Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In addition to the Right to Religious Freedom, what is also at risk is access to Catholic Health Care in the United States for those who need it the most

In the history of the United States of America, from the beginning, Catholic Hospitals existed to care for the sick. The Catholic Church is currently one of the very largest health care providers in the United States of America. If this Administration persists in its iron handed effort to compel the Church to bend the knee to a new Caesar, that service to the Nation is placed in jeopardy. It appears that the administration wants to remove the vital role of mediating institutions such as the Church in serving the Common Good of society through providing health care. One must now ask - Why?

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: HHS Mandate, Obama Mandate, Kathleen Sebelius, Blunt Amendment, Free Exercise of Religion, Religious Freedom, Cardinal Dolan, Catholic Health Care, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Since January 20, 2012 when the unjust Edict issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, was issued, Catholics have heard strongly worded and courageous letters read at Mass, written by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Every single US Bishop has stood up to this injustice. We have been asked to rise up in prayer, fasting and concerted Catholic Action.We have only just begun our fight.  

The mandate requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to provide sterilization, abortion inducing drugs and contraception in their health care plans, making them available for free. The alleged "exemption" for religious employers did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other expressions of our Catholic faith and mission. The alleged compromise later offered was simply sophistry. It accomplished nothing, except perhaps pouring salt into the wound.

Catholics believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic.We will not retreat from the world because we are called into it by the God who still loves the world so much that he sends his Son.We believe that the Church is the Body of Christ, continuing every aspect of His redemtive mission until he returns.   

The HHS Edict is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion. That protection, enshrined in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, is based upon the Fundamental Human right to Religious Freedom secured by the Natural Law. The HHS Edict is an unjust law which must be opposed. The Federal Government of the United States is trying to force the Catholic Church to act against its deeply held religious convictions and to violate conscience.

Failure to comply with the HHS Edict will bring punitive measures upon the Church and her institutions in the form of onerous fines. They would have the practical result of closing many of the Church's outreaches, ministries and institutions of care and compassion.  Certainly this not only injures the Church, it injures American society. What is at stake is the continued existence of many of the Catholic outreaches in the United States.

In his recent letter to the US Bishops, Cardinal Dolan wrote, "The regulations struck at the heart of our fundamental right to religious liberty, which affects our ability to serve those outside our faith community." He is absolutely correct.

Concerning the purported "accommodation" he wrote "On Friday, February 10, the Administration issued the final rules. By their very terms, the rules were reaffirmed "without change." The mandate to provide the illicit services remains. The exceedingly narrow exemption for churches remains. Despite the outcry, all the threats to religious liberty posed by the initial rules remain."

His summary of the threat to Religious Freedom reminded us, "Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government's decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations."

"Recent actions by the Administration have attempted to reduce this free exercise to a "privilege" arbitrarily granted by the government as a mere exemption from an all-encompassing, extreme form of secularism. The exemption is too narrowly defined, because it does not exempt most non-profit religious employers, the religiously affiliated insurer, the self-insured employer, the for-profit religious employer, or other private businesses owned and operated by people who rightly object to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. And because it is instituted only by executive whim, even this unduly narrow exemption can be taken away easily."

"In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our "first freedom" and respect for it must be broad and inclusive-not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is "religious enough" to warrant religious freedom protection."

The Cardinal puts the real issue forward, "This is not just about contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization - although all should recognize the injustices involved in making them part of a universal mandated health care program. It is not about Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. It is about people of faith. This is first and foremost a matter of religious liberty for all."

"If the government can, for example, tell Catholics that they cannot be in the insurance business today without violating their religious convictions, where does it end? This violates the constitutional limits on our government, and the basic rights upon which our country was founded."

It is apparent that President Obama and his administration do not respect fundamental human rights including the Right to life and the Right to Religious Freedom. The Nation we love is slowly devolving into a secularist State.

A legislative response, The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, was introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467) to ensure that all who participate in the health care system "retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions."

Language from this legislation became the "Blunt Amendment" voted on in the Senate on Thursday, March 1, 2011. Unfortunately, the opponents of the Free Exercise of Religion managed to table it by a 51 to 48 vote. Though the vote followed mostly Party line, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, all Democrats, voted with Republicans to defend the Free Exercise of Religion.

Several Federal court challenges have been filed against the unconstitutional mandate, including a recent one filed by the Attorneys General of seven States. I am sure this is only the beginning of similar lawsuits. The strategy behind the lawsuits is intended to ensure a fast track to the United States Supreme Court.

Rallies are already scheduled - with many more to follow. There is talk of a massive March on Washington. This unjust edict - and its defense by the shrill opponents of religious freedom - have unleashed a massive civil resistance movement only in its infancy.What is now eminently clear is that Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will who recognize the real threat to religious freedom, will not back down.  

In addition to the Right to Religious Freedom, what is also at risk is access to Catholic Health Care in the United States for those who need it the most. Make no mistake; the Church will continue to minister healing to the sick because she must. It is at the heart of her mission.However, the current Administration seems "hell bent" on squeezing the Church out of providing health care to millions of Americans who currently receive it at Catholic Institutions.  

