Card. Dolan on Pres. Obama’s attack on YOUR freedom of conscience and the 1st Amendment

Cardinal-To-Be Dolan, Archbishop of New York, had an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal which is worthy of your attention.  Here is an excerpt, the last part with my emphases:


The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are “free”—but it is naïve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there’s no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.

Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.

The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.

This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.

What lies ahead?  I’ll probably be in the cell next to you, Your Eminence.

His point about the double-standard for other religious groups (e.g., Quakers) is very good.

WDTPRS kudos to Card. Dolan.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. eyeclinic says:

    There is another horn to the Cdl.’s “dilemma”- Catholic entities could stop providing insurance directly to employees, and instead provide them with the funds necessary to purchase their own health coverage. This would eliminate government intrusion and allow for Catholic entities to employ anyone of any denomination.

  2. dahveed says:

    I’ll be there, too. Cardinal-to-be Dolan expressed it well, I think.

  3. EXCHIEF says:

    In view of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on a religious organization employment issue I cannot believe this HHS edict will hold up under a SCOTUS challenge…..but someone has to take the matter there. I really hope it is the U S Catholic Bishops who do so.

    I’ve been saying ever since the Marxist was elected that the Roman Catholic Church is potentially his greatest adversary. And he knows it. It is time for battle. St, Michael prepare us and watch over us.

  4. NoTambourines says:

    I hope that an unintended consequence of this assault on religious freedom will be to have the lasting effect of bringing us closer to our bishops and encouraging Catholics to support them in prayer.

    The mention of “the intentions of our bishops” in the Daily Offering has taken on a whole new meaning in recent days.

  5. Dennis Martin says:

    While I applaud the bishops and priests urging the faithful to write letters to congressmen and other means of electoral politics, public opinion influencing etc., I think it would be a fatal error for their collective excellencies not to seize this opportunity to ask who we got into this mess.

    And I would suggest it’s largely because the shepherds have not taken subsidiarity seriously enough and ignored the grassroots movement ignited by Roe v Wade. When the Catholic comfortable old slippers Democrat party began to embrace anti-Catholic positions in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the people on the ground, in the pews understood what was happening and gravitated toward the only party that welcomed them, the bishops largely ignored this and kept on uncritically, blithely backing the vast expansion of the federal goverment that began with that Texas con-artist named Lyndon Johnson.

    The root of our problem, as that Irish Catholic Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan pointed out years ago is the idolization of the central government and its unelected bureaucracy. We are very, very close to the point where electoral politics will become meaningless. Anyone paying attention can see a deliberate effort by the present administration to entrench its policies within the bureaucracy. Obamacare itself, like many other recent legislative texts, abdicated the legislative branch’s authority: legislation today is written as a general shell authorizing implementation at the discretion of bureaucrats, giving blank checks to the bureaucrats.

    All of this should have warned the bishops, but instead they backed Obamacare except for its pro-abortion aspects. That was a terrible mistake because quiet apart from the con-game Obama played with pro-life Democrat congresspeople, the whole thrust of the bill was to give authority on these issues to HHS and other bureaucracies.

    The bishops need to get serious about subsidiarity. That means weaning Catholic Charities and hospitals etc. off the federal government breast. That means a sea-change among the professionals who do the Church’s lobbying. We need people in those positions whose first allegiance is to subsidiarity and who can then translate that basis into specifics for legislation.

    Yes, these HHS draconian rulings need to be overturned in Congress and the Courts. Yes, it’s about free exercise of religion.

    But if the trend toward governement by unelected bureaucrats and judges continues, the Kulturkampf will only heat up. The pool from which the bureaucrats and judges is drawn is manifestly anti-Catholic and anti-life. That’s a trend of three generations, at least. Obama has squirreled away in the DOJ a whole generation of his statist lawyers under civil service protection, so that even with a huge electoral reversal in November, much of his sinister program will remain in place.

    The bishops need to wake up to this. It’s not your grandfather’s Democrat party. Nor is it your grandfather’s Republican party. Half of the latter is just as bureaucratic power hungry and statist as the Democrats but one half of the Republican party goes back to the spurt of subsidiarity politics by CATHOLIC LAY PEOPLE in the wake of Roe v Wade. (Then there’s the Libertarian half of the Republican party, which is not very friendly to us as Catholics but that’s for another day’s discussion.)

