GO, EWTN!

I’m very proud to be working for one of the first lay organizations to strike back against the HHS’s unconstitutional mandate.

EWTN Files Suit to Block Contraception Mandate

In my circles, the talk has been about nothing but this issue; but for anyone who’s interested, the USCCB has a good summation of why Catholics, and even secular citizens who have a clue about the Constitution, are so upset about the mandate.  I’m just copying the list here, but if you click on the headline below, you will see short, clear explanations of each item.

Six Things Everyone Should Know About The HHS Mandate

February 6, 2012

WASHINGTON— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers the following clarifications regarding the Health and Human Services regulations on mandatory coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

1.The mandate does not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals.

2.The mandate forces these institutions and others, against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral.

3.The mandate forces coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraception.  

4.Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate5.Many other religious and secular people and groups have spoken out strongly against the mandate.

6.The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates.

As my mother says:

You don’t have to be a Catholic, or even a theist, to see this mandate as a deliberate attack on all religious people, and in fact on all people who believe in freedom of conscience!  This is not a “left or right” issue. Many people who disagree strongly with the Church about the morality of contraception can see that now it may be the Catholic Church under attack, and later some other Church, or any group of people.

Here is a super easy way to contact your representatives, to encourage them to stand up for religious freedom:

Grassroots Action Center

You can just use the pre-written message, or you can write your own right into the form.  It automatically inserts the name of the appropriate senators and congressmen in the salutation, and emails it to them — couldn’t be easier.

You can also sign a petition of protest, written by the indefatigable Frank Weathers,  which goes directly to the White House.

I’m seriously disappointed that we haven’t heard a peep about this at our local church.  Maybe this Sunday.  What have you heard?

 

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35 comments

  1. Our bishop in Peoria, IL, wrote a very strongly worded letter to his flock that was read at all churches in the diocese nearly 2 weeks ago. He also then instituted the St. Michael prayer to be said in all churches, schools, religious houses at the end of the intercessions for freedom for the Catholic Church in America. Thankfully, our pastor is wholly on board and feels very strongly about this as well. Unfortunately, I am sure that Senator Richard Durbin, a career politician from Illinois and a “Catholic”, is not standing up to the administration about this.

  2. Our bishop (Harrisburg, PA) had a letter read at all the Sunday masses last week urging everyone to contact their legislators, the president, etc.

  3. Our bishop (Frederick Campbell of Columbus, OH) had a letter read at all Sunday masses the weekend before last. Although it was required, I heard that there are parishes where the announcement was basically “Read the letter from the bishop in the bulletin,” or worse “When you pick up your bulletin, please also take a copy of the letter from the bishop.”

    • The author of that propaganda piece is entirely wrong on the facts. Insurance company studies have shown that providing contraceptive coverage REDUCES health care costs by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, each of which is much more expensive than contraception. The insurance companies should offer plans with and without contraceptive coverage in such a way that the employer doesn’t even know which plan the employee has chosen. They should offer a rebate directly (so the employer doesn’t know) to women of childbearing age who choose the plan WITH contraceptive coverage because it costs them less.

  4. Our pastor had the gall, on Superbowl Sunday, to give a long enough homily on the subject to keep everyone 20! whole! minutes! longer than usual. He talked about a constitutional crisis, civil disobedience, the possibility of martyrdom, and ended with a call to repentance to anyone who sided with the O administration. I was proud.

  5. Our bishop (and, I think, all the bishops of Alaska) wrote a letter which was read during all Masses, outlining the objections to the mandate, encouraging everyone to write their Congressional representatives immediately, and pointing out the link on the USCCB website to allow easy contact. Our priest built on it magnificently!

  6. Simcha, It is wonderful to see this, & thank you so much for posting it as well as the links for us to take action, as well.

