Bishop Joseph Faber MacDonald
Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Saint John
I was David Little's Bishop for some seven years. David lives with love for God's Commandment to respect and honour the mystery of life.
We had dinner together in the first month of my arrival in the diocese. I know him very well. He has worked full time as a lay leader in the Church for almost thirty years. The long personal relationship he had with Blessed Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul the Great is well known, particularly in the pro-life movement. Together with Mother Teresa he founded the Catholic Foundation for Human Life in the 80's and placed his apostolate then as now, in a deeply committed spiritual life, not only for himself but also for all those called to work with him. Pope John Paul II personally mandated his support of David Little in 1984.
Eight years earlier in 1976, David had established personal correspondence with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose cause for Beatification is in process today. Sheen had for 50 years practiced a Holy Hour of Adoration after daily Mass. He preached widely that all his power and influence came from this daily commitment. David soon began to imitate this famous preacher and author in a daily Holy Hour.
After 32 months of holy hours, David met with Mother Teresa, at her specific request, in Rome on April 9, 1984. In that first meeting which lasted more than two hours, Mother said she wanted David to go to the Vatican and, "tell the Pope everything you told me." She sent a note to the Pope's personal secretary and David was called to a private meeting in the Pope's apartment on April 16, 1984. Only four people were present, the Pope, his two secretaries and David.
The meeting lasted more than 40 minutes. During the meeting His Holiness turned to Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, (now Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow) and immediately appointed Archbishop Edouard Gagnon, Pro-President of the Pontifical Council for the Family as the Vatican's official collaborator with David and his apostolate. As the Pope left the room with Msgr. Dziwisz, he asked Msgr. Emery Kabongo to remain with David. They talked for another hour, and David left certain in his soul that God had truly called him. That first private meeting with the Pope, and there would be many more, forever affirms his calling. One saint arranged a private meeting for David with another saint. It is astounding.
Gagnon was elevated to Cardinal on May 25,1985 and appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He issued an official letter of support for David's apostolate, The Catholic Foundation for Human Life. Cardinal Gagnon and David became close friends. Later he gave his Red Hat, symbol of a Prince of the Church to David which he still has.
Today the center of life for him is daily Mass and the Holy Hour in deep communion with the Saints. The Communion of Saints is a core doctrine of our Creed and David to this day constantly meditates on the great wisdom of these real world changers. He and his followers are called to regular serious prayer, fasting and almsgiving, (the Chief Apostolic Works of the Church) in imitation of the Saints. One of David's favorite quotes is from St. Teresa of Avila, "You pay God a compliment when you ask great things of Him."
After daily Mass he has prayed quietly and alone in a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament since the late seventies. Since his battle began with the government of Canada over tax-funded abortion in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, I have become aware that David has increased his Holy Hour to three and more hours daily, particularly in the last six months leading up to his appearance on April 29, 2009 at the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick, the highest court in that province of Canada.
I met with David as his bishop, before his national press conference declaring his stand that he will never file tax returns again until tax-funded abortion is prohibited in law. We talked about all aspects of the St. Thomas More Society and its mission. I approved whole heartedly of his plan to boldly evangelize Church teachings and proclaim, promote, protect and defend innocent human life, true marriage, the family (the Domestic Church), chastity and purity throughout the world.
I understood the great risk he was taking in challenging the tax authorities, but as a Bishop, I too was exposed to Church teaching on civil law and conscience. Let us examine and reflect:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) may well be the greatest legacy of Vatican II and of the Pontificate of John Paul the Great. Let's take a look at the formal teachings of our Church on this morally critical issue of our time.
Duties of Civil Authorities
2235. Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant." Mt 20:26 The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.
That seems clear enough. "No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law."
But the following Catechism paragraphs contain an interesting tension of ideas. The first affirms our duty to obey civil government according to Scriptural, Christian principles.
2240. Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's country:
but just two paragraphs later, the Catechism adds this, also based upon Scriptural principles:
Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Rom 13:7
2242. The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Mt 22:21 "We must obey God rather than men" Acts 5:29
When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel. - Gaudeum et Spes (GS) 74 P5
It is helpful to look at David's reflections of these two paragraphs. Many Christians remain confused on this matter. Here is what David has written on Rom 13, Mt 21:22 and Acts 5:29.
