Card. Dolan at USCCB about HHS mandate: Bishops will “not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be something immoral”

Click to buy car magnets

From CNS:

Conference of Catholic Bishops on HHS Mandate: We Will ‘Not Obey What We Consider to Be Immoral’

( – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the Roman Catholic Church will continue to resist the Obama administration requirement that religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and colleges provide health insurance covering sterilization, contraception and abortifacients.

“The only thing we’re certainly prepared to do is not give in — not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be something immoral,” Dolan said at a news conference in Maryland on Tuesday. “That we’re committed on.”

“We took a bit of a breather as we waited for Election Day because the results of Election Day could have changed the playing field. It didn’t. So now I think the bishops have taken a deep breath and said, we better to get back to work and decide just what we are going to do.”

Cardinal Dolan says the church is still willing to work with the government towards a resolution to the Department of Health and Human Services coverage mandate: “I would say no door is closed, except the door to capitulation.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Dogs and Fleas, Emanations from Penumbras, Our Catholic Identity, Religious Liberty and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ralph says:

    So it begins.

    It’s time brethren to prepare yourselves and your families. The persecution is it hand ~ as I do not see how the current administration can allow the Church an exemption without their entire house of cards that is Obama Care falling around them. And, for once, it sounds like the bishops might not bend to the will of the Dear Leader.

    May God Almighty grant our bishops wisdom, strength and perseverance in the times to come.

  2. Clinton R. says:

    “We took a bit of a breather as we waited for Election Day because the results of Election Day could have changed the playing field. It didn’t.”

    No, God has allowed this to happen because Catholics cannot depend on any earthly power to take care of our problems. It is now time for us to ask God for strength of faith in these days of persecution. We must fast, pray and be strong and uncompromising in our faith. And of course as Father Zuhlsdorf urges, go to Confession. I pray for His Eminence and all the clergy. May Our Blessed Mother pray for them. +JMJ+

  3. andersonbd1 says:

    I’m not sure I understand this stance. I mean it’s certainly noble to fight back, but does he mean it? New York State already has this requirement and all the Churches/organizations already subscribe to it. Dr. Janet Smith wrote an article making the case that it’s not immoral to comply (especially having done what they can to fight). What gives? It would seem to only be relevant to the states that don’t already have these requirements. And even then, how could you justify the bishop of Oklahoma fighting for something that NY already has?

  4. poohbear says:

    So what does this mean in real life? Will the Bishops close schools and hospitals? Will they stop providing healthcare to workers in schools and hospitals? Will they only serve Catholics in those schools and hospitals? And what if they do decide to close? Obviously Catholic schools are directly in the Bishop’s control, but most Catholic hospitals are owned by religious orders. I would guess that the Bishops don’t have much control there.

    I want the Bishops to fight, and I want to support them on this issue, but we in the world need more then tough talk, we need to know the Bishops have a plan.

  5. The answer is simple, operate as normal, don’t provide abortions, don’t provide contraception, etc. Call the government’s bluff. I don’t see how they’re really going to be able to enforce all of this….They have a hard enough time enforcing the laws that already exist. Closing Catholic Hospitals, schools, etc would play right into the government’s hands.

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    Yeah, okay. So what does, “not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be
    something immoral” mean anyway? Mean exactly? Specifically? Like with references to Holy Scripture and the Catechism, specifically.

    Cardinal Dolan said, “I would say no door is closed, except the door to capitulation.” So does this mean that they think it’s really about their reputation and their personal odds of winning a spat about opinions, or does this mean it’s really about the irreducible truth of what the Church teaches that they’re going to protect?

    This is not looking good.

  7. Speravi says:

    andersonbd1 asks some good questions. I absolutely agree that we cannot violate our consciences one iota. However, I am hoping to see some clear analyses of these issues vis a vis Catholic doctrine on cooperation in evil so we can be sure we have well formed consciences. Where does this fall on the spectrum? In other words, wherein lies the absolute unconscionableness of the current situation? E.g. a Catholic is not prohibited from going to the grocery store. Yet, the grocery store is a business which sells contraceptives and probably periodicals aimed at inciting lust. By going to the grocery store, he is supporting that business, which, in turn, is committing evil. This is seen as a case of remote material cooperation. We don’t intend the evil. We are only indirectly involved in it. It doesn’t really depend on us and we don’t really have reasonable alternatives. Therefore, we are not conscience-bound to starve rather than go to the grocery store. Obviously there are some real differences between this and the HHS mandate. I would just really like to see a clear analysis of what those differences are. For example, I know I could never in good conscience own an insurance company which pays for contraception, just as I could never own a gas station that sells pornography or a grocery store that sells contraception. However, would it be a sin for me to buy gift cards for all my employees to such businesses with an awareness that, against my will, some of them very well might use those gift cards to commit sin? If we need to provide insurance, and all the insurance providers start to cover contraception, how is the situation different? A clear analysis would help. Obviously the situation is about a lot more than that. At minimum, the mandate is akin to the gov’t forcing all gas stations to sell pornography, even if owners think it is immoral. This is a huge injustice and would require Catholics to get out of the fuel business or violate the “law” (which would be no real law since it is opposed to God’s law) but would it require Catholics to stop buying gas? What about gift cards?

  8. Mary Jane says:

    What I want to know is, what are our individual obligations as Catholics? Why aren’t priests and bishops talking about our individual responsibilities when it comes to the mandate?

    I work for a Catholic-owned company and one of my benefits is health insurance. I do not know whether our company’s health insurance policy covers contraceptives – it wasn’t something I thought to ask about when I was hired because contraceptives aren’t something I ever have or would use. What are my obligations? Do I even have an obligation, if I’m not using that type of coverage? Do I need to find out if our company’s policy covers contraceptives, and, if it does, do I need to talk to HR and request that my insurance be dropped?

    I can’t imagine that I’m the only one out there that has this question.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    Ralph, the persecution you’re imagining probably isn’t at hand quite yet. Let’s not be dramatic. We’re probably just going to end up with a big amoral quagmire like they have in Germany already. We’re on our way to what happened in Europe anyway, we’ve been on our way for a long while now.

    The world’s not ending quite yet. But you are going to find yourself in a social ghetto or else get shouted down on a daily basis. That’s what it’s like in Europe now for all Christians, outside the tourist areas. Christians had their chance and they blew it, for now at least. Being obnoxious and corrupt have price tags attached. The sooner we learn that, the better off everyone’s going to be.

  10. Mary Jane says:

    Speravi, I too have questions along those same lines.

    Catholics are allowed to bank at BoA, yet BoA supports bad stuff. I do not bank at BoA because they support bad stuff; I bank at BoA because I like their services. I am not contributing directly to what BoA supports, of course.

    Does the mandate work the same way for us? That is, are Catholics are allowed to have health insurance even their policy covers contraceptives but they do not use that coverage? If they use the their coverage for things like broken arms, new babies, cold & flu visits, etc, is this acceptable, or do we have an obligation to drop our coverage and look for a policy that doesn’t cover contraceptives (if one even will exist at the end of the day…that’s another story…)? We would not be contributing directly…it would be indirect…

    Glad to know I’m not the only one with this question…

  11. catholicmidwest says:

    Mary Jane,

    This may come as a shock to you, but it’s not really about us. It’s about the conflict between what the dioceses do with their employees and what they teach publicly. They can’t, on the one hand teach that procuring an abortion is a great evil (CCC 2271), and on the other, procure abortions (HHS mandate).

    Why is it primarily about them? The bishops long ago lost control of the situation as it exists among laypeople. It’s a great shame, but that’s the truth of it. Most Catholics don’t work for the Church. Most Catholics work for private companies or secular non-profits, and have the exact same insurance policies as everyone else. And none of that was ever a problem til now. Right?

    The fact that they let all this go among everyone in the Church, and did not teach when they had the chance is why we are where we are now. It’s not your fault, and it’s not mine either. It is what it is. We’re in an advanced game of “pay now to fix the carnage, or wait, fix it later and pay even more.” We’ll see when they finally decide to settle up. Will it be now? Will it be after the next crisis? Will it be after 2 crises? 3? 4? It’s only going to get worse til we settle up and get it right. I think that should be clear by now.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Also, there’s this huge behind-the-scenes thing that goes on that many Catholics are not aware of. There are really two main faces that the Church has in the US:
    1) There’s the parish and the diocese that everyone in here is well aware of….
    2) there’s also this other non-profit side that takes millions of dollars of federal grant money and administers it to do social works to fulfill a variety of goals. Some of those goals don’t have much to do with the Church’s teaching role, and in fact some of the terms of those grants try to prohibit that sort of thing anyway. Many non-Catholics work for these non-profits. They work & look very much like regular businesses except for their names. Who runs them? Usually lay boards. Who owns them? A variety of things–some dioceses, some religious orders or congregations who use them for retirement funding. The great majority of religious are too old to staff these sorts of institutions anyway. THIS is what the Government is really trying to get at.