    Why you haven’t heard more about this in your local Church? Of this much, I am certain ~ ANY organization which qualifies as a religious group, a NON-PROFIT, for federal purposes, gets an exemption from burdensome taxation. This much, the feds give to the Catholic Church. Now, in return, the Catholic Church – and all others in a similar tax-and-non-profit-exempt position (as separate Churches from the State) MAY NOT hold meetings, preach, teach, or in other public ways, engage in POLITICALLY-based activities. It is against the law and the agreement the Church has agreed to with the Federal Government, and if the law is breached, the Church will pay a truckload of taxes and lose its exempt status. (No fun…)

    At my local Church this past Sunday, we were told from the pulpit, AFTER MASS, that the Bishop had a “very important” letter to us, in our bulletin. PLEASE, they told us, get a bulletin and read it. See what I mean? They are not directly engaging in “Throw out Obama” or any other possibly distant but related politically-motivated actions…..

    In the bulletin, the Bishop outlined what is going on. He did not say what to do about it. However, at the end of his message, he wrote, “I hope you will carefully consider this matter & the possibility of taking action.” That was it. Legal!

    Also, I see that, if my Church wants to do anything like hand out politically-informational flyers, etc., that NO priest, deacon, or church employee can be on the premises at the time this is done. Only laypersons may gather to disperse this type of information, and there is NO Church letterhead or any other similar identification on the papers involved……

    Separation of Church & State…..a good thing. 🙂

  7. Thursday, Feb 2, 2012 6:15 AM PST
    Catholics need to preach what we practice
    When 98 percent of Catholics use birth control, why is Obama in hot water for making sure insurance covers it?Thursday, Feb 2, 2012 6:15 AM PST

    “…No one expected women’s lives to be an unbroken series of pregnancies and births anymore. It was better for women that way – but also for children. (Not to mention for husbands, who no longer had to confine sex to the times of the month when women weren’t ovulating if they wanted sexual pleasure without a special bonus nine months later.) The church was a wonderful institution, my parents said, but it was very old, and it sometimes took a while to catch up with the times. Kind of like the way Grandma still said “icebox” for “refrigerator.”

    That was at least 40 years ago. Far from catching up with the times, the leadership of the Catholic Church is trying to drag the rest of us backward.
    federal health insurance regulations requiring contraceptive coverage apply to Catholic institutions, if they employ non-Catholics. Note that the administration is OK with church-run institutions that only employ Catholics prohibiting contraception coverage. It simply won’t let the church impose its teachings on non-Catholics. This shouldn’t be a controversial decision…”
    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/02/catholics_need_to_preach_what_we_practice/

    No one is throwing the Church under a bus, they’re simply making them not impose their standards on non-Catholics.

    • @Cathy Carey: I’m a little confused about who you’re quoting here, but If I’m reading you right, your two main arguments are:

      1 – Everyone does it nowadays, so it’s silly for the Church to be making a fuss; and

      2 – The Church is free to teach what it wants to teach, but it shouldn’t try to teach it to people who don’t want to hear it.

      These are pretty easy to answer.

      1 – First, I really dispute the latest figures about how many people use contraception. These studies generally count everyone who has ever used contraception. Well, I would say that at least half the women I know who use NFP used to use contraception, and then gave it up. They are still counted as “Catholic contraceptors.”

      But even if 100% of Catholics used contraception contrary to Church teaching — so what? 100% of Catholics sin. A huge percentage lie, cheat, steal, kill, etc. Is the church supposed to “catch up with the times” and stop teaching against these things?

      2- The Church is not preventing anyone from contracepting, sterilizing him or herself, or using abortion pills. THAT would constitute “imposing its teachings on non-Catholics.” What the Church is doing is asserting its right not to have teachings by non-Catholics imposed on IT. It’s simply saying, “Look, we understand that it’s legal to do these things. But because we consider them immoral, we don’t want to be put in the position of helping them to happen.”

      Your argument reminds me of artists who claim that the government is censoring them, when they don’t win a grant. That ain’t censorship – that’s just saying, “If it’s important to you, then YOU pay for it.” -Except in the case of the HHS mandate ,the Church isn’t merely refusing to help bad art come into being — it’s refusing to help people sin.

