Card. Burke on the HHS mandate: “There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”

In an interview, Raymond Card. Burke has offered his view on Pres. Obama’s attack on religious liberty, his erosion of the 1st Amendment, his duplicitous, anti-Catholic… okay.. you get it.

From Life News with my emphases:

Thomas McKenna: “It is beautiful to see how the faithful have rallied behind the Hierarchy….How does your Eminence comment on the union of solidarity of our bishops?”

Cardinal Burke: “Yes, I have received emails and other communications from lay faithful who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family. I admire very much the courage of the bishops. At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation.”  [Do I hear an “Amen”?]

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.

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  1. Choirmaster says:

    This man is a huge credit to the Catholic Church in the US.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Papabile! Papabile!

    (Oh, and Ranjith, too, of course: Papabile! Papabile!)

    We are so very fortunately blessed to have so many good Cardinals!

  2. Texana says:

    Following Cardinal Burke’s instruction are we not contributing materially through our tax dollars and formally contributing to the grave sin of abortion by voting for any candidate who promotes abortion through his/her votes and public statements?

  3. Wow. Talk about diametric opposition to a Catholic diocese or two in the U.S.A.
    Great witness to the truth. In all charity.

  4. Bill F says:

    There’s a good discussion going over at the young Papist’s entry on this interview.
    Several faithful Catholic business owners have chimed in with no little concern at Cardinal Burke’s comments. I have to say that I’m a little baffled as well: H.E. seems to be saying that once the mandate kicks in and all insurance plans must include contraception, the ONLY morally acceptable choice for a Catholic employer is basically to drop insurance coverage for his or her employees. Am I missing something? What about the principle of double effect? If the only available option on the market is one that has some morally repugnant aspect to it, is the employer really obligated to opt out of the market altogether? Thanks to anyone who can shed a little light on this for us.

  5. Choirmaster says:


    No to paying taxes. There’s not much you can do since you are compelled to pay taxes, so you are not nearly as complicit when the government does something immoral with your tax dollars.

    Yes to voting, since you’ve consciously chosen to support a certain politician’s bid to control the government. And you’re vote actually does “count”, so you’re very much responsible especially if your intention is for the politician to enact the immoral platform of the campaign, or if you minimize the immorality for other things that you want from the politician.

  6. Laura98 says:

    If there is anything “good” that has come from this whole fiasco – it has been in the separating the Catholics from the catholics, the wheat from the chaff. Not only in regards to the laity, but also our Church leaders. Some of our Cardinals and Bishops (my own Bishop Olmsted included) have been absolutely wonderful shepherds during the initial part of this crisis. We shall have to hope and pray that they continue in their leadership during the coming year, when it becomes tougher. When the laws go into effect.

  7. kelleyb says:

    Laura98: “If there is anything “good” that has come from this whole fiasco – it has been in the separating the Catholics from the catholics, the wheat from the chaff”

  8. mwk3 says:

    It is very edifying indeed to see such strong and clear statements from the episcopate and the cardinalate on this issue, and Catholics need to stand strong.

    However, I have serious misgivings about the continued approach to this issue as one of ‘religious freedom’. Cardinal Dolan said to Bill O’Reilly that since the Church’s stance is unpopular, we need to shift the basis of the debate to religious freedom (if you don’t believe me watch it for yourself). But to me that seems like a retreat. Perhaps the issue really just is about contraception, and the fact that it is wrong. I don’t think the Fathers of the early Church would have approached this matter in the same way. In making constitutional claims, I also fear that the bishops are going beyond their remit, and straying into dangerous territory. They are pastors, not lawyers, and in fact even in the US, religious freedom has never been taken as absolute right and has been subject to various interpretations.

    As a friend of mine put it, this is really a missed opportunity to educate people about what the Church believes and WHY we think that contraception is a great evil, instead of hiding behind a dubious interpretation of the Constitution, which is also a document the consistency of which with an authentic Catholic worldview is likewise dubious.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    mwk3, It does not take a lawyer or even a constitutional expert to understand what is happening to the traditional interpretation of the Constitution with regard to religious freedom. To compare the approach of our bishops with that of the Early Church Fathers is an unfair and faulty comparison. The Fathers were not in a position to appeal to Rome, or any other governmental body, as historically such freedoms were non-existent. And, there is good ground for the bishops in the States to use what is applicable against Obamacare.

    The bishops are within their rights, just as we are, in using the basis of our democracy, the Bill of Rights and following interpretations, in order to maintain religious freedom. That public religious freedom is why a huge majority of immigrants came to America in the first place, and why the Church has developed ideals of Church and State cooperation through out the last two centuries via the Popes and their encyclicals.

