U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Our Most Cherished Freedom

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Judging from this statement on religious liberty issued yesterday, the Bishops understand that the stakes are very high indeed this year:

 

A Statement on Religious Liberty

 

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.   Freedom is not only for Americans, but we think of it as something of our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be guarded now. We are stewards of this gift, not only for ourselves but for all nations and peoples who yearn to be free. Catholics in America have discharged this duty of guarding freedom admirably for many generations.   In 1887, when the archbishop of Baltimore, James Gibbons, was made the second American cardinal, he defended the American heritage of religious liberty during his visit to Rome to receive the red hat. Speaking of the great progress the Catholic Church had made in the United States, he attributed it to the “civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic.” Indeed, he made a bolder claim, namely that “in the genial atmosphere of liberty [the Church] blossoms like a rose.”1   From well before Cardinal Gibbons, Catholics in America have been advocates for religious liberty, and the landmark teaching of the Second Vatican Council on religious liberty was influenced by the American experience. It is among the proudest boasts of the Church on these shores. We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.   We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.   This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops:  

Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.   ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

George Will: This Is What Liberalism Looks Like

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George Will on ABC’s This Week last Sunday made three points in regard to the HHS Mandate “compromise” that are undeniably true:

 

 

Three points.

As Paul Ryan said to you, this is an accounting gimmick that they’ve done that in no way ends the complicity of Catholic institutions and individuals in delivering services they consider morally abhorrent.
Second. You asked the question, ‘How did this come about?’ George, this is what liberalism looks like. This is what the progressive state does. It tries to break all the institutions of civil society, all the institutions that mediate between the individual and the state. They have to break them to the saddle of the state.
Third. The Catholic Bishops, it serves them right. They’re the ones who were really hot for Obamacare, with a few exceptions. But they were all in favor of this. And this is what it looks like when the government decides it’s going to make your healthcare choices for you. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Is The USCCB Responsible for ObamaCare?

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The American Life League (ALL) is making a strong case of placing most of the blame for passage of ObamaCare squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

What the ALL is alleging is that the USCCB was very desperate to push for universal health coverage that they compromised on some key principles.  One of which was that of abortion where instead of fighting against abortion they decided to stick their heads in the ground and use “abortion neutral” language.

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Cardinal McCarrick and Sister Carol Keehan

The ever exceptional Catholic blogger Diogenes couldn’t help himself as he commented on “Sister” Carol Keehan’s reading at a Mass for retired Archbishop Theodore Cardinal McCarrick.

“Sister” Carol Keehan, who is the president of the Catholic Health Association, endorsed ObamaCare.  Thus declaring themselves in contradiction with Francis Cardinal George and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who opposed ObamaCare.

Here is Diogenes’s brilliant column:

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has devoted so much of his episcopal career to the effort to make everyone comfortable, is approaching his 80th birthday, and already the celebrations have begun.

(No, I don’t mean the celebrations of the fact that as of July 7, “Uncle Teddy” will be ineligible to vote in a papal conclave—although that’s definitely reason enough to chill the champagne.)

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Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium

In this spring’s debate over the healthcare bill, one of the disagreements that raised eyebrows most in Catholic circles was that between the US bishops conference and the Catholic Healthcare Association and other similar groups. The bishops claimed that the healthcare bill would lead to federal funding of abortions, while CHA et al. concluded that it would not.

In my opinion and that of numerous observers (including most of my fellow contributors here at TAC), the bishops were correct and CHA was horribly, terribly wrong.

There is another question, though… was CHA disobedient? That is, were they obliged as Catholics to accept the conclusions of the bishops conference? Was the activity of the bishops conference an act of their teaching charism which American Catholics were obliged to give their assent to?

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Edward Feser on Stupak, the USCCB and Subsidiarity

Pertinent to recent discussions of Stupak and the role of the USCCB in advancing the health care bill, Edward Feser offers his reflections on Bart Stupak, the USCCB and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity:

… before the health care bill vote, the USCCB urged Congress either to alter the bill to prevent federal funding of abortion or to vote the bill down. (The USCCB also objected to the bill’s failure to extend coverage to illegal immigrants.) But the letter in which this request was made also emphasized that “for decades, the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care,” that “the Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity,” and that it is only “with deep regret” that the bishops must oppose passage of the bill “unless these fundamental flaws are remedied” (emphasis added).

Needless to say, the impression these words leave the reader with – whether the bishops intended this or not – is that, were abortion (and coverage of illegal immigrants) not at issue, the moral teaching of the Catholic Church would require the passage of the health care bill in question, or something like it. In fact the teaching of the Church requires no such thing. Indeed, I would argue (see below) that while the Church’s teaching does not rule out in principle a significant federal role in providing health care, a bill like the one that has just passed would be very hard to justify in light of Catholic doctrine, even aside from the abortion question. Nevertheless, as I say, the bishops’ language would surely leave the average reader with the opposite impression. And as the bishops themselves remind us, they have “supported universal health care” for “decades,” in statements that also would leave the unwary average reader with the impression that Catholic moral teaching strictly requires as a matter of justice the passage some sort of federal health care legislation. On the day Obama signed the bill into law, Cardinal Francis George, a bishop with a reputation for orthodoxy, urged vigilance on the matter of abortion while declaring that “we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.”

Read the rest!

The Myth of Tolerance by Our Intellectual Superiors

With the vilification that the political left has done to the right, we Catholics also suffer from the same abuse.  Take point in fact that U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesperson Sister Mary Ann Walsh demonized Pro-Life Catholics by regurgitating uncorroborated reports of racism against ObamaCare proponents and attributed them to Pro-Life Catholics with her blog entry.

