Bp. Zubik shares feedback he received after he responded to Pres. Obama’s declaration of war on the Catholic Church

A few days ago Bp. Zubik of Pittsburgh issued his own strongly worded response (rather than the USCCB template) after Pres. Obama’s blatant attack on the civil and religious liberty of Catholics.  You will recall that Bp. Zubik said this was the President’s way of saying “To hell with you!”, meaning that the President was saying to Catholics (my paraphrase): “Go to hell.  You’ll do it my way or I’ll violate the constitution to force you.”

Bp. Zubik has a follow up to his first statement in which he writes about the feedback of disagreement he received.   You can read the whole thing over there, but here is the salient part:

I found that their complaints essentially centered on the following few issues:

1. “They didn’t like the language.” Some people thought I was saying “to hell with the president.” I was not! I never would do that! I have too much respect for the office of the president to ever make such a statement. What I was saying was that the decision to retain this mandate was a complete and total dismissal of people of faith, of our freedom as Catholics and the rights of all citizens of faith to practice their faith without imposing on them immoral conditions. You and I, who wrote so many letters to the Obama administration this past fall, made that position clear. The Obama Administration effectively responded, “to hell with you.” They dismissed us. They dismissed people of all faiths. If some thought that the very use of that phrase was not appropriate for a bishop, all I can say is that’s what it felt like—to me and to many others. The mandate was presented as a bureaucratic fiat without appeal for which we have a year to knuckle under. If that isn’t saying “to hell with you,” I don’t know what does.

2. “Some Catholics use artificial birth control, so what’s the complaint?” The issue of artificial birth control use and abortion-causing drugs are a matter of serious concern to us as the Catholic Church. But what is also at stake is freedom of religion. The issue is the government imposing on the Church that which directly contradicts the teaching of the Church. The issue is the taking away from the citizens of our country our constitutional right to religious liberty. The issue is forcing every employer—those of religion and those of no religion—to pay for this mandated coverage of contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs, no matter the dictates of their conscience. The issue is the right of the Church to be able to live its beliefs without contrary beliefs and practices being imposed by departments of the federal government.

3. “The Church shouldn’t get involved in politics.” For as long as our government has existed, we as citizens have had the right—and responsibility—to speak out on the issues of the day, inclusive of churches, people of faith. Churches were never required by the Constitution to be irrelevant, required to be silent, required by government fiat to engage in activities they consider immoral. This isn’t “politics.” It is an issue of fundamental human freedom, fundamental religious freedom, guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution.

4. “The Church doesn’t care about women’s health.” I think that is when my head nearly exploded. The truth be told, the Catholic Church throughout this country virtually created health care in the United States. In Pittsburgh, the first hospital, Mercy Hospital, was opened under Church auspices within a year of the founding of our diocese and long before the government responded. The Church’s health care ministry was built primarily by Catholic women and has served women of all faiths and no faith from its inception. What we don’t do, can’t do, won’t do is consider pregnancy a disease equivalent to the flu. Or to be “cured” by death.

5. “This is what happens when Catholic institutions ‘take’ federal money.” This mandate has nothing to do with the Church “taking” federal money. Rather, this mandate is about Church money, the money of citizens, being used against their will, against their conscience, against their beliefs. This mandate is being imposed on everyone—on every employer, even if they have never taken a dime of government funds. Everyone—Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and nonbelievers alike—will be forced to pay for this as an employer or as an employee, and sometimes through their free-will contributions to the Church and Catholic social service agencies. In particular, this mandate will be imposed on us as Catholics and bought and paid for by us as Catholics.

6. “This seems like the Church is just trying to impose its morality on everyone else.” No way! Rather, this is the president and his administration, the government trying to impose its morality, or lack thereof, on the Church and the rest of society through bureaucratic fiat and government intrusion on religious freedom. This action tramples on everybody’s rights!

WDTPRS expands to Bp Zubik the kudos already extended.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, Linking Back, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Tom Esteban says:

    I’m not American so I hardly understand all this – at least not in the way an American will understand it as a lived reality. Anyway, I found this to be a good response. It makes a nice change from the usual post-Conciliar Orwellian doublespeak that we are by now very used to; especially since his follow-up is not in fact an apology or retraction but a restatement coupled with clarifications (in the true sense) and some Catholic apologetics (again, in the true sense). The only thing that made me pause was the ‘Objection’ in 6 – I was ready for a full on denial of Catholic teaching regarding the duties of the state (that is, to maintain and uphold Catholic morality). While the Bishop didn’t exactly say as much; his response was nevertheless very good. Kudos from this South African.

  2. Random Friar says:

    Well done, good and faithful servant!

  3. Y2Y says:

    Wonder what that quisling Kmiec is thinking now?

  4. Supertradmum says:

    It would be good if the good bishop had added references to all the encyclicals on religious freedom and the Modernist heresies which deny this so that his statements, albeit, all true and strong, would be seen in the Tradition of the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. If such good bishops as he would ask, and perhaps, call their priest to obedience in teaching the Truth, that there is no separation of Church and State as commonly understood, and that tyrannies always try to take away religious freedom of speech, education,morals, and worship, we would not find ourselves in this position.

    Excellent letter and I did go to the link. Thanks for posting this, Father.

  5. Clinton says:

    “#3. The Church shouldn’t get involved in politics.” Why is it that the people that insist that
    the Church must be silent regarding American politics are invariably the same sort that insist
    the Church is to be blamed for Her (supposed) silence regarding the fate of the Jews in Nazi

    Also, His Excellency makes an important observation re: “#5. This is what happens when
    Catholic institutions ‘take’ federal money.” Namely, that this fiat is being imposed on every
    employer, regardless of whether or not that employer has ever accepted a dime of taxpayer

  6. MominTexas says:

    Such a clear and concise response, with easy to follow language. This was exactly the type of thing I’ve been looking for to share with others! Thank you Bishop Zubik. Thank you Your Excellency!

  7. K_Suzanne says:

    Anyone else notice that he said he has respect for the “office” of the President? ;-)

    All jokes aside, thanks so much to Bp. Zubik! Hopefully you won’t be a general without an army in this fight.

  8. NoTambourines says:

    62-year-old bishop hits home run (again). Film at 11!

    Thanks be to God for leaders like Bp. Zubik!

  9. Great. So… do any emergency rooms of Catholic Hospitals in Pennsylvania (and the rest of the country) provide so-called Emergency Contraception (abortifacients) by way of permission of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Institute for Public Policy and that of the USCCB, falling for the lie that one can know exactly when conception takes place and (impossibly) that conception will not take place for the next few hours after a rape?

    In other words, we have the right to choose to risk taking the life of human being in the womb; our complaint is that we just don’t want to be told by the government that we have to choose what we are already choosing.

    Got it. Don’t like it.

  10. Choirmaster says:

    His Excellency certainly will not be a general without an army in this fight. It will be those bishops who issue only perfunctory, milquetoast lip-service to the argument that will find themselves alone at the test.

    I must admit, however, that I did not expect such strong language and action from His Excellency, jaded as I am by many of his administrative acts and those of his predecessor. This is very refreshing and comforting.

    I hope everyone who reads this will take a minute to pray for my bishop Zubik, if not for this issue then because he has shown unprecedented pastoral care and sensitivity to his local Latin Mass Community. He has visited us, personally confirmed our young men and women in the extraordinary form of that sacrament, and canonically erected the community within the diocese after so many years of being relegated to the margins of the local Church. Yes, of course, he’s laying the brick of Ecclesia Dei Adflicta only now (N.B. that he wasn’t the Ordinary of Pittsburgh in 1988), a decade into the 21st century, but the brick has been laid and never the worse for being belated.

  11. irishgirl says:

    Is Bishop Zubik of Polish descent? If so, he is a worthy comrade-in-arms of King John Sobieski!
    Thank you, Your Excellency, for your clear (and blunt) language! Would that all our Bishops followed your noble example words-wise! Enough of the bland milquetoast responses-time to start firing off the bow!
    ‘Them’s fightin’ words’!

  12. Margaret says:

    Wow. Just wow. This plainspokenness, if there is such a word, is what’s been sorely lacking in our American hierarchy for too long. Now, seriously– can someone, either a straight shooter like this, or a layman with communications/PR/broadcasting experience, start training our bishops and diocesan officials in how to do this? How to speak clearly, even bluntly, yet without the bombast and nastiness that sometimes accompanies phenomena like talk radio?

  13. digdigby says:

    The bishops who go out of their way to encourage EF Catholics…thank you! God says, “I will honor those who honor me.”
    Our bishop is now a cardinal – Raymond Burke. Bishop Zubik reminds me of him: a sweetness of demeanor, a radiant simplicity but underneath – Damascene steel.

  14. John V says:

    Bishop Zubik is of Polish and Slovak descent. From the explanation of his coat of arms:
    “The golden wheat sheaf represents the fruit of the earth. God is the Father of all gifts. The gift of Bishop Zubik’s vocation was recognized and nurtured by Father Edward R. Farina whose surname means “grain” or “wheat.” Wheat is also the work of human hands. Bishop Zubik’s Polish and Slovak ancestors are not strangers to labor and toil – values held dear to the Bishop himself. Wheat can be transformed into bread, the simple food for much of the world. Of most importance, the wheat sheaf symbolizes the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life which feeds and nourishes God’s people. Further, the name Zubik comes from the Polish word “zlobek” which means “wheat,” highlighting that Jesus is the Bread of Life. The sheaf is placed in a field of green, the color of life and hope.”

  15. Jerry says:

    While it is good to see the bishops finally rallying to fight this mandate, they seem to be focusing on the requirements as they affect religious organizations as employers.

    What about other employers with the same moral objections?

    What about the employees who work for other employers who will be forced to fund coverage for contraception, etc.?

    Beyond the coverage for contraception, etc., why must these evil services be provided free? Are medications or surgical procedures for other conditions provided free?

  16. Rellis says:

    I do think it’s a fair point that if the Catholic Church is going to accept taxpayer dollars from the government, the government can and will impose strings. Some of those strings might force the Church to choose between receiving government funding and remaining true to Church teachings.

    That is not the case here. Everyone is simply forced to provide abortifacient contraceptives by dint of being an employer.

    But what if it were? What if the regulation said that any religious institution serving non-Catholic people AND receiving government funding was subject? What then? I would have a hard time arguing that the Church had a leg to stand on.

    The point is that the Catholic Church should not be accepting funding from this or any other government for just this reason.

  17. Christine111 says:

    Bishop Zubik responded as a man ought to respond to the evil that is the HHS mandate–with outrage, and with strong words. Yet you’ll always have those Catholics who start objecting to “tone” and level charges of “lack of charity”, etc. Such nonsense!

  18. Supertradmum says:


    You are so right.

    Real charity is Truth. Peoples’ souls are at stake. We do not want anyone to go to hell.

  19. HeatherPA says:

    2. “Some Catholics use artificial birth control, so what’s the complaint?”
    I am sooo tired of this “argument”. The Catholics who use birth control do not speak for the Church and her teachings. I saw a poll that claimed 96% of Catholics practice birth control. I’d like to know who they polled and how many people were in the sampling. Many of them, too, have been wrongly catechized on birth control, and worse, have gotten bad spiritual direction from some priests who themselves do not believe the Church’s teaching or think it is “negotiable”.

    It’s like saying, “Well, a lot of Americans do cocaine, so what’s the big deal?”

  20. kneeler says:

    I cannot begin to tell you how REFRESHING this is! Fresh air and lots of it!

  21. PA mom says:

    That stat always annoy me too. It seemed to be most honestly noted as “have ever used” birth control, something that is among my own former states of sin. But if the average catholic family has on average 1 child more, that simple stat alone should nearly prove that they are not on it as long a time. Doctors are a huge part of this as my catholic OBGYN brushed off my questions on NFP as something which doesn’t work. Also, Doctors so often respond to an announcement of pregnancy with”was this planned?” I have finally found one who is supportive of women actually having more than two children.

  22. HeatherPA says:

    I finally discovered a good family doc who went through the Pope Paul VI Institute. He does not advocate at all for any hormones being pushed, especially on teens, “just in case”. He also does not advocate for the HPV vaccine… which is being pushed upon every kid who walks through the door, male or female, in almost all doctor’s offices. The last time I took my kids for a physical at the town family doc, they actually got angry that I would not let my three youngest children receive the vaccine.

  23. kneeler says:

    Agreed… It is not “majority rules.”

    “The totality of believers is not the source of the Church’s doctrine.”

    The function of the Church is not to promulgate and endorse the consensus of believers.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Oh my goodness, Obama said this and it is on Drudge-the Bishops have to address this sort of stuff immediately, or they will lose the media war as well as the moral war.

    “And when I decide to stand up for foreign aid, or prevent atrocities in places like Uganda, or take on issues like human trafficking, it’s not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world, although it does all those things and it will make us safer and more secure. It’s also about the biblical call to care for the least of these — for the poor; for those at the margins of our society.
    To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.'”

    What about all the dead babies?

  25. irishgirl says:

    John V-thanks for the explanation of Bishop Zubik’s ancestry! And his last name means ‘wheat’ in Polish….how cool is that?

  26. Gail F says:

    Jerry: Jimmy Akin had the answer to your question yesterday in a very good post. In a nutshell: an amendment to the healthcare bill required that a whole host of preventantive care and screenings be free for children in all health care plans, and one clause of an amendment to that amendment said that preventative care and screenings must be free to all women in all health insurance plans. After that, all they had to do was ensure that birth control, sterilization, and early abortifascients be considered “preventative care,” and voila. Automatically universal and with no co-pay.

