Bp. Zubik refuses to facilitate a “moral evil”

Now that we have the fluffiest and most wonderfullest Pope ehvurr, Pope Francis, and now that bishops are supposed to be “pastoral”, liberals will start more and more often to claim that bishops should start caving in on the HHS mandate and Obamacare, ludicrously entitled the “Affordable” Care Act.

For liberals, being “pastoral” means compromising the Church’s teachings and lying to people. For liberals, being “pastoral” is like being “prophetic”. They proclaim themselves “prophetic” and then claim that their prophetic voice trumps what the “hierarchical” or “official” Church says and does. So, the pressure from the catholic Left will now be exerted on US bishops to be “pastoral” (as they see it).

This, however, comes from AP via the Modesto Bee:

Bishop [of Pittsburgh]: I won’t let insurer give disputed coverage

PITTSBURGH — The Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh said Tuesday that he will refuse to sign a document allowing its health plan to provide birth control and abortion coverage for employees of a diocese-related charity, even if it means paying fines.

The Pittsburgh diocese and its counterpart in Erie are challenging federal health care law changes that require contraceptive and abortion coverage in employee health plans. Tuesday’s hearing was focused on whether U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab should block the government from enforcing the mandate while the dioceses pursue their lawsuits claiming the requirements violate their First Amendment right of religious freedom.

The Justice Department contends the church is exempt and that its charitable affiliates can be accommodated so they don’t have to pay for the coverage they object to. [Is that an accurate portrayal? I don’t think so. The fact is that the affiliates would be forced to provide the service to which the Church objects on religious grounds.  Payment is one thing.  Doing evil things is another.]

Last year a judge dismissed a previous lawsuit the Pittsburgh diocese filed over the same issues, saying it has not been harmed  [“Harmed” in what sense?  Monetarily?  That’s not the point.] by the new health care legislation and that the government had promised to take steps to address religious objections. But the diocese sued again, saying the final regulations that take effect Jan. 1 are worse than the proposed regulations that prompted the earlier lawsuit.

Bishop David Zubik testified that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he signed a form that allowed the disputed services to be provided to employees. Zubik said the church is being asked to violate an important belief and a matter of conscience.

The Rev. Scott Jabo, president of Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, testified that even allowing a third-party company to provide the services to employees would be facilitating “a moral evil.” Jabo said that if he were to help that to happen, “I’m committing a sin.”


Of course secularists and catholic liberals who run along with them don’t care that the Church will be driven out of providing health care for the poor.  They want more big government.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Zubik.

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  1. Papabile says:

    I think when they say “harmed” they mean that there was a lack of legal standing to pursue it in court. To have standing, one must first show that one is affected or there is a “harm” to be addressed. The same principle exists in canon law.

    I am not saying I agreed with the ruling on standing, as I think RFRA pretty much shows there would be an inherent harm, but that was the ruling :-(

  2. Legisperitus says:

    What happens to the money collected from the fines? If it goes to fund more “services” of the kind in dispute, is there a moral obligation not to pay the fines either?

  3. pvmkmyer says:

    I agree with Papabile. I have not read the district judge’s opinion, but my guess would be that he decided the first case was premature because the regulations, at that time, were proposed or preliminary, not the final regulations effective on 1/1/13. Therefore, in this judge’s opinion, the diocese was not yet “harmed”.

    And while I’m making inferences, I would also guess that this judge was appointed by a Democratic president to the federal bench. Just sayin’..

    It is my firm belief that the progressive left, headed by Obama, want to do everything they can to weaken/destroy the reach of the Catholic Church in the USA. The Church stands in their way both philosophically and practically. If the Church can no longer operate its hospitals and charities, then the only institution large enough to fill the gap is the federal government, which means a larger centralized government from DC. And more people dependent on the government for handouts, which means more voters for the Democratic Party.

