Catholics United May Save Our Nation From Grave Threats to Our Liberty

by Mike on February 10, 2012

In our politically correct society, it is difficult for many to take a stand on politics and religion in public.  However, our current government is forcing this issue down our throats with their attempts to reengineer society through control of the health care system.  The latest flap came when the Health and Human Services mandated that Catholics pay for birth control, a tenet that the religion cannot support.  Whether you agree with birth control or not is not the issue.  The issue is the state is specifically forcing a religious organization to go against its beliefs.  I might add a religious organization that gave Obama and the crew support when he desperately needed it in passing Obamacare.

The President of my own University, Notre Dame, took so much flak for inviting Obama to speak, and yet he thought it was the right thing to do.  I’ll bet he wished he had that decision to do over.   The Catholic Bishops have been extremely vocal against this act, as they should be.  The Archbishop of Omaha had a particularly good letter describing the Church’s response to his congregation that I have posted below.

Well, today there evidently is some waffling going on by the White House because they had no idea what a firestorm they were raising (even though there is a Catholic Vice President who of course we haven’t heard from).  Don’t be swayed by these games being played in the name of politics.  This is a real threat to American liberties that Brian Burch of  CatholicVote.org describes:

“Moments ago President Obama introduced an accounting gimmick to appease voters over his recent Health and Human Services mandate. The so-called compromise will continue to force virtually all employers, including religious institutions, to pay into insurance policies that cover abortion drugs and other immoral medicines and procedures.
What’s the catch?
To protect himself from the national backlash, the President announced a “compromise” that will allow religious institutions to withhold premiums paid to insurance companies for select medicines and procedures they believe are immoral.
But these immoral medicines and drugs will continue to be provided by the same insurance plans for free — to everyone, including every employee of Catholic institutions!
 So President Obama decided to use insurance companies to hide his assault on religious liberty.
Separating the premiums paid to insurance companies does not change what these policies will cover. The very same policies funded by religious institutions will continue to cover contraception, birth control, and abortion drugs for every employee of these organizations. To pretend, by an accounting gimmick, that the premiums paid by the employer will not subsidize these services is simply absurd.
Furthermore, self-funded insurance plans (like many of those used by Catholic institutions) will continue to be forced to provide these immoral medicines.
And owners of businesses who believe abortion drugs are immoral? Sorry. To hell with liberty. Pay up.
All Americans should shudder at what has just transpired. 
Despite repeated promises during the healthcare debate in 2009, the President of the United States has created a sham conscience compromise, and ordered all insurance companies to pay for abortion drugs — and all religious institutions will be forced to pay into these plans. ”

The concern for society is this.  If the Catholic ministries are forced to pull out of providing care because in order to do so goes against their religious beliefs, then society will lose a major safety net to the poor, sick, aged, and weak.  Catholic hospitals, Catholic Charities and Catholic schools will be forced to rethink their missions.   The liberals love to talk about helping the poor, but the Catholic institutions actually do it.  As Americans in a free and open society, we cannot afford to lose this incredible love of our fellow man that Catholic institutions provide.

Here is Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha’s letter

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.  The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people-the Catholic population-and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.  Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write.  And almost all individuals will be forces to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.  And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).  The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot-we will not-comply with this unjust law.  People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.  We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.  Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.  In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things.  First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.  Without God, we can do nothing: with God, nothing is impossible.  Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.

With best wishes and prayers, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend George J. Lucas

Archbishop of Omaha

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Root February 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

My good friend, Bishop Blase Cupich released the following response to his Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington. I have known him for years and respect and value his guidance.

________________________________________
Statement on the HHS mandate

by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the February 16, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
February 7, 2012
(Editor’s note: Just prior to the publication of this issue, in which Bishop Cupich’s letter was scheduled to be published, President Obama announced what administration officials have termed an “accommodation” to respond to the concerns raised here. However, since all of the details of this “accommodation” have not been fully studied, Bishop Cupich asked that his letter be published here, as it provides Catholics with a context and explanation to understand the recent controversy. It also has the value of bringing to the attention of readers similar threats to the constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion in the State of Washington.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write to you about the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision to require most religious institutions to be included in the federal mandate to pay for coverage of contraception, sterilization and two potential abortifacients. The HHS decision seriously threatens the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the Constitution, for now a government bureaucracy will determine for the purposes of granting an exemption to the mandate what it means for any church to be a church and what defines the permissible exercise of religion. The HHS religious exemption policy is so restrictive, as Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA noted, that “the ministry of Jesus Christ himself would not be considered a religious entity.”
In effect, this means that to be eligible for the exemption, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and primarily serve people of their own faith and have the “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose. Some churches may serve the broader community as a major focus, for example, by providing direct service to the poor regardless of faith. Such churches could be denied an exemption precisely because their service to the common good is so great. More importantly, a vast array of other religious organizations – schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions – will not be exempt.
Let’s be clear. Although the argument begins, in part, over government enforcement of insurance coverage of services and procedures the Catholic Church finds morally objectionable, it does not end there. Nor is the issue primarily about freedom of conscience, for in fact, there is a conscience clause provision, though quite restricted in its application. And while, as a recent America magazine editorial succinctly put it “the ruling is a threat to our living as a church in the Catholic manner,” this is not just about the Catholic Church. The real issue is that now a government bureaucracy – heretofore specifically precluded from doing so by the Constitution and over 230 years of court precedent – will decide what it means for any church to be church and what defines the permissible exercise of religion.
Practically speaking, if this mandate is not reversed, our schools, hospitals and charitable organizations will be left to choose one of three options: 1) violate our beliefs by providing insurance coverage for medications and procedures we believe are immoral, 2) withdraw insurance coverage for all of our employees and face fines that will put our operations at risk of shutting down altogether, or 3) hire and serve only Catholics in the hope that then we will qualify for the exemption.
This mandate from the HHS is a direct assault on the Church’s teaching mission handed on to us by Christ, for as we teach the truths of our faith, we will be required to pay for coverage of procedures and drugs which violate those same truths. We, or any community of faith, should not be put in this untenable position. Nor should we be put in the Catch 22 situation of being forced to deny our employees access to affordable health care, a basic human right, and then find ourselves as a result in the financial jeopardy that comes with being assessed onerous fines. Nor should we be forced to close the doors of our hospitals, schools, and social services to people who are not Catholic. This mandate is bad for the Church and bad for the nation.
Regrettably, attempts to undermine the free exercise of religion have come from legislatures and the courts for more than a decade. In fact, our own Washington State legislature is presently considering a similar mandate with regard to forcing our religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for abortions.
For the good of the church and the good of the nation these chilling developments on both the state and federal level cannot go unchallenged. We need to defend the constitutional right of the free exercise of religion on behalf of our churches, schools, hospitals and social services. But, we also need to see this effort to uphold this right as a service to our nation and to our democracy. While dictatorships allow for some personal freedom, they do not allow for institutional freedoms. The freedom of institutions is the unique characteristic of a democracy.
This is a moment to act and for our voices to be heard, on behalf of both our church and our nation. I ask:
• you to pray, for as a faith community, we should always turn to a God through whom we trust all things are possible;
• our pastors to dedicate on President’s weekend, February 18-19, special intentions in the General Intercessions for the cause of the free exercise of religion in our country;
• you to let your voices be heard by contacting your state senator and representatives to let them know of your opposition to HB 2330 and SB 6185 mandating that our churches, schools and social services provide coverage for abortions in our state. The easiest way to do this is by logging on to the website of our Washington State Catholic Conference http://www.thewscc. org and clicking the appropriate site;
• you to learn more. I invite you to visit the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops http://www.usccb.org/conscience, where you will find resources to support legislation that would reverse the HHS decision.
I will continue to provide updates as circumstances develop. Thank you for your support.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Blase J. Cupich
Bishop of Spokane

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