Christians might say, what about Romans 13,1-8? Here is what Scripture says (RSV Translation)
 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.
 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
 Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
Romans 13:1 says that when anyone claiming authority or power that is not observant of the Law of God, then that one is, in fact, not a lawful power or authority. This is VERY explicit, in that it says "Let EVERY person be subject to the governing authorities." This does not mean that citizens must be subject to God's Law, and the politicians and judges may do as they wish, and still claim God's seal of approval on their right to rule and judge. Unless those in secular authority are in reality, subject to God, then those in secular authority are not legitimately ruling over us. The Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedom's preamble says "Canadians believe in the Supremacy of God and the rule of law." This sets the tone, measure and means by which to discern how the following sections of the Charter are to be interpreted. And since our civil and common law is rooted solely in the Judaeo Christian heritage, then the phrase in Romans 13,1-7 ("those that exist") had their authority instituted by God in the strict sense that obedience could not be demanded if laws instituted contradicted God's Law. In such cases Acts 5,29 ("We must obey God rather than men.") applies.
What of Mt 22:21? "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."
Oftentimes, only the first half of this verse is quoted: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." This gives the impression that Jesus wants us to offer loyal support to our government, the Queen or King, the Prime Minister and Parliament, the Supreme Court, the Fatherland, the nation-state. But then comes the second half of the verse: "and to God the things that are God's." It confronts us with the challenge of figuring out what are the things of Caesar and what are the things of God.
The context gives some more specific clues: Jesus is asked whether or not the Jews should pay taxes. In response, he asks for a coin. "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" he asks, and they tell him it is Caesar's. It is then that he issues his puzzling command: "Render to Caesar . . ." The puzzle is solved, as St. Ireneaus, the second-century bishop of Lyons, pointed out, when we come to see that just as Caesar's image is on the coin, so God's image is on each human being. The coin belongs to Caesar. Each human being belongs to God.
This truth is the keystone of conscientious objection to abortion and cooperating with a "Caesar" who demands we file signed papers that everyone knows lead to paying for abortion. I am made in the image and likeness of God; I belong to God; therefore, Caesar has no right to hinder my belonging to God. Moreover, just as I am made in the image and likeness of God, so is everyone else; so who am I to take the lives of others or cooperate with those who pay for this unjust killing, this murder?
In another section, The Catechism exactly delineates the proper understanding of human authority, as follows:
1902. Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a "moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility" - GS 74 § 3
A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence. - St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II,93 3, ad 2.
1903. 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. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse." - John XXIII, Pacem in Terris 51.
No one is above the law; the Christian must obey legitimate authority. The question is: When our government forces us to subsidize the abortion holocaust via our tax dollars, is this an example of legitimate authority, or of an authority that has broken down completely? When our courts and legislators usurp divine authority, when they redefine marriage, strip the innocent of their rights, and compel our material participation in these crimes, are we obliged to obey them, or are we obliged to obey God's Law instead?
It is essential to understand that David does not object to paying his taxes. He profoundly believes in his well-formed conscience that no person, institution, entity, government or otherwise may use his voluntarily surrendered money, taxes or not to murder innocent human beings.
Here is a FACT often overlooked by many in judging this man,
There are no charges against David Little for not paying his income tax.
He is charged with not filing his returns only. He is convicted in conscience that even filing a return with his personal signature makes him morally complicit in a grave manner in the deaths of his innocent brothers and sisters in the womb. In fact should he file returns for the soon-to-be 10 years that he has not filed, he believes that the government will owe him a great deal of money. He has for example since 1999, received no government funds of any kind, family allowance, child tax credits, (he has 5 young children), Canada Pension, or GST/HST credits, (tax refunds due to poorer Canadians). The only cash he surrenders to the Government is sales tax; he receives no cash whatever even though he and his family are poor indeed. He represents us and we have a duty to support him. For goodness sake, every alms gift that he receives to support his family, he tithes 10% anonymously to even poorer families of his own Parish! His trust is in God alone.
So let us be clear. This is not about avoiding or not paying taxes. It is about justified civil disobedience, Rom 13, Acts 5:29 and Mt 22:21 and the official teachings of the Church listed above. "If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience."
