The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Freedom to Choose the Good

The Obama administration's unconstitutional mandate that the health insurance offered by Catholic institutions must include contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients forces the Church either to compromise it's firmly held religious beliefs or to pay crippling fines and penalties. This attack on the religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution has roused the Catholic community in the U. S. from what had seemed to be a near permanent lethargy. Indeed, from the reactions of the past week or so, one might conclude that President Obama and his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, have awakened a sleeping tiger. Catholics of every political stripe have responded in disbelief and anger to the President's decision, and have been joined by members of many other religious groups who realize correctly that something similar could and likely will happen to them.

We Catholics understand freedom as something other than unrestrained license; for as Christians we recall the words of Jesus: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" [Jn 8:31-32] We are, therefore, called to the truth and are not free to choose a lie. Making such a choice is to opt for evil, to choose sin over goodness. Instead we are called to act freely in choosing the good. In other words, we are free to choose that which will lead us to live the virtuous life. This is true freedom. The Obama administration, by demanding that we Catholics choose something we consider morally abhorrent, something we firmly believe to be an evil, attacks the very basis of religious freedom by denying us the freedom to choose the good. This is something we can not accept.

The following letter by Bishop John Noonan of Orlando was posted on our diocesan website this week and will be read in our parish this Sunday at all Masses. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning 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 peoplethe Catholic populationand to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

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 "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 either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration's sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannotwe will notcomply 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. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. 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, 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.

Most Rev. John Noonan
Bishop of Orlando
Echoing my bishop, I ask all who read this to call, write and email the president and your U. S. representative and senators to express your displeasure with this overt attack on religious freedom by an administration that has chosen to trample on the constitutional rights of its citizens.

No comments:

Post a Comment