      I get that you don’t like Church teaching, and think that it’s mean and old fashioned and whatnot. But your opinions about it have nothing to do with the Church’s constitutional right not to be forced to act against its conscience.

  8. In St. Louis, MO our archbishop wrote a letter that was read during the homily at Mass. It seems to be getting more chatter around here …

  9. Both Cardinal Wuerl and the bishop of my home diocese (Abp. Mansell of Hartford, CT) wrote good letters which have been read in the churches in their dioceses. There is a ton of talk of the issue among Catholics here, and my school’s Newman Center is attracting quite a bit of attention to the issue.

  10. When our priest spoke about the mandate–obviously, urging us to fight it–there was unanimous applause from the congregation. I’m willing to bet a sizable portion of those applauding DO use artificial birth control, but understand why it is abhorrent to force the Church to provide it.

  11. We had a Confirmation with the Bishop last Saturday who explained this situation clearly in teenager terms. Then he exhorted those kids to learn about their faith and the threats to their faith. He told them that the dangers facing their generation were just beginning.

    Now that’s a Bishop!

    I’m the choir director at our little Texan church and last Sunday, Monsignor told me, “Get me the Saint Michael Prayer!” in the same tone you’d hear, “Get me my gun, Nellie!” around here.

    And now that’s a Father!

  12. Nothing in my parish, which is in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles-I’m sure its not due to Archbishop Gomez-he’s a Godsend!

  13. Katydid, it does sound reasonable the way it’s presented in the Wa post article, but there are still severe problems with it, including:

    1- It’s still unconstitutional. The government would still be forcing religious institutions to do something they consider immoral: telling women where they can go to get immoral services. I hadn’t heard of it before, but apparently the Hawaii rule would constitute something called “forced speech.”

    For people who don’t have a visceral reaction to the idea of sterilization or abortion pills, it might be helpful to substitute something we call all agree is awful, and then see how it feels to have the government mandate that we tell someone where they can get it. For instance, if we said, “Okay, Catholic Hospital X doesn’t actually have to PAY for female circumcision insurance; it just has to tell patients where they can go to have their genitals mutilated at a modest cost.”

    Those in favor of the HHS mandate feel like they’re doing the Catholic church a favor by allowing them to just send people elsewhere, rather than providing objectionable services themselves; but from a Catholic point of view, it’s still wildly unacceptable to be forced to facilitate these things. It’s still unconstitutional to make people say things they have a moral obligation not to say.

    2- The Hawaii rule has an even narrower definition of religious institutions than the federal mandate has, so in some ways, it’s even more oppressive, not less.

    I also do not accept the WaPost’s premises in this paragraph:

    <>

    It’s by no means clear that greater access to contraception reduces the number of abortions. Some studies show that the opposite is true: flooding a community with contraception actually increases the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. I will find those later in the day, if I have a chance! – or maybe another reader has some stats handy. I would not, however, trust any stats that come from Guttmacher or another organization that has a financial interest in being a provider of contraception, because, duh.

    Also, more than half of unplanned pregnancies (again, no time to find the stats at the moment) come about WHILE the couple is contracepting.

    But these objections aren’t really relevant, because even if contraception cured poverty, hunger, and buck teeth, the government simply does not have the constitutional right to force a religious institution to pay for or help people procure goods and services which are morally objectionable. They’re basically saying, “Let’s see if we can come up with a good enough reason to ignore the constitution.” It’s not supposed to work that way.

  14. Ugh, WordPress disappeared the paragraph from the Washington Post. Here is the paragraph that’s supposed to follow “I do not accept the WaPost’s premises in this paragraph:

    “On the other side of the ledger is the need for wide access to services that reduce government costs, and, many believe, promote public health and stronger families. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and that unplanned pregnancies cost taxpayers about $11 billion per year. By reducing unintended pregnancies, access to affordable contraception lessens those costs. It also decreases the number of abortions and helps families to plan for the future.”

