An American Issue

Note how the Bishops in the above video indicate what a unique threat to the Catholic Church in America the Obama administration poses.  They recognize that the goal of the current administration is to strip the Bishops, through fostering a de facto schism in the Church, of their ability to stand in the way of this administration.  This is all very unprecedented in American history and all very dangerous to our concept of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.  The Administrative Committee of the USCCB set out what is at stake well on March 14th:

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day. In our role as Bishops, we approach this question prayerfully and as pastors—concerned not only with the protection of the Church’s own institutions, but with the care of the souls of the individual faithful, and with the common good.

To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of “A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.

One particular religious freedom issue demands our immediate attention: the now-finalized rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would force virtually all private health plans nationwide to provide coverage of sterilization and contraception—including abortifacient drugs—subject to an exemption for “religious employers” that is arbitrarily narrow, and to an unspecified and dubious future “accommodation” for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

We begin,  first, with thanks to all who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate: to our brother bishops; to our clergy and religious; to our Catholic faithful; to the wonderful array of Catholic groups and institutions that enliven our civil society; to our ecumenical and interfaith allies; to women and men of all religions (or none at all); to legal scholars; and to civic leaders. It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate. With your continued help, we will not be divided, and we will continue forward as one.

Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.

So what is it about?

An unwarranted government definition of religion. The mandate includes an extremely narrow definition of what HHS deems a “religious employer” deserving exemption—employers who, among other things, must hire and serve primarily those of their own faith. We are deeply concerned about this new definition of who we are as people of faith and what constitutes our ministry. The introduction of this unprecedented defining of faith communities and their ministries has precipitated this struggle for religious freedom. Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry. HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction—alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law—between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none. Cf. Deus Caritas Est, Nos. 20-33. We are commanded both to love and to serve the Lord; laws that protect our freedom to comply with one of these commands but not the other are nothing to celebrate. Indeed, they must be rejected, for they create a “second class” of citizenship within our religious community. And if this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity. All—not just some—of our religious institutions share equally in the very same God-given, legally-recognized right not “to be forced to act in a manner contrary to [their] own beliefs.” Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2.

A mandate to act against our teachings. The exemption is not merely a government foray into internal Church governance, where government has no legal competence or authority—disturbing though that may be. This error in theory has grave consequences in principle and practice. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers” will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world. For decades, the Bishops have led the fight against such government incursions on conscience, particularly in the area of health care. Far from making us waver in this longstanding commitment, the unprecedented magnitude of this latest threat has only strengthened our resolve to maintain that consistent view.

A violation of personal civil rights.The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing “services” contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption. This, too, is unprecedented in federal law, which has long been generous in protecting the rights of individuals not to act against their religious beliefs or moral convictions. We have consistently supported these rights, particularly in the area of protecting the dignity of all human life, and we continue to do so.

Third, we want to indicate our next steps. We will continue our vigorous efforts at education and public advocacy on the principles of religious liberty and their application in this case (and others). We will continue to accept any invitation to dialogue with the Executive Branch to protect the religious freedom that is rightly ours. We will continue to pursue legislation to restore the same level of religious freedom we have enjoyed until just recently. And we will continue to explore our options for relief from the courts, under the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws that protect religious freedom. All of these efforts will proceed concurrently, and in a manner that is mutually reinforcing.

Most importantly of all, we call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom—religious liberty—which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition. Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.

I will repeat this tirelessly throughout this year.  All Catholics in this country must understand that 2012 is not a normal election year.  This is an Elijah on Mount Carmel year.  This year we win this fight for religious liberty or we may find out very shortly what a President Obama, who never has to face the voters again, has in store for Catholics in this country who stand in the way of the policies he seeks to implement.  Let’s make sure this 2010 prediction of Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago does not become prophecy:  I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.

28 Responses to An American Issue

  • This is all-out political warfare, no holds barred.

    If an outright yahoo such as myself knew this four years past, [fill in the blank].

    Social justice was used as the alibi for all sins.

    Hate and Chains!

    I know. I know.

    I’m a RACIST!

  • Where are the voices from the Democratic Party, once a bastion of faithful Catholics, who legislated for the common man? Are they in chains tallying collected dues, being used to further debase their once loyal catholic identity, selling their souls and their ultimate caretakers to a joyless, blasphemous destiny? Judas comes to mind.

    I cannot believe that the Democratic Party has finished homogenizing its collective mind. With a world of problems from which to choose to find a solution, the focus is to fester another problem – and in the only area on earth that ultimately supports them.

    The catholic voices that have lost the sound of faith to the sound of cacophony.

  • When the Supreme Court for the United States of America hears the Obamacare case as a violation of conscience, as Obamacare is a violation of conscience, the Court will be giving countenance to and legitimacy to the greatest perjury in the history of humankind. TRUTH, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will have been silenced and imprisoned in the chains of perjury, subliminal suggestion, lies, false advertisement, uninformed consent, swindle, cheating, stealing, and more lies and more perjury by the handmaid of the Satan. If Obamacare is not prevented from scamming unsuspecting citizens into surrendering their sovereignty for a cup of hemlock, the Supreme Court for the United States of America will become a useful idiot in the grand scheme of the Great Liar. The atheist, too, is become a useful idiot in the removal of all of every citizen’s unalienable rights, our founding principles, and especially Our CREATOR’S Divine Providence. The bottomless pit of hell is staring us and our Supreme Court in the face in Obamacare. HOPE and CHANGE without informed consent, without the TRUTH, without sovereignty, without freedom is not HOPE and CHANGE, no more so than Obamacare is healthcare.
    An eighty four year old man insisted that everybody ought to have healthcare and I agree. Obamacare is poised to balance the budget on his grave and he cannot see through it, because of the subliminal suggestions planted in his heart and mind. Subliminal suggestion is illegal and unconstitutional. Insincere promises (or lies) in Obamcare are the bait in a trap for America’s sovereignty and the sovereignty of each and every person as a citizen in the US. A one world government under the world bank, instead of under God, is the ultimate goal of the devil. Obamacare is only the weapon to be used against the sovereignty of America. Obamcare is only the bait into the black hole of servitude to another man, (created equal), whose god is mammon.
    Let us show Obama what freedom looks like in November. Let us show the devil the gates to Hell, the black hole, the true Obamacare: WHO IS LIKE UNTO GOD?
    And to atheists who are sincerely searching for the truth. God is permitting this violation of sovereignty and truth for you to come to your sovereignty and the truth. Follow the truth. The truth will set you free and make you sovereign.
    The schism in the nation has occurred. The schism occurred when the Supreme Court relegated the Person of God to the status of Persona non grata, abortion to “a political point of view” along with gay-marriage, infanticide, and rape of infant children, who, without informed consent have had their body parts desecrated; the Supreme Court, who, violating “the laws of nature and nature’s God” abrogated the definition the human being as having an immortal, rational soul.

  • “the Supreme Court, who, violating “the laws of nature and nature’s God” abrogated the definition of the human being as having an immortal, rational soul; the human being, as a being composed of a body and a rational, immortal soul.”
    the word for correction I do not know.

  • I suppose, if we are to be prepared for any outcome, we should look at the Augustinian view of “Moral War” in light of such Scriptural admonishments as found in Romans 13. With the exegesis of the rest of the book, as well as the Gospels and all of the New Testament, it should be discussed now, I’d think, when heads are still cool and backs are not against any walls.

    If, God forbid, there is a second Caiaphas term and an insufficient Republican (real, not RINO) presence in Congress to snuff out his two-bit Mussolini imitations, there will possibly be a call to arms. The history of the world demands this consideration, as well as demanding that our nation’s immediate past be considered an aberration, albeit a pleasant one. Short is the list of nations that have gone a scant century without either internecine violence or direct foreign attack.

    That we have escaped largely unharmed is a testament to our traditional character, but it is obvious to any with a lick of sense that the character so employed is now a scarce commodity.

    I am reminded of the brilliance of Hillaire Belloc:

    “We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile. ”

    The “large and awful faces” now sit in the highest seats of power in America. It would behoove us to thoroughly argue various methods of repelling their assaults upon us, so that we are sufficiently prepared, and united.

  • You can look at it as Obama encouraging de facto schism, but sadly, the de facto schism has existed for a while. In a sense, all he is doing is recognizing its existence and banking on it. He is simply pulling back the curtain and exposing it.

  • “You can look at it as Obama encouraging de facto schism, but sadly, the de facto schism has existed for a while. In a sense, all he is doing is recognizing its existence and banking on it. He is simply pulling back the curtain and exposing it.”

    Amen that.

  • Perhaps, but the next step has to be taken, and that is to ask “why?” The answer is obvious to us, of course.

    To what end does any government actively call attention to such an all-too-human rift in any religion or ideology, but to attack it? What other purpose could there be to risk the backlash and fallout that most certainly will (and even now starts to) occur? Why does this administration care, other than to exploit a strategic weakness, indicating it actually has a strategy that neeeds this exploitation?

    To downplay Caiaphas’ impact on the schism itself is to dissemble the truth; regardless of why it’s there, this president’s exploitation of it makes him anti-Catholic and fascist, and as such he should be given neither excuse nor benefit of doubt. Unless, of course, you’re on his side.

  • I agree with c matt. Obama is exploiting and counting on an already existing de facto schism. I doubt he has a sinister purpose in doing so, at least from his perspective. He has no grande aim to bring down the Church; he just wants to advance his policy agenda.

  • The exploitation by any American president of any religious division in this country Mike I regard as per se sinister. That he might be doing so for mere momentary political advantage actually increases the contempt I feel for him.

  • Does anyone know how the Bishops are distinguishing the Obamacare mandate for employers to purchase health insurance (which covers contraceptives) from individuals being required to pay federal taxes (of which a fraction goes to grants to Planned Parenthood)? Why would complying with one (the Obamacare mandate) be sinful and not complying with the other (paying federal taxes) be sinful? Is it because only a tiny fraction of federal income taxes go to grants for Planned Parenthood while a larger fraction of health care premiums would go to contraceptives? Or is because one is called a tax and one is called a mandate? What if the feds said the employers will not be paying any premiums, instead they pay a tax and then the employees get free health care? Would that make a difference?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Bishops cracking some heads, I am just a little confused about how one is sin and one is not.

  • J: You are correct. Obamacare is a tax and a mandate. Obamacare tax deletes the middle man, IRS. O makes you spend his (the government owns and controls everything) money the way Obama tells you.

    You must pay your income tax and when Obama gets the money you have no say in how it is wasted.

    If you don’t pay your income tax, you will learn two things: the reason why they had to amend the Constitution to institute the income tax and that you have no rights in tax court. No Fifth amendment. If you own anything the IRS will take it. Then you go to jail.

    Heretics had more rights with the Spanish Inquisition. Only difference being the IRS can’t torture you.

  • “I doubt he has a sinister purpose in doing so, at least from his perspective. He has no grande aim to bring down the Church; he just wants to advance his policy agenda.”

    That may be true. But in then end, this battle is not with men such as Obama. Rather this battle is with diabolical forces intent on attacking the Church. Obama and his Saruman-like Minions in the Church are merely pawns in an ancient battle. Pawns who have fallen for one lie or another by the Evil One even if they remain ignorant of the Dark One’s ultimate plan. So there will be further attacks even if this one is stopped. Either by Obama or other Minions. However, if this one succeeds, the next will be truly vile.

    We ultimately do not lose hope as the Easter Victory is eternal. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail, though there may be great suffering prior to the final victory. Pray. Fast. Then act to prevent further evil.