  13. poohbear says:

    I think that we will be contributing directly, and the only way not to is to refuse to have/offer insurance. Not a promising alternative.

    Insurance companies will be required to provide birth control etc to all subscribers at no cost to the patient. The drug companies will still charge the pharmacies for those pills and devices, and there will still be overhead charges at hospitals where sterilizations and abortions are performed. The drug companies and hospitals and doctors will still want to get paid, and will request payment from insurance companies. Insurance companies can’t charge the patients who use these services directly, so will have to use money from all its subscribers to pay these costs. If you have employer sponsored insurance and pay a part of the premium, your money is going to the fund which will be paying for these drugs and services. Likewise, any Catholic employer who provides insurance to its employees will be paying for these services through the premiums. Its only free in that there will be no copay, coinsurance or deductible associated with these specific services, but the material cost has to be paid for by someone, whether they use the product or not.

  14. jhayes says:

    Mary Jane asked:

    do we have an obligation to drop our coverage and look for a policy that doesn’t cover contraceptives

    The state of Massachusetts, where I live, has had Romneycare for quite a few years now, including the mandate that everyone must have health insurance. If your income is below a certain level (e.g. $69,000/yr for a famly of 4), you can get subsidized insurance from the state insurance exchange. The state requires that all insurance companies issuing policies subsidized by the state through that progam include coverage for abortion (free or up to $100 copay) and free contraceptives.

    I have never heard any suggestion from the Archdiocese that people should not buy those policies.

    I would not give up any insurance you have unless you get a clear instruction from your bishop that you must do that. You could cause great harm to your family by doing that prematurely.

  15. Speravi says:

    Mary Jane, I think this would be a good question for your confessor…I could comment, but in the capacity of being some person on the internet, I think it is more appropriate that I leave that to your confessor. I don’t think the bishops are likely to go to this level of talking about culpability in material cooperation until the chips have fallen. What the government is doing is evil. Therefore the bishops can’t say, “we can make what you are doing work…or we have an agreement.” If they start talking about the finer questions first, it could give the impression that the they are somehow okay with things. Additionally, what about the Catholics in the insurance business, itself? And of course, the obligations of the bishops extend to all since they were all made by God and will all face the same judgement. The first duty of the bishops is to fight the evil itself. Dealing with the question of culpability in cooperation will probably have to come second, if the evil cannot be averted. First they have to oppose evil. I would guess that once the chips have fallen, the bishops will encourage some preaching on what to do in that situation. In the mean time, as Catholics, we should look to our parish priests and confessors for guidance.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    What’s really scary is this: Maybe the USCCB doesn’t realize it but many lay Catholics have insurance policies that have their open enrollment periods right now, meaning the changes that you are required to designate right now are the ones that are locked in for the rest of the year. Perhaps the bishops ought to be more clear about what they expect people to do, and they’d better model it too in about the next 2 weeks or they’re going to hang a lot of good well-meaning people out to dry for a year.

  17. jhayes says:

    Starting last August, private businesses with more than 50 employees are required to provide employee health insurance including free contraceptives and sterilization starting with theit next annual renewal date. Otherwise, they must pay a $2,000 per emplyee tax each year.

    Although the August date has gone by, I have not seen any guidance from the bishops to Catholic business owners saying that it would be sinful to provide this coverage.

    This is also a concern for Catholic employees who manage benefit programs, but may not be in a position to make decisions about what the company does. It would be helpful if the bishops provided guidance as whether it would be sinful to manage such a program.

    Unless the bishops say otherwise, my assumption is that neither business owners nor employees would sin in these cases.

  18. LisaP. says:

    Mary Jane,

    Thank you so much for bringing it home — it’s important to take a full look at these things.

    I think this has been a problem for decades, because insurance works by pooling all the premiums into a fund that is used to pay in part or whole for every service covered for every member.

    So all of us are in a tough spot, since we are covered by policies that may cover abortion and gender operations and “treatment”, and almost certainly cover contraception. We have been paying, through our contributions to the pool either directly (private insurance) or by proxy (employer provided insurance), for other peoples’ contraceptives for years. Even if we aren’t using that part of the policy ourselves, we are enabling others to do so.

    It’s been a bright exception that some institutions (e.g. Catholic hospitals) have been able to write their own policies and therefore exclude certain coverage. That is what is going to go away here.

    It could lead to good things. If the Church finds a way around the law, other kinds of cooperative health financing systems, etc., then maybe the rest of us will be able to join in and strengthen it. Right now, we have no power whatsoever to change the system, but the bishops may collectively have enough power and money to find a third way. That would be nice.

    Until then, as harsh as I am about this issue, I will not be giving up our current tainted insurance because we don’t have the least power to change the options we have so have to choose from what is set before us. I have sometimes considered going completely on Medicaid for my family, even at the cost of reducing our family income if that were necessary. Then we would be guilty of taking from taxpayers who might be contributing involuntarily (soft theft?) but at least we would be clean of paying money into a pool that people then use to pay for abortions.

    I’m not certain that I’m making the right call, of course. In the end, going without insurance means you risk becoming indebted to others who may not wish you to be indebted to them, and it means you risk losing all your assets. If we don’t have insurance, my kids may lose their home. But it doesn’t mean risking not getting health care, my kids will alway be able to see an ER doc. So, should I drop tainted insurance and take the financial chances? Really hard to say. I also wouldn’t mind some guidance, but I’m doubting it will come in a form I can process from the bishops.

    You know, in the richest nation in the history of the world, you’d think there’d be more market diversity and more choice in health care financing. But we’re moving to less rather than more. It’s a lost opportunity and a shame.

    But thanks for bringing it up, I look forward to reading peoples’ thoughts here.

  19. LisaP. says:

    Wait, the choice for a business is to buy insurance for an employee (and family) or pay a $2000 fine each year? So, nobody is buying insurance anyway, are they? Insurance is going to run $6000 to $15000 per employee per year. Why would any small business not just pay the fine? So essentially private businesses are going to have a $2000 fine per employee from now on and there’ll be a boatload of Americans on government “insurance” (Medicaid). Is that the deal?

    Sorry, I should know all this already. Guess I never really thought we’d be there. . . . .

  20. Sissy says:

    “Why would any small business not just pay the fine? So essentially private businesses are going to have a $2000 fine per employee from now on and there’ll be a boatload of Americans on government “insurance” (Medicaid)”

    LisaP, that’s exactly how it is going to work, and it’s a feature, not a bug. The intention was always that we would have a single-payer system. Obama said early on that he wanted a single-payer system, but he would never be able to get it through. So, Obamacare is designed to drive employers and private insurers out of the market. Everyone will eventually default to a government system of health care. And won’t that be nice? Liverpool Pathway, here we come!

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    Another interesting wrinkle:

    If you’re a non-religious employer, the law took effect last August 1st, and so you are already liable for fines if you don’t buy insurance and all that, as I understand it. But if you’re a religious employer, the law doesn’t take effect til next year and you still have time to get everything done.

    But what if you think you’re a religious employer, but it turns out you’re not according to the HHS who has sole juridical power in the matter? Do you owe fines or do you not owe fines? Or do you go to court?

  22. Mary Jane says:

    “…it’s a feature, not a bug…”

    ROFL. I hear this all the time from a software vendor our company is partnered with. :-P

    Thanks to all for your responses to my questions. Keep ’em coming.

  23. Imrahil says:

    As it were, I think the degree of contribution will be, in all participants of interest here, exactly that of a person who is robbed at gunpoint of the money sins are afterwards financed with. Which is, pretty much, zero.

    From the very problem, however, that the money is taken to finance sins with, the bishops could issue an order to withdraw money. As, coming to think of it, the responsible persons could organize resistance when confronted with a gang of robbers, to avoid complying.

    This is where prudence and actual governing the Church comes into play.

    Dear @Joe of St Thérèse, it may be true that the State has enough other laws to make people comply to… But it is as it is always is: the good are scrutinized; the bad are negotiated with.

  24. AnnAsher says:

    It is good to see the Bishop’s stand up for the faith. Where I am confused is a) are there places where Catholic institutions already subscribe to insurance that affords abortion and contraception ? (It appears so) and b) will those plans be dropped ? It seems rather disingenuous and non committal as it is regarding the Churchmen standing up for Church morals when they take issue now but not before; when they support Romney who is pro-abort. They loose umphf because they lack consistency.
    I don’t believe Obamacare will ever be implemented fully. It lacks funding. Several states have made ammendments to state constitutions banning state insurance exchanges.

  25. lydia says:

    This is the way the dems get to a single payer system. I want to know what the bishops were thinking when they campaigned for socialized healthcare. Now they are fixated on contraception and abortion which is of course a top priority, but what about the death panels? Did they believe the children lucky enough to be born (but not perfect in the eyes of the panel) will get the care they need? Will other non producers (in the eyes of the panel) like senior citizens still get hip replacements and other expensive treatments? Most of our healthcare problems could have been solved by government subsidizing premiums for those not eligible for medicade and raised the medicare premiums on well to do seniors. They could have legislated tort reform allowed more competion across state lines and allowed the young and healthy to purchase catastrophic insurance policies. Obamacare was nothing but a power grab obvious to many from the start. I worry when our bishops get involved with policies they have little understanding of.

  26. chantgirl says:

    Sissy- so true. The President couldn’t honestly tell people what he was going to do, or people would never have gone along with it. His “You can keep your own insurance” lie should be on the Top Ten Biggest Presidential Bald-Faced Lies List. Had he instead said “I want to coerce businesses to drop employee health insurance and guarantee that it’s too expensive for the average family to buy privately so that people will be forced onto the government’s plan, and then we can control who is essential and who is not. Oh, and I also want to force Catholic and other faith-based institutions out of healthcare, charity work, and education by giving them the choice of closing due to conscience or being bankrupted by fines and litigation and then having to close anyway.”, that would not have gone over as well.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    They weren’t thinking. That was the problem. That’s been the problem all along.

  28. I like what Michael Collins had to say about corrupt persecutors:

    “We have a weapon more powerful… than any in the whole arsenal of the British Empire! That weapon… is our refusal!”

  29. jhayes says:

    LisaP wrote:

    Wait, the choice for a business is to buy insurance for an employee (and family) or pay a $2000 fine each year? So, nobody is buying insurance anyway, are they? Insurance is going to run $6000 to $15000 per employee per year. Why would any small business not just pay the fine? So essentially private businesses are going to have a $2000 fine per employee from now on and there’ll be a boatload of Americans on government “insurance” (Medicaid). Is that the deal?

    The $6,000 to $15,000 is part of the emplyee’s compensation. If the employer is providing the insurance now, it would have to pay more cash to the employee if it stopped providing the insurance.

    Here in Massachusetts where we have had Romneycare for 6 years, the percentage of employers who provide health insurance to their employees has gone up, according to a report from the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups:

    Seventy-seven percent of Massachusetts employers with three or more employees offered health insurance coverage of their employees in 2010, up seven percentage points since 2005. This compares with 69 percent of employers offering health insurance to their workers nationwide

  30. EXCHIEF says:

    Words are cheap. I’m waiting to see what the action is. And, if the Bishops think they can do it all by themselves without the help of the laity they are in for a shock. Oh, I forgot. The majority of the laity due to lack of proper instruction over the past 5 decades voted for Obama. OK, so the 10% of Catholics who still meet their Sunday obligation will be on the Bishops side. Now I get it. Cynical? Yes I am. So many Bishops have been so neglectful of their duties for so long it is really, really hard to take what (most but not all ) they say seriously. I find it hard to believe that Dolan who yuked it up with Obama at the recent dinner will fight hard against the moron he invited to that dinner.

  31. jhayes says:

    The Chamber of Commerce report is:


  32. Catholictothecore says:

    The President seems to be in a more negotiable state of mind in his 2nd term (read fiscal cliff). He may do the same with the HHS mandate as well. We need to be hopeful. The Catholic Bishops may come out winners in this.

  33. jhayes says:

    It seems to be unclear as to what Cardinal Dolan actually said:

    “Dolan, archbishop of New York, would not say whether bishops would disobey the mandate if the lawsuits fail or church leaders can’t resolve their disagreements with Health and Human Services.

    “It’s still not doomsday yet,” he said.”

  34. thickmick says:

    Bravely spoken, ur Eminence. Time to start calling these guys out. This guy had the chance to make an impact during the Al Smith Dinner. He had THE microphone and everybody was waiting to see if he would man up. BUT HE DID NOTHING, but drink and eat and laugh with Obama and go figure????…BArry carries over 50% of the Catholic vote. Now we’re suppose to say, “WOW, he’s really laying it down now….drawing the sand in the line…”sheesh. Who the devil knows about this conference in Baltimore or cares except a bunch of Catholic nerds like us??? HEY DOLAN!!!!! WHO CARES WHAT YOU ARE SAYING AT SOME STUPID LAME USCCCCCCCB CONFERENCE…GET OUT THERE IN FRONT OF ST. PATS, CALL A PRESS CONFERENCE AND THEN SAY THIS STUFF IN FRONT OF THE NEW YORK MEDIA AND THEN START GOING OFF ON CONTRACEPTION, ABORTION, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY HOMOSEXUAL SEX AND HOW IT CAN LAND YOU IN HELL IF YOU, AS A CATHOLIC SUPPORT IT OR PRACTICE IT. THAT OUGHT TO GET THE BALL ROLLING.

  35. Giuseppe says:

    Can someone please answer the accumulated questions:
    1) Is it a sin to shop at a store which sells contraceptives? Even if you are not buying them?
    2) Is it a sin to have a health insurance plan which covers contraceptives? Abortions? They are in every plan my employer offers. I cannot afford not to have health insurance. Follow up, is it a sin to be uninsured and burden others when one’s employer offers health insurance which is easily afforadable to me?

    Regarding complying with policies which enable sins:
    3) Is it a sin to get married in a state which has same-sex marriage? Aret those marriage licenses complicit in sin? While a priest can perform a traditional marriage in a state with same-sex marriage, can he sign the license? Is that a sin?

    So many things I had never thought about before and I am so confused…

  36. Jim says:

    “not violate our consciences and not obey what we consider to be something immoral”

    They just don’t get it do they ?
    So It isn’t really immoral – its just that we consider it immoral . Wow as clear as the mud! Bravo! Bravo!

  37. bwfackler says:

    This statement embodies the reason Obama won the catholic vote. the lack of expressing the necessity of the Catholic faith for all humanity and acceptance of american style religious pluralism and privatization as good. the bishops instead of standing up for the truth and objective morality only phrase this as a law in violation of their american civil right to not do something they consider immoral. no mention ever made that contraception is immoral for all objectively only that is immoral to them subjectively. this has been the reigning philosophy for the church since paul vi and guided popes to worship with pagan practices and conduct assisis. it has resulted in an ecumenical liturgy that has removed sacrifice and redemption as well as Christ as king in current society. it has guided popes and vatican officials to declare Jews no longer need conversion and to emphasize the Catholic truths in other religions and the possibility of salvation in false religions over their grave errors and lack of saving grace. it has resulted in focus of personal conscience with no regard to properly forming it according the truth, the Catholic faith. We need the truth preached forcefully and objectively without ambiguity to reclaim the catholic populace to the faith. Pope St Pius X pray for us.

  38. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Giuseppe,

    1) No.
    2) First question: under the said circumstances no. Second question: generally (I think) yes, but if – as I get you implied – all of these “easily affordable insurances” fall under your first question, then also: no.
    3) No.

  39. Scott W. says:

    1) Is it a sin to shop at a store which sells contraceptives? Even if you are not buying them?

    Imarhil answered correctly to all three questions. No, assuming you do not share the intentions of the evildoer, you are not sinning. However, that’s not the end of the story because one is still objectively materially cooperating with evil and in general we should avoid that if reasonably possible. When every drugstore and supermarket sells contraception and/or poor, then it really isn’t possible.

    There was a drugstore in Virginia that tried not selling porn and contraceptives and the Usual Suspects (i.e. those who sport “COEXIST” bumper-stickers and yammer on about diversity) howled bloody murder at the very idea that ONE store in the entire region would dare go off the grid.

