The Sebelius regulations: Is it time for the USCCB to stop negotiating in private and to catechize in public?

As others have noted, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has now weighed in.

In an “urgent” call to action bulletin insert, the USCCB called the new federal regulations proposed by Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a potential “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”  The bulletin insert also included the URL of a page on the USCCB website that allows an individual to send an email message to Ms. Sebelius protesting her proposed regulations as well as a page containing the comments the USCCB has submitted to HHS.  Under the proposed regulations, the USCCB claims that Jesus would not qualify for a religious exemption.

In this digital age, perhaps this is how the nation’s Catholic bishops can best motivate their flock to act, as President Obama would say, by “taking off the bedroom slippers and putting on the marching boots” to join in fighting this potential unprecedented threat.

But, should Catholics be optimistic?

After all, for all of the USCCB’s “dancing with wolves,” what has its approach achieved with the Obama administration?

Some facts:

  • The White  House has moved away from upholding the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage at the  Federal level as the union of a man and a woman, and bolstering the rights of  states not to recognize same-sex unions performed elsewhere.
  • The end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
  • And, now, the Sebelius’ regulations that include contraceptives and abortofacients.

Perhaps this “behind-the-scenes, make nice” approach to negotiating with the Obama administration is wrongheaded.

Why doesn’t the USCCB come forward into the public arena—using cable television and talk radio venues—and challenge those, like Ms. Sebelius and those who hold her definition of “Catholic,” to defend how it is possible as Catholics to propose federal regulations that are antithetical to Church teaching?  Should catechizing the nation not be the USCCB’s first priority?

“Taking the case to the public” undoubtedly would allow the USCCB to educate the public.  At the same time, it might also generate greater attention and respect for Church teaching as well as put more boots on the ground.

 

22 Responses to The Sebelius regulations: Is it time for the USCCB to stop negotiating in private and to catechize in public?

  • ctd says:

    You really don’t know what you are writing about.

    First, you start with the false presumption that USCCB has been “making nice” with the Obama administration, as if it was secretly pro-Obama. The evidence, however, is to the contrary. The USCCB has consistently opposed the administration’s proposals whenever they conflict with Catholic teaching, including all the issues you mention.

    Second, you assume that USCCB’s policy work directly with the administration and Congress is all that is being done by the Church on the issues. Church interaction with Congress and the administration is primarily USCCB’s responsibility. Implementing education, catechesis, and action at the diocesan and parish level is an individual bishop’s responsibility. If you think more is being done at the lobbying end rather than the catechesis end, blame your bishop and priest, not USCCB.

    Third, you write as though the nationwide bulletin insert reflects the sole action of USCCB and the bishops with regards to the HHS rules. That is not true. The suggestion that USCCB has just “weighed in” is so far off the mark as to be offensive. USCCB and other Catholic entities have been fighting these proposed rules at every step in the process – even before the final rules were announced – including providing suggestions for how to get parishioners involved. It was USCCB staff that first sounded the alarm about the possibility that HHS might develop these rules. Very likely you would have not heard about the proposed rules but for USCCB.

    Some of the same “taking to the public” measures you suggest were taken. Again, if parishioners were not aware of the situation months ago, blame the bishops and priests – mostly priests – not USCCB.

  • G-Veg says:

    How does the 501(c)(3) status play into this question?

    I’m a bit hesitant to critique charitable organizations for their response to political questions. There is a deftness, a deliberate and careful approach that need be applied lest an organization find itself on the losing end of tax laws.

    I don’t’ pretend to have any expertise in this area and I am hopeful that someone can address the subject more knowledgably.

  • Until the Bishops in the USCCB emulate the precedence given in Sacred Scripture, all their protestations to the contrary are without teeth.

    Acts 5:1-11 – Ananias and Sapphira
    1st Corinthians 5 – the man who slept with his father’s wife
    1st Timothy 1:19-20 – Hymenaeus and Alexander
    Revelation 2:20-23 – Jezebel

    Kathleen Sebelius carries the description “Catholic,” yet her actions are anything but Catholic. What was done to her spiritual predecessors in Scripture must be done to her – publicly – since what she is doing is public. In fact, this has to be done to every pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-contraception so-called “Catholic” politician regardless of political party. If doing this means loss of tax exempt status, then so be it. But until this is done, the USCCB’s protestations are without effect and force.

