “Good Catholic Amy Coney Barrett” on the Supreme Court, do we WNAT her to be a “good Catholic” in her rulings? Certainly we can be disappointed in this ruling when the Catholic teachings seem to run counter to her ruling (and closer to ours/mine), but will we ALWAYS want to have her, and the Court, follow Catholic principals? How abut when Roe comes to the court?

    As I sit to write this, five of my cable channels are broadcasting christian services; I’m not sure about this whole religion freedom under assault position.

  22. jerry 2020-11-29 14:55

    John, if you travel in places like Africa and most tropical country’s, you still need to present that immunization shot record or you will not be allowed in country.

  23. grudznick 2020-11-29 16:50

    Or a record that you have been regularly taking an herb known to remedy particular maladies. Many of the people in those places, “like Africa and most tropical country’s [sic],” prefer the burning herbs and special dirt mixed with magic berries over what science prescribes is best for you. #4Science knows what is best for all of us.

    grudznick says every body needs to line up and take their needle stab in the buttocks when they’re told to. Mr. jerry has my spot in line, and I will go to where they let me sit and wait.

  24. jerry 2020-11-29 17:35

    Your dingle berry’s don’t count sir… or do they??

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