Friday, February 17, 2012

A Call for action

Dear Friends,

(The Rev. Know-it-all needs to discuss something other than convoluted history and obscure theology because things are not so good back on planet earth. I will resume my treatise on the relationship between sacraments and religious swooning next week, unless things get even weirder.)

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services of the USA, wrote a letter to be read at all Sunday Masses for U.S. military personnel around the world. The letter is critical of the Obama administration’s decision to rescind the exemption for the Catholic Church that allows Catholic institutions not to provide condoms, sterilization, artificial birth control, and chemically induced abortions by means of insurance provided to employees. The letter said that the decision by the Obama Administration as part of new federal health care law “is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle,” and that “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”   

Today, there are hurried meetings. As of this writing, (Feb. 8, 2012), Archbishop Broglio spoke with Secretary of the Army John McHugh and they have “agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the archbishop's letter,”  The Archbishop has also agreed to McHugh's suggestion that the words, “We cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law,” will not be in the letter for fear that “it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.” 

The chaplains have narrowly missed being in the position, as I understand it, of deciding whether or not to obey their bishop or their commander in chief. I am reminded of the sad days that destroyed the faith of England, when the clergy had to obey the king or obey the pope. Only one bishop (St. John Fisher) and St. Thomas More, the former chancellor resisted the king, dying for their faith and conscience, imprisoned by the administration of Henry the Eighth for refusing to give their blessing to the marriage of Henry and Ann Boleyn, and eventually beheaded for treason. 

Thomas More in particular did not ever even publicly oppose the marriage. He was executed simply for not endorsing it. We Catholics are once again in this difficult position as were our forbears in the faith. We are being asked not only to give our blessing, but to pay for what we regard as a perversion of one of our seven sacraments. In the 1966 film, “A Man For All Seasons” Sir Thomas More, having been convicted of treason by means of  false testimony, finally gives his opinion of the King’s marriage. He cries out, “ I am here because I would not consent to the marriage!” 

We are in exactly the same position. We will not consent to the forced redefinition of the sacrament of marriage. We Catholics define marriage as permanent, faithful and familial. America now defines marriages as temporary, narcissistic and self-gratifying. For us, marriage is an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman that exists for the sake of stable families in which children can be brought into the world in as much emotional and physical safety as possible.  For them, marriage can be ended by divorce when it no longer meets one’s needs, or the relationship is unsatisfying. Instead of faithfulness to another, one’s own interests are paramount. Instead of the emotional and physical safety of children, America’s new definition of marriage makes the giving of life optional. Pleasure and emotional gratification give marriage meaning.   

We are not saying that they may not do these things. We are just asking to be allowed to hold to our own beliefs, to the freedom of our consciences and to the free expression of our faith in the public forum. We Catholics are on trial for the sake of Marriage and the Universality of the Church, just as surely as was St. Thomas More. Don’t be fooled. They will not give up. They will not rest until they have American marriage blessed by an American, not a Catholic Church. 

They are a bit surprised by the Catholic reaction. They had thought we would remain asleep while the country was ruined. They may back off until they can hear us snoring again. Stay awake!  St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans: “It is already the hour for you to wake from sleep. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 13:11-14).

So what can we do? Go to the Relevant Radio Website. Just do a web search for Relevant Radio and at the top right-hand corner just below Our Lady of Guadalupe’s picture where it says Enter Keyword type in HHS.  Also, go to the USCCB Website. (That’s the United States  Conference of Catholic Bishops. USCCB works just as well)   There you will see URGENT ACTION ALERT under those words  you will find WRITE to CONGRESS TODAY. Click on this and it will guide you through the process.  Another good thing to do: get the movie “A Man For All Seasons.” Watch it. Have your children watch it, reminding them that it is a true story.
Here is the letter I wrote:

Hon. Senator Durbin, Hon. Senator Kirk, Hon. Representative Schakowsky,

I am writing to ask you to support Senator Rubio's bill protecting religious freedom. I am very concerned about  the decision by Kathleen Sebelius  and the current administration to deny the insurance exemption for churches that object to artificial birth control and chemical abortions. I  object, not simply because I am a Catholic, and a clergyman, but because my ethnic origins are German. My family fled Germany in the 19th century to escape a growing of tyranny. My cousins who remained in the old country were gradually forced to pay for and then to assist in the horrors of the Nazi holocaust. They were fooled by the slow, incremental denial of fundamental human rights. “First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, then came for the Gypsies, but I was not a Gypsy..... “Now in America, “First they are coming for the Catholics....” I cannot believe that in this country that I love, I and my congregation will be forced to pay for what we regard as murder. I appeal to your love of country and your love of justice, don't force the Catholic Church to abandon its mission to those in need by insisting that we provide the means of murder to those we employ. Such a situation could end in the closing of our schools, hospitals and charities and thus cause the unemployment of a million people.  Please help.


  1. I wrote a letter and could not believe the ridiculous canned response I got from Dick Durbin. I got no response from Schakowsky or Kirk. (Kirk I understand because of the stroke.)

    This is the hill some already-strained familial relationships in my life will die on. Period.

  2. People seem to think the Church is trying to tell EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE they can't have birth control pills or abortifacients. This is NOT about your birth control. This is about the Catholic Church refusing to pay for ITS OWN EMPLOYEES' abortion/contraception. This is not unusual. MANY insurance plans do not cover certain things - infertility treatment, birth control, smoking cessation.
    The 1st Amendment protects us from violating our moral consciences just as it rightfully protects Quakers from being drafted and Amish from buying insurance at all.
    My husband takes heart medication which KEEPS HIM ALIVE. Guess whether it's free? Go on. Guess.

    I went to both and and was shocked to find that in a month of Ortho Tri-Cyclen (a very popular brand of the pill) is NINE DOLLARS a month WITHOUT insurance.
    Nine dollars.

    And that is what my conscience is worth to this administration.

    NEVER in history has the President ordered a privately held company to give away their product for free.

    This is the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened politically that I can recall.

    The only solution I see is to immediately fire all non-Catholic teachers, nurses, doctors, secretaries, etc. from Catholic institutions and make the rest sign a fidelity oath. Hate to put a ton of people out of work to save them nine bucks a month, but there you have it.

    Legal precedent has been set in this matter and it is on our side.

  3. Excellent essay, Father. While some people may think this is not worth getting worked up about, it is no doubt the start of something much, much worse. May God grant all of us the faith and courage to remain true to the end, whether that end comes of old age in our own bed or whether we depart this life to claim the Martyr's Crown.

  4. If it is morally evil for the Bishops or heads of the "catholic" institutions (or insurance companies) to buy a woman's contraceptive devices or abortifacients and sterilizations, then why is it not morally evil for employers in the private sector who profess to be Catholic to buy those same things? Why in the world would the Bishops leave out the private sector employers from the discussion of this issue in the beginning? and Why don't the "catholic" institutions drop insurance altogether, since that is a viable option to solve this whole mess? Why in the world is this mess being labelled a "religious liberty" issue?