USCCB strong statement about Pres. Obama’s imposed “Plan B” pill

The USCCB have issued their statement.

“The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.”

My emphases and comments:

Bishops Renew Call To Legislative Action On Religious Liberty

February 10, 2012
Regulatory changes limited and unclear
Rescission of mandate only complete solution
Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

WASHINGTON – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued the following statement:

The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the “preventive services[keep watching for that language] regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011.

First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated “preventive services” prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. [But we know Dear Leader won’t enforce laws he doesn’t like.] Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.

Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such “services” immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of “religious employers” that HHS proposed to exempt initially.

Today, the President has done two things.

First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:

·It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

·It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer’s policy, not as a separate rider.

·Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. [BUT!  Sr. KEEHAN, of the Magisterium of Nuns was consulted and she issued her imprimatur.  Mark my words: this is about destroying the teaching authority of the Church.] Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. [My God.  Look at that sentence.  This is what we have come to?  This is something GOD GIVES US.] But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Dr. K says:

    Mark my words: this is about destroying the teaching authority of the Church.

    Obama is not ignorant of the internal dissension in the ranks, and he plans to take full advantage of it by playing the progressives against the faithful.

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  3. heway says:

    I have never emailed so many people in health care and government than I have today. Including the Sister Keehan, as I think she has greatly overstepped her bounds of authority and should be silenced. I pray that St. Michael will defend and support our bishops and that they will resolve to stand firm. God help us and bles us all.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I think we need well organized laity to stand up strongly in opposition to the whole idea of the government mandating ANYONE to have sterilization/abortifacient/contraceptive coverage. The whole thing is very harmful to individuals, families, society.

  5. avecrux says:

    I signed the petition at the White House and received a reply this evening. You are completely correct when you say this is about destroying the teaching authority of the Church. From the OFFICIAL RESPONSE from the WHITE HOUSE, I quote the following excerpt:

    “This is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been grappling to find a solution that works for everyone, and the policy announced today has done that. The right to religious liberty will be fully protected, and a law that requires preventive care without co-pays will not discriminate against any woman, anywhere. Here are a few statements from groups involved in the issue:
    Catholics United:
    President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions.
    Catholic Health Association:
    We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.
    Planned Parenthood:
    The Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work.
    Today’s announcement makes it clear that President Obama is firmly committed to protecting women’s health.

    Thank you again for participating in the We the People platform to make your voice heard on this important issue.”

  6. EXCHIEF says:

    Any support for Obama from any Catholic is completely misplaced. His agenda is evil, his religion is secularism, and his sacrament is abortion. And it is time the Bishops said that.

  7. Maynardus says:

    It’s high time the utterly lamentable episcopal conference did something in defense of the Faith! Alas, one cannot help feeling that it is too little and (almost) too late. Their supine acceptance of the secular depradations of the past 39 years – and the damage caused thereby – cannot be erased by a few urgent regrets, no matter how energetically espressed. Perhaps – we can only hope – enough of them have been sufficiently awakened by the brilliant witness of the Holy Father and the stark utilitarian statism of the Left to realize that they are fighting for their lives – and their souls…

    I have often quoted Bishop Bruskewitz’s “hapless bench of bishops” pronouncement, but perhaps more apropos are the words of Oliver Cromwell in dismissing the ‘Long’ Parliament: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go”

    Thank God that the ‘biological solution’ has begun to thin the ranks of the flower children and that for the most part the recent nominations have been quite solid; but one need only read the tepid and repetitively banal statements from many of our shepherds contra the HHS mandate to realisze how far we have to go.

    I shall pray for their intentions.

