Good news! The Administrative Committee of the USCCB has released a statement on the HHS mandate that doesn’t retreat a single step from the position taken by Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal George, Archbishop Chaput, and the dozens of other bishops who have condemned this gross violation of religious liberty. It should be noted that the bishops not only list all the reasons why the mandate is objectionable but also “thank” faithful Catholics and others of good will who have condemned it. The final paragraph is literally a rallying call to all Catholics and men and women of faith, to take whatever steps are necessary to have the mandate rescinded:
“Most importantly of all, we call upon the Catholic faithful, and all people of faith, throughout our country to join us in prayer and penance for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom—religious liberty—which is not only protected in the laws and customs of our great nation, but rooted in the teachings of our great Tradition. Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength—for without God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible” (more…)
Twice this past week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan urged the laity to be more engaged in political life. His remarks follow his return from Rome where he was elevated to the College of Cardinals.
Prior to his public comments, the Cardinal wrote on his blog (3/1/12) that faithful Catholics should continue to oppose the HHS mandate: “We need you more than ever! We can’t give up hoping, praying, trying, and working hard.”
Then this past Saturday (3/3/12), Cardinal Dolan addressed the annual diocesan public policy forum in advance of lobbying efforts at the state capital in Albany, New York. As The New York Times reported in their article:
“Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told Roman Catholics on Saturday that in an era when the church was fighting the government on several fronts, they needed to make their voices heard more clearly in the political sphere.”
We applaud Cardinal Dolan for articulating what we as the laity should be reminded at this critical moment for our church and our country.
This is why we founded Catholic Advocate: To defend the settled issues of our Church’s teaching, including the right to religious liberty. Towards this end, we work hard everyday on your behalf.
We take seriously what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Pontifical Council of the Laity during the “Witnesses to Christ in the political community” gathering on May 21, 2010:
“It is also the duty of the laity to participate actively in political life, in a manner coherent with the teaching of the Church, bringing their well- founded reasoning and great ideals into the democratic debate, and into the search for a broad consensus among everyone who cares about the defense of life and freedom, the protection of truth and the good of the family, solidarity with the needy, and the vital search for the common good.”
Pope Benedict’s words encouraged us as we wrote in The Washington Times last year that Catholic voters hold the power to change elections.
Our bishops’ are an important voice, but when we, the laity, join with theirs’ we make a sound so loud it cannot be ignored.
Today, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51 – 48, defeated the effort led by Senator Roy Blunt (Missouri) to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act as an amendment to pending legislation. Thirteen Catholic Senators joined the majority.
“By consenting to the disastrous HHS mandate, the U.S. Senate has taken the unprecedented step to deny our religious liberties instead of defending the Constitution,” said Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate. “It is disappointing to witness a group of senators misled on this issue at the expense of one of our key founding principles.”
The following is a list of how the 24 Catholic Senators voted on the Blunt amendment:
- Senator Mark Begich (Alaska, D) – Opposed
- Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska, R) – Supported
- Senator Marco Rubio (Florida, R) – Supported
- Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa, D) – Opposed
- Senator James Risch (Idaho, R) – Supported
- Senator Richard Durbin (Illinois, D) – Opposed
- Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisiana, D) – Opposed
- Senator David Vitter (Louisiana, R) – Supported
- Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts, D) – Opposed
- Senator Barbara Mikulski (Maryland, D) – Opposed
- Senator Susan Collins (Maine, R) – Supported
- Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri, D) – Opposed
- Senator John Hoeven (North Dakota, R) – Supported
- Senator Mike Johanns (Nebraska, R) – Supported
- Senator Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire, R) – Supported
- Senator Robert Menendez (New Jersey, D) – Opposed
- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York, D) – Opposed
- Senator Bob Casey Jr. (Pennsylvania, D) – Supported
- Senator Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania, R) – Supported
- Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island, D) – Opposed
- Senator Pat Leahy (Vermont, D) – Opposed
- Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington, D) – Opposed
- Senator Patty Murray (Washington, D) – Opposed
- Senator Joe Manchin III (West Virginia, D) – Supported
“Faithful Catholics should take the opportunity to thank those Senators supporting our religious liberties,” added Smith. “It is our duty as laity to hold those who did not support our values accountable and vote our conscience when the time comes.”
The full Catholic Advocate Congressional Scorecard is available at http://scorecard.catholicadvocate.com/.
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty.”