In a section entitled "Christ the physician", the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds the faithful that "Christ's compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that "God has visited his people" and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. (Mk. 2:17)

"His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: "I was sick and you visited me." (Mt. 25:36) His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1503)

The Gospel imperative catholics follow is found in these words of Jesus "Heal the Sick". (Matthew 10:8)  The early Christians understood that this call to heal involved the ministry of the Sacraments as well as ministry to the physical needs of those who were ill. That is because the Church proclaims the unity of the human person, body, soul and spirit.

The Catholic Church proclaims the dignity of every human person from conception, through every age and stage up to and including natural death. In those who are sick, Catholics see the very face of Christ. The Church views those who are sick as "the poor" and in caring for them one cares for the Lord Himself who identifies with the poor.

This is the heart of the Catholic understanding of the call to give a love of preference to the poor. Caring for the sick is a part of Church teaching on our obligation in solidarity to one another.  In the middle Ages in Europe, religious communities of both men and women were formed with the mission of carrying on Christ's mandate to "Heal the Sick!"

In the history of the United States of America, from the beginning, Catholic Hospitals existed to care for the sick. The Catholic Church is currently one of the very largest health care providers in the United States of America. If this Administration persists in its iron handed effort to compel the Church to bend the knee to a new Caesar, that service to the Nation is placed in jeopardy.

The excellence of the care provided by Catholic Medical Professionals and health care institutions flows not only from their excellence in training and preparation but from the very reason why the Catholic Church is involved in health care to begin with, fidelity to the Gospel.  Catholic Health care is not simply about business, it is about ministry. It is about love.  Now, because of an unjust edict by a new Caesar, those who need this care the most may not be able to receive it, because of the Obama Administration.

Make no mistake; the Catholic Church will not back down on this. It appears that the Obama Administration wants to remove the vital role of mediating institutions such as the Church in serving the Common Good of society. One must now ask, Why?

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More U.S.

Alabama Supreme Court Recognizes Child in the Womb Has Fundamental Rights

Image of The Alabama Supreme Court

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights encompasses the moment of conception. Legal ... continue reading


Help Make the Story of the Serial Killer/Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Into a Movie Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In 1852, the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was invited to speak on the Fourth of July and delivered the now famous speech entitled What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Here is a stirring quote from that famous speech: 'For it is not light that ... continue reading


Their Eyes Were Opened: Walk With Jesus on the Road to Emmaus Watch

Image of On the Road to Emmaus: In the light of the encounter with the Lord in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened. So it is meant to be with each one of us. The Holy Eucharist is more than a commemoration; it is an invitation into communion with the Living God - right now because Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead and walks with us on the road of life.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We are those disciples on the road to Emmaus, living our lives in the real world, walking along with Jesus who is always there accompanying us on the road, whether we recognize Him or not. He listens to us, and understands us, because he became like us, in "all ... continue reading


Made for Beauty: Liturgy and Music

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

Some might flinch at my use of the word "satisfying" to describe a liturgy, but I used it deliberately because I want to think aloud about the fact that we were made for beauty as much as we were made for goodness and truth.  To be satisfied by the shape, ... continue reading


'COME AND TAKE IT' Texas AG blasts BLM scheming to seize state land, threatens fight Watch

Image of Texans are rallying against the federal government and its habitual overreach.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major land war between the Bureau of Land Management and the state of Texas is brewing as Texas lawmakers push back against the feds plan to seize 90,000 acres of land along the Texas/Oklahoma border. AUSTIN, TEXAS (Catholic Online) - The Bureau of Land Management ... continue reading


SHOCKING NEW TWIST: Autistic boy defends teenage girls who filmed his sexual assault Watch

Image of The parents of the victim are insistent that they want their son's abuser, 17-year-old Lauren A. Bush to be tried as an adult.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abused beyond belief by two teenage girls, who filmed their despicable activities with their cellphones, a 16-year-old autistic boy now says he doesn't want to press charges against them - concerned that it would damage their - "friendship?" LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Time to Live the Easter Way of Life Watch

Image of Easter is more than a Day; it is a way of living our lives in Jesus Christ. Darkness has been scattered by the Light which broke forth from that empty tomb. That Light is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The early Christians lived their lives in the Lord, for the sake of the world. They exhibited a holy boldness; because they internalized the faith they professed and allowed it to transform every aspect of their lives. They experienced the transforming power of ... continue reading


50,000-strong OK Militia declares they will resist federal takeover attempts Watch

Image of The Oklahoma Militia is ready to defend property against unlawful federal seizure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Oklahoma militia which claims the allegiance of 50,000 members has sided with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his recent clash against the feds. Although the standoff appears to be over, and is not likely to resume, the militia says it is ready to defend the rights ... continue reading


BLOODY EASTER WEEKEND IN CHICAGO: Six children shot in widespread violence Watch

Image of Five of the six children wounded, aged from 11 to 15 years, were shot during a drive-by shooting Sunday night.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With 36 people wounded, and nine people dead, it was one of the most violent Easter weekends in Chicago within recent memory. Far more shocking was the fact that six young children were among those injured. Gang violence remains prevalent on Chicago's windy ... continue reading


Militant atheist organization seeks to ban schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance Watch

Image of The AHA says that the line

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An organization of militant atheists is suing a New Jersey school district of discrimination, on the behalf of a family who take offense to the line "Under God," within the Pledge of Allegiance. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The lawsuit against the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter