No Retreat from Bishops on Defending Religious Freedoms
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a rallying call to all Catholics and men and women of faith, to take whatever steps are necessary to have the mandate rescinded: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”
In addition, the statement addressed the attempt of the many in the media and the Obama administration to make the mandate about contraception. The bishops have refuted that tactic very powerfully. Their rebuttal deserves to be read in full:
“Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.”
What underscores the good news of this statement’s clear, precise, and passionate response to an egregious violation of religious liberty by the President was a Reuters story from yesterday morning suggesting the Administrative Committee was going to take a more conciliatory tone.
We at Catholic Advocate applaud the strong and unambiguous stance of our Catholic bishops and will continue to help rally loyal Catholics to tell the Congress and the President that their violation of our religious liberty will not be tolerated.