Wow! US Bishops to Obama: We will not comply with the HHS Mandate

Whaddaya know! (I’m bolding the stuff I think really sticks out):

A Special Message from the Bishops of the United States

The bishops of this country have just concluded their traditional fall meeting in Baltimore and have spent time on issues important to them and their people: help to those suffering from Typhoon Haiyan; an update on the situation in Haiti; matters of worship and teaching; service to the poor; and comprehensive immigration reform. Among those priorities is the protection of religious freedom, especially as threatened by the HHS mandate.

Pope Francis has reminded us that “In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide.”

We stand together as pastors charged with proclaiming the Gospel in its entirety. That Gospel calls us to feed the poor, heal the sick, and educate the young, and in so doing witness to our faith in its fullness. Our great ministries of service and our clergy, religious sisters and brothers, and lay faithful, especially those involved in Church apostolates, strive to answer this call every day, and the Constitution and the law protect our freedom to do so.

Yet with its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers. Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.

Despite our repeated efforts to work and dialogue toward a solution, those problems remain. Not only does the mandate undermine our ministries’ ability to witness to our faith, which is their core mission, but the penalties it imposes also lay a great burden on those ministries, threatening their very ability to survive and to serve the many who rely on their care.

The current impasse is all the more frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care. We would have preferred to spend these recent past years working toward this shared goal instead of resisting this intrusion into our religious liberty. We have been forced to devote time and resources to a conflict we did not start nor seek.

As the government’s implementation of the mandate against us approaches, we bishops stand united in our resolve to resist this heavy burden and protect our religious freedom. Even as each bishop struggles to address the mandate, together we are striving to develop alternate avenues of response to this difficult situation. We seek to answer the Gospel call to serve our neighbors, meet our obligation to provide our people with just health insurance, protect our religious freedom, and not be coerced to violate our consciences. We remain grateful for the unity we share in this endeavor with Americans of all other faiths, and even with those of no faith at all. It is our hope that our ministries and lay faithful will be able to continue providing insurance in a manner consistent with the faith of our Church. We will continue our efforts in Congress and especially with the promising initiatives in the courts to protect the religious freedom that ensures our ability to fulfill the Gospel by serving the common good.

This resolve is particularly providential on this feast of the patroness of immigrants, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a brave woman who brought the full vigor of her deep religious faith to the service of the sick, the poor, children, the elderly, and the immigrant. We count on her intercession, as united we obey the command of Jesus to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.

They are, it sounds like, open to negotiation. But it also sounds like the catastrophes Obama has suffered with the rollout, the disaster to Obama’s credibility, and the general weakness of the Administration as its massive hubris have come back to bite are emboldening the bishops to strike while the iron is hot and try to get the Administration to cave on this. Here’s hoping!

  • Andy

    Other than using the word “dialogue” as a verb… Pretty impressive! ;-)

  • bob

    Sounds pretty much like everything they’ve always said to me.

  • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

    They should have spilled more ink on this point:

    The current impasse is all the more frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care.

    That deserves a lot more attention. People suspect that the bishops are just doing air-support for the Republicans, but that is absolutely not the case at all, and people (both in and outside the church) need to know that.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    This is something that the so-called “progressives” just don’t understand. All my lefty friends and associates are convinced that the government and liberal-minded Francis are about to drag ye olde Catholic Church into the modern free-loving 21st century. They just don’t understand: The Catholic Church will not comply with this. If it comes to defying the government, so be it. It will hardly be the first time the Church has chosen to be persecuted for Truth rather than sit comfortably in a lie.
    .
    The question is not whether the Church will survive modern government liberalism in the West. The question is whether the West will survive its persecution of the Church. The Church will be here till the Last Day. It may be a Church of martyrs, most of whom speak Spanish or various African languages. But the Church isn’t going away, and it isn’t going the way of “anything goes” Anglicanism.

  • Elmwood

    Obama had nothing to gain with forcing catholic institutions to act contrary to their consciences. I can only assume he doesn’t care or he’s that clueless. Now the debacle of obamacare is finally foisted upon us, i’m leaning towards clueless and incompetent.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

      Of course he has something to gain, the reduction of an alternate power center.

    • Nancy

      Personally, I think Sebelius is the one with major beefs against the Church, as she is nominally Catholic, like Durbin, Pelosi, and Biden.

      • Almario Javier

        Yep – personally, I think Obama couldn’t care less about the Sebelius Mandate portion, at least not really (now when it comes to abortion or SS”M”, sure, but contraception, especially when no-one objects to it being legal?). To him it’s likely an intra-Catholic quarrel. If the Supremes overruled it tomorrow, he’d likely just shrug and do other things. Sebelius, though… if you look at her history she’s had a long career of quarreling with the Church. If Obama had nominated someone else to be SHHS, I don’t think this would have happened.

  • merkn

    Why don’t the Bishops come to the defense of faithful Catholics that run ordinary businesses that don’t want to comply?


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