Thursday, February 09, 2012

News commentary

Here in the United States, the Obama administration with the Health and Human Services (H.S.S.) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have mandated that all employers must provide the entire "health-care package" for all employees, which includes access to contraception. That includes religious institutions such as hospitals and universities. Churches and other places of worship are exempted, but that means direct worship facilities only, as if other operations of a church, its schools, charities and hospitals, are entirely separate from the church's religious life. But, in fact these things are an expression of that Faith, and they belong to the church that has created them, that maintains them and manages them. The Roman Catholic Church takes the irrevocable stand that having to provide coverage for contraception is against Catholic beliefs. 

I am not writing this about the issue of contraception, but I am writing to support the position of the Roman Catholic Church, that religious liberty has been violated and trampled already if only by the arrogance of government. Unless this mandate is prevented from taking effect, a church will be forced into Civil Disobedience, with the potential of leaders (including bishops and even administrators of various operations)  going to jail for their religious convictions. 

The simple fact is, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States forbids the federal government to interfere with the free exercise of religion. The mandate, therefore, is illegal because the Constitution is the law. But, it seems that this administration has decided that the Constitution is subject to the whims of the H.S.S. The Administration's argument, that they have a duty to force employers to provide contraception as some sort of right, is completely absurd. That right, under law, exists anyway. No one can take it away. But, ordering the Roman Catholic Church to pay for it interferes with an established right protected by the Constitution, the free exercise of religion.

Either the United States Government is subject to the rule of law, or it becomes tyrannical. The ultimate sign of a tyrant is the attempt to subject the conscience to the state. This is not a partisan problem either. For anyone who can see beyond the end of his own partisan nose, it is not a matter of Republican or Democratic policy, or of conservative or liberal persuasion. After all, if a Democratic administration may throw off the shackles of the Constitution, so may a Republican administration. And for anyone who cannot see beyond the end of his own ideological nose, if not about this, then either party may trample on liberty about something else. 

The rights that must be protected are not those invented for specific groups of people, but the rights guaranteed in the Constitution itself. George F. Will once wrote a line about a topic in which he said, "the proliferation of rights threatens freedom." The issue of contraception is something concerning which the Roman Catholic Church has a clearly stated doctrine, and is therefore entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment. If their right is taken away, then all rights protected by the Constitution become subject to the whims of "rulers." 


Fr. Wm. Holiday said...

Hear! Hear!

Jack Miller said...

Fr. Hart,

your wrote: Either the United States Government is subject to the rule of law, or it becomes tyrannical.

Indeed. Thanks for, along with many others, blowing a clear trumpet of alarm.


RC Cola said...


Absolutely, 100%, unequivocally correct.

While I often scorn many of my former co-religionists, I think we are going to see a little sifting of the wheat from the chaff.

The RCC has some very very good men. I think specifically of Archbishop Charles Chaput. I reckon he is not afraid to see a jail cell and stay there until the government relents. (Which I pray it will.) I also reckon that Archbishop Dolan of NYC will turn himself in to the police. Knowing how NYC police are (mostly practicing Catholic) it will be interesting who they will get to arrest him. Perhaps the Feds. NYPD will be too busy going to Mass.

I reckon that even Mother Angelica, in her much weakened state, would be more than happy to go to jail, too. I hope they room for all her nuns, because they will follow her without exception. I've been to their convent in Alabama. Even though they are surrounded by historically anti-Catholic denominations, I met many Protestants who were deeply moved by the nuns and their devotion. I even met one sheriff who was planning to buy a copy of DaVinchi's Last Supper. As I think about our conversation, I reckon that he, too, will refuse to arrest nuns. They will have to bring in the Feds.

This is a watershed moment. If the government can run roughshod over the Catholic Church and get away with it. The rest of us are next. I wouldn't be surprised if the next step is to force the RCC, Orthodox, and Continuing Anglican churches to ordain women based on their interpretation of anti-discrimination laws.