  8. Bill Russell says:

    We are paying the price for mediocrity in the episcopate. As Mark Steyn, probably the one real genius among political commentators, says in his most recent column:

    “Will the Church muster the will to resist? Or (as Archbishop Dolan’s pitifully naïve remarks suggest) will this merely be one more faint bleat lost in what Matthew Arnold called the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the Sea of Faith? “

  9. Nicole says:

    Where do the private sector business owners and CEOs stand in this mess? If the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is passed by Congress and signed by the administration, then what recourse will the private sector employers have in regard to the health insurance coverage issues? Will these then be exempted as well on moral grounds from supplying health policies to their employees which provide contraceptives/abortifacients and sterilizations with no co-pay? I wonder why the private sector is largely glossed over in this mess when there are many “secular” businesses run by men and women who profess to be Catholic…?

  10. Grateful Catholic says:

    Our Lord sent the Twelve out as sheep among wolves, admonishing them to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. Seems many of our present-day bishops forgot the first part of His exhortation.

    The theme song for this battle is Al Wilson’s 1968 hit “The Snake.”

  11. filioque says:

    @Nicole The bishops’ statement does remember non-religious employers.
    “But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected.”

  12. gracie says:


    “We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the executive branch.”

    That sentence is vomit-inducing. Not only does President Obama not have the right to take away our religious liberty, he also doesn’t have the right to offer “concessions” to our liberty. Archbishop Dolan’s statement that this is a helpful “first step” is scandalous – has it occurred to him that Obama’s “concession” will force Catholic insurers either to violate their conscience or quit their jobs? Do the bishops even care or are they just going through the motions to get us off of their backs? I don’t know when I’ve been so depressed over the state of the Catholic Church in America.

  13. WOW- the USCCB has caved yet again- what a shock! Since when does the Executive branch confer any rights on the people? What a bunch of fools we have as bishops and Princes of the Church. Yet another sell out and bartering of our souls- They will answer for this before the throne of God, but the damages is done and IT IS THEIR OWN FAULT!

  14. Joseph-Mary says:

    And abortion is “women’s health”? Not for the unborn ones! This is so incredibly demonic on so many levels. Abortion and birth control contribute to cancer and so the woman’s “health” will be compromised later on. Plus she still has to live with the guilt and knowledge of killing her own child. AND it contributes to the demographic winter already being experienced in Europe with the US now falling under replacement levels except for immigration. There are just too many people on the planet don’t you know? AND not enough of them in mortal sin. Take the physical lives and take the eternal souls: Screwtape, I do believe you have yourself a coup…

  15. Kerry says:

    The President’s “accommodation” amounts to a choice of menthol or regular along with the blindfold. We accommodate ourselves to Christ, not to him.

  16. Perhaps the single greatest problem that is encountered is not so much what the President has to say, but rather what so many Catholic colleges and the like have been doing for years that is in concert with the executive office. Until all of us come together in a united and single voice, we will have no credible voice that can impact upon the secular authorities. Let us speak with one mind and one heart and not cave in on so vital an issue as is before us. May God have mercy on us all.

  17. haribo says:

    I think this accommodation is probably all we can expect without going to the courts. The White House sees this as a full accommodation, and most Americans will too. By appeasing liberal Catholics and Planned Patenthood at the same time, he’s ensured the Catholic vote in the next election and continued funding from the radical left, which means from now on, we’ll only hear opposition from the religious right. And what does it matter what the religious right thinks of this, because they weren’t going to vote for him anyway, and if they continue to make an issue out of this, they’ll come off as unreasonably demanding.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    haribo, he has not got the Catholic vote if every bishop does what Bishop Finn did in 2008 and tell people that if they vote for Obama, their eternal salvation is at stake. We need a clear spiritual call that every Catholic who votes for him would be excommunicated for aiding and abetting abortions.

  19. Traductora says:

    I still think this goes beyond the matters to which the bishops are responding. Contraception is not a medical service in the first place. It does not treat a medical condition or even prevent a medical condition. Contraception is directed at population control and the control of human sexuality by rendering it sterile and unrelated to the creation of children and hence family units. The ultimate goal is to suppress the family as the basic unit of society and make the individual simply an anonymous, dehumanized worker whose entire being is at the disposition of the state.

