Catholic Bishops Escalate Obama Battle
Catholic war with the Obama Administration, 43 Dioceses and institutions
took a brilliant step this week in filing lawsuits in all 12 Federal
District Courts simultaneously.
Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington said it was challenging
the mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services “that
fundamentally redefines the nation’s longstanding definition of
religious ministry and requires our religious organizations to provide
their employees with coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,
contraceptives and sterilization, even if doing so violates their
the Archdiocese in its suit is Catholic University, a Catholic high
school, a Consortium of Catholic Academies, and Catholic Charities
serving the poor.
press has flippantly described the issue as a fight over contraception.
Wuerl countered the lawsuit does not challenge “women’s established
legal right to obtain and use contraception.” Rather, it is about
coercion – forcing the Archdiocese to offer it to its 2,100 employees,
for free - plus sterilization and morning after pills to abort tiny
Belford, Chancellor of the Archdiocese put it simply: “We must violate
our religious beliefs or face crippling fines and penalties of at least
$4.2 million a year.
Cardinal Dolan of the New York Archdiocese, and President of America’s
Catholic Bishops, explained its suit on CBS: “This is about religious
liberty. The President says it is about women’s health. This is about
religious freedom, not about contraception.”
Administration says churches are exempt. Dolan charged, “This exemption
is so strangling and so narrow…They tell us if you are considered a
church to be exempt, but you have to present yourselves as Catholic and
can serve only Catholics.
did the government get in the business of defining the extent of our
ministry? We are being punished for serving so many, and for not asking
for Baptismal certificates! It is a presumptuous attempt to define for
the church its role. It is a straight-jacketed, handcuffing exemption
which we find very dangerous.”
the five organizations joining the Archdiocese of New York are Catholic
health groups. A sixth of all hospital beds in America are Catholic.
Another is Catholic Charities which helps victims of human trafficking,
refugees, and offers adoption services.
To Catholics only?
Of course not
asserted, “For Catholics, the practice of faith has always required not
just acts of worship, but also - necessarily – loving charitable service
to others…Jesus Christ taught that obeying the first great commandment –
loving God – must impel us to fulfill the second great commandment –
loving our neighbor as ourselves.
quoted the Apostle James: “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is
that Jesus said of his followers, “I was hungry and you gave me food; I
was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me;
I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in
prison and you came to me…Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of
the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
church leaders are using this moment to preach the Gospel. They are also
painting the Obama Administration as being unbelievably oppressive. As
Wuerl asserted, “HHS’ conception of what constitutes the practice of
religion is so narrow that even Mother Teresa would not have qualified.”
important to note that law suits have been filed as far back as November
by both Catholic and Protestant colleges, such as Louisiana Baptist
College and Geneva College (Reformed Presbyterian). As Mike Huckabee
put it, “We are all Catholics now!”
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission, put the issue trenchantly: “This is a debate about coercion,
not Catholics; conscience, not contraceptives; and freedom, not
fertility. This is about principle, not `pelvic politics.’
particularly brilliant about this week’s 12 lawsuits in all Federal
courts is the fact Obamacare’s constitutionality is being debated at
this moment by the Supreme Court. It will issue an opinion by the end
the focus of the case before the Supreme Court is not about religious
liberty, if it declares the law unconstitutional, the HHS regulations to
implement it would be moot.
February I noted Obama “picked a fight with America’s Catholic bishops
over religious liberty. He’ll lose.”
In fact, Catholic
voter support of Obama has already fallen from 53 percent to 45 percent.
If the issue
continues, both Catholic and evangelical support will plunge.
Copyright © Michael
J. McManus is President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist.