Remember Rome, Mr. Obama!

 

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Hattip to Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report.   A fiery speech delivered by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of the Saint Louis Archdiocese at the Missouri State Capitol on March 27, 2012, calling for defiance of the HHS Mandate, and a superb ringing defense of religious liberty:

 

So Jesus said to them: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21/Mk 12:17/Lk 20:25)

My brothers and sisters, we stand here today because of an alarming and serious matter that strikes at our fundamental right to religious freedom. The federal government – which was formed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith, but we will be required to deny it in practice. We are here to let the government know that we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!

In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers — including Catholic employers – would be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic faith.

 Recognizing this as a grave threat to religious liberty, many people spoke out against the Mandate.

In response to this reaction, President Obama’s Administration announced a so-called “compromise” in early February. Now, instead of the Catholic Church being required to pay for contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs, the insurance companies will be required to provide those services free of charge.

We need to say loud and clear: Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. If the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another –that’s how the economy works!

In addition, the point of fact is that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is self insured –as are many other Catholic organizations across the country. Yes, United Health Care processes and investigates our claims, and negotiates rates on our behalf; but the money to pay for them comes entirely from our pockets.

In other words, the so-called “compromise” didn’t change anything. Catholic employers – and the Catholic Church itself – will still be forced to pay for things that directly contradict our faith. Apparently we are free to believe, but not free to put our beliefs into practice.

In other words, we have freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion.  Our ecumenical brothers and sisters are standing with us today as co-sponsors of this event, and I welcome them – the Lutheran Church,Missouri Synod, the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God USA. Their witness today says loud and clear: this is not about contraception. This is about religious liberty. Today, the government is telling the Catholic Church how to define its mission; the government is telling us which of our ministries are or are not “religious;” the government is telling us what teachings we can and cannot act on. Our ecumenical brothers and sisters know that if the government can tell the Catholic Church those things today, then it might be their heads on the chopping block tomorrow. They are here so that we can say together as one body: we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!

  – So, what are our options?

 +We can submit to the Mandate … and violate our teachings. Many Catholic colleges have already done just that. But let’s be clear what’s at stake here: we are being asked to say that we hold the faith, but to deny it in practice. That’s hypocrisy, and we cannot accept it.

+We can shut down our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic schools, and our Catholic charities. We can accept the invitation to get out of the public square. But if we do that we violate the mission Jesus gave us, and we abandon the practices on which he told us we would be judged: to teach, to care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. In other words, we would break faith with our mission and jeopardize our salvation. We can’t do that.

+Our institutions could seek exemption as religious employers — if they agree to hire primarily Catholics and to serve primarily Catholics. Just imagine Jesus saying to the Samaritan woman at the well: “I’m sorry, I can’t reveal the truth to you. If I minister to foreigners it would jeopardize my religious status.”

Jesus Christ didn’t come to serve only his own people, and neither do we. Catholic hospitals and Catholic charities and Catholic schools don’t serve people because they are Catholic; we serve people because we are Catholic, and Jesus Christ himself gave us a mission to share the Good News with everyone.

 

The bottom line is this: the government has left us no good options. We cannot, in good faith, comply with the mandate as written. Every avenue compromises our mission, and forces us to render unto Caesar what belongs to God.

  So what should we do? Thankfully, we have a roadmap, because we’ve been here before! If you think about it, our situation is just like that of the early Christians living in the heyday of the Roman Empire. For the first three centuries of our Christianity, Roman culture and law provided a climate that was not particularly friendly to the Church, and was openly hostile to it at certain points.

How did the early Church survive and thrive in a hostile culture? How did it come to pass that the Church is still a living reality, but the Roman Empire only lives in history books?

It was the witness of believers. It was their faithfulness – in word and deed– to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their witness to faith won the day then,and our witness to the faith can win the day again.

The Church today, like the early Church, needs people who are ready and willing to let their words and deeds bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square. We need people who are willing to make sacrifices so that the truth of the Gospel can be heard, our culture challenged, and our world transformed.