    Government provided and enforced population control has long been a dream of the leftist progressive movement represented by Planned Parenthood, and in fact PP will be involved in the provision of this “service” just as they are in all their population control programs all over the world.

    The supposed health care plan is being used to promote and in fact impose things that have nothing to do with health and everything to do with social engineering. And it is all being done by executive fiat. The Church is the only institution that can defend us against this, but the issue has to be seen as something that goes even beyond religious liberty in a particular narrow case and moves to the conflict between two competing views of human life, one of which now has the full enforcement powers of the newly dictatorial US government behind it.

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  21. New Sister says:

    O Father Z – “[But we know Dear Leader won’t enforce laws he doesn’t like.] ” — you made me bust out laughing in our operations center! (We should send POTUS a set of boxy sunglasses and a N. Korea Communist jacket!)

    Supertradmum – I didn’t know that about Abp Finn; no wonder he’s being assailed from all sides (except ours, of course). Good for him.

  22. Theodore says:

    Paul Rahe is strongly critical of the Bishop’s failure to advocate not only for the institutions of the Church but for Catholics in their daily endeavors as this ukase effects them.

    “You have to hand it to Barack Obama. He has unmasked in the most thoroughgoing way the despotic propensities of the administrative entitlements state and of the Democratic Party. And now he has done something similar to the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church. At the prospect that institutions associated with the Catholic Church would be required to offer to their employees health insurance covering contraception and abortifacients, the bishops, priests, and nuns scream bloody murder. But they raise no objection at all to the fact that Catholic employers and corporations, large and small, owned wholly or owned by Roman Catholics will be required to do the same. The freedom of the church as an institution to distance itself from that which its doctrines decry as morally wrong is considered sacrosanct. The liberty of its members – not to mention the liberty belonging to the adherents of other Christian sects, to Jews, Muslims, and non-believers – to do the same they are perfectly willing to sacrifice.

    This inattention to the liberties of others is doubly scandalous (and I use this poignant term in full knowledge of its meaning within the Catholic tradition) – for there was a time when the Catholic hierarchy knew better. There was a time when Roman Catholicism was the great defender not only of its own liberty but of that of others. There was a time when the prelates recognized that the liberty of the church to govern itself in light of its guiding principles was inseparable from the liberty of other corporate bodies and institutions to do the same.”

  23. Theodore says:

    Mark Steyn makes the historical analogy between Obama and Henry VIII.
    “The president of the United States has decided to go Henry VIII on the Church’s medieval ass. Whatever religious institutions might profess to believe in the matter of “women’s health,” their pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities and immunities are now subordinate to a one-and-only supreme head on earth determined to repress, redress, restrain and amend their heresies. One wouldn’t wish to overextend the analogy: For one thing, the Catholic Church in America has been pathetically accommodating of Beltway bigwigs’ ravenous appetite for marital annulments in a way that Pope Clement VII was disinclined to be vis-a -vis the English king and Catherine of Aragon. But where’d all the pandering get them? In essence, President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII: as his Friday morning faux-compromise confirms, the continued existence of a “faith-based institution” depends on submission to the doctrinal supremacy of the state.
    “We will soon learn,” wrote Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions.” Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s vicar on earth, has sportingly offered to maintain religious liberty for those institutions engaged in explicit religious instruction to a largely believing clientele. So we’re not talking about mandatory condom dispensers next to the pulpit at St. Pat’s – not yet. But that is not what it means to be a Christian: The mission of a Catholic hospital is to minister to the sick. When a guy shows up in Emergency, bleeding all over the floor, the nurse does not first establish whether he is Episcopalian or Muslim; when an indigent is in line at the soup kitchen the volunteer does not pause the ladle until she has determined whether he is a card-carrying Papist. The government has redefined religion as equivalent to your Sunday best: You can take it out for an hour to go to church, but you gotta mothball it in the closet the rest of the week. So Catholic institutions cannot comply with Commissar Sebelius and still be in any meaningful sense Catholic.”