He is fearless and unafraid because he is walking with the Lord. It is a question I ask myself and ask of you.
Should we pray for life and pay for death??
Nothing of lasting effect can be accomplished for the Lord of Life without a profound prayer life such as David daily embraces. David well knows the evil one, he battles with him regularly in mortal spiritual combat. Satan has attacked his own family and friends and caused many to run for cover in fear.
I am his friend. I stand with him and his family and his mission. I ask for your prayers and alms for his cause. He needs all of us to help. He is representing all of us. Let us not be ashamed to stand with him.
Christ has won the victory, let us not be afraid. "In the world you will have trouble, but have courage, I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Christ teaches us as Chesterton commented: "Hope means hoping when everything appears hopeless, or it is no virtue at all."
There is hope for all. I have admired Dr. Bernard Nathanson for some time. I have heard him speak. He came to grips with the Fifth Commandment long after being responsible for thousands of abortions while running the largest abortion sites in the western world. He is now a devout Catholic. In an interview with the 'Interim' in March of this year, he says revealing things about medical technology and its bridge to right reason and faith.
The Interim: In terms of your own change of heart, can you tell us a little about what prompted that?
Nathanson: It was a strictly scientific excursion into intra-uterine life, which persuaded me that abortion was unacceptable. I started changing my mind in 1973, when advanced technology moved into our hospitals and offices. I speak now of ultrasound imaging, fetal heart monitoring electronically, hysteroscopy, fetoscopy - things that gave us a window into the womb. Over a period of three or four years, I mulled over these technologies and what they revealed ... They opened a window into the womb so we could look in it, see the unborn baby and measure it and observe it sleeping, swallowing, urinating and all the things we all do as members of the (human) community. I was finally persuaded that the fetus is a member of the human community, has to be regarded as such and has to be protected as such.
The Interim: In terms of your faith journey, you became a Catholic and wrote a book on that experience, The Hand of God... The mainstream media image of pro-life and religious people is of people very judgmental and perhaps angry - they stand outside abortion sites and shout at women going in. Was that your experience or what did you find about people of faith and pro-life people?
Nathanson: I researched and wrote an article on Operation Rescue... I concluded it was not domestic terrorism, as the media had it, but rather intervention in the matter of saving lives. The people who sat in front of abortion (sites) - and I observed several of these rescues - were behaved and religious, but not in an intrusive or aggressive way. They were simply Ghandi-like - non-violent resistance. It was a very, very impressive thing to see. Unfortunately, the federal courts in the United States killed that movement with excessive fines and fascist tactics.
The Interim: In light of that, would it take a grassroots effort to change the culture... Are there other measures we could take to address the situation?
Nathanson: Politics is, of course, the first to do. Interestingly, the subject of abortion came up very infrequently during the (election) campaign. McCain hardly ever mentioned it and Obama steered clear of it... The country is equally divided-47% pro-abortion, and 47% pro-life. What we have to do is be politically active and seize the opportunity to elect pro-life legislators and executives. I think we can do that, given patience and time.
Don't forget, we have progressed from approximately a 25% chunk of the electorate to 47% in a mere 20 years or so. I think we can do it, but as I say, it will take time.
Conclusion: In Doctor Nathanson we are listening to a person witnessing to the new freedom and love he expresses as a result of now obeying God's law.
Abortion is a murderous lie.
Let us stand with such persons in more than prayer. Some have come back from the precipice of eternal loss like Bernard Nathanson, now a devout Catholic. Others have been on the front line for decades for Christ and His Church, like David Little. His namesake and patron Saint, King David, was little too. Facing the warrior giant (a prototype of Satan), all ran away. Little King David trusted in God alone, stood up and dispatched Goliath, the fearsome Philistine death giant. This new little David trusting in God alone, stands all alone and still stands. He too may well succeed in dispatching a far more Gigantic Merciless Killer, tax-funded abortion.
God often chooses the small, the bold and brave, to shame us into standing with HIM. Pray seriously with David. Fast seriously with him. Give alms sacrificially to support his cause.
Stand with him. I am.
+J. Faber MacDonald
Holy Week 2009