    For a good summary of what’s wrong with the Hawaii Bill, you can check out this article in the Register:

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/u.s.-bishops-spokesman-hawaii-bill-not-much-of-a-compromise-to-fix-contrace/

  15. The Bishops of the Omaha and Lincoln dioceses in NE both wrote letters that were read in Sunday Mass that said, basically, “We will not comply.”

    The priest in Lincoln gave an awesome homily on contraception referencing these two articles by Janet Smith, which I recommend reading!

    http://mycatholicfaith.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1429:why-the-church-isnt-crazy-on-contraception&catid=67:janet-smith-articles&Itemid=133

    http://www.mycatholicfaith.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1204:why-are-the-media-fixated-on-condoms&catid=67:janet-smith-articles&Itemid=133

  16. One of our wonderful priests at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago gave such a moving homily on this topic a few weeks ago that he received a standing ovation when he was done. It was a proud day to be Catholic!

  17. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strong moral belief that blood transfusions are a sin. I want to know whether Ms. Fisher (and the Catholic church) would agree that the Jehovah’s Witnesses should be allowed to remove coverage for blood transfusions from the health care policies for all employees of all faiths in all of their affiliated institutions on the grounds of “moral conscience” and “religious freedom.” If not, please explain the difference between this and the position of the Catholic church regarding contraceptive coverage. (Important note on the two: insurance companies find that including contraceptive coverage actually SAVES them money by reducing unintended pregnancies, so employers do not actually “pay” for adding contraceptive coverage, while blood transfusion coverage costs extra and must actually be paid for by someone.)

    • Well, refusing someone a blood transfusion (or refusing to pay for it) would endanger someone’s life. Refusing someone (or refusing to pay for) contraception, sterilization, and abortion pills never endangers someone’s life. (Catholics hospitals already have morally acceptable protocols for dealing with hard cases like rape and tubal pregnancies.)

      I don’t understand why you keep bringing up the point about contraception saving money. Who cares? That’s not what this is about.

      I also again dispute the notion that contraception reduces abortion rates. If contraception always worked, I suppose that might be true, but contraception is far less reliable than it’s made out to be. According to Guttmacher (the research arm of Planned Parenthood), 54% of abortions are performed on women who were using contraception when they conceived.

      Also, geez louise, look around: when did abortion become so widespread? Right after contraception became socially acceptable.

      • To be clear: I told you what the DIFFERENCE is between not wanting to pay for blood transfusions and not wanting to pay for contraception. I don’t necessarily believe that JWs ought to be forced to pay for something that they consider immoral, though. I hadn’t really thought about that, since I’m not a JW — so honestly, I don’t know.

    • You are creating a straw man. First: The Witnesses don’t employ non-Witnesses in any capacity, even to sweep the floor. In the Witnesses’ bundle of ethics, their doctrine concerning the sacredness of human blood (precluding transfusions) goes hand-in-hand with something called “peculiarity” or “separateness” which discourages the mixing of Witnesses with non-Witnesses.

      The Witnesses own a number of institutions, all of which are directly involved in evangelism, because they think the world will end very, very soon. They don’t own hospitals and schools and social service institutions that employ hundreds of thousands of people. Most people who work for the Witnesses are volunteers. The Witnesses are safe from having to pay for blood transfusions.

      Second: The HHS mandate does NOT mandate inclusion of blood transfusions. It mandates inclusion of contraception. Even if the Witnesses were required to pay for someone’s insurance (which they won’t be), one could argue that they are still exempt from having to pay for blood transfusions.

  18. It is worth saying that NO not all Catholics are unified in their opposition to the mandate. I am Catholic and I believe the mandate is a good thing!

    • Oh, I know! There are plenty of Catholics who have no problem ignoring the teachings of the Church, just like there are plenty of Americans who have no problem with ignoring the Bill of Rights. You seem to have hit the jackpot here. Congratulations?

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