Archbp. Nienstedt: “A serious threat to religious freedom… radical secularism at its epitome” – ACTION ITEM!

There is an ACTION ITEM below.  I also call on bloggers who are reading this to pick it up.

From His Excellency Most Rev. John Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis in The Catholic Spirit.  My emphases and comments:

A serious threat to religious freedom

September 15, 2011 8:00 am
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

[…] [T]here has arisen a very serious threat to the religious freedom of all religious institutions, especially our Catholic health care programs and Catholic social services, a threat posed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (a Catholic), [I am glad H.E. mentioned this.  She says she is CATHOLIC.] the department is imposing a “preventative services” mandate requiring all private health plans — including ones administered by the church and its agents — to provide coverage for surgical sterilizations, prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA, and “education and counseling” for “all women of reproductive capacity.

Seismic change in approach

Unfortunately, this is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration’s approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant.

It began when President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton started using the term “freedom of worship” as distinct from what we have always known as “freedom of religion.”  [Qui bene distinguit, bene docet.]

Under the concept of “freedom of worship,” church agencies are restricted to hiring employees only from their own denomination and providing services for clients only from their own denomination
.

Such a concept restricts Christian believers in their charitable outreach to society and, in effect, encloses them within their own sanctuaries[Sounds like the usual, liberal “rawlsian” approach: side-line as obstacles all positions which don’t fit in the desired consensus those in power are trying to bring about.]

This is radical secularism at its epitome. It is an affront to the centuries of Christian service offered by churches to clients of all backgrounds, color or creed. And, it is the slippery slope to a completely secularized state wherein people of religious conviction will be required to privatize their beliefs and in doing so, at least for Catholics, render their faith meaningless[Meaningless might be a little strong, but the Christ, the Perfect Communicator, gave the Church a command to communicate in Matthew 28:19: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” We have a faith we practice ad intra and a faith we must practice ad extra.  Furthermore, this ad intra/extra dynamic was an essential goal of the Second Vatican Council.  What is going on here is a secularist effort to marginalize the Church and drive a Catholic voice from the public square.  This will be easier to do the weaker our Catholic identity becomes.  This is why I am constantly ranting about a “Marshall Plan” for the Church.]

Action steps

I highly recommend two steps.  The first is to write Secretary Sebelius (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20201) or your congressional officers to oppose this mandate and to demand that it be rescinded. These letters need to be received before the end of September. [Get that?  END OF SEPTEMBER.]

Secondly, letters should also be sent to federal congressional representatives to support a bill, [NB] the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” (H.R. 1179, S. 1467), that would protect conscience rights in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This legislation is needed even more so in face of HHS’s mandate to require all private institutions to cover contraceptives and sterilizations.

As Cardinal DiNardo, chair of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, wrote last week:

“Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families, their employees or those most in need.  To force such an unacceptable choice would be as much a threat to universal access to health care as it is to freedom of conscience.”

(The cardinal’s letter can be found online HERE).

Lesson from history

The “preventive services” mandate is a significant threat to religious freedom that should put all Catholics on notice that there are many in government and in our culture who will sacrifice long-held and cherished liberties on the altar of so-called reproductive autonomy.

I ask you to join with me today in taking action to preserve our religious freedom and conscience protection.  History reminds us that “evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

This is a time for believers to act and let our representatives in government know that this is an unacceptable course of action!

God bless you!

WDTPRS KUDOS to Archbp. Nienstedt.

He did not flinch from using the word “evil”.

He urged people to WRITE.

Perhaps some readers here will have some language and strategy suggestions.

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27 Responses to Archbp. Nienstedt: “A serious threat to religious freedom… radical secularism at its epitome” – ACTION ITEM!

  1. Clinton says:

    “Such a concept restricts Christian believers in their charitable outreach to society and, in
    effect, encloses them within their own sanctuaries.” This administration would like to
    present the Church with two choices: burn a grain of incense to Caesar and become his willing
    tool, or be put into a ghetto.

  2. anncouper-johnston says:

    That quote is from Edmund Burke, I believe. He was a Catholic, I think 19th century and Irish, and wrote the definitive work on the British Constitution.

