I took a break, a small one, to read, pray and consider all that was swirling about us in the news with regard to the HHS mandate. It was clear to me that persecution was the objective; it was also clear that it is a unifying factor -- at least among the bishops. They have been in the spotlight more in the last couple of weeks than in the last several decades, as far as public policy and influence are concerned.
The Catholic Thing, a web magazine that I love to read and highly recommend, put together what they are calling: A Symposium of Threats to Our Religious Liberty. Dr. Robert Royal starts his piece in this symposium with one word -- None. Brad Miner, in his, the final of three articles in the collection, closes with one word -- Why?
I would like to begin and end my piece here at Faith on the High Wire with one word.
How does this happen in the United States of America? A country founded on the premise of religious freedom. A country whose first immigrants were pilgrims willing to freeze and starve for the right to practice their particular worship of God freely without dictates or mandates from a government.
It was those pre-Constitution settlers on whose sacrifice religious freedom was forged. It should be no surprise then that the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights protects this foundational freedom -- Freedom of Religion, (along with other rights that are guaranteed in that same amendment).
It does remind me, however, of the Ten Commandments, those natural laws written in our hearts, the ones that should be obvious to any thinking man, that God needed to write down as a reminder of those tenets. Funny that the right to religious liberty had to be written down, too.What wisdom did it take to realize that in the future, freedom of religion would need protecting? But, I suppose oppression of such freedom is a stark reminder.
How does a president, elected by the people, and for the people, snub his nose at the Constitution designed to protect their rights, in regard to religious freedoms? This is nothing more than an assault on the very foundations of the United States of America. We are not the United States of "the government will take care of that for you" -- that is the tyranny our ancestors fled. And, no. The Catholic Church is not trying to take control and implement Theocracy, as I read in the comments on Bishop Chaput's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Chaput did call the compromise both "insulting and dangerous", though.
The Church simply wants to protect a Catholic's right to act within and not against their conscience. It is part of the doctrine of the Faith that Birth Control, sterilization, abortofacients, etc. constitute grave sin. Catholics are not to participate in such acts. And, yet, the president wishes to disregard the First Amendment and literally force Catholics to behave against their conscience. It will not be so, and the bishops have spoken clearly and decisively in that regard, with at least 85% of them issuing public statements in opposition to the mandate.
How has it come to this? Catholics women are reported to be eager users of contraceptives in defiance of the teachings of the Faith. This fact cannot be ignored. Women, and men, have been the victims of propaganda from institutions and organizations that promote contraception -- and worse -- with relative silence from the pulpit. Leticia Velasquez, a Catholic author and co-founder of KIDS, suggested it might be Catholics' "dirty little secret" -- see her piece, Obama finally crosses the line with HHS contraception mandate.
Well, it's time to make that dirty little secret disappear. This seems to be a time of purging. President Obama is actually doing Catholics a bit of a favor in forcing this issue into the light. We are getting to take a good long look at who we are, what we profess to believe, and what our short comings are in terms of proper catechesis of the flock.
Anyone who doesn't wish to follow the Church is free to leave. That isn't what the Church wants; however, she will not interfere with your free will to practice differently. Likewise, the Church should at least be able to expect her rights to be respected without interference in the practice the Faith according to her doctrine. This is the American way, and a right guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. How can this be happening in America?