    We have a long tradition in the Catholic Church of the Church working with various forms of governmental authorities, including monarchs, emperors, princes, and elected officials. This is the role of the Church in the market place. Religion is not just what we do inside of the church on Sunday, but our entire mode of living. That the bishops are aware of the need for the laity to be supported in our daily lives of being Catholics in a secular society is a great blessing for which other countries envy us. I have had so many Irish, English and French Catholics tell me in the past several months how fortunate the Catholic Church in America is to have bishops who are obvious in their support for Life issues and who stand for the freedom of conscience, which has been destroyed or ignored in most European nations. We are fortunate, indeed. for this leadership.

  10. bookworm says:

    “H.E. seems to be saying that once the mandate kicks in and all insurance plans must include contraception, the ONLY morally acceptable choice for a Catholic employer is basically to drop insurance coverage for his or her employees. Am I missing something?”

    Is it possible (just my speculation here) that what the Cardinal is doing here is intended to get a statement “on the record” from someone in a position of Church authority, establishing that it would indeed be immoral for a Catholic employer to supply birth control coverage, so that the statement can be cited as evidence in any of the lawsuits now being filed to stop the HHS mandate? Perhaps he is trying to head off an argument that the mandate wouldn’t “really” be compelling Catholics to do anything wrong, given the large number of Catholics who use contraception and employers who offer such coverage, and the lack of public opposition to it previously. No, I don’t mean to imply he didn’t really mean what he said; but I think there may be some kind of preemptive strategy going on here as well.

  11. Dave N. says:

    Many Catholic institutions, just for example Bp. Cordileone’s Catholic Charities of the East Bay by his own admission here:
    already provide such coverage. Let’s pray that changes in this regard are being made.

    Many thanks to Abp. Burke for beginning to uncover this situation for what it is. My hope is that one day he will also have enough courage to speak out against Catholic employers and employees who contribute money to such plans NOW at work (mandate or no mandate). So much of this scandal has to do with long-existing dirty laundry that no one wants to talk about.

  12. bookworm says:

    “My hope is that one day he will also have enough courage to speak out against Catholic employers and employees who contribute money to such plans NOW at work (mandate or no mandate).”

    So are you saying that all Catholics are morally obligated to refuse coverage by ANY health insurance plan that covers contraception, even if they themselves don’t use it? I understand Catholic employers and institutions having a moral duty to NOT actively PROVIDE such coverage — and to be called out on it if they do — but I’m not so sure that Catholic EMPLOYEES of a secular organization are obligated to reject health insurance coverage for their families because it pays for someone else’s birth control…

  13. Dave N. says:

    @ Bookworm. I think Cdl. Burke’s statement makes it very clear that Catholic employers providing this type of coverage are materially and formally cooperating with evil. In the case of EMPLOYEES, I think that if the employees are contributing monetarily to their plan at work (assuming the plan covers contraception and abortion, which most plans do) then said employees are at least materially cooperating with evil. This seems not that much different of a moral situation than the HHS mandate. But no one wants to even discuss it.

  14. jcr says:

    I greatly respect Card. Burke, but I fail to understand how this can be both material and formal cooperation. First of all, I understand these two are contraries: one who cooperates formally does so because he wills the sinful end; one who cooperates materially does so even though he does not approve of the sinful end. Merely being aware that evil will result from the cooperation does not make it formal. Therefore, it seems clear that an employer who does not want his employees to use contraception, but pays for it anyway to avoid penalties imposed by the government, cooperates materially and not formally.

    If someone can explain to me why Card. Burke’s statement is correct (preferably citing classic manuals of Catholic moral theology), I would be quite pleased.

    Now, to say that this is material cooperation does not necessarily mean that it is justified. Indeed, material cooperation is generally sinful, and permissible only when there is a sufficient reason to cooperate. Moreover, some acts are so harmful to the common good of the Church or State that material cooperation in them is never permissible. In any case, “there is no more difficult question than this [viz., whether material cooperation is permissible in a particular case] in the whole of Moral Theology” and even good moralists may judge a case differently (Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology [1943], I:342). There are various types of material cooperation. Here I judge the cooperation to be mediate rather than immediate, because it is not cooperation in the sinful act itself, and proximate rather than remote, because it supplies something very intimately connected to the commission of the sin (cf. Davis). Another examples of this class is selling a gun to a very angry man who seems capable of murder.

    Whether or not material cooperation is licit depends also on the harm to third parties. The abortifacient effects of many forms of contraception, as well as the fact that making contraception easier tends to increase abortion, should be considered. We can certainly hope that at least some of the unborn victims of the culture of death go to Heaven, but we have no way of knowing that any do, and therefore must avoid abortion and abortifacients just as we would if we were certain that all of them will lose forever the opportunity to attain the beatific vision.

    Doubtless, some Catholic moral theologians will say this cooperation is licit, while others will judge it illicit. Which of them are to be trusted will be difficult for lay Catholics to judge in an age where moral theologians often do not even agree on the principles, much less the conclusions. This is an anguish of conscience which the State has no right whatsoever to impose upon citizens for what (even for someone who erroneously thinks contraception is good) would be at best a trivial gain to the common good.

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