  24. Andrew says:

    It is not helpful to turn this into a “let’s blame the bishops” thread. This plays into the hand of the opposition. There is a time for everything. This is the time to be united and supportive.

  25. Dennis Martin says:

    We’ll seek the best protection we can secure from the Omnipotent Government.

    Stop it already with the hat-in-hand begging from Sovereign Lord of the Universe Federal Government.

    Otherwise, it’s a strong statement. So keep issuing these but minus the hat-in-hand supplicatory language (the sort of language toward God that was systematically suppressed in the liturgical translations).

    And get busy teaching subsidiarity. Call on Catholics to get active in politics at the grassroots level. Have the humility to turn to Catholics who’ve been in the trenches on the pro-life issue for 40 years and get advice from them. Mandate that USCCB staffers get lessons from Catholic trench-fighters. Move the USCCB out of D.C. to Peoria or Nashville or Sioux City.

  26. Elizabeth D says:

    I emailed Christian Brothers insurance company (run by a religious order, and serving religious orders and other Catholic organizations) to urge them to refuse to cooperate with a mandate to subvert the intentions of Catholic employers by providing sterilizations/abortifacients/contraceptives anyway, and to sue the government if need be.

  27. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Sadly, it may have come time for the institutional Church in the United States to change its emphasis: Less on helping others with their material needs, and more on helping them spiritually and eternally by preaching, catechizing, defending the faith, instructing, defending the truths of salvation, hearing confessions, celebrating the liturgy, and administering the other sacraments.

    Maybe running large-scale hospitals and universities with many employees is something the institutional Church no longer does for a time: instead, maybe running small, local specialized clinics, schools, academies, often on a volunteer basis, is something that lay Catholics undertake to do. Maybe God provides more young members of religious orders who staff these. Maybe with all these changes, their insurance coverage is still under the mandate of Sauron, but the employees are either all faithful Catholics, and /or over 50 years of age, and or are celibate religious, so the net result is nil.

    Just brainstorming here. But there’s always hope.

  28. haribo says:

    I think Obama does have the liberal Catholic vote. Despite any warnings that might have come from the bishops, 54% of Catholics voted for him in 2008. The recent accommodation could never have satisfied serious Catholics, but it was probably enough to pacify those Catholics who voted for him in the last election.

  29. Elizabeth D says:

    Marion Ancilla Mariae, I think the Church HAS TO stay profoundly committed to doing those things, but to become far more committed to doing them in great fidelity. The reality may be what you say, that may mean doing them differently, and on a smaller scale. Smaller, but more intense and more beautiful in their goodness, their charity.

  30. Dennis Martin says:

    Andrew wrote:
    It is not helpful to turn this into a “let’s blame the bishops” thread. This plays into the hand of the opposition. There is a time for everything. This is the time to be united and supportive.

    Andrew: I think I have as strong a record on this website as anyone for cautioning, in the past, against bishop-bashing. And I’ve taken a good bit of flak for it.

    But in this case, either their collective Eminences and Excellencies still don’t get it or, if they do get it, their tactical choice seems to be deference in the name of “civil discourse.”

    I agree about the need for civility. But civility does not mean hat-in-hand concession that the Federal Goverment has the sovereignty to hand out concessions to us poor widdle children-citizens.

    It may have just been a ham-handed mistake in choice of words. But I fear that in fact they still don’t get it, still don’t grasp that the problem is the growth in the power and authority of the central government, for which we have in our own Catholic social teaching, the antidote (hammered out by Ketteler in the face of the first Social Statist Goverment ideology, that of Bismarck, long before Lenin).

    The statement was good in pointing out that the”accommodation” was a sham. But why concede to the government the sovereignty to make regulations, while protesting that the government made this set of eeeeeeeevvvvvvvvviiiiiiiiiillllllllll regulations?

    I’m not advocating that the bishops lessen the resistance to these specific regulations one whit.