    We aren’t here talking about a woman who made a mistake in the past, having had an abortion, but she seeks forgiveness and is trying to get her life straightened out. Nor are we talking about a man and his girlfriend who succumb to temptation, but realize their error and seek forgiveness. Nor are we talking about a celibate gay person who has a slip but repents. None of us are without sin. We all screw up.

    Rather, we are talking about politicians who consistently and insistently support in the public forum abortion, gay marriage, contraception and all manner of wickedness, and then still call themselves Catholic. That the Bishops permit this is a scandal on the Body of Christ. This is what St. Paul said to do about such people in verses 4 through 8 in 1st Corinthians 5:

    “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

  • T. Shaw says:

    I think that preaching faith and morals teachings of the Roman Catholic Church is not lobbying. Certain of those teaching may have been was deemed irrelevant in 2008.

    I don’t know. In 2008, where were faith and morals on the USCCB priority list?

    All of this was predictable from reading Obama’s and his far left associates’ backgrounds. So, I am not surprised by any of the immoral (abortion, gay privileges, class hatred, etc.) acts of this regime.

    The USCCB apparently now is shocked . . .shocked.

    Elections have meanings.

    Catholic Obama voters: In November 2008, you proved you aren’t racists and you care about the “downtrodden.” In November 2012, you can prove you aren’t evil and you care about the unborn and you don’t hate millionaires (btw: there just aren’t enough of them).

  • Jerry Schmutte says:

    To ctd: The USCCB is run by Democrats and Democrat surrogates like John Carr and Ralph McCloud. Follow the money. CCHD continues to give millions of dollars yearly to leftist groups which directly or indirectly oppose church teaching. http://www.cufmilwaukee.org/files/3-15-11-CUF_Opposition_to_CCHD-Revision8.pdf

    The worst part is that it is knowingly and arrogantly deceitful in the process. Please refute the last part of the above-cited document, which demonstrates the extent of the deceit and misuse of funds.

  • David says:

    It is NOT time for USCCB to stop negotiating in private, because as long as they do so, they might just succeed negotiating homosexual activity into no longer being mortal sin. Perhaps another Democrat victory?

  • Marion (Mael Muire) says:

    David wrote: “They (the USCCB) might just succeed negotiating homosexual activity into no longer being a mortal sin.”

    The Universal Church, of which the USCCB is purportedly a part, has for the last four thousand years, upheld and maintained the law of God which has come down to us, that sexual expression is reserved to husband and wife – one man and one woman – married to one another in fidelity, and always open to the transmission of new life.

    Even if the USCCB – hypothetically – wished to modify this or any direct command from God and attempted actually to do so, the rest of the Church would not correspond to their action.

  • Micha Elyi says:

    More energy in the bishops would help a lot. The root-cause drawback of the USCCB is that it’s a committee, a huge committee, and thus its statements are watered down. It has effectively become the US Conference of Lowest Common Denominator Bishops. It sounds an uncertain trumpet.

  • Elizabeth McClintic says:

    If a two year old wanders into traffic, and the responsible adult stands on the the side of the road and beckons, “Come on honey, come on back to safety” but the adult does nothing by action to yank the child back to safety, than the adult is responsible for the harm done to the child.

    Bishops are our shepherds, sometimes when we wander far from the fold, and do it often, to the point of risking the damnation of our souls through mortal sin; we need to have our legs broken so that we will stay in the safety of the shepherd’s gaze.

    Bishop, please give us the guidance we need to be able to partake of Heaven. Lead us not down the road of perdition. Every soul is your responsibility. Your very eternal life Bishop, rests on how you teach and guide those the Church has given to you.

  • G-Veg says:

    “More energy in the bishops would help a lot. The root-cause drawback of the USCCB is that it’s a committee, a huge committee, and thus its statements are watered down. It has effectively become the US Conference of Lowest Common Denominator Bishops. It sounds an uncertain trumpet.”

    This is an interesting view. I hadn’t thought of it before. How many bishops are there in the USCCB and how would you reform it?