    One comment on your post of this article has Dietrich Bonhoeffer as the one who remarked that he had not defended those they came for before they came for him and so when he needed defending there was nobody left. I think it was Martin Niemoeller who said it – I heard the sermon one Rememberence Day. I’ll discover soon, I hope, as I’m reading the biography of Bonhoeffer. Both were members of the Confessing Church, which split from the German Christians (Lutherans who went along with Hitler), and they were both in concentration camps as a result. I have a sneaking feeling there is quite a lot in common between Bonhoeffer and Edith Stein – both felt they were to suffer for their people and from early on felt the shadow of the swastika. The only way to find out is to read!

  3. Papabile says:

    I would like to say that I am surprised by this, but I am not.

    The USCCB worked consistently with groups and organizations opposed to Catholic teachings to advance their goal of “universal” health care. That they withdrew support at the last moment does little to mitigate their moral culpability for this.

    They were warned repeatedly and loudly that this is the path the federal government would go down, and John Carr continually dismissed us. Those who opposed health care reform were called “far right” and our Catholicism was virtually questioned.

    As a Catholic who works on the Hill, it’s hard to swallow the way in which the USCCB advanced a culture of death. (Note: I speak corporately of the USCCB — including their lay employees who often do not share the same values of the Church. I am NOT speaking of or inditing individual Bishops.)

    With this said, I do think it’s important to write to Sebellius and the Congress, however, don’t expect much to get done. We’re already in cycle for 2012 so positions will be set, and even if we pass the bill in the House, it won’t fly in the Senate.

    The Bishops will have to make a choice at some point as to whether there is any fallout on Catholic politicians who consciously advance the culture of death. As long as they do nothing, they will remain ineffectual.

    In any case, their moral position is shot over the Scandal, and the politicians know it.

  4. Titus says:

    Father, an addendum to His Excellency’s suggestion on sending comments: comments sent via mail to Health and Human Services or to Sibelius directly may or may not get routed to the proper place. Comments can more easily be left online at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=IRS-2010-0017-0038 (if you want to mail a comment, you can also find at that link the reference number for the proposed rule: using it will help ensure your letter goes in the right stack). Do note that the online interface has a character limit and may not work properly at first: be sure to copy your comment before clicking “submit” in case the server tries to eat it.

    And Burke wasn’t a Catholic, at least not a practical Catholic (he couldn’t have held a seat in Parliament if he had been). He was simply a just and honest man.

  5. Christine111 says:

    Fr. Z,
    Thanks for highlighting this. You’ll get more people to write by providing a link to send a message to the HHS via e-mail:

    http://www.nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=299

    As the good bishop says, the public comment period ends Sept. 30th, and the HHS is required to take all comments into account before implementing the rule. The more people they hear from, the better.

  6. thecrazedorganist says:

    What would the penalty be for violating said mandate? If it’s a tax like the one proposed for individuals who opt out of Obamacare, perhaps most dioceses would be able to absorb the impact and still provide insurance to their employees. As a diocesan employee with a stay-at-home spouse covered under my benefits package, I would happily take home less money each month to see that happen, as it would most surely be cheaper than trying to insure my family on the individual market (been there, done that). Should the penalty be more severe, I’m struggling to see what a diocese could do, short of making employees half-time and thus ineligible for health insurance coverage to begin with. Such an action would destroy my family’s delicate financial situation, and would undoubtedly destroy that of countless clergy, religious, doctors, teachers, etc…

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    I sent a comment to HHS a while back and because I am a member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul I contacted both local and national leaders of the Society urging them also to speak up (and got no response).

  8. jasoncpetty says:

    The USCCB worked consistently with groups and organizations opposed to Catholic teachings to advance their goal of “universal” health care. That they withdrew support at the last moment does little to mitigate their moral culpability for this.

    Amen.

    Sadly, groups such as the USCCB render all bishops polite and neutral for fear of trespassing on their brothers’ toes in the anything-goes political realm, so all we get from them is a lowest-common denominator element of our Faith, a pablum. We can expect no real opposition to evil from the USCCB. It is only a tool to be used by the powers of the world.

  9. rodin says:

    “Under the concept of ‘freedom of worship,’ church agencies are restricted to hiring employees only from their own denomination and providing services for clients only from their own denomination.”

    It seems to me that this rule would require the Church to engage in “discrimination,” which I have been given to understand is also against the law. Catch 22?

  10. Titus says:

    It seems to me that this rule would require the Church to engage in “discrimination,” which I have been given to understand is also against the law. Catch 22?

    The religious organizations in question have exemptions from religious-discrimination laws. The problem is that the number of organizations that only hire and serve Catholics is really, really small.

  11. Papabile says:

    @rodin

    That’s not the case. Church’s CAN legally discriminate. There’s a carve out for this in the 64 Civil Rights Act.

  12. pablo says:

    “evil triumphs when good people do nothing.”

    Evil makes headway when Cardinals, Bishops Priests and Nuns abandon the Faith.

    We need to stop blaming the politicos for the wreckage done when the Hierarchy abandons ship.

    This woman is obviously the fruit of Springtime.

    Her Catholicism does not come from the Faith of Holy Mother Church, it comes from the smoke of Satan.

    Bishops are having to raise their standards the closer the SSPX gets to being regularized.

    Where were these righteous Bishops during the wreckovation of the Novus Ordo?

    This woman and others like her is the sheep of the Novus Ordo Sheppards.

    *

  13. SegoLily says:

    Evil triumphs when good people vote for a radically pro-abortion politician, the “One”, the congressman who was the lone “Yes!” vote for partial birth abortion in Illinois. From the pulpit in my Catholic parish I heard proclaimations that Obama was a “good man”. I wrote a letter to my pastor and was ignored. A friend wrote a letter to our bishop and was ignored.

    I wrote a letter to Father John Jenkins about the impending honoring of the “One”, and things unfolded as sadly as could imagine whatwith the Notre Dame 9–including the arresting of an 80- something year old priest praying the rosary. In my mind’s eye I can still see the youth of Notre Dame in the stadium cheering wildly in adulation for the “One” as he received his honorary degree .

    Our culture is lost. We, who are called to be counter-cultural are led by bishops who are craven to all progressive mewling. Writing letters might cause the diabolical powers at HHS to be even more draconian in thier dealings with Catholic health care. Yes, they are that wicked.

  14. Tony Layne says:

    “This administration would like to present the Church with two choices: burn a grain of incense to Caesar and become his willing tool, or be put into a ghetto.”

    No real choice, Clinton. We’re to be put into a ghetto whether we burn Caesar’s incense or not. Not only must we not impose our morality on everyone else, we must also forego our own morality once we step out of the legal catacombs Obama, Sebelius et al. are constructing for us.

  15. wanda says:

    The Bishops (USCCB) have a bulletin insert that was supposed to be in every parish bulletin, both last weekend and this coming weekend. It wasn’t in last week’s, I hope it will be inserted this weekend. It urges and has a link by which to contact HHS and voice any objections to items in the HC law.

  16. Luke Whittaker says:

    You have to love a solid Bishop! My correspondence has already been sent to Sebelius.

  17. moon1234 says:

    Sending HHS any kind of letter is worthless. It would be like sending Himler a letter asking him to stop taking people away. It will more than likely put you on some kind of list.

    The ONLY way to stop this is to vote for people in 2012 who have a moral conscience. Maybe think about running yourself.

    For me, Ron Paul is the ONLY guy who can be trusted to get rid of all of the federal crap. Everyone else has skeletons or is just one in the same.

    I also have to agree with the Bishops being culpable. They do NOT speak out when this stuff id going on. I am sick of the get along, be charitable, etc. Tell the TRUTH. Error should NOT be permitted to have equal standing with Truth.

    Lets start USING some of those canons regarding public scandal.

  18. Leonius says:

    So when is this woman going to be officially excommunicated and denied the sacraments then?