    But I am begging them to make clear that they grasp the true scope of the problem and plan to do something about.

    Get the USCCB out of Washington. Teach subsidiarity day and night. Take concrete steps to do something about Obama’s crass alliance with the Sister Keehans–this accommodation was a sop to Sister Keehan, to try to give her cover (NYTimes article cited up thread) The bishops need to publicly denounce that and find some meaningful way to discipline her and the other “allies” of Obama who are traitors to the Church.

    We are in a Kulturkampf. Perhaps the bishops “get it.” This statement, however, suggests they don’t quite yet.

    Andrew, precisely because I want us to be united is why I want the bishops to grasp the totality of the problem and show some concrete steps to assure us that they will lead us in the Entire Fight, which is not about getting these particular regs overturned. As long as that’s all they do, they are CONCEDING to the bureaucrats the authority to make these regs in the first place.

    Congress gave that authority to the bureaucrats when Obamacare was slammed through. The bishops were willing to back it if they were assured taxpayer abortion would be ruled out. To their credit they analyzed Obamacare anc concluded taxpayer abortion was not ruled out. So they opposed it.

    But making their oppsition turn on the details of the regs/non-regs is a fatal tactical error.

    I want some evidence that they see their error. Perhaps to announce that now would be conterproductive and I’m supposed to trust that they have. After all we’ve been through, that’s more than I can muster at this point. I defended them again and again and again, out of solidarity, even though I had the same misgivings my critics had (I was accused of being a purist, naif who thought that bishops should always be beyond criticism, which I never advocated say).

    Enough is enough. We need evidence that they “get it.” No I won’t abandon the Church, yes, I fully understand that for good or for ill, our fate lies with the bishops. I will follow them.

    But precisely for that reason, we are begging them for a course-correction.

    Get the USCCB out of Washington. Dig in for the long haul with grassroots rather than K-Street lobbying.

    Wake up. We do not have much time left.

  31. irishgirl says:

    So, I guess this means that the Bishops have caved in to Obama, huh? [?!? Ummm. No. Read it again.]
    My God-this is scary!
    Why aren’t there any ‘real men’ in the episcopate? Where are the Beckets? Where are the Fishers?
    ‘Seeking the best protection we can secure from the Omnipotent Government’ (yes, I know I’m paraphrasing) is NOT the thing to do! Is the USCCB nuts? This is what got us into the mess in the first place!
    Our only hope is in God and in the protection of Mary Immaculate our Patroness….. [True. But that is always the case, even when things are going well.]
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here again: Obama. Must. Be. Defeated. He has to be thrown out on his ear!

  32. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Getting back to the original notion that this is a strong statement from the USCCB (in spite of its sentence about pressing “for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch” – which I, by the way, read as a really, really sarcastic dig at the potus), I’d just like to point out how complete our moral objections should be to the President’s politicizing. In fact, Mr Obama is now suggesting to people with consciences that they resolve this issue by committing yet another sin. His so-called accommodation not only requires institutions to buy insurance from companies that will forcibly provide immoral services it also, in effect, asks the institutions to deceive their employees. Is it not a deception, a sin by omission, to “hide” the fact that your insurance company provides coverage for immoral practices? Indeed, the Obama administration is simply telling these institutions to wink and look the other way – a most objectionable form of bearing false witness. The President might as well have said “Look why don’t you just lie to your employees and we’ll let the insurance companies handle the rest of the dirty work.” Only a morally adrift politician would think of prevarication as a compromise.

  33. Deirdre says:

    Thanks for posting this important and powerful statement, Father.

    Just a quick word of clarification — in this statement many (if not all?) of the text in black bold is actually the bishops’ own emphasized text. To learn more of what the bishops have been doing on this for nearly two years, and to send your messages to Congress for the legislative fix they’re urging, go to their main page on conscience protection/religious liberty: (maintained by the Pro-Life Secretariat).

