Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Geographic Travels for Religious Freedom: Letter from the Military Archbishop

Long time readers will know I clearly have my own slant/biases but I rarely openly endorse specific causes.  However, after my one of my former chaplain's masses was censored by the United States Army I decided to make a special blog post where I repost Archbishop Timothy P Broglio, of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, letter to the faithful concerning insurance mandates.  I approve of the Archbishop's message.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

It is imperative that I call to your attention an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.  The federal government, which claims to be "of, by, and for the people" has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people – the Catholic population – and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.  It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees' health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.  Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those immoral "services" in the health policies they write.  And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.  And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so).  The Administration's sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law.  People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.  We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.  Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America's cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.  In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Your children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

Therefore, I ask two things of you.  First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.  Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.  Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration's decision.

Grateful even now for your support I remain

Sincerely in Christ

Bishop Timothy P Broglio


a friend of geography said...

so why didn't the bishops object when 28 states mandated the coverage? and many of those have no religious exceptions at all.
This is a bogus argument - an attempt to get people riled up over something that has been in effect in many places and will now apply to the rest of the country.

Catholicgauze said...

According to the Guttmacher Institute's brief of February 2, 2012, 20 of the 28 states do have exemptions. Those 8 are a problem. A long time critique of Catholics of their bishops is that they move to slow. At least they are moving now.

natthedem said...

I'd much prefer that the Church devoted time during mass to talking about the upcoming conference on abuse prevention, but alas...

If it's only those 8 without a religious exemption that are problematic, then what's the issue with the HHS decision? HHS has established a religious exemption--the same one that exists in New York, California, Michigan and Oregon. Court challenges in New York and California, based primarily around the first amendment issues cited by the Bishop, have been rejected.

I feel obliged to ask: if 28 states have a rule compelling contraception coverage, where are the examples of the assault on religious liberty? Where in New York, Oregon, Michigan and California--who, again, have exemptions that mirror what HHS has done--have Catholic institutions been harmed by the rule? Surely, for all the hysterics from the Church hierarchy, there must be a PLETHORA of examples.

Here's the reality: 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraception at some point in their lives. The majority of Americans and the majority of American Catholics think that health insurance companies should be compelled to cover contraception. Perhaps the problem isn't with what our health insurance covers or doesn't cover, maybe the problem is that Catholic bishops are out of touch with their flocks.

But I'm sure they'll get on that right away...the bishops just tend to move slowly, right?

Catholicgauze said...

I have been to many masses were priests have mentioned the latest developments and even apologized immensely for the horrible hurt caused by priest abuse.
However to tie priest abuse to this issue is bringing in a non-related matter. It is not right to mention Muslim terrorism if arguing that the veil should be banned.

From First Things:

First, this fight is not a referendum on whether one personally likes the Catholic Church. Love the Church, disdain the Church, be apathetic; it doesn’t matter. As a corollary, this is not a test of one’s agreement with Church teaching on birth control. No one is demanding members of the public sign off on lines of the Catechism—the Church is merely asking for the right to hold what it believes without external coercion and to think and act in a manner consistent with its own conviction (paging atheistic libertarians and pluralist liberals: what say you?). Indeed, this fight can be phrased in entirely secular terms and still be urgent: do you object to a government forcing a religious organization to commit what it considers a serious sin? If not, please elaborate your political philosophy, because it seems to have more in common with, shall we say, regimes with a tendency to eschew constitutions and human rights than it does with the American social contract.

Second, this battle does not revolve around who can wield ad hominem attacks or the tu quoque fallacy to greater effect. Yes, as we’ve been constantly reminded, many Catholics (or, at least, people who claim to be Catholics when Gallup calls) use contraception anyway, in defiance of their Church’s teaching. A recent poll even shows strong support among “Catholics” for the mandate itself. It’s an embarrassing and unfortunate internal problem, yes, but why does it have bearing on the principles at stake? If obedience or disobedience determined normative moral injunctions, how would any code of behavior be left standing?