|Photo: Courtesy of Ann Nicolosi-Foose|
What this means is that Catholic hospitals, universities, diocesan services, and other institutions that have not performed these procedures or paid for them to be done must now see to it that their employees—those who carry out the mission of these organizations—have access to the procedures, even though compliance to this requirement flies in the face of everything that institution stands for. This also means that anyone paying premiums to such insurers would be supporting these “services,” whether they ever use them or not.
The U.S. bishops are protesting and urging us to join them. “US bishops rally Catholics to fight Obama abortifacient birth control mandate,” an article on LifeSiteNews.com, reports that “the mandate’s current conscience clause, according to U.S. bishops, amounts to little more than a fig leaf: the clause would only allow an opt-out for religious employers who employ and serve solely members of their own religion.
“Health and Human Services must think Catholics and other religious groups are fools,” USCCB Communications Director Sr. Mary Ann Walsh wrote….“HHS’s reg[ulation] conveniently ignores the underlying principle of Catholic charitable actions: we help people because we are Catholic, not because our clients are.”
In a slightly different take in his latest column in The Tidings, L.A.’s Archbishop José Gómez reports “solely” as “primarily” and adds that the organization must exist to teach religious values. No doubt this will be clarified for us in the next several months, since organizations have a year to comply. Says Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and President of the USCCB, “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences” (Reported in LifeSite News.com, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012). In the video below he highlights the watershed character of this decision: “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.”
(For this and related information, go to Web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Pregnancy is not a disease. Even if it were, prevention would be optional and its cure would constitute elective surgery; coverage for any of this is not mandatory. The insured and their employers are not to be forced to choose between foregoing insurance or abandoning conscience to pay for this. As with all other social ills, it will be our nation’s 46.2 million poor who will suffer most.
Think this is a Catholic question? The LifeSiteNews.com article cites the National Association of Evangelicals warning against the “dangerous precedent,” set by this ruling. If upheld, it would not be surprising to see it applied to other issues: euthanasia, genetic manipulation, embryonic experimentation, redefinition of marriage, military draft for wars of aggression, and all the social evils that derive from them, including educating youth in the “party line” in our schools. Sectarian schools would not be exempt.
In his address last week to several U.S. bishops making their “ad limina” visit in Rome, Benedict XVI noted this disregard for conscience when Catholic “cooperation in intrinsically evil practices” is mandated by our government. It is symptomatic of what he described as “a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”
So what can you and I do?
1. Besides sharing this blog article, share reputable sources of information: Web sites, blogs, news channels of every medium. (See Additional Resources below.)
2. A bill to implement adequate conscience protections, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act has stagnated in Congress for the past year. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is urging passage of the bill, and the USCCB is asking Catholics to contact their representatives in Congress in support of it. Click here.
3. Pray. Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, a unique commemoration in the Church Year, an indication of its influence and impact over the ages...and of its relevance today. We can entrust the change of our culture to his powerful prayers to God.
“ObamaCare and Religious Freedom,” by Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan in the Wall Street Journal
“A Time for Catholic Action and Catholic Voices,” by Archbishop José Gómez, in The Tidings Online Catholics for the Common Good www.ccgaction.org, a lay apostolate for the evangelization of culture
Chiaroscuro Foundation www.chiaroscurofnd.org, providing alternatives to abortion and promoting religious liberty
Association of Pauline Cooperators, http://daughtersofstpaul.com/PaulineCooperators witnessing to Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, through the use of the media of social communication.