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Checking the Air Outside [Bp. Zubik's follow up to Obama's “To Hell with You”]
Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh ^
| Bishop David A. Zubik
Posted on 02/02/2012 5:26:52 PM PST by Dr. Brian Kopp
Bridging the Gap
Decision unchanged on HHS exemptions
By Bishop David A. Zubik
I have a friend who smokes. Like most smokers I know, hes not very proud of it. Whenever he has to have a cigarette, he excuses himself by saying that he is going to be checking the air outside for a few minutes. I hope and pray that the day will come soon when he manages to quit. But in the meantime, I live with his euphemism about checking the air outside.
In last weeks Bridging the Gap column (To Hell with You 1/27/12), I wrote about the Obama Administrations decision to require by August 2013 that all individual and group health insurance plans cover and subsidize contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that even result in abortion. Shortly after the column appeared on our diocesan website, I was inundated with e-mails, phone calls and requests for interviews. I read them all, talked to as many as I could, responded to every interview. It was my way of checking the air outside to find out what people had to say.
This mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services would apply to every employerincluding non-profits; including the Catholic Church in its hospitals, universities, colleges, nursing homes, and social service agencies. My response was that, in attempting to force this through by mandate, the Obama Administration was essentially saying to hell with you, particularly to the Catholic community by dismissing our beliefs, our religious freedom and our freedom of conscience. Weand every employer and employeeare being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation and help to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States. I was gratified by so much support, not for me personally, but for the support of the Catholic position on the issue by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Id like to express my appreciation to all who wrote and to our local media that gave this, for the most part, very fair coverage. I thank them for allowing me time for checking the air outside on this vital issue.
I also had the opportunity for checking the air outside with those who disagreed with me. I found that their complaints essentially centered on the following few issues:
- 1. They didnt like the language. Some people thought I was saying to hell with the president. I was not! I never would do that! I have too much respect for the office of the president to ever make such a statement. What I was saying was that the decision to retain this mandate was a complete and total dismissal of people of faith, of our freedom as Catholics and the rights of all citizens of faith to practice their faith without imposing on them immoral conditions. You and I, who wrote so many letters to the Obama administration this past fall, made that position clear. The Obama Administration effectively responded, to hell with you. They dismissed us. They dismissed people of all faiths. If some thought that the very use of that phrase was not appropriate for a bishop, all I can say is thats what it felt liketo me and to many others. The mandate was presented as a bureaucratic fiat without appeal for which we have a year to knuckle under. If that isnt saying to hell with you, I dont know what does.
- 2. Some Catholics use artificial birth control, so whats the complaint? The issue of artificial birth control use and abortion-causing drugs are a matter of serious concern to us as the Catholic Church. But what is also at stake is freedom of religion. The issue is the government imposing on the Church that which directly contradicts the teaching of the Church. The issue is the taking away from the citizens of our country our constitutional right to religious liberty. The issue is forcing every employerthose of religion and those of no religionto pay for this mandated coverage of contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs, no matter the dictates of their conscience. The issue is the right of the Church to be able to live its beliefs without contrary beliefs and practices being imposed by departments of the federal government.
- 3. The Church shouldnt get involved in politics. For as long as our government has existed, we as citizens have had the rightand responsibilityto speak out on the issues of the day, inclusive of churches, people of faith. Churches were never required by the Constitution to be irrelevant, required to be silent, required by government fiat to engage in activities they consider immoral. This isnt politics. It is an issue of fundamental human freedom, fundamental religious freedom, guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment of our nations Constitution.
- 4. The Church doesnt care about womens health. I think that is when my head nearly exploded. The truth be told, the Catholic Church throughout this country virtually created health care in the United States. In Pittsburgh, the first hospital, Mercy Hospital, was opened under Church auspices within a year of the founding of our diocese and long before the government responded. The Churchs health care ministry was built primarily by Catholic women and has served women of all faiths and no faith from its inception. What we dont do, cant do, wont do is consider pregnancy a disease equivalent to the flu. Or to be cured by death.
- 5. This is what happens when Catholic institutions take federal money. This mandate has nothing to do with the Church taking federal money. Rather, this mandate is about Church money, the money of citizens, being used against their will, against their conscience, against their beliefs. This mandate is being imposed on everyoneon every employer, even if they have never taken a dime of government funds. EveryoneCatholics and non-Catholics, believers and nonbelievers alikewill be forced to pay for this as an employer or as an employee, and sometimes through their free-will contributions to the Church and Catholic social service agencies. In particular, this mandate will be imposed on us as Catholics and bought and paid for by us as Catholics.
- 6. This seems like the Church is just trying to impose its morality on everyone else. No way! Rather, this is the president and his administration, the government trying to impose its morality, or lack thereof, on the Church and the rest of society through bureaucratic fiat and government intrusion on religious freedom. This action tramples on everybodys rights!
This issue cannot be ignored, shelved, put on the back burner, or lose our fervor. You and I, and people of all faiths, are not going to, nor can we, spend the next year figuring out how to violate our consciences. We must fight this together. The thought struck me since writing to you last week that, in addition to writing our leaders, our president and our federal representatives to protest this mandate, we should also place telephone calls to their respective offices. Their numbers are listed on this page. In so doing, you and I charge them, like the friend of my opening story, to check the air outside. We need to challenge them, our federal leaders, not to dismiss us but to listen to us, i.e., to check the air outside of their mindset, and to respect usas Catholics and non-Catholics; as believers and nonbelievers; as citizens; as women and menwho have the right guaranteed by our ancestors in this country and by our Constitution to religious liberty. Thank you for all you are doing. And please remember with this issueand every issue we faceto be grateful that Nothing is impossible with God. Contact your political leaders President Barack Obama, 202-456-1111. U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, 202-225-2565. U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, 202-225-2065. U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, 202-225-2135. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, 202-225-5406. U.S. Rep. Timothy Murphy, 202-225-2301. U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr., 202-224-6324. U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey, 202-224-4254. Sign up today for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conferences Legislative Advocacy Network at www.pacatholic.org.
TOPICS: Editorial; Front Page News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: biggovernment; moralabsolutes; prolife
To Hell With You
By Bishop David A. Zubik
It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, To Hell with you! There is no other way to put it.
In early August, the Department for Health and Human Services in the Obama administration released guidelines as part of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The guidelines mandated that by Summer 2012 all individual and group health insurance plans, including self-insured plans, cover all FDA-approved contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that even result in abortion.
A million things are wrong with this: equating pregnancy with disease; mandating that every employer pay for contraception procedures including alleged contraceptives that are actually abortion-inducing drugs; forcing American citizens to chose between violating their consciences or providing health care services; mandating such coverage on every individual woman without allowing her to even choose not to have it; forcing every person to pay for that coverage no matter the dictates of their conscience.
Lets be blunt. This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.
This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens. It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.
For our Church this mandate would apply in virtually every instance where the Catholic Church serves as an employer. The mandate would require the Catholic Church as an employer to violate its fundamental beliefs concerning human life and human dignity by forcing Catholic entities to provide contraceptive, sterilization coverage and even pharmaceuticals that result in abortion.
There was a so-called religious exemption to the mandate, but it was so narrowly drawn that, as critics charged, Jesus Christ and his Apostles would not fit the exemption. The so-called exemption would only apply to the vast array of Catholic institutions where the following applied:
- Only Catholics are employed;
- The primary purpose of the institution or service provided is the direct instruction in Catholic belief;
- The only persons served by the institution are those that share Catholic religious tenets. (Try to fit this in with our local Catholic Charities that serve 80,000 every year without discrimination according to faith. It would be impossible!)
Practically speaking under the proposed mandate there would be no religious exemption for Catholic hospitals universities, colleges, nursing homes and numerous Catholic social service agencies such as Catholic Charities. It could easily be determined that the religious exemption would not apply as well to Catholic high schools, elementary schools and Catholic parishes since many employ non-Catholics and serve both students and, through social outreach, many who do not share Catholic religious beliefs. Such a narrow religious exemption is simply unprecedented in federal law.
Last September I asked you to protest those guidelines to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, and contact your political leadership in the federal government. I asked that you request that this flawed mandate be withdrawn because of its unprecedented interference in the religious liberty and freedom of conscience of the Catholic community, and our basic democratic process.
You did. And you were joined by Catholics throughout the country (and many others as well) who raised their voices against the mandate, raised their voices against a meaningless religious exemption.
On January 20, 2012, the Obama administration answered you and me. The response was very simple: To Hell with You.
Kathleen Sebelius announced that the mandate would not be withdrawn and the religious exemption would not be expanded. Instead, she stated that nonprofit groups which include the Catholic Church will get a year to adapt to this new rule. She simply dismissed Catholic concerns as standing in the way of allegedly respecting the health concerns and choices of women.
Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for womens health issues? The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe the United States included the Church is health care.
Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said To Hell with You to the Catholic faithful of the United States.
- To Hell with your religious beliefs,
- To Hell with your religious liberty,
- To Hell with your freedom of conscience.
Well give you a year, they are saying, and then you have to knuckle under. As Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops responded, in effect, the president is saying that we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.
As I wrote to you last September, with this mandate the democratic process is being ignored while we are being ordered to ignore our religious beliefs. And we are being told not only to violate our beliefs, but to pay directly for that violation; to subsidize the imposition of a contraceptive and abortion culture on every person in the United States.
It is time to go back to work. They have given us a year to adapt to this rule. We cant! We simply cannot!
Write to the president.
Write to Secretary Sebelius.
Write to our Senators.
Write to those in Congress.
Use the PA Catholic Advocacy Network to send an email message, too.
I have included the addresses in a box accompanying this article. Heres what you can write:
In early August, the Department for Health and Human Services released guidelines that would force Catholic institutions to subsidize through their health care plans contraception, sterilization procedures and pharmaceuticals that even result in abortion.
It was announced on January 20thby Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, that this mandate is affirmed and that non-profit institutions, including the Catholic Church, have one year to adapt to the mandate.
This is a direct threat to the religious liberty of Catholics, freedom of conscience and the social service ministry of the Catholic Church. The so-called religious exemption in the mandate is no exemption at all as it would require any Catholic institution (that serves non-Catholics or employs non-Catholics) to violate Catholic belief, discontinue to provide health care, or close its doors.
I ask that you do all possible to rescind the Preventive Service Mandate as an unprecedented federal interference in the right of Catholics to serve their community without violating their fundamental moral beliefs.
This mandate can be changed by Congressional pressure. The only way that action will happen is if you and I take action.
Let them know that you and I will not allow ourselves to be pushed around (or worse yet) be dismissed because of our Catholic faith.
Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious freedom to be compromised.
Let them know that you and I will not allow our religious liberty to be rescinded.
Nobody, not even the president of the United States or anyone who represents him, has the right to say to you and to me as U.S. citizens, as Catholics, or as both: To Hell with You.
The president and our elected leaders need to hear from you and me and to listen to us NOW.
And if NOT now, HOW can we get the president to listen to us???
Contact your political leaders
President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20500 (202-456-1111).
U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, 332 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (202-225-2565), D-PA District 4.
U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, 1022 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (202-225-2065), D-PA District 12.
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, 401 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (202-225-2135), D-PA District 14.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, 515 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (202-225-5406), R-PA District 3.
U.S. Rep. Timothy Murphy, 322 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (202-225-2301), R-PA District 18.
U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr., 393 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202-224-6324), D-PA.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey, 502 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (202-224-4254), R-PA.
