Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


A Diocese Abuses Catholics’ Free Will

May 30th, 2019, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Since mid-May there has been a story on the Ticker entitled: “Does diocese abuse Catholics’  Free Will?” It sort of got lost among many other stories, including the conflagration at Notre Dame. This post is a re-titling of the story originally published by LifeSite News as “Diocese allows school religious vaccine exemption for only non-Catholic families.”  While we direct to the original story, sometimes (as in this case) the finer or more subtle point is the one we want for comment. Also, the Ticker length strains the patience of visitors to the site, and we try to shorten for that reason as well (or else we’d have to run fewer stories.)  All this is by way of pointing out that abuse of Catholics’ Free Will seems to be the missed point to which we now draw attention.  We’ll be deleting the reference soon from the Ticker, but the link is:

Cleansing Fire, for reference, has run a previous post on measles vaccinations here:

First, here are some high points from the LifeSite News story by author Martin Barillas:


JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri, May 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City has barred Catholic parents from exempting their schoolchildren from vaccines for “religious” reasons while making religious exemptions “still allowable for other Christian and religious groups.”

“Citing the mandatory state policy … which requires immunizations for all public and parochial school students, the Catholic School Office of the Jefferson City diocese …  affirmed that students are barred from the Catholic schools unless they are immunized or can provide a valid exemption from the rule. A medical exemption from the rule must be confirmed by a physician, while a religious exemption must be ‘confirmed by a statement from the family’s faith leader,’ it read. It noted, however, in a move that some critics see as an undermining of parental rights, that ‘religious exemptions for Catholic families will not be accepted.’”

“… The policy is being criticized for discriminating against Catholics by not allowing them an exemption for religious reasons.”

“They have decided that Catholics are the only people on planet Earth who may not receive a religious exemption to attend the Catholic schools in the Jefferson City Diocese. Why? ‘Well, because…. they are Catholic,’ commented one blogger.”

“There are many parents who refuse vaccines on religious grounds because of the vaccines’ connection to the abortion industry. Some vaccines are derived from cell lines obtained from aborted babies.”


Let’s stop right there and take a big step aside for a moment. The Jefferson City Diocese is doing the very thing that Catholics concerned about their civil rights have resisted.  The Progressives for at least a decade have been trying to get “religion” out of the public square, equating our right to worship between church walls on a Sunday morning as being the “free practice of religion”.  No it is not!  The free practice of religion includes making our beliefs known in the public square and, more importantly, living up to those beliefs unimpeded. (Especially unimpeded by our own Church.)

The error which the Jefferson City diocese is making is confusing a moral decision with a specific faith tenet. The victims say they are being discriminated against but, in reality, they are being suppressed regarding a key moral issue, which would still be true whether or not there were any non-Catholics in the school. Setting aside the scientific pros and cons about the autism connection (which I personally believe is a meaningful connection, or at least too ambiguous to have any certainty of not being connected ), we as Catholics cannot easily ignore the abortion connection.

The Jefferson City Diocese seems to conflate obedience to the tenets of the faith with a moral imposition which is not an infallibly promulgated teaching of the Church. In my earlier post on vaccinations, the point was made that the Pontifical Academy for Life is imposing its opinion that the cell lines from abortion are too distant in the past to be a meaningful deterrent to accepting vaccination. Since when does the elapse of time reduce moral culpability? Have they no Canon Lawyers in Jefferson City?

Read the rest of the Barillas article for finer dissection of the validity of parents’ objections.  What the Diocese of Jefferson City seems to have done is saddle parents with the opinion of a study group which lacks AUTHORITY to enforce their opinions. Catholic parents have an excellent opportunity to model their belief in not exploiting a life, any life, which has been aborted, and their diocese seems to be ordering them to cave in to civil pressure.

There is yet another reason to put on the brakes before blindly implementing an action which somebody else professes not to be a sin. And that factor is CONSCIENCE. When ‘conscience’ is called ‘religion’ there must be a lot of mental and spiritual confusion on the part of those doing so. The Church has a long standing respect for conscience, truly and fully formed conscience. For example, in a just war it is licit to serve in the armed forces. But if someone is ordered to do so, and in good conscience believes he cannot do so without sinning, he does not sin by refusing to serve. Yet, he must pay the civil penalty, such as a jail sentence to accommodate his conscience.

During ancient Roman persecutions, all the Christians had to do was drop one tiny grain of incense on the coals to acknowledge that Caesar was God, or at least ‘a god.’ Those Christians who refused often died horrific deaths and won their crowns of victory on the other side.  If they had been part of the Jefferson City diocese, one suspects they’d have been told not to make a civil fuss, it’s only a tiny grain, and the study group says to ‘go along to get along’, and maybe it was an old grain of incense anyway, which lacked aroma!  And that is how they show parents in Missouri how to be Catholic parents? Seemingly missing from all consideration in the diocesan ruling is the giving of scandal to others!

One of my most favorite passages in the Catholic bible (those poor Protestants for missing out on this one!) is 2 Maccabees Chapter 6, where Elea’zar is being forced to eat pork, against the Jewish Law. It is a beautiful story, which sometimes brings me to tears. Do read it!  The whole chapter! Some of his friends concoct a ruse to give him Kosher meat instead of the pork so that his life will be spared. But he refuses, saying these most holy words:  “‘Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life… lest many of the young should suppose that Elea’zar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.’ When he had said this , he went at once to the rack.”

Elea’zar is the person from the Old Testament I would most like to hug, if we do hug in the next world! Meanwhile I’d like to give the parents of Catholic School students in Jefferson City a swift nudge, to remember what is integral to their Catholic Faith and to their consciences.


One Response to “A Diocese Abuses Catholics’ Free Will”

  1. avatar militia says:

    I think one of the real problems about the ‘church’ joining the ‘government’ in this matter is how easily the church discriminates against its own. There was a story recently about Christians being the most persecuted of all, and nobody, especially the bishops, seem to even notice what is going on. What they also don’t notice is that making something obligatory where the commmunity at large has some vested interest then makes it easier to push things like mandatory contraception, mandatory flu shots, health screening with mandatory genetic profiling and so much more. Even the death panel and death pill. Little Sisters of the Poor, pray for us.

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