The only churches left standing will be TEC and the others that have proven perfidious already.

I'm pretty fired up.

On the other hand, there will be bishops and priests who will see this as their chance to move up a rung or two in the ladder. I have grave doubts about the majority of bishops in the USCCB. There are some real stinkers.

My big question is about the Catholic laity. Will they stand up and defend their Church--regardless if they happen to use contraception--on principal, or will they side with the government against their Church?

If I were still in the RCC and in the USA, I would be at my priest's door, loaded rifle in hand, asking, "When is it permissible to fight back? Are we the new Vendee?"

evergreen said...

So true! I have contacted my senators and representative.

Anonymous said...

This is wrong on so many levels. First of all, contraception is not a right, it's a good, a service, like cable TV. Second, if the government can create rights, it can take them away. Third, a right on your part, even assuming there is any such right, does not create an obligation on my part, e.g., your right to free speech does not create an obligation on my part to provide you with a microphone.

The following comment may be too partisan for this kind of blog, but I think the President's actions reflect his zero-sum liberalism, i.e., anything good in Peter's life must come at Paul's expense. "Diversity" doesn't mean the bewildering hub-bub of the open marketplace of goods and ideas where free people take responsibility for their own choices. Instead, it means a list of "choices" pre-selected for us by "experts" who know better than you and I and have our "best interests" at heart.

It is no coincidence that the more "liberal" our society becomes, the more we will be subjected to the rule of man.


Mark VA said...

From a Roman Catholic perspective:

If someone aspires to be called a Christian, then he must also have the courage to say, when necessary: Non possumus!

This issue goes beyond the question of whether the Bishops will continue their oversight of the over 600 hospitals, 230 universities, 1200 secondary schools, 6000 elementary schools, and a myriad of charitable organizations.

As Father Hart noted, all of us Americans are now faced with this reality:

If just one religious right protected by the constitution is taken away from just one group, then "all rights protected by the Constitution become subject to the whims of "rulers."

Fr. Steve said...

"If just one religious right protected by the constitution is taken away from just one group, then 'all rights protected by the Constitution become subject to the whims of 'rulers'."

I would take that even further than that.

If just one right protected by the constitution is taken away from just one group, then all rights protected by the Constitution become subject to the whims of rulers.

Think about that the next time we rail against some sort of "out group".

On the political note, I'm surprised the administration is doing this, considering he would very much like to court the Latin-American vote. The great majority of them are devout Roman Catholics.

Bruce said...

While I also support the RCC in this fight, it’s hard to feel real sorry for them. So many of them (clergy and laity) supported the sexual liberationist party. Their Bishops refuse to excommunicate Roman Catholic abortionist politicians. And then they’re shocked when these politicians follow their leftist convictions and turn on the Church.

AFS1970 said...

Yesterday I was at a political brunch, where this was a topic of one of the speakers. Being in CT where we had two state senators attempt to pass a law that would require state approval on RC bishops, we have already seen the dangers of these tactics.

I have always said that if we applied the same rational to all the amendments that some seek to apply to the 2nd amendment we would have a very strange and weakened constitution indeed. However this is not just about changing the constitution this is about ignoring it. That is very dangerous.

Of course we see this from primarily a spiritual point of view, but we can not help but see the implications from a legal point of view also. This is a case of Caesar not being satisfied with what is Caesar's and wanting also what is God's.

Anonymous said...

There seems some debate among careful readers of the 'mandate' and related official statements about whether what was actually signed into effect on 10 Feb. was exactly what was proposed before there was any public uproar - i.e., allowing very narrow exemptions - or even more sweeping, no longer allowing exemptions at all.

In any case, it would seem (practically speaking) to compel most - if not all - people employed or employing in the U.S. to become in a distinct sense accessory to murder via abortifacient (if anyone unborn happens to be there when the abortifacient is used)!

Whether anything like this already pertains to any Continuum blog contributors living under other 'Western(-style) democratic' regimes is another weighty question, worth seeking the answer to!