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
To: TeÃ³filo; Cronos; wagglebee; dsc; Deo volente; MarkBsnr; Mad Dawg; ArrogantBustard; ...
We need more than letters and phone calls. We need our bishops to be holy, orthodox and zealous and to apologize for dropping the ball on Humanae Vitae.
In the early 1990's the Philippine bishops put out a statement apologizing for not having taught against contraception. They said (bold emphasis added),
It is said that when seeking ways of regulating births, only five percent of you consult God. In the face of this unfortunate fact we, your pastors, have been remiss. How few there are among you whom we have reached. There have been some couples eager to share their expertise and values on birth regulation with others. They are saying that they did not receive adequate support from their priests. We did not give them due attention believing then that this ministry consisted merely of imparting a technique best left to married couples. Only recently have we discovered how deep your yearning is for God to be present in your married life. But we did not know then how to help you discover God's presence and activity in your mission of Christian parenting. Conflicted with doubt about alternatives to contraceptive technology, we abandoned you to your confused and lonely consciences with only an excuse, follow what your conscience tells you. How little we realized that it was our consciences that needed to be formed first. A greater concern would have led us to discover that religious hunger in you.
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
Thanks for posting this. I got the diocesan newsletter in the mail today so I read this column after dinner tonight.
I’m pleased with my bishop.
posted on 02/02/2012 6:44:07 PM PST
(Live the message of Fatima - pray & do penance!)
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
Wow. I am floored by the Philippine bishops’ statement. They have a firm grasp of the situation and their statement needs to be circulated far and wide.
May they be successful in renewing their own consciences and that of their flock.
posted on 02/02/2012 7:02:35 PM PST
(As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
I love his clarity and horse-sense. I think it takes a humble and brave person to write to the public without using “c.y.a.” language.
posted on 02/02/2012 7:06:02 PM PST
(As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
To: Dr. Brian Kopp; Warthog-2; Tzar; word_warrior_bob; risen_feenix; EnglishCon; ...
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:
Add me / Remove me
Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.
posted on 02/02/2012 7:25:11 PM PST
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
Excellent! Keep it up, Bishop Zubik!
posted on 02/02/2012 7:26:57 PM PST
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
posted on 02/02/2012 10:24:40 PM PST
("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
Orthodox Bishops Protest Government Healthcare Mandate
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops -
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Churchs conscience.
In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for contraceptive services including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.
Source: Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
posted on 02/02/2012 10:40:48 PM PST
by Just mythoughts
(Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.)
-—I love his clarity and horse-sense. I think it takes a humble and brave person to write to the public without using c.y.a. language.-—
It’s VERY refreshing.
To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...
posted on 02/03/2012 6:18:24 AM PST
("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
posted on 02/03/2012 6:23:05 AM PST
(Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
Perhaps it is time for Civil Disobedience in a peaceful manner as exhibited by Rev. Martin Luther King.
I believe that the Supreme Court will overturn the Obamacare, and he will lose the election in 2012.
A serious message should be sent to Obama.
One method would be to ignore the mandate, but the insurance companies probably would not go along.
A second method would to organize a march on Washington. This may have lost its impact.
A third method would be to withhold payroll taxes. The government could assess penalties. If all Catholic employers would make a public statement and withhold tax payments, then it would probably end up in court. The government would probably have difficulty in dealing with a mass civil protest. This could create an economic crisis for the US or force Congress to act.
There are certainly other methods to send a strong message to support our Constitutional rights.
posted on 02/03/2012 8:02:50 AM PST
(Body of Christ is the Church, gathered around the crucified risen Lord and fed by Him in Communion.)
To: Dr. Brian Kopp
So Obama is giving the Catholic Church a year to prepare themselves to oppose God. How considerate of him.
posted on 02/03/2012 9:51:55 AM PST
(Hatred of those who think differently is the left's unifying principle.-Ralph Peters NY Post)
To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...
posted on 02/03/2012 5:18:02 PM PST
(FReep this FReepathon!)
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