Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mandate…

It has always been my practice to preach on the readings of the day and the only time I’ve ever varied from that was the business report that you give the parish once a year.

Recently I attended a meeting with Archbishop Mansell and during the meeting he spoke about the new Health and Human Services Mandate and its implication for Catholic institutions in our country.

How many of you know what that it ?

For those who don’t know what I am talking about It seems that the government has decided that that all employers including religious institutions will be mandated to provide contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans.

This clearly goes against both our religious conscience and our religious freedom.

It true that there are exemptions in the  mandate for religious institutions  when the majority of people employed are of the same faith.

However, in our larger institutions like hospitals and universities it puts our church in a terrible place because it either means that we don’t hire non Catholics who might be best suited for the job or that we violate our conscience... by provide medications and procedures which violate our conscience.

If we compromise on this principle one has to wonder what will come next.

I can’t imagine signing a check that would pay for medication that would kill a baby... I just can’t do it and I won’t do it even if it is the law.

Some of you might be thinking to yourselves I don’t want to come to church and hear the priest talk about government policies.

I know my email box is going to fill up with complaints and I know my voice mail will too.

I’m willing to accept that.

I assure I am making these comments only after a lot of prayer and discernment.

A homily is supposed to take the Gospel and apply it to our everyday lives and circumstances.

Good people I feel compelled to look at  this mandate from the federal government in the light of the Gospel of our Lord.

This is not a partisan issue. I believe that there are both democrats and republicans who are for and against this mandate.

This is simply the matter of a government agency making a radical change to our constitution by forcing us to violate our conscience.

Never before has the government put itself so clearly in between our conscience and our God.

When our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into our constitution  it simply meant there would be no recognized national church.

During our meeting Archbishop Mansell expressed grave concern about the whole situation and he begged the priests present to speak about it and make sure their congregations knew what was going on.

After listening to him I  admit I studied the mandate even more and now I almost feel guilty that I did not bring this to your attention early.

This week I have included a fact sheet in the bulletin so that those who wish can inform themselves more about the mandate.

I promise to put a  bunch of links on our website  which will explain the HHS Mandate and its implications for the free practice of our faith here in the United States we all love.

I know that you will agree we must always remain faithful to the Gospel not matter what the cost.

I am sure you will also agree that Catholics have always tried to be faithful citizens of our great country .

This mandate will place us all in a  most difficult situation because it is the  the first time our government seems to be inserting itself between our individual conscience and our faithfulness to God’s Word.

There is an old latin say which goes like this
Qui tacet consentit

He who is silent consents...

I can’t remain silent anymore I fear I have been silent too long.

Thank you for listening

God bless you all and God bless America.


Doug Indeap said...

I think you are mistaken in at least two respects. First, questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have occasionally confronted such issues and have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g.,

When the legislature anticipates that application of such laws may put some individuals in moral binds, the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), add provisions to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

The real question here then is not whether the First Amendment precludes the government from enacting and enforcing the generally applicable laws regarding availability of health insurance (it does not), but rather whether there is any need to exempt some employers in order to avoid forcing them to act contrary to their consciences.

Second, the law may not be one that some employers support as a matter of policy, but it does not put them in the moral bind you suppose. Many initially worked themselves into a lather with the false idea that the law forced employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers considered immoral. The fact is that employers have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers' religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law's requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved.

Some nonetheless continued complaining that by paying assessments they would be paying for the very things they opposed, seemingly missing that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to many taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of “their” tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for making war, providing health care, teaching evolution, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral? If each of us could opt out of this or that law or tax with the excuse that our religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.

In any event, those complaining made enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required. Problem solved–again, even more.

Nonetheless, some continue to complain, fretting that somehow the services they dislike will get paid for and somehow they will be complicit in that. They argue that if insurers (or, by the same logic, anyone, e.g., employees) pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They evidently believe that when they spend a dollar and it thus becomes the property of others, they nonetheless should have some say in how others later spend that dollar. One can only wonder how it would work if all of us could tag "our" dollars this way and control their subsequent use.

John R. said...


First and foremost, this is not really a suitable place for you to showcase your position on this clearly unconstitutional mandate...but since you did, and you have a right to do so, please allow me to respond. For now, let's forget about "the legality". I would like to counter your position with a simple thought...

As a Catholic (I am assuming that maybe you are one, if not, forgive me for making that assumption), are you willing to stand before God and take the position that you were OK with funding, directly or indirectly, (it makes no difference) abortifacients and birth control which is contrary to the Church's moral beliefs? I am not comfortable with that. If we believe that ending the life of a fetus is murder, then providing, funding, legislating for and even passively allowing for abortifacients makes us accessories to murder. Plain and simple. This quasi robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario doesn't rid us from the moral dilemma. We believe that God sees things differently and judges us based on what we do and what we fail to do.

Your understanding and articulation of the mandate and its associated talking points is impressive, but only in a worldly sense. We as Catholics are not concerned with the "worldly" view on this. It is how we will be judged in the eyes of God. Mandate or no mandate, making abortion more accessible in any form is contrary to moral teaching - and the Church will stand firmly against it and perhaps even suffer persecution for it.

Since you are an intelligent person, a lawyer perhaps, and seemingly willing to research of US Law and its precedents, may I make a suggestion? Take some time to study Canon Law (especially Book III where it discusses the Church's role in Catholic Institutions) and read Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae. Maybe, at least, they will help you understand the Church's position in a better way.

Ultimately, you have to decide who's side you are on: You either side with God or not - there is no middle ground. My priority is to place God above all things. I think we all get caught up in politics and sometimes forget what's truly important. Government should never take the place of your moral compass.

One final thought: Can you really defend human rights if you cannot defend the unborn? Basic human rights begin with the right to life. All other human rights and civil rights are meaningless if you can't defend the defenseless.

God Bless,
John R.