USCCB HHS Mandate
Cardinal Dolan yesterday released this statement regarding Obama’s announcement that he had “evolved” and now, as he did in 1996 when first asked about it, supports gay marriage:
May 9, 2012 WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:
President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.
When the Tokugawa shogunate was stamping out Christianity in Japan, it made use of Fumi-e (stepping on pictures). Regime officials would place pictures of Jesus or Mary before suspected Christians and order them to step on them. Refusal to do so, if persisted in, would end in execution. In our own country we are seeing the growth of a movement just as antithetical in theory to Catholicism and traditional Christianity as the Tokugawa shogunate, and it finds its home in the Democrat party.
What we have seen over the past few decades is the evolution of the Democrat party into an overtly anti-Catholic party. The Obama administration is the culmination of this trend. This of course is deeply ironic, because the Democrat party is a major party in this country with the help of the votes of tens of millions of purported Catholics.
In the past four decades the Democrats, with honorable exceptions, have championed abortion which is anathema to the teachings of the Church. The embrace of homosexuality followed, which has caused governments around the nation to drive the Church out of adoptions because the Church refuses to arrange adoptions by homosexual couples. In California, a state wholly controlled by the Democrat party, homosexual indoctrination, masquerading as education, is now mandated in public schools. For cynical political purposes the Obama administration this year has proposed that Catholic institutions, and individual Catholic employers, be required to provide “free” contraceptive coverage, and is quite willing to run roughshod over the First Amendment to accomplish this goal. Now we have the President’s support of gay marriage, although, until he further “evolves” I guess, he “generously” stated his opinion that churches opposed to gay marriages should not be required to officiate at them. These changes in society are the modern Fumi-e by which believing Catholics and traditional Christians are made to renounce, in effect, the teachings of Christ step by step. Continue reading
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. Continue reading