  40. Scott W. says:

    “poor” should read “porn” or “pornography”.

  41. andersonbd1 says:

    Much of the discussion here is answered by Dr. Janet Smith’s article here:

  42. Nancy D. says:

    We have a political party that professes that the son or daughter residing in their Mother’s womb is not a person, even though it is a self-evident truth that there is no such being as a human place or human thing, denies the self-evident truth that only a man and woman can exist in relationship as husband and wife, and is determined to coerce The State into becoming a peddler of promiscuity by a so called compromise mandating that every Insurance Company must be a contraception provider so that no Insurance Company will exist that does not provide contraception, even though the use of contraception, which is not life-affirming, or Life-sustaining, and promotes the sexual objectification of the human person, serves to violate Life and Liberty. After witnessing to The Democratic Party’s attempt to deny God three times, how can anyone suggest that at this Time in History, we should take a breather, knowing full well what will happen, now that the veil has been lifted?

  43. chantgirl says:

    I like Dr. Janet Smith, but I’ve got to disagree with her section, Material Assistance vs. Cooperation with Evil, in her article. Yes, God gives us all of creation, but He did not give us IUDs or the hydrogen bomb or condoms. He gave us good things and we made them into wicked things. Her train of thought here could lead people to think that God is evil and sadistic. In the same way, employers give their employees a wage, and it is the responsibility of the employee to use the wages in a good manner. However, when an employer directly starts providing money that goes toward evil things like contraceptoin, abortion, and sterilization, then the employer has gone from providing a good thing that could be misused (salary) to providing an evil thing that will be used for an evil intention.
    I understand peoples’ desire that things stay the same, stay comfortable, but the ugly reality is that we are shifting from prosperous times to times of persecution. I had hoped that my children and grandchildren would be raised in a peaceful, family-friendly nation that respected the rights of individuals and my Church. I am trying to mentally gear myself up for the fact that they will be living under the shadow of persecution. If we cooperate now, things will only go downhill from here. I am afraid that the only way we will avoid going down the same path as Canada and the UK is to take the difficult stand NOW. Yes, there will be seriously painful penalties, but the longer we wait, the more entrenched the problem will become and the more difficult it will be to undo.It’s better to excise a cancerous tumor in its’ early stages than to wait until it has metastisized throughout the body. Instead of looking for ways to soothe our conscience, we should be developing battle strategies and contingency plans. We need to draw the line NOW. If we follow Dr. Smith’s advice, perhaps God will be merciful and not hold it against us, but it certainly woundn’t make us saints. I’m going to go with Cardinal Burke’s judgment on this issue.

  44. Ralph says:


    “Ralph, the persecution you’re imagining probably isn’t at hand quite yet. Let’s not be dramatic. We’re probably just going to end up with a big amoral quagmire like they have in Germany already. We’re on our way to what happened in Europe anyway, we’ve been on our way for a long while now. ”

    What do you suppose is going to happen when we refuse to participate in the immoral activities mandated by the government? Do you think they are going to slap us on the wrist? Or rather do you think that there will be fines and prison? I expect the latter.

  45. Nancy D. says:

    And to be clear, we are at this point in History, not only because of the big tent mentality, which allows those who profess to be Catholic to define what is good and evil according to the god they have created in their own image, but also because some of our shepherds decided to take a time out at a crucial point in The Race. Why not call a spade a spade, and a charade a charade? Our Life and Liberty do not belong to Caesar, which is why our Founding Fathers recognized that our unalienable Rights have been endowed to us from God.

  46. Nancy D. says:

    Only The True God, The ordered, complementary Communion of Perfect Trinitarian Love that is The Blessed Trinity, can endow us with our unalienable Rights, to begin with.

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    I have a fantasy where the bishops, religious, etc. fire all the non-Catholic workers in hospitals, nursing homes, etc., hire all-Catholic staffs, make all of the services “free” and provide the best services in the U. S. only for Catholics, who will pay for them out of larger contributions to the diocese (we will put it into a large fund for the health services to draw from). Then, we would control our own fate. This satisfies the HHS mandate and, essentially, cripples the rest of U. S. healthcare by swamping existing secular services. Not only that, when people see that Catholics have access to free conception-to-death health care, naturally, some will want to consider joining the Church.

    I say, let’s call Obama’s hand and if he wants to apply a narrow religious exclusion, let’s give it to him. 25% of the population can get free, morally-sensitive health care. Now, the Evangelicals can do the same thing and the Baptists, etc. Let’s make every healthcare facility completely sectarian so that the government gets no insurance monies and everyone has to join a religion. We could turn this against the government, if we had the nerve (and a really big imagination).

    I know, fantasyland, but it feels good to dream.

    The Chicken

  48. wmeyer says:

    I have a fantasy where the bishops, religious, etc. fire all the non-Catholic workers in hospitals, nursing homes, etc., hire all-Catholic staffs, make all of the services “free” and provide the best services in the U. S. only for Catholics…. This satisfies the HHS mandate and, essentially, cripples the rest of U. S. healthcare by swamping existing secular services.

    And no doubt, the Church would then be sued for religious discrimination. The HHS mandate is a setup. At every turn, we face further strictures.

  49. bernadette says:

    I know that there are Catholic hospitals that have insurance policies which cover contraception because I worked for one. I didn’t subscribe to their policy because I was covered by my husband’s. I didn’t think twice about it at the time but one of my co-workers complained that the hospital policy would pay only for generic bc pills and she didn’t like the side effects of the cheap bc pills.
    Our pastor talked about the HHS mandate in a homily. There is a chance they might have to close the school because there is no way they could afford the $2000 per employee fine. That would be a shame because that school is a light in a poor section of the city.
    What a tangled web this is!

  50. Legisperitus says:

    I’m afraid in some cases the only right thing to do will be to disobey the mandate, because it’s an unjust law, and refuse to pay the fine, because it’s part of the unjust law, and then get sent to prison. Some people will need to be prepared to go to prison to demonstrate the injustice of this. Not excluding bishops.

  51. wmeyer says:

    There is a chance they might have to close the school because there is no way they could afford the $2000 per employee fine. That would be a shame because that school is a light in a poor section of the city.

    And if it happens, the diocese will be chastised for standing by Catholic principles “at the expense of the children of the poor.”

  52. catholicmidwest says:

    Ralph, you said, “What do you suppose is going to happen when we refuse to participate in the immoral activities mandated by the government? Do you think they are going to slap us on the wrist? Or rather do you think that there will be fines and prison? I expect the latter.”

    They’re not going to slap us on the wrist. They’re going to try to fine us out of the public square because A) our political stances have been a public nuisance to them, and B) they can do so, because the USCCB does not have the support of the Catholic population due to past failures , C) they can do so because we’re a religion who has political pretensions, but we’re not really a political entity with any way of physical or social way of enforcing our wild statements, D) our millions upon millions of dollars of social services contracts are wanted by somebody who’s less of a pain in the rear end to them and they want a reset. The current administration is in bed with labor unions and that’s reason enough for them to do this.

    Being in a panic is going to make being fined out of the public square that much easier, not harder. Sitting around yukking it up and pontificating about Dorothy day while saying “It’s not doomsday yet,” is going to make that easier rather than harder too. The fact that our whole apparatus of social services is incredibly over-leveraged with government money, non-Catholic employees and aging once-Catholic buildings makes this much easier. The bishop’s blustering response is going to make that easier too. And…as if that wasn’t bad enough, nobody in the Church really knows what’s going on and when that happens all the normal people, who have deadlines to meet, start not caring & making other plans because they have to.

    There’s something very important that Catholics are missing big time. Politics is about power. We keep throwing our hat in the political ring with the big dogs and then getting mauled. That’s not going to change as long as we insist on throwing our hat in the ring. This is a big, big Catholic problem and it’s gone large this year. There are other ways to get things done, but we have apparently forgotten what they are. You can’t MAKE people do religious things with force, not really, RELIGION 101.

    Catholics haven’t really thought any of this out. It’s all been knee-jerk and saying-whatever-you-want and wild threats. It’s time to start THINKING for a change. And even if the bishops can’t get 2 brain cells together, each of us is going to have to do so anyway and that’s a new thing for many Catholics.