    Bishop Zubik is my hero. Be sure to write to the diocese and tell him you liked it.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    When Obamacare was being pushed through, my son and I read the parts of the bill which covered these things and told others to do the same. I told my RCIA class, I told my students, I told my friends. Very few were interested. We all have access to the same information. It was all online before. I am sorry, but if Catholics continue to be stupid, they will be persecuted. This all did not have to happen. And, those Catholic Dems who have been lying to themselves about the party platform, I hope they now repent. We did not have to get to this point. Either we believe in the democratic process and use it for our own standards, or we are lazy and do nothing and suffer the consequences.

  28. Shellynna says:

    One of those times I wish the laity had some say in episcopal appointments. Holy Father, we have a nominee for Chicago!

  29. PA mom says:

    @Heather: Thank you! I am finally happy with the doctors for the family, but it took a long time, and so many that I thought I must be the odd one thinking that once you started a family that you could keep going. A very damaging moment was after our son (our fourth) was just born, my husband (raised Protestant) was told to get snipped… in Church just after Mass. Yes, I would welcome a properly clear, lovingly worded homily on this for him to hear.

  30. discerningguy says:

    Does anyone else think it’s more than a little stupid to say, “I am a member of the ______ religion, but I don’t believe what they teach?” That, along with not being able to understand the written English language, is what this comes down to.

  31. Legisperitus says:

    A thousand cheers! May God grant us more Bishops of the straight-talking, head-exploding variety!

  32. Deacon Jeff says:

    That’s my Bishop!!!!

  33. ContraMundum says:


    I actually am not much impressed by the office of the president. The car of the president, on the other hand, is Very Cool Indeed. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/01/obamas-presiden/ http://jalopnik.com/5131380/obamas-new-cadillac-limo-officially-unveiled

  34. ContraMundum says:

    My concern is that it is probably a mistake to fight this as a freedom of religion issue instead of a universally binding Natural Law issue. We should not just be arguing for the sort of exception that allowed Catholic churches to get wine for the altar during Prohibition; we should be forcefully arguing that contraception, sterilization, and abortion are wrong for everyone.

  35. rodin says:

    To Fr.Z re Zurik comment:

    Bravo Bishop Zurik and may your tribe increase!

    1. Having passed reading comprehension 1, 101, and advanced classes it seemes to me that Bishop Zurik’s expressions of distaste are quite comprehensible and entirely justified. The law under which Obama and his minions are operating is presently going through appeals regarding its legitimacy. The diktat issued by HHS is another attack on the Constitution by this administration.

    2. Those who claim to be Catholic, but fail to follow the teaching of the church, need to be reminded, “Just saying you are Catholic does not make you Catholic.” More importantly, according to the Constitution the Government is not permitted to meddle in a number of areas, in particular religion. Effectively it is the state that is intruding into matters of faith and morals rather than religion intruding into politics as suggested in his item #3. It should be further noted that the principles underlying all just laws are in Natural Law. One need only refer back to the ancients who managed to deduce that.

    3. There is good reason, as by now we must have observed, to exclude politicians from matters of faith and morals. Certainly the last people most of us would turn to for guidance on matters of morality would be politicians. The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing.

    4. Corporal Works of Mercy have been the specialty of the Church for 2,000 years. Murder is nowhere to be found among them.

    5. As the Bishop points out the regulations do not stop at just those who take Federal funds. Obama is no piker; he wishes to be absolute ruler.

    6. See 2 & 3 above. There is the foul scent of tyranny in the air.

  36. John V says:

    @ContraMundum (3:50 p.m.)
    Agreed. See Bishop Zubik’s # 5. Nevertheless, as someone wiser than I once said, “Brick by brick.”

  37. Pingback: Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation and Bishop Zubik | Quicksilver to Gold

  38. rodin says:

    Abject apologies. I meant Bishop Zubik.


  40. pm125 says:

    Voluntary and intentional reading comprehension deficits abounding in the ‘information’ age to protect advancing evil and attack existing good. No time to think … the cursor is blinking.

    Thanks to Bishop Zubik for clear response:
    The Obama Administration effectively responded, “to hell with you.” They dismissed us. They dismissed people of all faiths.

    Rather, this is the president and his administration, the government trying to impose its morality, or lack thereof, on the Church and the rest of society through bureaucratic fiat and government intrusion on religious freedom. This action tramples on everybody’s rights!

  41. Kerry says:

    The opposition to contraception and abortion, and the creation of Catholic hospitals arise from the same moral and religious ground. Yet the HHS, the Mighty Kenyan, the Wispy Kansan, and the rest need the latter, want to strong arm Catholics on the former, and don’t see the contradiction. If religious beliefs must confirm to Federal policy, ought they not also to oppose the hospitals themselves? Of course, they do… but don’t see the relationship.

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