  4. TopSully says:

    Bishop Zubik has expressed his willingness to go to jail, if necessary, rather than allow the Diocese or related organizations to participate in any way with the evil promoted by this law. Many of us in his diocese will be in jail before he is. I have personally spoken with a number of local men from the Knights of Columbus and we stand ready to protect him from any attempts to arrest him.

  5. pvmkmyer says:

    Oops, my bad. J. Schwab was appointed by George W. Bush.

  6. Titus says:

    Papabile and Pvmkmyer are correct: all of the HHS-mandate suits that were dismissed last year were dismissed on technical grounds relating to what attorneys and judges term “justiciability,” referring to whether or not a lawsuit is ready to be adjudicated. I think the specific ground was “ripeness,” rather than “standing,” but that that point we’re talking insider baseball.

    The problem, of course, is that the only thing worse than mainstream journalism’s discussion of legal proceedings is its discussion of ecclesiastical matters. Trying to read a news article discussing both is almost impossible.

    To cut through the gobbledygook in the article, here is what’s happening: The Diocese of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that enforcement of the HHS Mandate against it and its subsidiary operations would be illegal, unconstitutional, or both. The hearing discussed in the article was held because the diocese moved for a “preliminary injunction”; that is, it asked the judge to make an educated guess about how the full lawsuit will come out and (concluding that the Diocese will likely win) prevent the government from enforcing the mandate against the Diocese while the lawsuit is under way. Absent a preliminary injunction, the government can enforce the mandate during the course of the lawsuit (even though the government might ultimately lose).

    Preliminary injunctions are big deals 1) because judges rarely reverse the conclusions they reach on the legal issues when ruling on them, and 2) because having to comply with the mandate or face fines for the months and months that the lawsuit could consume would be enormously burdensome.

  7. elijah408 says:

    I literally crack up every time I see you use the word “ehvurr.” I know a lot of people that think that way.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “If the Church can no longer operate its hospitals and charities, then the only institution large enough to fill the gap is the federal government…”

    I’m guessing that they assume that the soft-identity Catholic hospitals will fold. If all of the Catholic hospitals stopped accepting patients, today, the healthcare system would implode within a month because of the stress on the existing systems. Let’s Play Global Thermonuclear War…the nuclear option, with regards to Catholic healthcare, should be started, immediately. Martial Law to follow. Make the government put their money where their mouths are.

    Of course, if Catholic hospitals were to stop employing anyone but Catholics and serving anyone but Catholics (for reduced cost, of course, since some of the cost could come from collection plates), the HHS mandate would be satisfied and we would still cripple existing non-Catholic healthcare. One might argue that charity and prudence forbid such draconian measures, but it sure feels good to make the government face what SHOULD be a reality: the Catholic presence in the United States.

    Alas, a strong Catholic identity in the United States belongs to some parallel universe.

    The Chicken

  9. tcreek says:

    Strong words from the new USCCB president, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, on the HHS Obamacare mandate. – “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.” That was March 2013.


    “… I write to you about an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.”

    “… The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

    “…. We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights.”

  10. Jet41815 says:

    This is good and bad news all at once! It’s good that some bishops are showing some backbone against this perversion of a law. I don’t need to explain why it’s bad.

    I think David Zubik the Confessor has a nice ring to it.

  11. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    “Fluffiest” — best description of the media distortion of Pope Francis, EVAH!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  12. Unwilling says:

    If you present Christianity strictly, few will be willing to be called “Christian”.
    If you present Christianity loosely, more will be willing to be called “Christian”.

    How many will, in each case, actually be Christian has a different dynamic.

  13. Magash says:

    In the long run I believe that the administration believes that most Catholic institution will fold when it comes to it. Under secular (not canon) law the bishops have no control over any of them. That was given up decades ago. I am speaking of Catholic hospitals, universities, charitable organizations. etc. Of course they are suppose to listen to the bishops, but if they don’t all the bishop can do at this point is tell them to stop using “Catholic” in their name, and he can’t do anything if they refuse (see National “Catholic” Reporter.)
    I believe myself that paying the fines is immoral. It is an acknowledgment that the government has a right force one to violate one’s conscience or punish for refusal to obey. Anything less than refusal to pay fines, and indeed refusal to accept imprisonment except under force of arms is an acknowledgment that the administration is acting within moral bounds, which they are not. An immortal law is no law at all, and should not be obeyed. That does not mean one must resist arrest with violence. It does mean that one is not required to turn oneself in, but rather should require that the agents of the government drag one into custody on national television. There’s a good picture. How many Catholics, Christians and good people might wake up if they see a bishop dragged from his home by IRS agents for standing up for Christian morality? Actions like that change history.

  14. happyCatholic says:

    Magash and The Masked Chicken,
    This is why I assiduously read the comments on this blog (besides the fact that I get to use a word like “assiduously” ;-) ): your comments address the kind of conversations we need as serious Catholics to be having. What are we going to do? How are we going to personally respond to these mandates? How our are institutions going to respond? What is the prudent response? How can I support my bishop in his role as a successor to the apostles? I am looking for prudent, serious, practical direction from my bishop (so far, I have seen none — doesn’t mean there hasn’t been, but I have not seen it) and other leaders, and I am not finding enough that I feel comfortable knowing how to respond to this oncoming tsunami of attacks.
    The Church built the hospital system; she built the educational system. We can do it again, if we have to, one faithful person at a time — the “brick by brick.” However, I, for one, would like some direction and clarity like that provided by this bishop be given to all Catholics in the US. Also, I do not think we should give up our institutions built by the blood and sweat of our ancestors with just a yawn.

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  16. lana says:

    What happens if Catholic hospitals reduce employee hours to 30 and stop providing coverage? Is that a morally acceptable way out of this problem? That is what many companies are doing because they cannot afford either the health care or the fines.

  17. lana says:

    Magash, as far as I know, the law provides no penalty for not paying the fines. It is un-enforceable. The IRS cannot take your property or place any lien for failure to pay. I think the worst they can do is not give you a refund if you are owed one.

  18. happyCatholic says:

    I had read that one person who got through on the website found out that, when she ended up not signing up, she then read that she could lose her driver’s license and also have a lien placed on her property. This is purely anecdotal and I can’t verify the source, but that really bothered me. I will be much happier if your information is the correct information.

  19. Refreshing to see that Erie is on board here.

  20. dianecee says:

    I have always liked Bishop Zubik. Back when he was Bishop of Green Bay…. and now.

  21. lana says:

    @happyCatholic, i read a similar article about driver licenses and lien’s debunked. the last sentence of this says they cant go after you: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-best-life/2013/09/23/countdown-to-obamacare-the-penalties-for-uninsured-americans

  22. happyCatholic says:

    Thanks for posting the link, Lana. I am grateful; I prefer to deal in facts. Sadly, they are bleak enough.

    Of course, the problem with this law is it is not operating within the boundaries of a law — arbitrary exceptions, missed deadlines, –sloppy, sloppy, sloppy — completely undermining the whole idea of a rule of law as opposed to political favoritism (you voted me for me, (fill in the blank) you get special treatment). So, I wouldn’t put it past the-powers-that-be to become much more draconian in the penalties as the system continues in chaos. This administration has thumbed its nose as the rule of law before (non-recess “recess” appointments, Fast and Furious,etc)

  23. Magash says:

    The article is referring to the individual mandate. They can not go after individuals, it does not address the employer mandate.
    Also what do the Diocese, charitable organizations and individuals do when insurance companies, who are regulated by the federal government are unwilling to provide coverage policies which exclude immoral actions. Many of the organizations are not facing fines now because the mandate for organizations was pushed off to next year, however they are facing this now because their insurance is up for renewal and they are being told that the insurance company can only offer “approved” coverage.
    This is the same reason individuals are losing their insurance, because their old plan does not meet “approved” coverage which will force men to pay for coverage for pregnancy and women to pay for coverage for prostate cancer, forgetting for the moment immoral coverage like birth control and abortion.

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