If you missed it, the Obama Administration has officially ordered the Catholic Church, as part of its “Health Care Reform” that so many “Catholics” supported, that Catholic organizations *MUST* pay for abortions and contraceptives as part of its insurance packages, that there will no longer be any “conscience exemptions,” and the same applies for doctors and hospitals providing these “services.”
The supposedly “Catholic” director of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, made the announcement publicly last week that this decision was final, and there is no exception. Ironically, her announcement comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama EEOC in a religious freedom case, with even Obama’s appointed justices ruling against the Reich, and hopefully, this precedent will help when this goes to court.
In the meantime, the US Bishops are making their ad limina visit to Rome, and the Holy Father on Thursday made an address talking about how America’s tradition of religious liberty under “Nature’s God” is facing grave threats from the forces of secularism, and while he doesn’t refer to Obama by name, he refers to Obama Administration policies:
In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. 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.
He refers to the Church’s authority to speak in the public square and advise governments on matters of morality. He also speaks of the need for an informed “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.” That’s a far cry from some people who say laity can think whatever they want, that laity can choose to believe contrary to what the Church teaches. It’s a far cry from people who say that we should embrace the culture uncritically.
If you’re not of the mindset to listen to B16, maybe two of the most liberal bishops in the country can sway you.
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg–the guy who banned EWTN, said Terri Schiavo’s murder was just a family issue and no one else’s business, and said he was more alarmed by the “venomous” pro-life rhetoric than Obama speaking at Notre Dame–a guy who generally sided with Mahony, Weakland & co. on every issue–issued a statement in late November condemning the measure:
In my homily I chose to bring up a possibility arising from Health and Human Services regulations which bother me deeply precisely because I and many others find them violative of the religious liberty assured us by the first amendment to our Constitution and also of our personal moral consciences. These regulations will apply to the implementation of the soon to be fully implemented federal health care law.
The Diocese of Saint Petersburg has approximately 2300 employees who participate in a generous health care plan as part of their employment. While it covers almost everything, it excludes contraceptives, abortifacients, sexual enhancements like “Viagra”, etc. The first draft of the regulations for implementation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services mandated these and more services which I and others think violate the freedom of religion of our Church as regards procedures which we believe to be not in keeping with God’s law. Further, if a person is required by law to provide, perhaps in a hospital emergency room situation procedures violative of their individual conscience( in the past they have been exempt because of conscience concerns), they would be forced by this law to do so. Reacting to the first wave of complaints from the Catholic Church the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services modified the regulations slightly to exempt only Catholics working for a Catholic employer (other religions with serious moral concerns would also be included). Alas, I would still be required by law to provide the services to non-Catholic employees. What kind of sense does that make?
But there is an even larger problem for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It is self-insured and our plan is only administered by a health care agency. Therefore the diocese by this law is an insurance company and all insurance companies must provide these services with currently no exemptions allowed. There are no exemptions to even include the situation outlined above. If the argument focused on abortion, a matter of public morality since the life of another person is involved, I suspect many more people would carry the fear which I have about this exercise of regulatory authority but because it seems to focus on contraception, a matter of private morality, lots of people do not understand what is at stake here. My genuine concern is that it is simply the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. In my homily I outlined perhaps the only option left for the diocese as an employer if these regulations stand and believe me, colleagues in ministry and service and I will experience a marked loss of health care insurance coverage. A Church cannot be forced to violate its teaching, do something which is possibly immoral, and stand idly by and watch our Catholic doctors, nurses and aids forced to perform procedures which are both against their conscience and previously protected. That’s what involved in this and there is considerable opposition to the position of the Church coming from Planned Parenthood and other organizations which see this moment as an opportunity to close the conscience clause exemption which they have long despised. If you don’t believe me, read the blogs of those other groups. No one in yesterday’s congregation has the power to fix whats wrong with the Affordable Health Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010. Only the President of the United States and his Secretary for Health and Human Services can do that but a gathering for Mass such as yesterday’s does provide me a forum for vetting a serious question of the intersection of law and morality and learning from those far more skilled at interpreting and applying the law than myself. From the reactions which I immediately received and throughout the day yesterday by e-mail and personal contacts, posing the matter of religious freedom was appreciated and as you can see below, I asked nothing of those present but to listen, reflect and pray.
And if *he’s* not good enough, none other than Roger “I’m as infallible as the Pope” Mahony himself, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, the guy who nearly went to jail for his aiding and abetting of homosexual priests, the guy who was publicly criticized for a pro-life activist at a pro-life dinner for supporting nothing but pro-choice politicians, the guy who’s been photographed with numerous notorious Demonocrats, has also condemned Obama and says that while he “can’t” endorse a candidate (never stopped him endorsing Democrats), he will vote for the candidate who supports freedom of conscience:
For me there is no other fundamental issue as important as this one as we enter into the Presidential and Congressional campaigns. Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person’s own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines.
As Bishops we do not recommend candidates for any elected office. My vote on November 6 will be for the candidate for President of the United States and members of Congress who intend to recognize the full spectrum of rights under the many conscience clauses of morality and public policy. If any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote.
This is a sad moment in the life of our country where religious freedom and freedom of conscience led to the formation of this new Nation under God.
So, Obama Catholics, how can you possibly support your support for this Communist???