    The Church will lose Her liberty if we don’t begin to take subsidiarity more seriously.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    I know that in speaking about freedom of conscience, this would be political suicide, but I think that His Eminence needs to promote the idea that the freedom of which he speaks is found in adherence to the Catholic Church.

    As a Catholic, I don’t exercise my freedom of conscience because of my citizenship in the USA, but rather I exercise my freedom of conscience because I adhere to the Truth of the Church, then and only then apply it to my secular life. As I’ve said before, I am a Catholic in America, not an American Catholic. It isn’t my citizenship which frees my conscience, but rather it is my assenting of my will to the Truth of the Church which does so. What do I mean? I would say the same thing if I were South African, or if I were Japanese, or if I were British, or if I were Italian.

    I think that if the bishops catechize the Church (and various ecclesial communions) we would be much better served. But I also realize that it would be political suicide to do so. As it is, it certainly seems that our freedom of conscience is couched in terms of our citizenship first, then our membership in the Church and I think it should be vice versa.

  7. Vincentius says:

    When dealing with a deranged ideologue one must be Winston Churchill and not Neville Cahmberlain

  8. kjmacarthur says:

    One thing I have never understood: whenever some of the bishops expressed support for nationalized health care, did any of them (or their bureaucratic operatives) think about the possibility of establishing a private health insurance company, under the auspices of the bishops, that would cover Catholics nationwide? The only requirement for membership would be that one be a registered member of a parish. There are about 68 million Catholics in the USA. Though I know next to nothing about the insurance business, I would think the size of the pool would make this economically viable. Can someone who knows more than I do about this business explain why this is a bad idea?

  9. Bryan Boyle says:

    Mr. Martin: eloquent. Thank you.

  10. pvmkmyer says:

    Well put, Mr. Martin. I would add that it is ironic that the bishops are issuing a “call to arms” on the very issue they chose to ignore for so many years, the rampant ignoring of the teachings of the Church on artificial contraception, and all the evils this has led to in society. Pope Paul, in Humanae Vitae, was a prophet. Every prediction he made about the evils to come in society from the rampant use of contraception has come true.

  11. SonofMonica says:

    Father Z, if Cardinal-designate Dolan is in cell block 1 and you’re in number 2, I will do my best to be in cell block 3.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,
    I can make a pie and put a blowtorch and saw inside and bring it to the prison. Then, I shall wait for you both outside in a black and white Mini, a la The Italian Job.

  13. Maggie says:

    I heard that +Abp. Chaput once told his Denver staff, “I will die comfortably in my bed. My successor with die in a jail cell. His successor will die a martyr.”

    And we’ll be right there with him. St. Michael, fight for us!

  14. Christine says:

    Maggie I think that it was Francis Cardinal George. It is a very powerful quote.

  15. Ed the Roman says:


    I don’t know about the torch, but baking the gas cylinder will end badly. ;-)

  16. jhayes says:

    Cardinal Dolan is quoted as saying: “The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that.”

    From what I have read, the law does not exempt Amish or Christian Science employers from providing health insurance for their employees. The exemption is limited to individuals.

  17. JP Borberg says:

    Does anyone know anywhere where there is a good, concise summery of what this new law is, how it’s coercive, who it affects and how it forces them to do stuff.

    I’m not American, so I don’t even know how the current system works (or doesn’t). However, in discussing this with some Americans I know, I’ve been told such things as:
    1/. Providing health insurance is optional for employers. They are offered tax breaks if they do, so if you object to the health care you can just not offer insurance and accept the higher taxes.
    2/. That employers who are Catholic already have to pay for contraceptives, this change is only extending the current practice to businesses run by the Church itself.
    3/. That employers from other religions (such as the Jehovah’s Witness, who don’t do blood transfusions) still have to fork out for insurance they don’t agree with, so this new law is just treating everyone equally.

    Now, I don’t know how much of that is true. So is does anyone know of anywhere on the new that will briefly explain (in layman’s terms) how the insurance thing works in the States and how this new law is supposed to be coercive.


  18. ContraMundum says:

    @Ed the Roman

    I’m sure she was thinking a no-bake chocolate pie.

    Better make it extra deep-dish!

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    Ed the Roman,

    A Key Lime pie would not need to be baked.
    Unless you put in a lot of those little mini-cylinders, it would have to be a suspiciously large pie, though.

  20. Maggie says:

    Christine, you’re right, it was Cardinal George. Thanks for the correction.
    Regardless, we need to be prepared for martyrdom- white or red.

  21. amenamen says:

    Dennis Martin:

    It’s not your grandfather’s political party. You are right about that.

    I have often puzzled how some Catholics can rationalize voting for pro-abortion politicians on the basis that their grandfathers would never have voted for the other party, blithely passing over the fact that their grandfathers would never have voted for a pro-abortion politician either.

    Would they?

  22. Lurker 59 says:

    I’ve noticed a problem in the way some of the bishops are phrasing their statements. Several of them are structuring the opposition to the HHS mandate as being religious in nature, as if being against contraception is a religious position of the Church. This is playing into the hands of the Administration which wants to privatize religious belief and thus remove religious beliefs from having any influence on the public and “common” good. Our bishops need to stress that opposition to the HHS mandate is because Catholics oppose contraception as being against the Natural Law not because it is a private belief that is only applicable members of the Catholic Church. Bishops need to stress that being against contraception is to support universal truths and the common good not to support private religious beliefs and private goods.
    If the bishops can get this turned around and get an exemption for the Church as a private institution because of religious beliefs, this won’t be a win because opposition to contraception will have been again normalized as a private position. It is not at all equivalent to suggest that the Catholic position on contraception is the same as the Christian Scientist view on healing by prayer alone. This is a tactical mistake on the part of Card. Dolan. The Christian Scientist view is not understood as anything other than a private religious belief applicable only to those of the belief system. The Catholic position on contraception is that contraception is an intrinsic evil and if the State wishes to promote the common good it must eliminate access to contraceptive products through its laws. I also highly doubt that Card. Dolan is actually supportive of allowing Christian Scientists to withhold basic medical care to dying people as that is quite contrary to the social teaching of the Church.
    The State cannot force private religious institutions to believe or act against private religious norms but it can force private religious intuitions to act according to the common good. For example, the State can and has forced Christian Scientist to provide medical care for gravely ill children. If being against contraception is understood as a private religious opinion but access to contraceptive products is considered to be a public and common good, it is then only a matter of time before the exemption is removed in the name of the common good.
    Contraception is very much viewed as promoting reproductive health by the majority of people. Thus access to contraception through insurance is seen as promoting the common good. If our bishops fight this HHS mandate on the terms of being against contraception as a religious, and thus private, position, they will lose this battle, as it will be viewed by the majority of people as the Church’s private position being against the common good. This might be tolerated for a while, but it won’t last.

  23. St. Epaphras says:

    Just something to give a minute’s thought to –

    Not only Amish but also conservative Mennonites and various other Anabaptist groups do not allow their members to carry any type insurance unless it is absolutely required by law and there is no option given for another way to “cover” themselves or their property. BUT –

    *They take care of one another.* They put their money where their mouth is.

    They function as a group within the brotherhood. When someone has medical expenses beyond his ability to pay (and they tend to have lots of cash because they don’t spend it) then the others dig deep in their pockets and they cover those bills! One or two brothers go to the hospital or doctors and offer to settle, and they talk. A price, usually lower than the actual bill, is agreed on, offerings are taken up and everything gets paid.

    I know this because I had a lengthy hospital stay with emergency surgery and several complications, a second surgery, etc., etc. and it was all paid. The astronomical bills of a burn victim were taken care of. Many other large bills were paid by all of us pitching in.

    So if you are Mennonite you can have all the medical care you need without health insurance by paying cash right then and there, saving your money all year long, and then relying on the brotherhood for those huge bills that are truly beyond your means. The hospitals and doctors would treat them gladly because they knew they would always pay their bills. The conservative Mennonites have excellent reputations that way.

    I only say this because as a fairly recent convert I see the Catholic view is different. Yes, we need insurance because we aren’t functioning as a community the way the Anabaptists do. Their lifestyle is good, very good. (Their doctrine, however … ;-))

    Anyhow, it’s a whole new way of looking at the members of one’s “church” (change that to “parish”) or conference (think “diocese”). It could be done with non-Anabaptists.

    A couple of benefits: No money is spent until actually needed. And absolutely no government benefits are accepted, not even for the schools. They know they would be giving control to the State if they took their benefits.

    No, I don’t want to go back there. Would rather be Catholic on my worst day ever then anything else, no matter what!

  24. Dennis Martin says:

    Please, everyone: under “birth control” and “contraception” they include anything that destroys an embryo before implantation. We have to be aware of their tactics here. They want to shift as much as possible to chemical abortions. And one way to do that is to talk incessantly of “preventative services” and “birth control” and “contraception.” To them, to prevent an embryo from implanting is birth control and contra-ception.

    As long as the regulations are couched in contraception and birth control language, a lot of people not paying much attention will be lulled into thinking this has only to do with the now nearly uniquely Catholic position against contraception.

    So yes, I second the urging not to make this a case of religious opposition and freedom of religious expression so much as a question of moral opposition and conscience. And we must constantly repeat to those who don’t realize that this is as much about abortion as it is about “birth control.” And of course, the natural law case against abortion (taking innocent human life) is more readily made, with most people than the natural law case against contraception. We dare not let this become an argument over birth control.

  25. jhayes says:

    I hope the bishops will avoid repeating this fiasco:

    After fighting against the passage of a new state law requiring hospitals to provide the “emergency contraceptive” Plan B pill to rape victims, the Catholic bishops of Connecticut have announced that Catholic hospitals will comply with the law when it goes into effect next week.

    The Connecticut bishops had lobbied energetically against the legislation, pointing out that the Plan B pill can cause abortion if a woman has conceived when the drug is administered. In a May 2007 letter to Governor Jodi Rell, pleading for a veto of the bill passed by the state legislature, the Connecticut bishops noted that the pill “can only act as an abortifacient” if conception has taken place.

    Proponents of the Plan B protocol argue that the drug does not cause an abortion. That argument is based on the premise that pregnancy does not begin until the fertilized ovum is implanted in the mother’s womb; the “emergency contraceptive” prevents that implantation, causing the destruction of the embryo.

    In their May appeal to the governor, the heads of the three Connecticut dioceses- Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford and Bishops William Lori of Bridgeport and Michael Cote of Norwich- said that the proposed legislation would cause a “direct opposition to our religious belief that life begins at the moment of conception and as such is a serious violation of a basic tenet of the Catholic faith.” Governor Rell signed the bill into law despite the bishops’ pleas.

    On September 28, however, the bishops joined with the heads of Connecticut’s Catholic hospitals in announcing that the institutions would comply with the law. Barry Feldman, a spokesman for the Connecticut Catholic Conference, explained that the bishops had undergone “an evolution in thinking.”

    Report comment

  26. Penguins Hockey Fan says:

    I have said it before. My inspiration is Pelayo, Queen Isabel the Catholic and King John Sobieski.

    For far too long, the USCCB has been the Democrat Party at prayer. The leadership of the Democrat Party is inherently anti-Catholic and has been for more than two generations. So-called “Catholics” who serve this “party” are akin to the priests, bishops and lay people who fell in line with Henry Tudor. Oh, anything to expand the welfare state and help the poor! – the bishops have supported it. What a load.

    The real answer to the question is that we have done this to ourselves as Americans. We Americans elect the same bunch of crooks and shnooks. This has been the most blessed and bountiful country in the world and we have squandered our wealth, our morals and our sanity.
    God must be angry with this nation and has chosen a period of chastisement, and He has permitted our foolish pride to be our downfall.

    Obumbler has provided us Catholics with a wake up call. Some Catholics don’t get it and never will. Maybe there is enough time to turn things around. If not, my wife and sons are headed to Colombia and I will pull a Pelayo. The Left can be quite evil, but they are, without fail, stupid – and that will be their downfall.

  27. NoTambourines says:

    Lurker59 cautioned:

    “Several of them are structuring the opposition to the HHS mandate as being religious in nature, as if being against contraception is a religious position of the Church. This is playing into the hands of the Administration which wants to privatize religious belief …”

    I think one of the ways to address that, as I did in my letter to my congressman and senators, was to highlight the difference between freedom of religion and freedom of worship, as Fr. Z has recently mentioned as well.

    “Freedom of worship” without freedom of religion is the privatization of religion and a denial of its institutional integrity. It means I can carry out my religious duties and hold my personal opinions and beliefs, but privately, like they were something quaint and silly at best, and naughty and shameful at worst.

    We need freedom of religion to protect religious institutions from government coercion to cooperate in evil, and from governmental veto power over religious teachings.

    So I implored my legislators to defend freedom of religion, and thus, to uphold and defend the Constitution.

  28. rcg says:

    Can the Bishops ask all Catholics to take one day off, the same day. Would be nice to have a special mass that day, too. Would either show our solidarity or same the bishops a lot time.

  29. Joseph-Mary says:

    Michael Voris has an interesting take on all this “call to arms” in that the bishops are going to find they may not have an army. Decades of winking at the Church teaching against contraception has meant that Catholics contracept about the same as anyone. Have you not noticed that your parish is peopled with families with only the politically correct two children? My pastor said that contraception was a ‘matter of conscience’ but almost no one was going to confession and so many consciences were comfortably dead and the sterilizations came after the planned second child.

    Many Catholics favor contraception. They do not understand about the abortifacient sneakiness. And they may not even care.

  30. MarkJ says:

    Bishops and priests need to speak out loudly and clearly and inform their flocks that contraception is a mortal sin. Until they do that, as Michael Voris said, they will have no army to back them up.

  31. bertb says:

    Need we be reminded that in 2008 there was a flurry of enthusiasm within the Catholic electorate for candidate Obama? The mantra of “Hope and Change” permeated the halls of numerous Catholic institutions convincing all that Mr. Obama was the answer to our social ills. The historic implication of a “President Obama” clouded many a Catholic voter’s judgement.
    The result? Over 50% of Catholics voting for the most pro-abortion chief executive in our nation’s history. Not to be outdone, the Obama administration is confident of a “rerun” of Catholic support in 2012, they dismiss the USCCB protests on freedom of conscience as merely a short term “bump in the road.”
    It is clear now more than ever, the Church is under attack from a secular government that ignores the Constitution and disregards the basic tenants of our faith.
    The answer? Prayer, first and foremost. Constant prayer to our Lord at every church, parish, and diocese for His deliverance of strength in combating this evil. Second, a constant awareness of the Obama administration’s relentless attack on the sanctity of life through frequent communication from the Bishops to the faithful. Only then will every Catholic be properly informed of Obama’s true intent in promoting a “culture of death.”

  32. Gretchen says:

    I cannot say whether the bishops have been naive or not. However, I do agree that persecution is coming. We ought to be prepared to stand with our clergy, and to shelter them, if possible. The Obama administration has gone to war with the Catholics.

    History, however, is not on his side. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” (Tertullian)

  33. Captain Peabody says:

    The bishops seem ready for a fight. Good for them. The real question here is if the laity will be with them.

    As to that, I just don’t know. I think a lot of Catholics have been very comfortable with the American mainstream, very comfortable with the world, for a very long time; but certainly, if they’re ever going to wake up and realize the cracks in the facade, now would be the time.

    If they do, if even a sizeable minority of Catholic Americans stand up and take action, then the world had better watch out.

    I think prayer is in order.

  34. ByzCath08 says:

    Letter from Most Reverend Gerald Dino, Bishop, Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix that will be read to the faithful on Sunday.

    Bishop Dino Letter

  35. Just 2 words: Humanae Vitae.

    When the priests, bishops, and theologians rebelled against the Pope on contraception, it started the avalanche that has destroyed the credibility of the bishops of the US. They have put their money on supporting illegal immigration, promoting hippy-dippy Masses, and dissent for so long that no one listens to them anymore. The liberals don’t listen because they are “part of the establishment” and use the sex scandals as an excuse to be able to justify any of their own mortal sin, and the orthodox don’t listen because they have not followed the Pope and the Catechism so many times in the past. I fear it is too late for them to have much of a say in our current political issues.

    I hate Obamacare and its stripping of our freedoms as much as anyone, but who really believes that even if all the bishops protest in front of Congress that one “Catholic INO” politician will listen?