    Farther up this thread I see questions like, “If a store sells birth control, does that mean I can’t shop there?” The answer is no, of course not. No more than if they sell shotguns, you have to buy one and go out and shoot somebody. You sin when YOU violate commandments. Period. This whole mess is not about that. It’ s not about you if you’re just a normal Catholic trying to do the right thing. RATHER, this is about the USCCB getting itself into a another tight spot about what they say vs. what they do. IF they ever want to be taken seriously again, they’d better have a long and hard “come to Jesus” meeting about what’s really going on, and then start using those brain cells.

  53. catholicmidwest says:

    And you are right, wmeyer, we are going to get blamed no matter what happens. But we have to shut this stuff down anyway. All this incredibly over-leveraged stuff that’s not really Catholic has to go because we cannot sustain it. We should never have erected a house of cards like this in the first place. It’s been a preoccupation that’s prevented so many other things that we should also have be doing.

    The Church needs to tend to her own who need religious help first. That is its primary responsibility as a religion. After that, then we do what works we can do, for the RIGHT reasons by the RIGHT people–ordinary lay people because it does them good. “Word and deed together”– this is the Gospel way. This is not about empire-building and it’s not about making bishops into CEOs. Bishops should be visible shepherds, which can’t be just a slogan anymore.

  54. Ralph says:

    Well said Legisperitus.

    You have explained my thoughts so much better than I did.

  55. Sissy says:

    Chicken, I like your fantasy. My own is a bit more radical. I’ve been thinking a great deal about St. Augustine’s statement: ““Sin is nothing else than the neglect of eternal things and seeking after temporal things.” My fantasy is that the Church in the US withdraws from every single bit of “outreach” that has involved it in temporal things. No hospitals, no social services, no adoptions, no work with immigrants, nothing that involves the Church with any government funding. And then every single penny saved on those activities and all the human resources should be poured into faithful, orthodox Catholic schools. I’d like to see every diocese open and maintain orthodox Catholic schools attached to every single church, staffed by habited religious from orthodox orders. Mothers can be paid to work there, too, in preference to whatever jobs are taking them outside the home. I think we need to start over from scratch, and rebuild the Church by starting with solid catechesis for children. Leave “social justice” to the government; let us return to “eternal things”. That’s my fantasy.

  56. wmeyer says:

    I think we need to start over from scratch, and rebuild the Church by starting with solid catechesis for children.


  57. The Masked Chicken says:

    …orthodox Catholic schools.

    Government will not allow. We don’t want no stinkin’ thinkers making trouble.

  58. Nancy D. says:

    Not only is the HHS contraception an unjust Law, it is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the Health Care Mandate was, in essence, a tax because it did not pass scrutiny under The Commerce Law. Since it is not necessary, nor is it proper for The State to be a peddler of contraception, which promotes promiscuity and the sexual objectification of the human person, and in some cases, destroys the Life of an innocent human being, the contraception mandate will not pass scrutiny under The Commerce Act. So the question is, how is the Obama Administration going to justify, in a Nation that professes to be One Nation, under God, and thus indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all, penalizing those persons who do not want to compromise the Christian principles upon which this Nation was founded?

  59. catholicmidwest says:


    What you’re talking about is going back to the view of the Church that people in parishes usually have.

    Make no mistake. There are two faces of the Catholic Church in this country, but they’re not “liberal” vs. “conservative” as almost everyone has fancied them to be. Rather they’re structural. There is:
    A) the normal parish and diocesan structure that you think of when you think Church. It’s the Church in your town where you go to Mass,
    B) then there’s the other part which is the part that’s funded by millions of dollars of federal money, staffed by a collection of employees that may or may not be Catholic, and housed in crumbling buildings that used to house genuine Catholic apostolates run by religious orders, which are functionally defunct or gone as of the last 1 or 2 decades.

    You’re suggesting that we shut down B). I agree with you. We can no longer sustain these things and are totally over-leveraged on that side. We can no longer (or are not willing to) provide the manpower, the funding or the upkeep OURSELVES that these things need to run. Many of them have drifted from being done for the sake of the Gospel in a sound manner to being just more social services venues. And just being a social service venue is not what the Gospel is about; it’s never been just about that. Ever.

  60. Sissy says:

    Chicken, so far at least, the government does not prohibit parochial schools. So far.

  61. jhayes says:

    EWTN reports on Xavier University. In April, it decided to remove contraception coverage from its existing employee health insurance but, after the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, it decided to continue providing contraception.

    In April: “”As a Catholic priest and as president of a Catholic university, I have concluded that, absent a legal mandate, it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and procedures the Church opposes,” he said in an April 2 letter to members of the Xavier community.”

    In September: “The decision to maintain contraception coverage was made following the Supreme Court’s June 28 decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. According to Fr. Graham, the school reasoned that after Aug. 1, 2013, coverage would be required by the government and that compliance should be made now.

    “We will comply with the law,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.”

    So, the distinction that he drew was that there was not a legal mandate in April but there was after the Supreme court decison.

    EWTN Article

  62. catholicmidwest says:

    Sissy & Chicken,

    If you do not want the government messing with parochial schools, then you’d better work to put them on a sound footing. This means all Catholic teachers, sound catechesis, and 100% Catholic funding.

    And it means that you might have to talk to the other private religious schools down the road and form alliances with them to prevent being strong-armed in the future. All those home-schoolers associations, and the other private religious schools, aka the Lutherans and Evangelicals, are your friends not your enemies. We can agree to disagree on doctrines, while insisting that we have rights because we’re essentially trying to do the same thing. It’s called common cause — working parallel for the same end — and it can be very effective if people are reasonable, honest and they keep their wits about them when they do it.

  63. Dave N. says:

    Mary Jane asks good questions: “What I want to know is, what are our individual obligations as Catholics? Why aren’t priests and bishops talking about our individual responsibilities when it comes to the mandate?”

    The time to have addressed this issue is long past. Millions of Catholics already pay for others’ contraception and abortion coverage at work. Catholic institutions in states with a mandate (e.g., California and Massachusetts–not exactly minor chunks of the populace) have been paying for abortion and contraception coverage for years. Never a single moral peep from the bishops that I can recall.

    The same goes for the sanctity of marriage. The time to have addressed this issue was when no-fault divorce was sweeping the nation.

    Namby-pamby responses in the past make the bishops look like hypocritical, political hacks in the present.

  64. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Does that notable layman, Mr. Boehner, seem determined to treat this mandate as something like “the law of the land”, too?

    If so, can he be persuaded to do otherwise and better?

  65. Magash says:

    Anyone who expects the bishops to stand up to the government is some kind of grand Christian gesture is likely to be very disappointed. There are basically four things that the bishops can do.
    1. They can capitulate. That is they can allow all of the religious organizations being mandated by the government to pay for insurance that covers immortal practices demanded by HHS. This is a non-starter. Won’t happen.
    2. They can simply refuse and pay the fines. This won’t happen either. It would drive all the organizations to bankruptcy, which is why there are coercive fines to begin with.
    3. They can refuse and refuse to pay the fines. This would require the government to close them down, jail bishops and lay executives at the organizations and is the one thing that might actually cause the 50% of “Catholics” who supported Obama to wake up. It would also start a huge public persecution of Catholics and perhaps other Christians in the United States, lasting for a very short time or for much longer depending on how all of luke-warm Christians and non-Christians in the United States react to their government taking such action in opposition to the Constitution and Natural Law. I state this will also not happen. There aren’t enough bishops with backbones and solidly Catholic Laity in these organizations to take such a radical Christian action.
    4. The bishops can divest the Catholic Church of responsibility for these organizations. They will become secular. Effectively the bishops will say that they are not supporting the government’s mandate because these organizations are not under their control. As Cardinal George said the Church will give ups these organizations for Lent, and the rest of the year. They can draw a line and say they won. Obama wins because he gets his way. All the hospitals and charities will push same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception. Everyone wins, except the Church, the country and the laity who supported and paid for these organizations for the last century and a half. No one goes to jail. No minds are changed. No hard decisions for the Hierarchy. Go along to get along.

  66. wmeyer says:

    B) then there’s the other part which is the part that’s funded by millions of dollars of federal money, staffed by a collection of employees that may or may not be Catholic, and housed in crumbling buildings that used to house genuine Catholic apostolates run by religious orders, which are functionally defunct or gone as of the last 1 or 2 decades.

    Yes, this needs to be shut down; the bishops have thought they could lie down with dogs and not get up with fleas. Conflating the actual practice of Catholic charitable institutions with government programs, as occurs in Catholic hospitals, tars us with the brush of secular regulations. The politicians get worse rather than better, and we are not able to compromise and remain true to our faith. So the only practical change is a separation from the government programs.

