Archbp. Chaput: Pres. Obama’s “deep distaste for religion’s moral influence”

The Archbishop of Philadelphia, Most Rev. Charles Chaput, has a good opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Pres. Obama’s modifications of his attack on the 1st Amendment (“Plan B”).  Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt from the end:


The current administration prides itself on being measured and deliberate.

The current HHS mandate needs to be understood as exactly that. Commentators are using words like “gaffe,” “ill conceived,” and “mistake” to describe the mandate. They’re wrong.

It’s impossible to see this regulation as some happenstance policy. It has been too long in the making.

Despite all of its public apprehension about “culture warriors” on the political right in the past, the current administration has created an HHS mandate that is the embodiment of culture war. At its heart is a seemingly deep distrust of the formative role religious faith has on personal and social conduct, and a deep distaste for religion’s moral influence on public affairs. To say that this view is contrary to the Founders’ thinking and the record of American history would be an understatement.

Critics may characterize my words here as partisan or political. These are my personal views, and of course people are free to disagree. But it is this administration – not Catholic ministries, or institutions, or bishops – that chose the timing and nature of the fight. The onus is entirely on the White House, which also has the power to remove the issue from public conflict.

Catholics should not be misled into accepting feeble compromises on issues of principle. The HHS mandate is bad law; and not merely bad, but dangerous and insulting. It needs to be withdrawn – now.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. pm125 says:

    Thank you, Archbishop Charles Chaput.

  2. dep says:

    Perfectly put, every sentence, word, period, comma, paragraph, and inflection.

    Let it be read aloud, far and wide, and from it may outrage spring.

  3. Henry Belton says:

    A great leader for the Church.

  4. irishgirl says:

    Bravo, Your Excellency! Don’t let up! Keep firing those salvoes across the bow!

  5. John V says:

    Interesting side note: The Catholic Health Association Annual Assembly, which they bill as “the premier gathering of Catholic health care leaders”, is scheduled for June 3-5 in Philadelphia.

  6. Legisperitus says:

    He’s hit the nail on the head. We should take a lesson from how quickly the POTUS threw his “spiritual mentor” Jeremiah Wright under the bus when he got in the way of his political ambitions.

  7. PostCatholic says:

    I don’t think the President has a “deep distaste for religion’s moral influence” on public policy. I think he has a deep distaste for yours, or perhaps like most Americans, a deep distaste for Catholic bishops.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Bravo, and this great man is on record for a call to the Catholic Church Militant:

    The Archbishop is our best spokesman on these issues, I think.

  9. NoTambourines says:

    Obama slipped early on with his remark about angry Americans “clinging to guns and religion.” Translation: if your religious convictions disagree with elite liberal opinion and you still dare to be influenced by them in public life and not limit your religion to discreet, shameful practice among consenting adults with the curtains drawn, you must be a slack-jawed yokel.

  10. Bryan Boyle says:

    NoTambourines: That’s what I’m clinging to here in the Commonwealth of PA. Because, in the fight that is forming, that may all that stands in between the forces of evil and freedom.

  11. Scott W. says:

    “I don’t think the President has a “deep distaste for religion’s moral influence” on public policy. I think he has a deep distaste for yours, or perhaps like most Americans, a deep distaste for Catholic bishops.”

    I think you are right in the sense that he has a distaste for any religion that isn’t kept between the ears alone. As far as the existence of a widespread distaste of American bishops, perhaps, but I think there is some self-interested concession for those with the distaste. That is, if Obama manages to strong-arm Catholics, who’s to say they’re not next? I reminds me of the politicians of Ireland puffing up their chests about forcing priests to reveal crimes told to them in Confession. Nothing has come of that and I doubt it will because of the deadly precedent it has for lawyer-client confidentiality, doctor-patient, etc.

  12. Joseph-Mary says:

    I do not think all these machinations of the government were done by mistake but agree that it is a well calculated chess move. And there are other moves planned.

    I heard something like night: how do you know when the man in the white house is lying? When his mouth is open.

    We need an army of Archbishop Chaputs and they need to be willing to put their own selves on the line because if the evil agenda is re-elected, there will be fines and jail time….in the beginning.

  13. wmeyer says:

    “We need an army of Archbishop Chaputs”

    Yes, we do! The man is a hero already. I pray that all our bishops will follow his lead.

  14. pattif says:

    Not only is Archbishop Chaput absolutely right as seeing this as part of a carefully planned strategy, Joseph-Mary’s chess analogy is spot on. From the moment when the White House began touting Sr Keehan’s “pleased and grateful” statement in response to the adjustment, even before the President stood up to articulate it, it has been clear that Obama is thinking three or four moves ahead.

    It may be that Obama didn’t anticipate the near-unanimity of the bishops, or the extent to which his Catholic cheerleaders would line up with them; nevertheless, I think he is on a mission to isolate those bishops and anyone else who will continue to defend the First Amendment rights of Catholics. His whole game plan now (which is merely a refinement of something borrowed from the Tony Blair playbook) is to appeal to those Catholics who are either susceptible to blandishments issuing forth from the Oval Office or who are simply inclined to go along in order to get along. The bishops will increasingly be portrayed as right-wing nutters who don’t care about women, and who lack the skills to reach some pragmatic accommodation with the Administration that has done its best to be reasonable. Since no one could wish to be associated with a bunch of unreasonable right wing nutters who don’t care about women, the expectation is that the backing the bishops currently enjoy will gradually be eroded and, as the issue is increasingly seen to be one of contraceptive rights rather than respect for the Constitution, those Catholics who voted for Obama last time will feel they can give themselves permission to do so again.

    The next stage is absolutely crucial.

  15. Traductora says:

    Pattif is absolutely right. I read (soon to be) Cdl Dolan’s remarks and I was very disappointed, because they addressed only the broken promise to the Church that was apparently made in November during a phone call from Obama to Dolan.

    The point is that the law itself is unjust, it completely usurps the private sphere (aka, conscience) of every individual human life in the US, and it yields total control to the US government.

    Chaput understands that. And there are other people of good will who understand this – not only some Protestants, but some Jews and a suprisingly large number of atheist/agnostic individuals.

    We have got to stop couching our opposition only in Catholic terms. The Church part is what the bishops have got to do…that is, publicly excommunicate and suppress people like “Sister” Keehan, Nancy Pelosi and Fr Jenkins, who are opposing the Church while at the same time presenting themselves as its true representatives…and being proclaimed as such by Obama and the press. Only the bishops can confront them. We laity and non-episcopal clergy can support the bishops, but only they can actually do it.

    Natural Law is the foundation of the US constitution, and everyone, Christian or not, implicitly recognizes it. It is also the foundation of Church law and in fact the concept was disseminated by the Church. Obamacare is an affront to the concept of Natural Law and the concept of the rights that are revealed by it.

  16. JMody says:

    Herbert Lom, in one of the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies offers this immortal line as his anti-Clouseau nervous twitching starts to manifest itself:

    “Give me ten men like Clouseau, and … and … and I can destroy the world!”

    We see here an example of the inverse or converse of that situation — with ten men like this Archbishop, we can stem this tide. Maybe we won’t destroy the world, or rule it, or convert it. But we just might turn this ship around …

  17. pattif says:

    To be fair, I thought Cardinal-designate Dolan was pretty robust in his interview with Fr Groeschel last night. I hope you in the US appreciate how lucky you are to have him.

  18. Sandy says:

    I want to stand up and cheer when I hear about a holy bishop such as this one who is truly Catholic and heroic! Here’s a link for another awesome comment by a bishop, reminding these politicians (pro-abort catholics) that there is a last judgment

  19. tcreek says:

    To hear the truth about Catholic teaching listen to Michael Voris. The bishops, including the above, have had 50 years to preach the truth and have failed.

  20. Scott W. says:

    tcreek, et al I think you would appreciate the blog Throne and Altar:



    Catholic institutions shouldn’t have to pay for their employees’ contraceptives because it goes against our consciences, and we should have religious freedom not to have to violate our consciences.


    Contraception is evil. It desecrates the marital bond, offends against chastity, and is a menace to public morals. It is reprehensible to engage in contraceptive acts or to cooperate in them in any way. This is a matter of natural law; it has nothing to do with religion. Public bodies should not be promoting or enabling this sin. Neither Holy Mother Church, nor any other group, religious or secular, nor any individual should be forced by government to divulge funds for such wicked purposes.

    The first message, the wrong one, can be translated as follows:

    We Catholics have this weird idea that contraception is bad. We have no reason for this belief. Don’t look at us, man; it’s the old man in Rome. He made up this rule and the rest of us are stuck with it. It’s like the Jews and pork–a ‘religion’ thing. However, even though poor, poor women (Who cares about men, after all?) are going to, like die, or whatever it is that happens to chicks who don’t get their contraceptive pills, we are selfishly sticking with our arbitrary dislike, and we think we’ve found something in the constitution that forces you to let us.

    If you say the second thing, people might think to themselves

    Whoa. They really believe this stuff. I guess it would be wrong to force them to do something they think is that bad. Maybe these laws are getting a little pushy. And maybe it isn’t a ‘religion’ thing; maybe we’ve been running over peoples’ consciences for a long time, and it’s only now that the target was big enough to fight back.

    End quote

  21. Charles E Flynn says:

    A Symposium on Threats to Our Religious Liberty, by Robert Royal, Michael Uhlmann, and Brad Miner, at The Catholic Thing.

  22. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Scott W,
    I completely agree with you. Your advised course of action would be the kind of action that can be expected from a JPII generation bishop…however limited the liturgical reforms initiated by JPII, possibly to avoid a schism, all orthodox catholics, whether conservative or traditionalist, should be grateful for our late Pope’s superb condemnation of contraception and elaboration of the Theology of the Body.

    One small suggested correction is proposed to your statement – “it has nothing to do with religion. Public bodies should not be promoting or enabling this sin” – since ‘sin’ is very much a religious term, let’s change this to ‘…enabling this evil’.

    Best regards,

    Ambrose Jnr.

  23. UncleBlobb says:

    And it is an evil law.

  24. bookworm says:


    “Contraception is evil. It desecrates the marital bond, offends against chastity, and is a menace to public morals. It is reprehensible to engage in contraceptive acts or to cooperate in them in any way. This is a matter of natural law; it has nothing to do with religion. Public bodies should not be promoting or enabling this sin. Neither Holy Mother Church, nor any other group, religious or secular, nor any individual should be forced by government to divulge funds for such wicked purposes.”

    If you’re going to use this argument, I would insert, after your third or fourth sentence, “When it is necessary to avoid or space pregnancies, there are other means of doing so that do NOT offend natural law and which have proven to be quite effective.” I am speaking of 1) chastity/abstinence outside of marriage, 2) marital chastity or use of natural family planning within marriage, and 3) ecological breastfeeding, which while not 100 percent foolproof (no contraceptive method other than total abstinence is), does have a documented effect of spacing births.

    I am female and although I have always accepted Church teaching regarding contraception, the fact remains that the majority of women (of all faiths) assume that without contraception they are doomed to be constantly pregnant and end up with 10 or 15 children, based on horror stories handed down to them from past generations when medical science was less advanced and when no form of NFP other than the crude “rhythm method” was available.

    Now please note, I’m NOT criticizing in any way couples who willingly and generously embrace having large families — more power to them! I’m just saying that, as a woman who has been pregnant and had a child (and wanted very much to have more, but could not), it would be utterly foolish to ignore the very real fact that pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing are not a piece of cake and there are legitimate reasons to avoid or postpone pregnancy. If you don’t address that by pointing out that this CAN be done without resorting to immoral chemical/hormonal methods, I believe you will lose most of your potential audience after the third or fourth sentence.

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