  36. Dennis Martin says:

    I repeat:
    If you do that you lose the battle before it starts. This has been carefully conceived as a tactic: put abortion under the label of “contraception” (justified by “no pregnancy until implantation falsehood) and even those whose ears would otherwise perk up will think, “that’s a stick-in-the-mud Catholic issue, not my issue.”

    When you hear the word “contraception,” from now on you have to think “abortion.” Our enemies have successfully changed the language and have not been called on it. If we don’t get it through our heads that they have changed the language it will be like fighting the next war with weapons from two wars ago.

    It was a mistake, in the first place, years ago to make abortion the greater of the two evils in Catholic minds because in fact, all our problems arise from separating sex from procreation, i.e., from contraception. But that’s what happened. In the interest of keeping Protestant pro-life allies with us, we focused on abortion and contraception became that “silly Catholic thing.” And of course, by not focusing on contraception as prior to abortion, we also enabled Catholics to more easily ignore and defy Humanae Vitae.

    Now those chickens are coming home to roost, to quote our president’s favorite theologian.

    They have used the supposedly “innocuous” contraception to bring abortion out of the clinics and on to drugstore shelves. And therefore made it something that could “reasonably” be required of health insurance providers. After all, it’s only a drug. And after all, it’s only contraception.

  37. Dennis Martin says:

    I should add, not only in the interest of keeping Protestant pro-life allies with us but in the interest of having an easier “sale” to make to Catholics: abortion is the evil taking of innocent human life. Let’s preach on that, it’s more likely to persuade people. Why contraception is bad, well, that’s a harder sell and might get in the way of getting as many Catholics as possible on board against abortion. Short-term, it worked. Even relatively liberal Catholics stay loyally pro-life as long as they are permitted by a wink and a nod to go soft on contraception.

    But the root of the problem has always been the separating of sex from procreation. Repeat after me: the root of the problem is separating sex from procreation. Write it on the blackboard 350 times. This is our fundamental problem. But the horses are out of the barnyard now. Far too many people, Catholics included, have simply learned to take that separation for granted.

    And that is what will doom us, unless we can reverse it.

  38. Dennis Martin says:

    Catherine Collins:

    One thing we should all keep in mind is that the US bishops were preparing to take a strong stand against Charles Curran and the 1968 Humanae Vitae rebels but the Vatican pulled the rug out from under them. There’s an article in the Catholic Historical Review about 8-10 years ago detailing from archives how Cardinal Boyle (?) received word, as the bishops’ doctrinal committee prepared to come down on Curran, that such a hardline approach would not find support in Rome. At that point, the US bishops folded their tent and went home.

  39. Dennis Martin says:

    To Gretchen and others and with regard to Bishop Dino’s letter:

    I’m quite confident that an outpouring of protest from the Catholic faithful will take place and that the regulations will be altered. And then we all declare victory and go home.

    That’s the problem, as I pointed out upthread, the political problem here is the overwhelming growth of centralized bureaucratic power which has been going on for 80 years and has been backed by most Catholics, including most Catholic bishops.

    They’ll modify these regulations enough to get us to simmer down. Unless we get it through our heads that Obamacare itself is the problem because it gives power to HHS to make regulations like this and give the regulations the force of law we will be right back at this same situation 5 years from now with a new set of HHS regulations.

    Subsidiarity forever. Vote for congressmen and governors and school board members who understand the problem and believe in subsidiarity (“limited government,” “tenth amendment” etc.) with all their heart. If we don’t reverse course on that issue, then, yes, a real, brutal Kulturkampf is inevitable.

    The approach of “hey, we’ve got a big power bloc in all those Catholic voters, they’ll flood Washington with letters and then we’ll negotiate with HHS to change Regs X and Y and C but leave Regs B and D and M intact and leave the regulation-power, and thus Obamacare, intact” is the way Elite Rulers both Ecclesiastical and Political think: “hey, we can make a deal, can’t we?” Connecticut bishops as Exhibit A in one of the comments above.

    That approach will end in disaster for us.

    Subsidiarity and the Tenth Amendment forever!

  40. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Off-topic, but I have to respond to remarks about fellow congregants in the pew with only two children:

    It is one thing to be concerned about the dwindling birthrates among non-immigrant U.S. Catholics, in general. It is another matter to point the finger – even inside one’s own head – at a particular family or at a particular collection of families one happens to encounter in church one day.