  • Jane says:

    I’m very surprised that this article didn’t include a link to the *public* letter about marriage from Archbishop Dolan (President of the USCCB) to President Obama, released Sept. 20, 2011: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/promotion-and-defense-of-marriage/upload/dolan-to-obama-doma-letter-sept-20-2011.pdf. In the letter, the Archbishop mentions that both he and his predecessor, Cardinal George, sent private letters to President Obama re: their concerns about the federal administration’s erosion of marriage. As these letters received no response (and seemingly no change in direction), Archbishop Dolan decided to make the bishops’ concerns public. I’m very hard pressed to see how this letter isn’t an example of “catechizing in public”…it was addressed to the President of the U.S. – how much more public and nationwide can yout get?

    The author points to specific *means* of public catechesis (radio and TV) but seems to overlook the very public work being done by the bishops in regards to marriage and pro-life issues. Nationwide bulletin inserts are not “behind-the-scenes” negotiations.

    Finally, I think it’s important to remember that the public sphere is the proper place of activity for the laity. Of course witness from the bishops is crucial, but let’s not pass the baton too quickly – before we point a finger at the bishops (Why aren’t they doing more?) perhaps it would be good to reflect on how each of us (especially the lay) are promoting and publicizing the Church’s teaching on love, life, and marriage.

  • “The author points to specific *means* of public catechesis (radio and TV) but seems to overlook the very public work being done by the bishops in regards to marriage and pro-life issues. ”

    The Bishops must emulate the example of 1st Corinthians chapter 5. Sending letters to Obama will never work. In the words of St. Paul, this is what must be done to Andy Cuomo, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and every other pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage politician: “…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

    Or how about this in 1 Timothy 1:19-20: “…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

  • Jane says:

    Paul, I have to confess that I don’t know what St. Paul means by “deliever such a one to Satan.” What does this mean and what does it have to do with the bishops’ work of evangelization and catechesis?

  • I think St. Paul means public ex communication. This is what was done to the man living with his father’s mother in 1st Corinthians 5. because of that, the man repent of his sexual immorality and on that basis St. Paul told the Church of Corinth to welcome him back as recorded in 2nd Corinthians 2:5-11.

    As I stated in a comment above, we aren’t talking about a man and his girlfriend who succumb to temptation, but realize their mistake and repent. We aren’t talking about a celibate gay who has a slip, but realizes his mistake and repents. We aren’t talking about someone struggling with addiction to internet pornography, and is trying to straighten out his life through confession and penance. We aren’t talking about the alcoholic in recovery who is having a hard time staying sober, but he nevertheless picks himself up and gets another white chip at a 12 step meeting. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rather, we are talking about the kind of people that St. Paul identified in Romans 1:32:

    “[These people], knowing the righteous judgment of God (that those who practice such things are deserving of death), not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

    That in a nutshell describes Andy Cuomo, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and all the rest. They were brought up and catechized as Catholic. They know better. But they insist on the perversion of gay marriage and abortion on demand, publicly thumbing their noses at Archbishop Dolan’s pleas. St. Paul in essence is saying, “Throw them out till they repent.”

    Now this sort of thing (politicians who support abortion and gay marriage) is entirely different than politicians who support capital punishment or who have different views about just war or who believe that wealth redistribution isn’t a Federal Government responsibility, and so on. People in good will can differ on those kinds of things. In fact, the examples given in Sacred Scripture of ex communications and punishment (Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11, the man living with his father’s wife in 1 Corinthians 5, Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Jezebel in Revelation 2:20-23) were morality examples: lying to the Holy Spirit in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, sexual perversion in the case of the man at Corinth, blasphemy in the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, more sexual perversion in the case of Jezebel.

    The Bishops are afraid to emulate the precedence of Sacred Scripture because to do so would single out public examples of apostasy and rebellion in political office and the persons so affected would act to remove the Church’s tax exempt status. However, Sirach 10:1-5 and Ezekiel 34:1-10 hold the politician and the cleric MORE responsible than anyone else for executing righteous action.

    Too often we obfuscate the clarity of Sacred Scripture with human rationalization and re-interpretations of this Vatican document or that Vatican document to suit some sort of preconceived notion. St. Paul would be appalled that Andy Cuomo and Nancy Pelosi are allowed to publicly parade themselves up for Holy Communion after their public declarations in behalf of the perversion of homosexual sodomy and the murder of the unborn. And he wouldn’t give one iota what Caesar would do to the Church’s tax exempt status as a result of publicly punishing these apostates.

  • I failed to answer the question, “…what does it have to do with the bishops’ work of evangelization and catechesis?”

    Public example – which is exactly what St. Paul did to the pervert in 1st Corinthian chapter 5. None of the letters or bulletin inserts or whatever that the Bishops print mean anything till they back it up with example. To paraphrase Romans 1:32:

    “[Politicians], knowing the righteous judgment of God (that those who practice such things [as homosexuality, abortion, etc.] are deserving of death), not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

    Again, St. Paul is NOT talking about the celibate gay who has a slip or the boyfriend and girlfriend who give in to temptation. He’s talking about people like Andy Cuomo.

    If the Bishops really want to instruct the Faithful, then they’ll publicly throw Cuomo out till he repents in the same way as St. Paul told the Church at Corinth to throw their pervert out.

  • JohnH says:

    Is it time for the USCCB to stop negotiating in private and to catechize in public?

    Actually, if you are one of those who don’t have a reflexive hatred and distrust of our bishops, you’ve probably noticed that the USCCB has been doing both of things things simultaneously for the past several years, and has been becoming a stronger and stronger presence as a result.

  • Joey S. says:

    “Actually, if you are one of those who don’t have a reflexive hatred and distrust of our bishops, you’ve probably noticed that the USCCB has been doing both of things things simultaneously for the past several years, and has been becoming a stronger and stronger presence as a result.”
    Hatred is a strong word. Distrust of the USCCB…you betcha!!!! Remember folks…the Episcopal Conferences (such as the USCCB) have NO TEACHING AUTHORITY within the Church!!!!! That is reserved to the individual bishops in their diocese. The USCCB IS NOT A PARALLEL MAGISTERIUM! The USCCB is an administrative/ bureaucratic organization for the churches in the U.S. The USCCB cannot excommunicate anyone. That must be done/ started by the individual bishop. So what we have is an administrative organization in Washington D.C. that tends to oversteps its bounds of authority and is run by clergy and laypersons often who have other than church interests in mind when making decisions. Since the media (and many Catholics) falsely treat the Episcopal Conferences like a magesterium we end up with the misleading and embarrassing policies of this group.

  • Archbishop Dolan of New York, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has written a second letter to President Barack Obama. This letter warns the President that his administration will “precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions” if it does not “end its campaign against DOMA, the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom.”

    Why the second letter?

    Archbishop Dolan indicated that the only “response” he and Cardinal George had received from their previous communications was a stepped up attack on marriage by the administration.

    This is good! Archbishop Dolan is outing the President.

    But, once again, private letters aren’t the same as public outrage and catechesis. One can only imagine what Cardinal Francis Spellman would have done!

    For those commentators to my post who believe the USCCB has been very “public” about these matters by issuing all sorts of documents (that the people in the pews know very little if nothing about), reconsider the fact that Archbishop Dolan’s letter follows two previous letters. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the former USCCB President, sent the first letter privately in 2010. Archbishop Dolan sent the second letter to Obama privately earlier this year.

    At least this latest letter has been made public–dated September 20, publicly posted on the USCCB website September 22, and linked to Archbishop Dolan’s personal blog on September 23. That gets some coverage.

    More importantly, however, Archbishop Dolan’s letter only hints at the Sebelius regulations proposed on August 1st. Why the hints, especially when the issue concerns compelling all private health plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all-FDA approved contraceptives including abortofacients?

    Why be so direct now about DOMA and not about the Sebelius regulations?

    There is one answer: The regulations have not yet been officially promulgated.

  • Penguins Fan says:

    Sebelius’ regulation needs to be publicly and openly disobeyed by any and all Catholic organizations. Let the government try to enforce it.

    Sebelius – and all “Catholic” politicans who support homosexual marriage and abortion – should be excommunicated, but the bishops in the USA do not have the backbone to do it.

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