    Do we get out of adoption services? Yes. It’s sad, but as we saw in Massachusetts, it is inevitable. As to hospitals, I suspect there is a viable path in which Catholic hospitals remain open and server only Catholics. Not a change which will be popular anywhere, or with anyone. But it is one choice in response to the HHS mandate.

    In your analysis above, I favor #3, and am opposed to #4. In 3, the persecution–which is inevitable–escalates a bit sooner than otherwise. But it lies in our future, anyway, and cannot be avoided, unless we deny out faith. In 4, we sacrifice at fire sale prices facilities which we Catholics have built for decades. It’s not right. We become complicit in the rape of our Church.

  67. wmeyer says:

    catholicmidwest, sorry, I said “your” but was replying to points raised by Magash.

  68. catholicmidwest says:


    On the contrary, they can’t prevent your #1 from happening. This is the big secret that most Catholics don’t know. Many of these social service agencies and universities are owned not by dioceses but by aging religious orders, and many of them are run by lay boards, who may or may not be Catholic. I expect that what we’ll see coming out of this is a huge mosaic of outcomes, and that at some point, the bishops won’t want to talk about it anymore because what’s going to be left of it is going to land right square on their dinner trays on one otherwise-normal-looking-day next year.

    The bishops are going to have to individually decide what can advertize itself as Catholic and what can’t, aka that hospital in Arizona of last year with the abortion case. If they won’t, trust me the institutions in question will eventually anyway of their own accord. It’s only a matter of painful time. Georgetown, Xavier, Notre Dame etc are going to do what they have to do and the things that haven’t stopped them from acting the way they’ve acted in the past (honorary awards yada yada) are not going to stop them from this either.

    As for their more minor part in this, the bishops are going to have to put their own diocesan structures in order at least far enough that they don’t lose their shirts over this law. That’s what’s really going to happen.

    History as written 50 years from now
    1990: Religious orders in the United States were aging and undergoing a dramatic and precipitous drop in new members, while becoming less and less doctrinally obedient.
    2012: Catholics in the USA suddenly discovered that not only was the average age of sisters in the US about 75 years old, but that they were nearly all retired and all their stuff was being run by lay boards on government money, while they enjoyed the services of transactional analysis and new age theology. This, while the Church bent over backwards to accept any kind of ridiculous compromise to keep their “brand” out there on the sign in front of the sisters’ old buildings because they’d been doing it for 20 years and didn’t know when to stop.
    2013: The other shoe dropped.

  69. Magash says:

    I too favor #3. I just don’t believe the bishops are up to it. Remember England. Of all the bishops only St. John Fisher stood up to King Henry when push came to shove. I remember hearing this story. St. John and that eminent and holy patron of lawyers and statesmen St Thomas More arrived at the Tower of London, where they were to spend their last days.
    As they approached the door St. Thomas said, “I believe, my lord, that the gate is wide enough for both of us.” To which St. John answered, “‘Tis narrow enough Thomas.”

  70. Sissy says:

    wmeyer, I’m in favor of Magash’s item #4. Divesting all of those social services institutions could free up funding for a massive expansion of schools. None of those other institutions will be viable under the mandate, anyway.

  71. wmeyer says:

    I too favor #3. I just don’t believe the bishops are up to it.

    Magash, I fear you are right, and pray you are wrong.

  72. wmeyer says:

    Sissy, I don’t believe we will need money for expansion of the schools, as they will target those, as well.

  73. catholicmidwest says:


    It will be a huge mosaic of stuff, and Magash’s #4 is the most likely outcome for the non-parish government-funded wing of the Church. Big hospitals, universities etc. He’s right about that. It’s going to give the bishops apoplexy and some of them are going to try to weasel around it, but yeah, that’s what’s going to happen and that’s pretty plainly evident. We’ll be lucky if we can get these things sold and off our hands in time. That’s what we’d ought to be trying to do, get our investments out of them before they go poof.

    There are some places that sort of span the two wings and they might really get hurt. I’m thinking of places like EWTN, Franciscan university, Fr. Groeschel’s group in Brooklyn, etc. I’m not sure how all that will turn out. ALSO, some religious orders who may or may not have been particularly orthodox of late, have General Ministers and Priors in Rome who really run the show and they will probably have something to say about all this within their respective orders. Probably Catholics in the pews won’t really be party to that, but it will affect their outcomes. Some members of these orders may even be relocated as a result.

    Wmeyer, you not only don’t want #3, but the idea of it doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Many of these are not really Catholic institutions and they haven’t been for more than a decade. Think Georgetown. :/

    I’m not going to fight Georgetown so that Georgetown can keep Georgetown when Georgetown has already gone to the dogs by their own mutual consent. Back to RELIGION 101: You can’t make people do religious things by force. Let it go.

  74. Sissy says:

    wmeyer, they’ll need to overturn a major Supreme Court case of long-standing, first. I’m not saying they won’t target schools next, but it’s a lot further down the road than the mandate, which is imminent. Of course, it’s all wish-casting anyway. I don’t foresee the USCCB giving up their involvement in politics and culture in favor of rebuilding the Church from the youngest generation up. I hope they surprise me, but I’m not holding my breath.

  75. wmeyer says:

    Sissy, my supposition is that they will come after the schools by requiring that a) they must be open to non-Catholics, and b) cannot require religious classes, and c) must not display symbols offensive to non-Christian students. In other words, by secularizing the schools.

  76. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Sissy, my supposition is that they will come after the schools by requiring that a) they must be open to non-Catholics, and b) cannot require religious classes, and c) must not display symbols offensive to non-Christian students. In other words, by secularizing the schools.”

    The would lose on Constitutional grounds as long as the school accepted NO government funds.

    The Chicken

  77. catholicmidwest says:

    Also, a lot of the laws and decisions that affect home schooling and private schooling are at the state levels. That is where this stuff is really settled WHEN religious schooling is really about religious schooling, tax money isn’t involved and non-involved kids (in our case, read non-Catholic kids) aren’t involved.

  78. wmeyer says:

    The would lose on Constitutional grounds as long as the school accepted NO government funds.

    Which brings us back to the discussion of separation. The government has become toxic to any group holding moral principles. Acceptance of any government funds, regardless of purpose, is the wedge.

  79. Sissy says:

    “The would lose on Constitutional grounds as long as the school accepted NO government funds.”

    Yes, Chicken….that’s the plan. The Church should withdraw from all involvement with any institution that accepts governmental funding. That means running churches and schools only. We’d all be far better off – until the gendarmes come for us, anyway.

  80. catholicmidwest says:

    wmeyer, you said, “Acceptance of any government funds, regardless of purpose, is the wedge.”

    Correct. And is that so wrong? The government should have no say in my religion whatsoever and should not be involved in funding it either, because that leads to the desire to control it as night follows day.

  81. Imrahil says:

    They would act unconstitutionally?
    Certainly; and even if there is government funding.

    They would lose on constitutional grounds?
    That’s far from so certain. In the United States, legitimate penal laws have been unconsitutionally suspended by action of the Supreme Court itself (viz. Roe vs. Wade).

  82. Supertradmum says:

    Support NAPCIS schools, please, which do not take government money. That is the only way to be independent. Our bishops are coming to their Rubicon moment, when the Catholic presence in the States will clash in the courts over Obamacare and civil marriages. There is no way to avoid conflict at this point. I suggest everyone gets ready for Reformation in England type penal laws, with fines and even confiscation of property. How history repeats itself….

  83. Laura98 says:

    The funny/ironic thing is… I’ve read more common sense and words of wisdom here on this thread (and on this blog in general) than what’s come out of the USCCB in years. *sigh* While, there are certain individual Bishops I admire and believe are very holy men… taken as a whole, well… the group is rather, er… like Congress.

    And I also believe the Catholic Church is headed towards it’s own “Fiscal Cliff” – in a manner of speaking. The Church will be hit hard with this HHS Mandate (barring any miracle with SCOTUS) and will be forced to sell off (secularize) or get rid of some other way many if not all of the outreach programs now currently in place.