    A stranger can hardly be in a position to know the age, medical history, and gynecological condition of their victims. Did you know that after they reach their early 30s, many women (not all) experience a significant drop in fertility: if she married later in life, the woman you point your finger at may be one of those who encountered infertility after giving birth to only one or two children. Furthermore, she and her husband may have prayed about what to do next and may already have added their names to a waiting list to adopt. Some couples, especially those who are approaching middle age, although open to life, may have had no children at all. Having resigned themselves to the Providence of God, they may be content with His decision, and upon consultation with their pastor, such couples may choose to forego pursuing other means of bringing children into their homes, but to devote themselves to God’s service in ways other than raising a family.

    And some couples may have only two or three children with them that day, while another one or two or more are at home with Granny or Auntie.

    You just never know when you attempt to judge a particular case.

  41. Dan says:

    JP Borberg,

    Here’s my best shot at a concise legal summary of the issue. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA,” aka “Obamacare”) regulates the national health insurance market by directly regulating group health plans and health insurance issuers. One of the provisions of the act mandates that health plans provide coverage without cost sharing for women’s preventive care, and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine what services are to be covered under the mandate. The Secretary (Kathleen Sebelius) has determined that all FDA-approved contraceptives (including the “morning after pill”) fall within this category of “preventive care.” Hence, health insurance plans will be required to purchase these items for their employees.

    The only way to challenge a facially neutral, generally applicable government regulation that burdens religious exercise is through the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq. (2006). The act provides a cause of action (aka, reason to sue in court) for plaintiffs who can show that their sincere religious exercise has been burdened by such a government regulation. As defined by the Supreme Court, that would include changing one’s religion-based policies (aka, refusing to offer contraception) in order to avoid government pressure. So long as a plaintiff can demonstrate that, the government has the burden to show two things:

    1) The regulation/law at issue furthers a compelling state interest. This must be one “of the highest order.” Additionally, the Supreme Court has held that a regulation cannot be furthering a “compelling interest” if it leaves appreciable holes in the proposed regulatory scheme. Here, the PPACA grants an exemption to all employers who employ less than 50 full time employees. It also exempts grandfathered health plans from the mandate (any health plan that existed on March 23, 2010). So, tens of millions of Americans will be exempted from this new law. Accordingly, it will be very difficult for the government to prove that forcing Catholic istitutions to cover contraceptives furthers the state’s interest in any appreciable way, since so many are already exempted. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that this “compelling interest” analysis be tailored to the circumstances of each specific plaintiff. Hence, it will not be enough for the administration to argue that “we need to regulate Catholic institutions so ALL women get contraceptives.” Instead, they must show how specifically regulating St. Mary’s Hospital in Anyplace, USA will further their interest. This is a VERY demanding standard. And it is mande all the more demanding by the fact that so many institutions are already exempted from the law.

    2) The government must show that the regulation at issue furthers the state’s interest in the least restrictive way possible. In First Amendment terms, that means that the law must be “substantivly neutral” toward religion – i.e., in its effect, the law neither confers neither a benefit nor a burden on religious exercise. Here, the narrow exemption for “religious employers” (which only covers “churches” in the strict sense of the word) is so narrowly tailored that it excludes countless Church hospitals, schools, and charities. Because the Supreme Court has recognized these communal activities and organizations as being protected under the free exercise clause, it will again be difficult for the governemnt to show that burdening these institution’s constitutionally protected religious exercise was the “least restrictive” means to accomplishing the state’s goal.

    Provided these things can be shown, individual plaintiffs may receive an exemption from the law. However, to receive an exemption each specific Catholic hospital, school, or charity that wants one will have to file suit in federal district court under the RFRA. This will be costly and time consuming for both the church and the state.

    Nevertheless, the administration will defend these claims in order to prove a point- and will use our tax dollars to do so. Legally speaking, this is an arrogant, baseless attempt to impose a secular ideology on religious institutions. Regardless of what Americans believe about contraception, they should all agree that government regulation of religion is one of the basic principles our Constitution was designed to avoid.

    I hope this helps!

  42. JP Borberg says:

    Thanks Dan.

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