  34. Dennis Martin says:

    Denis Crnkovic, thank you for offering an alternative reading of the offending sentence. I would dearly love to be able to read that as sarcasm. I’ll mull that over. Thank you for raising it.

    However, here’s how they end that paragraph: “The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.”

    The only complete solution is for the overreaching hand to retract? Granted, the HHS hand overreaches only because Congress gave HHS blanket authority.

    No, the only complete solution is to return to subsidiarity.

    Then the statement proceeds to the other branches of government:

    “We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.”

    But what are they calling on Congress and the Courts to do? Protect conscience rights. Wonderful, to be sure. But that does not address the overweening power grab by the central bureaucracy, abetted by a supine congress that submitted to Pelosi’s and Reid’s cramdown.

    Why did they not call for Congress to rescind Obamacare? Why can they not finally wake up and realize they have to reexamine, in light of Catholic Social Teaching on subsidiarity, Obamacare and all its misbegotten legislative cousins as well as all the overreaching court decisions and the whole trend toward Big Government.

    Is that too much to ask.

    If they were being sarcastic, I’ll feel some relief. Not much though.

  35. WYMiriam says:

    Has anyone else noticed that the Bishops seem to be asking for two things in this letter? First, they say that “Pregnancy is not a disease” and they call “for the rescission of the mandate altogether.” Later, however, and in several ways, they “urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption…”

    “IF” HHS insists on forcing the mandate on us? With Kathleen Sebelius at the helm and Obama in the White House?? No. Is not this request for a conscience exemption that is *tacked onto* the mandate a little like saying, “Kids, don’t do drugs, but if you do, here is where you can get clean needles” or “Kids, don’t have sex, but if you do, here’s a condom”?

    If “[t]he only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services,” as the Bishops state, then they need to work for that rescission, and nothing else. “No exceptions; no compromise.”

    Funny. . . .I just noticed. . . the Bishops mentioned neither the Constitution nor the First Amendment — nor the Fifth Commandment! Not that the current administration would pay any attention to them. . . .

  36. lydia says:

    This is what it has come to after years of the unholy alliance of the hierarchy and the democrats. I’m just afraid that unless Obamacare is struck down by the court or Obama loses in November this will be the law of the land. Catholics who could justify voting for Obama the candidate of abortion are not going to be deterred by a little old thing like birth control pills. I’ve waited for decades to hear a forceful and vigorous defense of the right to life come fom the pulpit . Our letter from our Bishop wasn’t read last Sunday, instead a note in the bulletin to look it up online. My old parish promotes the march for life once a year but also allows a pro-choice democrat politician to distribute communion. The message sent has been this is not a serious issue. The road to salvation for liberal churches is paved with purchases of fair trade items and donations of food twice a month. Keeping it PC and comfortable .

  37. Lori Pieper says:

    People, people, WHERE did the bishops ever say they thought our rights come from the government, or that we beg them from our Glorious Leader as a concession? Nowhere. No, they were simply asking the government to do its job of protecting our God-given rights.

    It would be quite an insult to Cardinal-designate Dolan to suggest he doesn’t know where our rights come from. The man has a graduate degree in American history, for Pete’s sake! In fact, in one of his on the run interviews when the mandate boom was lowered, he said something along the lines of “The government should continue to do now what it has done since July 4, 1776,” the day on which, as everyone knows, the nascent government of the U.S. recognized that we are “endowed by our Creator” with our fundamental rights and liberties. He said that for a reason, I’m sure.

    I do indeed read the bishops’ statement as a subtle sarcastic dig at the President. They were saying “Mr. President, we want you to do the right thing, but don’t really expect anything much. But you’re not the only game in town. We don’t have to accept a weak compromise solution. There are Congress and the courts to offer us redress.” I’m sure that was intended to put him in his place. But it will probably go right over Obama’s head.