  19. ckdexterhaven says:

    The Obama administration is openly anti-Catholic, with leftist Catholic politicians purposely chosen by Obama. But the handwringing has begun by Catholic bloggers (big and small), whining b/c they can’t bring themselves to vote for an imperfect Republican candidate. Yeah, abortion is bad, they say, but” Republicans haven’t done anything on abortion”, “torture”, “social justice”, GAG. Good grief people, Republican presidents have always been Catholic friendly, not to mention (ahem) Constitution friendly. These bloggers aren’t leftist, either. Ugh.

    I’m glad Archbishop Nienstedt came out with this statement, I’ll send something to the HHS for all the good it will do. I wish the bureaucrats at USCCB would have seen this coming.

  20. Kerry says:

    Whether writing or not will do any good is, I think, not the point. The point is to take a stand, “You are doing this and it is wrong!!! And more to the point, you know it is wrong. You are selling your soul for short, political gain. If you claim Catholicism, then act like it. If not, then to what or whom are you bound? It certainly is not Christ and His church, and while you may fool some the people some of the time, a nanosecond after passing, the jig is up Kathleen.”

  21. joanofarcfan says:

    Here is a direct link to the USCCB site regarding this subject:
    http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/index.cfm
    Action must be taken quickly.

  22. Centristian says:

    @pablo:

    “Bishops are having to raise their standards the closer the SSPX gets to being regularized.”

    Really? Could you elaborate on that?

    “Where were these righteous Bishops during the wreckovation of the Novus Ordo?”

    Elementary school and high school, I’m guessing, for the most part.

    “This woman and others like her is the sheep of the Novus Ordo Sheppards[sic].”

    As are you. As am I. As are we all.

    This particular “Novus Ordo Sheppard” is publicly opposing a public evil. Is that unimportant or somehow hypocritical because he’s “Novus Ordo”? How are Bernard Fellay or Donald Sanborn or Terrence Fulham or any of the other “non-Novus Ordo Sheppards” poised to confront this issue? Oh, wait, they don’t run any hospitals or charitable institutions that would be affected, do they? My mistake.

  23. irishgirl says:

    SegoLily,
    ‘Our culture is lost’. You got that right.
    I hear constantly on places like EWTN about ‘transforming / changing the culture’. HOW? WITH WHAT?
    How can we do so, when everything is against us? When evil groups such as Planned Parenthood are swimming in ‘blood money’, while pro-lifers such as Priests For Life constantly send out email messages begging for funds?
    Sometimes I think it’s better just to save your own soul, and to heck with the rest of the world!

  24. Hardnox says:

    We are not finished yet. Americans are a resilient people. Stupid often, but resilient. The pioneer spirit still lives. The 2012 elections will prove it.

    In the meantime, the Church, MUST come out against this administration. This is no time to be passive. The Church waited until the eleventh hour last time and it fell on deaf ears.

    We have 13 months until the next national election. The Church had better get on board. Almost every platform of the left is anti-Christian. It is past time that the Church and its followers defend themselves. The game is for keeps this time. This nation won’t survive four more years of comrade zero and his marxist buddies.

  25. Gail F says:

    I too sent a letter to Sebelius weeks ago — by mail, as I know it’s better to inundate them with REAL mail — and never received even a form letter response. I am going to write again by registered mail.

  26. AvantiBev says:

    Papabile & Pablo: Couldn’t agree more. I am 55 and have watched since a 10 year old girl during the Johnson “Great Society” far too many nuns, priests and bishops cheer on the ever-growing state and federal programs. The USCCB’s support for the final and complete take over of the health care system by the feds in the name of helping the “poor”was predictable and yet, no less disheartening to me. We cannot claim our Bible and Canon Law should be respected while the “compassionate” grasping pols –supported by far too many Catholics since FDR— have disrespected our Constitution. They have used programs of Bread and Circuses to grow and foster a perpetually dependent class; how the %&^*# is that LOVING “the poor”?

    The government will “give” you, their grateful dependents, health care insurance and finally will be the sole dispenser of medical care until you are too old, too unproductive, too whatever, to any longer merit it. Then he who paid the piper will call the tune. It will be your funeral march.