  • There would probably be less schism in the Church if Pelosi, Reid, Sebelius, et al were treated in the same way as the SSPX were treated–with excommunication.

  • There has been a division in the Roman Catholic Church for a long time. I think much of the blame goes to the Bishops and Priests. In my life time, it started with the Bishops refusal to accept Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. You had Bishops outright rejection or their refusal to teach the dangers of contraception and the consequences. You had Vatican II which changed a lot of things in the Church (the left/ liberals used this time to their advantage). Then you also had sisters and nuns rejecting Church teachings and following the radical feminists. Then there was Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” (confusing real intrinsic evil issues with subjects that are not necessarily intrinsically evil to this very day), using Alinsky ideas, followed by “social justice” which has been more like socialism and earth worship. Also, you can’t ignore the homosexual infiltration into the seminaries which led to the terrible sexual scandals. Today, you have “catholic” politicians who support contraception, abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research like Sebelius, Pelosi, Cuomo, Kerry, Biden, the Kennedys, Durbin, etc with hardly any of the Bishops doing anything about them. Obama surrounds himself with these left, unorthodox “catholics” and yes, I think he does want to split the Catholic Church. The Bishops need to face some facts about Obama and the Democratic Party. These are not the Democrats your grandparents supported.

    It really all starts with us though. WE have to seek and find the REAL teachings, dogmas, doctrines of the Catholic Church. WE need to stop picking and choosing what we want to believe and we need to speak up. I’m praying for our Pope, the Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Religious that the Holy Spirit will enlighten them with truth and courage!

  • There would probably be less schism in the Church if Pelosi, Reid, Sebelius, et al were treated in the same way as the SSPX were treated–with excommunication.

    If I understand correctly, the clergy associated with SSPX are excommunicate, not anyone else. It is permissible for laymen to attend SSPX services if done out of appreciation for the old rite and not in a spirit of disobedience.

    There has been a division in the Roman Catholic Church for a long time. I think much of the blame goes to the Bishops and Priests. In my life time, it started with the Bishops refusal to accept Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.

    Which bishops? The prominent dissenters on this question have been Charles Curran, Andrew Greeley, Luke Timothy Johnson, and Garry Wills. None of them are bishops. It was local parish priests who refused to enforce the teaching in the confessional.

    Then there was Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” (confusing real intrinsic evil issues

    The Church in America had been an institutional wreck for a dozen years or more ‘ere Cdl. Bernardin’s wheel-spinning in the NCCB committee structure got underway.

  • AS WK Aiken wrote, “If, God forbid, there is a second Caiaphas term and an insufficient Republican (real, not RINO) presence in Congress to snuff out his two-bit Mussolini imitations, there will possibly be a call to arms. The history of the world demands this consideration, as well as demanding that our nation’s immediate past be considered an aberration, albeit a pleasant one. Short is the list of nations that have gone a scant century without either internecine violence or direct foreign attack.”

    Heaven forbid! But a second Obama term may make that a reality. :-(

  • Obama supports the destruction of all Christian churches.

  • What I am about to say may be viewed as imprudent by some here. But the bishops have done much to bring this about. Hillsdale College professor Paul Rahe wrote an interesting article on this subject:

    http://ricochet.com/main-feed/American-Catholicism-s-Pact-With-the-Devil/(page)/7

    Also, when you consider the fact that Obama being an Alinskyite and the influence Alinsky had on Church bureaucracies in the U.S., he is well aware of the divsions that exist. Remember, it was the same Cdl George who couldn’t stick to his guns with Fr. Pfleger and then presided over a function of the Archdiocesan Office for Racial Equality where Pfleger was given a lifetime achievement award. Never mind the fact that Fr. Pfleger is as thick as theives with bigots like Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakan.