Such blatant disregard for facts in order to advance your personal agenda has become the norm in the mainstream media as well.  The Media Research Center has provided the following synopsis to clarify this point:

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Update I (4:12pm CST): Prominent Republican Gets Actual Death Threat, NYT Suddenly Drops Concern Over Threatening.  To read the entire story by Clay Waters of NewsBusters click here.

Update II (4:21pm CST): A video was tracked down showing Representative John Lewis of Georgia, whom Sister Mary Ann Walsh referenced in her blog post showing absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any racial epithets being thrown around.  Again, the uncorroborated evidence that Sister Mary Ann Walsh referenced is a fabricated lie and she willfully used this to smear Pro-Lifers in her less than charitable blog posting.

The video is here:

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Update III (6:26pm CST): Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the very man who lied that there were racist remarks yelled at him at the Tea Party protests is known to be very hyperbolic himself.  Jeff Poor of NewsBusters recounts the time back in 1995 how Representaive Lewis defamed Republicans by painting them as ‘Nazis‘.

Representative Lewis has shown himself to be nothing more than a political hack that lashes out when he doesn’t get his way.

U.S. Catholic Bishops' statement on the Health Care Bill: "Profoundly flawed"

USCCB Statement on the recently-passed health care legislation (March 23, 2010):

For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have called for reform of our health care system so that all may have access to the care that recognizes and affirms their human dignity. Christian discipleship means, “working to ensure that all people have access to what makes them fully human and fosters their human dignity” (United States Catechism for Adults, page 454). Included among those elements is the provision of necessary and appropriate health care.

For too long, this question has gone unaddressed in our country. Often, while many had access to excellent medical treatment, millions of others including expectant mothers, struggling families or those with serious medical or physical problems were left unable to afford the care they needed. As Catholic bishops, we have expressed our support for efforts to address this national and societal shortcoming. We have spoken for the poorest and most defenseless among us. Many elements of the health care reform measure signed into law by the President address these concerns and so help to fulfill the duty that we have to each other for the common good. We are bishops, and therefore pastors and teachers. In that role, we applaud the effort to expand health care to all.

Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. Its failure to preserve the legal status quo that has regulated the government’s relation to abortion, as did the original bill adopted by the House of Representatives last November, could undermine what has been the law of our land for decades and threatens the consensus of the majority of Americans: that federal funds not be used for abortions or plans that cover abortions. Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.

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Principle of Subsidiarity Violated by ObamaCare

Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made a determined effort for universal health coverage, without abortion, in the run-up to the vote on ObamaCare.  In the end, due to the abortion language in this bill, they condemned it in its entirety.

Now I believe that our bishops had the best intentions of wanting universal health coverage, but this violates the principle of subsidiarity.

The Principle of Subsidiarity is the handling of affairs by small-scale, bottommost, or minutest government.

In 1891 Pope Leo XIII wrote an encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which said that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently. Functions of government, business, and other secular activities should be as local as possible. If a complex function is carried out at a local level just as effectively as on the national level, the local level should be the one to carry out the specified function.

Private insurance agencies cover over 84% of all Americans, with an overwhelming 93% saying they are satisfied with their coverage.

And those that are uninsured, can get readily available treatment for a serious illness.  Including illegal aliens.

So why the bishops haste and aggressive posturing in pushing for something everybody already has and are satisfied with?

Stupak Deal with Obama, The End of the Pro Life Democrat?

    US Catholic Bishops: Executive Order Deal A Non-Starter:

    We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:

    “One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

    Richard Doerflinger
    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • In deal with Stupak, White House announces executive order on abortion (Washington Post):

    Resolving an impasse with anti-abortion Democrats over the health-care reform legislation, President Obama announced Sunday that he will be issuing an executive order after the bill is passed “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” according to a statement from the White House.

    “I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said at a news conference announcing the deal.

  • “I think we’re witnessing Bart Stupak write the obit for the concept of the “pro-life Democrat” – Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).

Further analysis of the text of the order: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

James Carroll Takes a Swing at the Church

Left-wing Catholic dissident James Carroll wrote a scathing attack on the USCCB for the Daily Beast blog, accusing the bishops of a “new know-nothing fundamentalism” and drastic shift to the political right for adhering to basic Catholic principles on abortion, the deliberate destruction of an innocent human life, which is an intrinsic evil. I don’t know what disturbs me more: the article itself, or the outpouring of vicious, no-holds-barred anti-Catholic hatred that follows in the com-boxes.

Carroll whines as if the entire moral platform of the USCCB is literally dictated by officials from the Republican Party, which anyone who is actually familiar with their positions on a number of issues from immigration to health-care reform (which they strongly support, minus abortion funding, to the chagrin of many conservatives) knows is somewhere between hysterical and brain-damaged. Carroll longs for the days when the Catholic Church in America was, at least in his one-sided view, completely subordinated not to the Republican political agenda but the Democratic one. Supposedly that would not be an unwelcome intrusion of the Church into political affairs, but an example of a good little boy who does as he’s told by the powers that be.

Of course Carroll’s nostalgia for the “good old Church” neglects the fact that in the days of FDR, abortion was not the political issue it is today, and no one but communists and anarchists believed that the right to murder one’s own offspring was a necessary condition for social justice. The very notion, in its brutality and hypocrisy, would have horrified as many Catholic leaders and laypeople then as it does today.

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