Most often the sacrifice required of us has been the ‘white martyrdom’ of a life that is faithful to the Gospel rather than faithful to the culture. But the time has come when we must be prepared for extraordinary sacrifices as well. And that’s precisely what Jesus himself promised us and told us to expect: “He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them:,Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mk 8:34; Mt 16:24; Lk 9: 23)

 

I am convinced that taking up the cross is the way to life. I am convinced that ‘before the cross there is no defense.’ I am convinced that Jesus won victory on the cross, and that he will win victory in us if we take up our cross and follow him.

Will you stand with me and say “Jesus, I will take up my cross and follow You”?  Will you stand with me and say: Mr. President, we cannot comply with this Mandate. We WILL render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God. Mr President: restore our religious freedom!

Brothers and sisters: we must be prepared to suffer for our convictions.  But our faith tells us – and history shows us – that suffering will make our witness grow stronger. With that conviction, let us recall the words of EITHER Saint Paul to the Romans OR St. Peter:

  I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2) 

Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you… whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. (1 Peter 4: 12-16)

Archbishop Carlson realizes the magnitude of what is at stake.  The HHS mandate is not merely aimed at the Catholic Church, but is a blow against traditional American concepts of religious liberty.   As I have stated before, here,  2012 is not merely an election year for Catholics, but is now an Elijah on Mount Carmel year.  A time of choosing is upon us.

 

19 Responses to Remember Rome, Mr. Obama!

  • “and WE are ready to march”. Ave Maria in English and in Latin

  • Too many Catholics have embraced a false notion of the relationship between religion and politics. Basing themselves on Suarez’s interpretation of St Thomas, they have talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. “Under such circumstances, the supernatural is no longer properly speaking another order, something unprecedented, overwhelming and transfiguring” (Henri de Lubac)

    It was this that led Laberthonnière, a hundred years ago now, to accuse the Neo-Thomists of his day of ““a false theological notion of some state of pure nature and therefore imagined the state could be self-sufficient in the sense that it could be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.”

    It led his friend and contemporary, Maurice Blondel, to insist that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order”

    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being. . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account”

    Unless we insist, in Blondel’s words, that we can “find only in the spirit of the gospel the supreme and decisive guarantee of justice and of the moral conditions of peace, stability, and social prosperity,” we shall inevitable acquiesce in practice in the Liberal privatisation of religion.

  • “‘and WE are ready to march’. Ave Maria in English and in Latin”

    Av? Mar?a, gr?ti? pl?na,
    Dominus t?cum.
    Benedicta t? in mulieribus,
    et benedictus fr?ctus ventris tu?, I?sus.
    S?ncta Mar?a, M?ter De?,
    ?r? pr? n?b?s pecc?t?ribus,
    nunc et in h?r? mortis nostrae.
    ?m?n.

    Hail Mary, full of grace,
    the Lord is with thee;
    blessed art thou amongst women,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death.
    Amen.

    And for good measure, the ancient Greek version as well (which reads a little differently) (hope the Greek letters come out OK):

    ??????? ???????, ?????, ???????????? ?????,
    ? ?????? ???? ???. ?????????? ?? ?? ???????,
    ??? ??????????? ? ?????? ??? ??????? ???,
    ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ????? ????.

  • Thank you, Archbishop Carleson! You put into words what I believe. Mr. Obama has thrown down the gauntlet. Let us pick it up and fight!

  • “Remember Rome, Mr. Obama! Remember Rome!”

    Not to mention Tudor England, France’s Reign of Terror, Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, the Know Nothing Party, and other movements/parties/regimes now residing in the “Where Are They Now” file….

  • True Elaine! It would be a wearying task to attempt to list all of the enemies Holy Mother Church has outlasted. A few more: Cromwell, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Garibaldi, Robespierre, Frederick II (Stupor Mundi), Julian the Apostate, etc. One of the iron laws of history: Don’t bet against the Catholic Church!

  • Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis.
    Men of God, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and the Pope are with us in the here and now; teaching and shedding light on the realities of the world. I think we are being blessed with ways to see the Truth and how to follow. I cannot imagine what developments would be without them to lead and inform us, and I include the men of this and other blogs making such as the above accessible and want to say thanks. We have Church fathers to read, but would we?
    The alternative catholics that have a voice in media and officialdom as the only spokesmen is frightening.

  • I already have the speech prepared that I plan to read aloud to the helmeted and shield-wielding law enforcement officers who we will face when they come to arrest the administration of our local Catholic hospital, should it come to that.

    It has to do with “Just Following Orders.” Slaying the dragon may have to happen tooth by tooth.

  • The Church will lose this fight – now or later in public opinion.

    None of us has the right to say, “I will not pay this tax or obey that law”. We cannot pick and choose. You either obey the law or you pay the penalty.

    Let us be clear about this: No one is requiring the Catholic Church or its institutions to pay for abortions or contraceptives. No one is restricting religious freedom. The Church wants special privileges and treatment which is unconstitutional.

    Why do we not see this fight in European countries where there are Catholics and government health insurance coverage for birth control? There are even legal abortions in such Catholic countries as Poland.

  • No, Don Maswell, the Church will win this fight because Jesus will win this fight. Oh, the Church may lose a battle here and there (Roberpierre’s Reign of Terror, Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, etc.) But in the end godless tyrannts always follow Roberpierre to the guillotine or Hitler with a bullet in his head.

    And here is another thing: I shall NOT ever obey your godless laws of sin and depravity. EVER! The only alternative is what Rome offered St. Ignatius of Antioch. I pray for courage to do as he did. But in the end, though he died, Christianity won. Obama will NOT win. Will NOT! His name will go down in history as the evil man that Hitler and Caligula were.

  • And PS, Jesus Christ cares not one fig for public opinion.

  • “You either obey the law or you pay the penalty.”

    Better vastly increase the federal budget for prisons Don, because if our Bishops go to jail quite a few other Catholics will be going to jail with them. The Church has prevailed over much tougher adversaries than Obama and his coterie of Chicago thugs.

  • Don M., I pray your blindness will be cured. Don’t be stubborn as I was in my youth, insisting I knew the truth. Now I deeply regreat the many I hurt and led astray because of my extreme liberal views. Pray with humility “Lord, that I may see!”

  • You are correct, Mr. Maswell, when you say “You either obey the law or you pay the penalty.” Martin Luther King did just that. And look what happened!

    You are also correct when you say “None of us has the right to say, “I will not. . . obey that law”. We cannot pick and choose.” So why are we supposed to disobey the one that says “Thou shalt not kill”?

    “What does it profit a man that he gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” We cannot give to Caesar what belongs to God. If public opinion is against us, it was against us back in the days of the Roman Empire. Yes, we may lose this battle, but we are confident, we are assured, we KNOW that we will win the war!

    I shall not call Obama evil for I cannot see into his heart. It is for God to judge him. But I WILL call his “law” evil, for it is. It is based on the premise that human life, before birth, is worthless. If he were truly worried about the results of the sexual act on women, he would include treatment for the many diseases you can contract from the sexual act: various cancers (not just the one they have a vaccine for), gonorrhea, syphilis, and other STDs.

  • “Better vastly increase the federal budget for prisons Don, because if our Bishops go to jail quite a few other Catholics will be going to jail with them.”

    This may seem like a stupid question to which I should know the answer, but just to make sure we’re clear, if the HHS mandate goes through EXACTLY as written right now and Catholic institutions fail to comply, who, exactly, would be going to jail? The bishops? The institutional administrators (hospital CEOs, Catholic school superintendents/principals, etc.)? Everyone who worked there? And by “going to jail” do they mean directly because of non-compliance or as the result of some kind of protest action like a sit-in or blockade?

  • My guess is none of the above Elaine, unless the Obama administration has a death wish. However, if he manages to be re-elected, Obama might be foolish enough to force a showdown, although I doubt it.

  • Mr. Obama, Jesus Christ has spoken. You are deaf to Him, of course, but you will NEVER, EVER DEFEAT HIM. Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus unci imperant. Christ is Victory, Christ for ever Reigns, Christ Lives Eternally. Mr. Obama you are fighting God and you HAVE ALREADY LOST THE WAR. And my country, Kenya, joining the Church Triumphant, rejoices at your imminent CRASHING DEFEAT.

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