    Then you have Cdl Dolan equating Arizona’s SB 1070 with the Know Nothing Party. When you have prominent American Prelates projecting weakness and engaging in left wing demagoguory, you invite the kind of actions Obama is taking and it isn’t like he needs an invitation.

  • Living in a country that has had a tax-funded national health service for over sixty years, and in which the taxpayer has no say on which ‘health’ provision his money is spent on, I find the present debate in the US rather bemusing. However, Catholics in the US should be aware that the British government is planning to legislate for same-sex marriage (despite the fact that the present civil partnership laws give homosexual couples the same rights as married couples anyway). PM David Cameron is cosying up to Barak Obama, who is no friend to England but has his eyes fixed on the upcoming election, and is pointedly ignoring anyone from the Republican party. As a life-long Tory voter, I hoped that the new ministry would roll back some of the stifling political correctness which characterized New Labour but Cameron seems to want to out-Blair Blair.

    The Catholic Church in England and Wales lacks any credible leadership (Scotland is better) and the Established Church is facing having its bishops ejected from the House of Lords since they are ‘incompatible with a multicultural society’. I was brought up in a country which prided itself on its tolerance and innate sense of liberty and fair play. I have seen it turned into a paradise for petty tyrants. Be warned, America, and for God’s sake don’t go the same way.

  • “I have seen it turned into a paradise for petty tyrants.”

    That is happening in both countries John, albeit at a slower pace in America, but Obama is attempting to quicken the process.

    For those of us who cherish liberty it is time for us to take a stand, all of us recalling this Churchill quote:
    “This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

    I have no intention of having the liberty that many of my ancestors purchased with their blood taken away piece by piece for Leftist political schemes and to serve the ends of politicians drunk with power.

  • If it is truly phrophetic is will come to pass, and nothing can stop it.

  • Then let us pray that it is not prophetic Janice and let us work to help bring our prayers to fruition. We are God’s instruments in this world and it is up to each of us to make our actions match our faith.

  • When the HHS Mandate goes to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, architect of Obamacare must recuse herself, or be removed physically dragging her feet and screaming. Obamacare is Elena Kagan’s brainchild. Surely, Kagan will want to see this monstrosity endure. Kagan has a vested interest and the conflict of interest thereof. There may be a 4 to 4 split in the Court, who then, casts the deciding vote? Is that person of integrity and trustworthy?

  • The constitutionality of Obamacare is only a small issue. The constitutionality of Obama and his cronies is the greater issue. The Constitution for the United States of America prohibits a religious test for candidates for public office. Our constitution does not prohibit a religious test for removing public officials, presidents and his appointees from office for egregiously violating our founding principles, ignoring their sworn oaths to uphold our founding principles while in office and for violating our constitutional principles.
    IF Peter Singer, Barack Obama, or Cecile Richards cannot explain their existence without reference to our Constitutional CREATOR, our unalienable rights, and our founding principles, they are unfit for office. Obama has violated his oath of office. Let us dig up Margaret Sanger and ask her for her opinion. Saul Alinsky asked God to send him to hell. Maybe HOPE and CHANGE will make Alinsky feel bad. Obama, Pelosi, Sebelius, Geitner need to be shown the broom closet door, the same broom closet door, Obama, as senator from Chicago showed to our newest constitutional posterity, our newest citizens, the persons he refused to aid when they survived abortion. Obama has since ordered all frozen embryos to be destroyed. No snowflake babies for him. Nope.
    Peter Singer was deported from Australia. Germany refused to give Singer admittance. Princeton University welcomed Singer with the DeCamp Chair of Bioethics where he teaches the most elite sons of our people that killing a citizen if you do not like the child for up to six years after they come into their citizenship as “after birth abortion” is valid. Singer teaches that taking the life of another person is not a crime of homicide or infanticide or human sacrifice to the demon god of political correctness, environmental or really stupid (oh, seriousness) imbecilic eugenics. Cecile Richards, go get Margaret Sanger. Maybe Sanger can tell us how to live forever.

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