Church Teaching on Hunger Strikes

I want to know what is the Church’s teaching on the use of hunger strikes.
I’ve been thinking about he possibility of engaging in a hunger strike in response to any anti-Catholic actions that could come from our government. I commented on a thread about the HHS mandate going to the Supreme Court about this here:

I was born in this country. This is my county. And, I really cannot envision living in this country if my faith loses its religious freedom. My ancestors fought and died against Oliver Cromwell. If the Catholic Church cannot be free in the land of the free and the home of the brave, then what’s the point? Where can we have freedom?
Rather than go into exile somewhere, I think I would prefer to make my stand against such an action through a hunger strike. What is the Church’s teaching regarding hunger strikes?

I was able to find only one other thread on this, and no clear answer was given. Both sides were presented with some Catholics feeling that hunger striking was no suicide and was a legitimate form of political protest, with other posters suggesting that it was ultimately suicide regardless of the surrounding political circumstances.

If this comes to pass, and it is permissible in Church Law then I’m going to go ahead and do this. I firmly believe that it would be quite successful in overturning such a decision and galvanizing the religious right and the majority of the nation in standing up for our religious liberty.

Anyways, so what is the theology of it all though? Is it a valid action in the eyes of the Church?

The Church has limited approval of hunger strikes. If you strike for a few days to raise awareness, that’s fine, but, if you intend to fast until you die, in order to force the government to act a certain way, then that is suicide and against the teaching of the Church. I share your frustration and disgust of certain policies of the current administration, but I doubt if anyone’s hunger strike will make a difference in the end. It would be better to get some legal education and fight them on their own turf. :nunchuk:

On the practical side, what have hunger strikes accomplished? The only successful one I can think of is Gandhi’s.

After reading Bonnie’s post and the mention of Gandhi here is a thought that may make more of a statement. Get like minded folks from family, church etc… to fast or hunger strike for several days with you. Maybe even see if a state or local politician is strong enough to be involved with your efforts. Be well and be safe in whatever you do. Blessings.

Actually, just this week, maybe you heard about the University President and Chancellor in Missouri who resigned over a race controversy. They resigned because of a higher strike.

Also in history there were many hunger strikes in Ireland, especially in British prisons, etc.

So… In terms of practicality they do happen and work.

Yeah. I think that’s probably right. I am very dissatisfied with the way this nation is heading. Idk, see given my question I really don’t believe in legally fighting. I don’t have any faith in the system. The Court can declare gay marriage a right. The government can force nuns to provide contraception.

I’m just very disenfranchised in the system. I cannot imagine a way to get my government to listen to me. And yeah “their own turf”. These ppl are our government. They’re supposed to represent us.

Thank you for that information. We have no TV and rarely listen to the radio or read newspapers, so I had just heard about the resignation but not what was behind it.

It’s not always seen as suicide, see the following funeral of a very famous hunger striker:-

If you skip to about 6 minutes in you will see his coffin been carried out from the Church and also the presiding bishop and clergy who attended. He is also buried in consecrated ground and is certainly not seen as a suicide. Opinion is more divided with regards to hunger strikers from later years though. I regard it as a legitimate tactic to shame an unjust govt. but it only works with a govt. which still has some level of morality, there would be little point in doing it with some of more draconian regimes in human history.

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