    If you look at Europe… you don’t see the Church involved in nearly as many programs. The Church and State are often connected by law. In Germany, where I lived, we had to pay an official Church tax to the State to be a member of the Church. The State decided/regulated what the Church could and could not do, either by tradition or by new more “liberal” laws to be more accommodating to these new times. You don’t see the parochial schools. There were some private Catholic schools, but very expensive. All these “Social Justice” programs, like in the US, were taken care of by the State. Sure there were some volunteer groups that helped out here and there.. but they were few and far between. I don’t remember ever running across or even hearing about a St. Vincent de Paul’s (or Salvation Army for that matter) type organization over there. In my opinion, the Church was dead over there – perhaps it was where I lived, but outside tourist areas, I never saw many people attending. I knew more atheists than Christians over there. Is this similar to what is planned for the US? Make the government the provider of all and the Church small and unobtrusive? Dead?

  84. mysticalrose says:


    I love the vision, but there simply aren’t enough orthodox religious to run the schools.

  85. VexillaRegis says:

    @Supertradmum, WELCOME BACK! I checked your blog when I saw your name on here. Sorry things didn’t work out the way you hoped, but you are greatly missed here – WDTPRS just wasn’t the same without you!

    Sorry for the derailing, back on track, Fr Z!

  86. Supertradmum says:

    Cardinal Dolan needs to listen to good old Michael Voris. The bishops must be prayed for now by us. If we really are serious, we should be fasting for them now. And, we need to praise the good decisions they make and not merely be critical all the time.

  87. catholicmidwest says:

    Oh yes, the kirchensteuer. The German church has two wings too, and the parish structure has nearly been choked to death by the social services structure, because the social services structure is so entrenched there with the general population. God may have a bigger hand in this than many Catholics realize. It’s going to be confusing and it’s going to be hard work. And the bishops aren’t going to like it one bit. But it’s going to be okay. You’ll see.

  88. Jim of Bowie says:

    Ditto VexillaRegis. We missed your comments, Supertradmum.

  89. Sissy says:

    Supertradmum, you’re right. Now that some, at least, are showing some willingness to face down the administration, they need all of our prayers and support. We’ve missed you around here; glad to see you back.

  90. chantgirl says:

    Laura98- The lack of parochial schools in Europe is partly why homeschoolers have so much trouble in Europe; there are no barrier institutions between parents and the state. I am a homeschooler, but I am very concerned that our Catholic schools survive here. I currently teach music as a volunteer in my Catholic co-op and I’m sure there are many others like me who would be willing to volunteer their time to help keep Catholic education for children a possibility. We need to aproach education as evangelization.

  91. chantgirl says:

    *approach* Supertradmum- Glad to see you back!

  92. catholicmidwest says:

    No Chantgirl,

    You need to approach Catholic education as Catholic education. It’s for Catholic children who don’t want to go to public schools. Period. Full stop.

    Private religious schools do serve as a boundary between public schools and home-schoolers in some states but not in others, depending on what the laws are and depending on the juridical history of the particular state on these issues. Some states have a very strong history, Michigan for instance, & home-schooling is all but unquestioned there; others a very weak one, Pennsylvania where it’s very difficult and there is a lot of intrusion there. The laws are vastly different from state to state because they are driven on the state level, not the federal level. It needs to stay that way. Subsidiarity.

    Catholic schools need to work where they are with all the organizations that control this area of the state laws as a PARTNER, an equal partner. Making “common cause” isn’t something Catholics are very good at, but we’ve got to learn it. A lot depends on it.

  93. Greg Smisek says:

    andersonbd1: “Dr. Janet Smith wrote an article making the case that it’s not immoral to comply (especially having done what they can to fight).”

    In her blog post, Dr. Smith clearly defines the subject of ethical/moral analysis:

    There are apostolic institutions that generally bare the name “Catholic” or something equivalent (such as Catholic universities and hospitals) whose reason for being is to give witness to the faith. I will not take up the question of the morality compliance with the HHS mandate of such organizations. Rather I will focus on those Catholics who own business that are not established to bear witness to the faith, businesses such as manufacturing companies or law firms. I will call these “non-faith based” employers or NFB employers. The question here is: would it be immoral for NFB employers to cooperate with the mandate?

    So she is not talking here at all about Catholice churches, schools, hospitals, or charities. And according to the article (and the USCCB HHS rhertoric so far), it’s these institutions that Cardinal Dolan is speaking of.

    According to Dr. Smith’s moral analysis of non-faith-based institutions’ compliance with the HHS mandate:

    the choice to comply with the mandate neither involves employers with formal cooperation or unjustifiable material cooperation

    But she also explains why even non-faith-based employers ought to resist the HHS mandate:

    There are several reasons Catholics should resist: 1) in general we should resist cooperating with evil 2) we should certainly resist when serious scandal is involved; that is when we are pressured to engage in activity that compromises our ability to give witness to our beliefs, and 3) we should resist when other great goods, such as religious liberty, are involved.

  94. Speravi says:

    Greg Smisek makes some good points. I still need to look at Dr. Smith’s article, but I think it might come close to answering some of my questions. The only reason that I brought up the question of material cooperation in evil (along with all the stuff about grocery stores and gas stations) is this:
    1. I know business owners right now who are gearing themselves up to make some really tough decisions about providing insurance for their employees. They are getting ready to suffer for their Faith if necessary.
    2. I don’t see the USCCB providing much guidance for people in these situations: what is really necessary?
    3. I think it is reasonable for the USCCB to focus on averting the evil and injustice of the mandate and using strong language rather than focusing on individuals, especially since this thing has not yet fully run its course.
    4. However, I am afraid that if, after this whole situation has run its course, the USCCB finally starts talking about individual issues and material cooperation, there are going to be some very confused Catholics. Perhaps there will be Catholics that already made major business decisions that they thought they were conscience-bound to make only to find out that, while the decisions were heroic, they were not, in fact, truly obligatory. While I know that many of these good Catholics would probably still consider taking the more heroic road even if they knew it was not strictly obligatory, I am worried that they might feel demoralized to learn that in the midst of all the strong rhetoric being thrown out, no one really bothered to explain exactly what they were conscience-bound to do.
    5. I am worried about how this will be interpreted by luke-warm Catholics and the secular media. While it would all be perfectly legitimate (use strong rhetoric against evil, then talk later about the possibility of remote material cooperation in the same evil you used strong rhetoric against), I fear that it might be misinterpreted. It might be misinterpreted that the bishops were throwing out all these threats and bulletin inserts, and then they tell us that we can go along with it after all. That might further damage the credibility of the USCCB (and it won’t help if even the really faithful Catholics felt like they were left ignorant of their strict responsibilities in the process).
    6. As long as the USCCB doesn’t say anything about the situation of individuals and keeps up the strong (and much-needed) rhetoric, how many priests are going to be comfortable preaching on these finer points? Even if Dr. Smith has a good analysis, she is a member of the Ecclesia Discens. In preaching on the this, a priest would want to be very sure that his preaching will be in-step with the decisions of the bishops themselves, otherwise it would only make things worse.

  95. joan ellen says:

    catholicmidwest – …huge mosaic of stuff…besides healthcare and education are you thinking food, clothing, shelter, transportation or some other things?

    Sissy – I don’t see a massive expansion of funds for anything unless the economy picks up some.

    chantgirl – Volunteering as you do for your homeschool coop maybe that is a peek into the future of Christian, especially Catholic, education for some. Maybe healthcare for some as well.

    wmeyer – …Acceptance of any government funds, regardless of purpose, is the wedge… I can’t help wondering if we should get used to it, even on a personal level. I’m thinking up to and including Social Security retirement benefits.

    Sissy – …Am in favor of rebuilding the Church from the youngest generation up… The Church has disintegrated because souls have, so rebuilding souls will help rebuild the Church. Maybe starting with Who is God? (The Mass, Church calendar, and Baltimore Catechism all went at the same time, and so did building authentic Catholic souls, or so it seems.)

    Also, regarding education…so much is learned on the Internet. Schools are offering classes on the internet. I believe the State of Michigan, as well as other States have home school programs to follow. Once we learn to read and write, the internet is a viable option. All that is needed is a curriculum outline to follow. Kindergartners know keyboarding these days.

    For the healthcare issue, I am in favor of not supporting the mandate. I would go with number 4 of the choices Magash presents. But, then I do not have little children to think about, so it is easy to say.

  96. Sissy says:

    joan ellen said: “I don’t see a massive expansion of funds for anything unless the economy picks up some.”

    We’re all just daydreaming here, but my idea isn’t that there will be a massive expansion of funds, but rather a shift of funds from “social justice” to an area where they can be more productively used to rebuild the Church from the ground up.

