Bishops Issue Call to Action to Defend Religious Liberty

The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. They outlined their position in “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” The document was developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), approved for publication by the USCCB Administrative Committee March 13, and published in English and Spanish April 12.

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A must read for Catholics and non Catholics because

This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.

Further,

Some things are more important than high gas prices or a faltering economy. They are life, marriage and freedom.

Catholics in particular are being put to stand the Test of Fire.
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Those who have not yet read this document are going to be surprised by the clarity and forcefulness with which the bishops’ position is expressed.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.

We are not accustomed to reading such words and especially not from the USCCB but this time a line has been drawn in the sand and there appears to be no going back.

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

Based on the near total lack of coverage this document has so far received it must be obvious that very few people are aware of its contents but that condition cannot long be maintained. This is an issue that will force people to choose without equivocation and I for one feel it’s about time.

Ender

I am afraid the Bishops, who in the American system are no more than lobbyists, have a very difficult road ahead.

They have much reduced power to influence government decisions. In the American system, power, not morality, is everything. This is a country where most Catholics don’t listen to anything the Bishops say. The sex abuse scandal has seriously hurt. Most Catholics contracept. Is Obama really going to pay attention to what the Bishops say when most Catholics don’t?

That’is exactly why Obama can be a tyrant and have his way. That is exactly why Catholics need to go back to the basics of our faith, first turn around in our hearts, then help to turn around our country, before it is too late.

I certainly agree that the bishops have made things hard on themselves for any number of reasons, but this time it’s not a political issue they’re involved in, rather it is a moral one. Having spoken out so often and for so long on political concerns there will be a lot of people who won’t make that distinction this time, but the distinction is there and I think over time more and more Catholics will come to realize it.

Is Obama really going to pay attention to what the Bishops say when most Catholics don’t?

The question is not whether Obama will listen to the bishops but whether Catholics will and that remains an open question.

Ender

Cardinal Burke: I have received emails and other communications from **lay Faithful **who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family.

I admire very much the courage of the bishops. **At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. **

So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation."

opposingviews.com/i/religion/cardinal-burke-clarifies-employers-providing-contraceptives-materially-and-formally

Yes - the question especially remains how the disobedient will find the will and strength to be persecuted for their faith while concurrently disagreeing with Church teaching.

The Bishops and the Church are free to do whatever they want when it comes to following doctrine.

Where if falls apart is when the Church accepts government money, they then must abide by the regulations set forth by the government.

Government money, always has strings attached.

You want to keep your religious freedom? Then don’t get involved with the government and certainly, don’t take government money.

Jim

This pretty much misses the point here. Religious freedom is not dependent on the actions of the bishops and even less on whether there is money involved. I would be the first to agree that the bishops have been over involved politically but none of that matters with regard to the question of whether the HHS mandate is a violation of religious freedom. The bishops are either right or wrong in claiming that it is such a violation and their position in this case seems undeniable. The biggest fault with their political involvement in the past is that there will be a lot of people who see this as just another political issue. What they fail to appreciate is that what is being taken here is a moral position, not a political one. Had the bishops been a little less political in the past this might be a good bit more obvious.

Ender

Have no doubt about it, if the Catholic institutions were not receiving government money, there would be nothing the government could regulate on these institutions.

The fact that they do receive money, they must abide by the regulations that all institutions receiving government funds must abide by.

Jim

Regardless of the morality involved?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the HHS mandate has anything to do with whether or not an institution is receiving government funds.

Yes, that seems to be the issue.

This is wrong on two counts. First, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution and is utterly unaffected by whether or not the government provides institutional subsidies. Second, the HHS mandate applies to everyone in the US regardless of whether they receive a government subsidy. The question of receiving federal has nothing whatever to do with the issue under discussion.

The fact that they do receive money, they must abide by the regulations that all institutions receiving government funds must abide by.

Actually, the question of whether the regulation is constitutional is the issue. The fact that an institution may receive federal funds does not exempt the government from the limits the Constitution defines.

Ender

Thanks Ender. This is what I thought, as well. Some people are too ready to give up their Constitutional rights and slide more and more to a society devoid of religious freedom.

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