    It’s distressing when so many people want to rush to insult the bishops without even really thinking what they’re saying. In fact, some people seem eager to engage in deliberate misreading of what was said. Yes, I know people have a lot of grudges that they seem to be working out here all the time. But let’s not let bile get in the way of simple facts.

  38. pcamarata says:

    Fr. Bill Dailey, a Holy Cross priest and law professor at ND, went into very hostile territory this morning to eloquently defend the Church’s position on the HHS mandate. It’s worth watching.

  39. Dennis Martin says:

    Lori Pieper.

    I do not write with bile. With sadness. And fear. Perhaps this USCCB statement was not the place to address the larger issue explicitly, perhaps it was addressed subtextually, so I may have been guilty of rash judgment. Going to the other branches could be taken as addressing the larger issue IF the other branches are sought out for the sake of subsidiarity and repealing top-down health care (see Fr. Z’s Feb. 12 post). However, the statement itself only goes so far as to seek overturning of these regulations, by one branch or another. Perhaps that’s the right tactic, in order to maintain focus.

    But bile? No. I am still waiting to see the evidence that the Catholic Church in America grasps the extent of the problem, among other things, really grasps how the Obama administration is cynically engaged in the creation of a Patriotic American Catholic Church. To thwart that will require some kind of strong action from the bishops to discipline those heads of Catholic institutions who are being used, wittingly or unwittingly, by our enemies. I will try to be patient to await such firm actions.

    Bile? No. In A Man for All Seasons, do you recall Alice More getting angry at her husband for not telling her what he thought of the King’s divorce? She accused him of not caring about her. He took her hand, put it on a book representing the Bible, asked her, should she be asked under oath to state whether her husband had told her what he thought of the divorce. She said, No.

    “And so it must remain,” he said. He was thinking ahead, trying to anticipate the situation she might find herself in and give her the ability to answer, before God, honestly, in a way that kept her from being the instrument of his condemnation. Just before or after that, he made the comment, again, as I recall, in reaction to a disparaging of his motives, “No, I show you the times”–in other words, he was not acting out of anger or spite but trying to help her to see just how serious the situation they faced was. She asked whether he had confided in Margaret. When he said, “Would I tell her something I’d not tell you?” she finally understood: “Then it must be serious, if you won’t tell Meg. Meg has your heart.” I quote from memory and, of course, these are Robert Bolt’s thoughts, not direct historical facts. But Bolt “got it” remarkably accurately.

    And yet, at the end, Alice is still troubled. One of the most heart-rending scenes is when she and Margaret and Will Roper visit him in the Tower. She says, “I don’t see why it had to come to this. . . . .The thing that scares me is that after you are gone, I’ll hate you for it.” (Paraphrased from memory.”

    And his response, with tears in his eyes, “Alice, you musn’t.” Hate is, of course, wrong. She knew that, which is why she was so frightened. She didn’t want to hate him. But neither could she understand why it had to come to what it came to. Many of his friends thought he was just egotistical, stubborn, foolish. Had he just compromised, he could have saved himself and they saw no reason why he couldn’t. (The midnight interrogation at Hampton Court illustrates this.)

    Motives are complex. Some bishop-criticism may be motivated by bile. But not all such.

    Some of us are afraid that those who need to “see the times” don’t yet see them. I hope and pray that our fears in this regard are mistaken, that all those who need to “see the times” do in fact grasp that the problem arises from decades of centralized statism that sooner or later inevitably would come to a total confrontation with the Catholic faith, because the technocrat-bureaucrat ruling class has abandoned Christian faith for belief in naked power over three generations now. (See Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern Age.)

    The bells are ringing the chimes for Sooner.

    The bells won’t be ringing the chimes for Later any more. Those days are past.

  40. Dennis Martin says:

    Perhaps the “I show you the times” was said by More to Norfolk either at Chelsea at the time of the “this isn’t Spain, this is England” or when he and Norfolk “quarreled” at the boatdock? I can’t remember. I do remember that he said it because he thought his interlocutor just didn’t realize how serious things had become.

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