  97. Vox Laudis says:

    Bravo, Sissy and catholicmidwest, for stating what ought to be done so concisely (and for delineating the reasons why).

    Sissy and Chicken, side issue re Catholic schools: In a diocese with which I am familiar, a previous bishop went to great lengths to insure–and to reassure the general public and the political powers-that-be– that all Catholic schools were teaching the state-determined public school curriculum and not attempting to be elitist, but that the schools just wanted to be able to celebrate our Catholic traditions which sometimes conflict with the local schools’ schedule–or some such nonsense; when I read the archival newspaper article it was incoherent. The diocese continues to make it very clear that the schools must hew to the PS curriculum, and they prefer state-certified teachers and administrators to Catholics with deep knowledge in their subjects and a passion to raise up the next generation of warrior Catholics. Are the diocesan schools thriving? Only the ones that look like (and charge like) elite private schools in large, well-to-do ‘c’atholic parishes with liberal priests. In the solidly Catholic parishes, not so much, and particularly in parishes which try to educate the children of the surrounding impoverished neighborhood at little cost to their families.

    But just try getting rid of teachers who actively deny tenets of the faith, or bring up the idea of decoupling from the PS curriculum, and see where it gets you…

    Hence the slow but steady growth of Catholic homeschooling and homeschool support groups (since the cottage school/coop school model is illegal in that particular state), in which most of the families are practicing Catholics with large families (which encourage and are producing vocations!).

    And see the work of the Cardinal Newman Society, which fights to persuade Catholic colleges to remain truly Catholic, another never-ending battle.

    Of course, the failures of Catholic schools are the same failures as CCD and RCIA programs and parishes in general, which is what it all comes back to. ‘Wanting their ears tickled…’ is just as applicable as it was in the first century.

  98. catholicmidwest says:

    Good comments. I share your concern about these things. This is going to be another rough period for the Church, I’m afraid. And people are already very confused about all of it.

  99. chantgirl says:

    catholicmidwest- If Catholic schools were only schools for Catholic children who did not want to go to public school, my children would still be enrolled in a Catholic school. In addition to a good education, many parents who send their kids to Catholic schools also want them to be instructed in the faith and formed in Catholic culture. I was merely trying to say that keeping good Catholic schools open is vital to forming the next generation to be successful and holy Catholics. For good Catholic schools to survive in the future, perhaps more people may need to volunteer knowing that while they may not be compensated financially, they are helping to form the next generation of Catholic adults. Perhaps education will need to be more of an apostolate, a calling rather than just a job. It would be great if we had enough orthodox nuns to do this, but there aren’t enough and the laity may have to step up and fill that gap.

  100. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Perhaps education will need to be more of an apostolate, a calling rather than just a job.”

    It already is. It is a vocation, a calling. Few in the modern world understand this.

    The Chicken

  101. catholicmidwest says:


    Catholic schools are only a small part of what we were discussing in this thread, which was the HHS mandate: the mess we’re in because of it and how it’s being handled by the USCCB. Catholic schools are only one group of the things that are going to be affected. They will be affected because they employ many non-Catholic employees and serve many non-Catholic clients. These things almost certainly make many of them ineligible for an exemption, according the the 4 properties that define a “religious employer” according to the HHS. This means that they will have to either: a) pay the fines and try to pretend nothing is happening, b) try to ignore the fines (non-starter), c) try to refuse the fines (non-starter), d) dramatically restructure to comply with the 4 properties (not possible for hospitals), or e) shut down, be resold or go secular.

    If you haven’t read the 4 properties that an employer needs to get an exemption, I recommend that you do so. You’ll see that Catholic schools as they have been constituted up to now, will have to pursue one of the following paths: a) pay the fines and try to pretend nothing is happening (not likely they’ll get away with it), d) dramatically restructure so that all 4 properties are present, or e) shut down, be resold or go secular (the likeliest of these being shut down).

    As of late, since VII, our internal idea of how we’re supposed to treat the general population has changed, expanding in domain and scope over and over. This is the thing that’s keeping many Catholics from considering d), a pull-back so that most Catholic institutions primarily serve only Catholics and we do our evangelization by other means outside these institutions. This has been a constant in the arguments the USCCB has made in the last year. Yet, Catholic institutions did not always hire or serve the general population. We are required to preach the Good News to Catholic and non-Catholic alike, but I wonder if HOW we do it is set in stone like what I’m seeing claimed? I think it’s not. The Philippians and the Colossians had neither Catholic hospitals nor Catholic schools filled with non-Catholics and yet they managed to evangelize. If the truth be told, some of these institutions haven’t really helped us in the evangelization department, either internal to the Church or external to her. Rather people, both inside and outside the system, tend to take them for granted and abuse them. The HHS mandate is a bad thing, but maybe having to really think about and examine our systems to see if they’re serving Gospel purposes is a good thing after all.

  102. catholicmidwest says:

    Speravi, you said, “…….5……. It might be misinterpreted that the bishops were throwing out all these threats and bulletin inserts, and then they tell us that we can go along with it after all. That might further damage the credibility of the USCCB (and it won’t help if even the really faithful Catholics felt like they were left ignorant of their strict responsibilities in the process).”

    I believe that this is what is going to happen with respect to the insurance purchases of individual lay Catholics, yes. No one is really talking about this, but there will be an outcome and it’s being formulated right now since this is open enrollment season in many corporations and small companies. And when average people are forced to formulate a response, it’ s not going to consist of some elegant philosophical abstraction; rather, it’s going to be personal and blunt. Is anyone even paying any attention to this?

    This is just one more indication of how poorly the USCCB’s response has been thought out and expressed. It’s also a very good indication of where their heads are as a group, vis a vis the two wings of the Church–social services & parish/diocesan. I’ve long thought that in the US, the corporate social services wing was gaining on the parish/diocesan wing and threatening to overwhelm it. This is an undeniable indication of that.

  103. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Laura,

    There were some private Catholic schools, but very expensive.

    What part of Germany was that in?

    The question is not rhethorical, though I was first tempted to pose it this way… I very much guess it was not Bavaria, though. Catholic schools exist, and are generally either for free or have a fee of the dimension 50€/month, which I’ve been told is way less than U.S. standards…

    Simple reason: The Church has a concordate by which the State subsidizes every student of a Catholic school by 90% of the amount of money thus saved on the public school sector… a practice that Fr Messner highly defended as obligatory (!) on natural law grounds (sorry for repeatedly quoting him without pagenumber).

    Of course, side-effect is that for all practical effect the Catholic schools listen to the command of the (public) Ministerial Delegate… while, I believe, not yet having been put to the test of a clear anti-Catholic command. Still, they are (a bit) different; it is (I hear) nothing special if in Advent, or so, a student takes leave from the classroom and goes to Confession.

  104. catholicmidwest says:

    There’s one other possibility here. This is for institutions that the HHS doesn’t classify as “religious employers” because they don’t make the 4 qualifying criteria, the threat is “force or finance.” Do this or pay that.

    There is one way around that. Sort of. Cut the hours of all your employees except for some number of employees less than 50. Part-time employees are not dependent on their employers for insurance, and they also do not invoke the $2000 fine. The fact that there would be less than 50 employees provides that arrangement for those full-time employees too. And in fact, the matter becomes somewhat moot. Yes, all the individuals would have to come up with insurance just like everyone else because that’s the law, but then they would be in exactly the same bucket as millions of Catholics who don’t work for the Church: independent of the Church-as-employer when it comes to health insurance.

    If this is not okay, then it’s time to think about why it’s okay to raise a stink about Church employees but not employees of other companies who have ordinary insurance plans that have covered birth control for years. And nothing was said before.

    PS. The law also redefines the dividing line between part-time and full-time. Part-time according to this law is less than 30 hours per week. And it also does not cover volunteers. An institution can have all the volunteers it can get with no penalties. No questions asked about their insurance on an institutional basis.

  105. catholicmidwest says:

    So, one wonders, can the work be split up into easy tasks that volunteers can do, vs more complex tasks that the employees do, vs managerial and professional tasks that the few full-timers do? This is with reference to things that do not meet the 4 qualifications but are incorporated separately from the diocese itself: some food banks, etc.

    This also brings up questions about how the St. Vincent de Paul and similar organizations are set up and connected. Are they individual groups that share a focus and that’s how they get the name? Or are they corporately/legally connected somehow?

Comments are closed.