“The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that.Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.” Find it here.
This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences…To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty…The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs.”
“The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand…The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.”
“Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.To Hell with your religious beliefs,
To Hell with your religious liberty,
To Hell with your freedom of conscience.We’ll give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under. As Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops responded, “in effect, the president is saying that we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”As I wrote to you last September, with this mandate the democratic process is being ignored while we are being ordered to ignore our religious beliefs. And we are being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation; to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States.It is time to go back to work. They have given us a year to adapt to this rule. We can’t! We simply cannot!Write to the president.Write to Secretary Sebelius.Write to our Senators.Write to those in Congress.[...]This mandate can be changed by Congressional pressure. The only way that action will happen is if you and I take action.Let them know that you and I will not allow ourselves to be pushed around (or worse yet) be dismissed because of our Catholic faith.Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious freedom to be compromised.Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious liberty to be rescinded.Nobody, not even the president of the United States or anyone who represents him, has the right to say to you and to me as U.S. citizens, as Catholics, or as both: “To Hell with You.”The president and our elected leaders need to hear from you and me and to listen to us NOW.
3. Columbus- Bishop Cambell
The announcement was a death knell for religious liberty in the United States. Many recall that in August, HHS announced the obligation of contraceptive coverage in private insurance plans, and a narrow religious exemption which will cover, in fact, only some churches – and almost no other religious entities
Let’s be clear. This decision does nothing to respect religious freedom. Without change, Catholic institutions will soon be legally required to provide services which violate a fundamental principle of our religious beliefs. If plans go unchanged, the Catholic Church, acting through our Catholic institutions, will no longer have legal protection for the free exercise of religion.
Secretary Sebellius is wrong; this is not a year to “adapt.” The Catholic Church will not adapt by violating fundamental elements of our faith. Instead of adapting, this is a year to unify, and to fight injustice and flagrant disregard for the institutional protection of our religious practice.
The recent decision by HHS should make clear for all Catholics that under the proposed health care plan, the freedom to practice our religious faith is in jeopardy. Catholic groups who claimed that this health care plan, with its narrow “conscience clauses” and “religious exemptions,” would respect Catholic teaching must face the facts. Compromising with pro-choice, pro-contraceptive political agendas can have dangerous consequences. The bell tolls for our religious freedom.
Catholics must take the lead in restoring our Constitutional religious freedom. We need to work in all reasonable ways to convince the Department of Health and Human Services to reverse its policy; the Church will continue to lobby for this change. If that fails, which it may, we need to work with Congress to protect basic religious liberty.
There is an answer to this attack on our religious freedom. The “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” now before Congress, is more important than ever before. All Catholics need to support its passage. All Christians should join us by praying for a return to justice and by visiting www.usccb.org/conscience to begin contacting their representatives.
Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill. has asked parishes, schools, hospitals and religious houses to insert the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the intercessions at Sunday Mass to pray for Catholics’ freedom.
“Have faith! Have courage! Fight boldly for what you believe!” he said. “I strongly urge you not to be intimidated by extremist politicians or the malice of the cultural secularists arrayed against us.”
Invoking the First Letter of John, he said Catholics should always remember that “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
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