It started with the Catholics

I figured it was about time that I add my two cents on this whole Obamacare/Healthcare/Mandate/Contraception discussion.   This could very well be a defining moment in America.  How we as Catholics handle this could determine much about our future.  Do you think I am being melodramatic?  I wish I were. 

First lets review just what is going on here.  This is from the USCCB website:

The HHS has issued a rule forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization. These are listed among “preventive services for women” that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing — regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.

The exemption provided for “religious employers” is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year. Ironically, not even Jesus & his disciples would have qualified.

For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym “HHS”, it stands for Health and Human Services, a department of the government that describes itself thusly:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.  (for more go to www.hhs.gov)

This department is headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and is the principle agency charged with carrying out the implementation of “Obamacare” (along with the IRS).  So under this brave new rule of law called Obamacare, when HHS says that something is a “mandate” it is considered law.  Yes, folks, when we warned that Obamacare would change the very scope of government and how laws are made we weren’t exaggerating.  Now, what does that have to do with contraception and the Catholic Church?

On January 20, 2012, Secretary Sebelius finalized the mandate on “preventative care” that is to be included in the current “Obamacare law.”  Why just now you ask?  Because when the fight for Obamacare was being waged back in ’09 the opposition from the Bishops and Catholics was so severe that the administration “punted” this particular mandate and kicked it down the road.   You see they feared for the bill’s passage and in effect saw that if they went for this at the time, Obamacare would have never passed.  So they figured they could wait until 2012 when no one would be looking and get the contraceptive mandate included at THAT time.  Well, folks, it IS that time.  And your religious freedom is at stake.

This mandate is a thinly veiled attempt to prevent Churches from exercising their rights – namely their right to Freedom of Religion.  Disguised as a “women’s health issue” this has less to do with women’s health and much more to do with the Government flexing its muscle and seeing what it can get away with.   As a woman I find it nauseating that I am being used as a pawn in this disgusting power grab.  Hearing things like “The Church is once again hurting women” makes my blood boil.  Hearing the President of NARAL make ridiculous statements about the Church and what her “interests” are make me stark raving mad.

Lets get one thing straight.  The Church IS and ALWAYS HAS BEEN a defender and protector of women.  She has ALWAYS stood up for women and for their dignity.  And she is doing so now.  How sad that women like Nancy Keenan (President of NARAL Pro-Choice America) claim to be sticking up for women while what they are really doing is espousing a very flawed belief that birth control is “liberating” and abortion is a right.  But I digress.  (If you’d like to hear me spout off more on this topic I suggest A PERSONal Choice , Birth Control Breast Cancer and the Exploitation of Women )

What is happening before our eyes is nothing less than the Obama Administration attempted to prevent the Catholic Church from practicing its Faith.  This is UNPRECEDENTED since the time of King George!!  This is HUGE! This is downright scary!  Whats worse is that if we do not stand up and fight this RIGHT NOW, more of these types of assaults on Religious Freedom are going to happen.  Its starting with the Catholics.

It is absolutely imperative that you and I NOT remain silent.  We must join with the Bishops who have been brave enough to speak out; Bishops like Cardinal-Designate Dolan, President of the United Catholic Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Broglio, Bishop of the Archdiocese for Military Services, and Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh (http://bit.ly/yuT7WF).   In fact to date there are about 120 Bishops who have spoken out against this assault on the Church and on freedom.  I will publish the whole list at the bottom of this post.  We must encourage these Shepherds as they do what many before them have feared to do – speak out directly against the Government.  We must let these defenders of Faith know that we stand with them and that we WANT them to stand firm for the Truth and for Freedom.  In every age it has been the CHURCH who has defended peoples from injustice and tyranny.  This is part of her legacy.  It is part of the mission of the Church Militant.  And it is time for Her to fulfill this Mission in America.  Yes, even in America.  Bishop Zubik said it so well when he stated:

“Let’s 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,” said the bishop. “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.”

He is absolutely right.  So what are we to do?  How do we stand up for our Faith?  How do we literally fight against the Government?  This is certainly a daunting prospect since we live in a nation where we are supposed to have Religious Freedom.  Nevertheless it is the reality we face, and our complacency could spell the demise of the rest of our freedoms.  We must not be silent.  We must heed the words of Bishop Conley,

“If plans go unchanged, the Catholic Church, acting through our  Catholic institutions, will no longer have legal protection for the free  exercise of religion,” he said in a column posted on the diocesan website. “Secretary Sebelius is wrong; this is  not a year to ‘adapt.’ The Catholic Church will not adapt by violating  fundamental elements of our faith. Instead of adapting, this is a year  to unify, and to fight injustice and flagrant disregard for the  institutional protection of our religious practice.

“The recent decision by HHS should make clear for all Catholics that  under the proposed health care plan, the freedom to practice our  religious faith is in jeopardy.”

We must listen to Archbishop Gomez’s call to action:

“But the issues here go far beyond contraception and far beyond  the liberties of the Catholic Church,” said Archbishop Gomez. “They go  to the heart of our national identity and our historic understanding of  our democratic form of government.”

“But this is clear: Now is a time for Catholic action and for  Catholic voices,” said Archbishop Gomez. “We need lay leaders to step up  to their responsibilities for the Church’s mission. Not only to defend  our faith and our rights as Catholics, but to be leaders for moral and  civic renewal, leaders in helping to shape the values and moral  foundations of America’s future.”

It is time for us to not be silent.  To not simply wait and see what others do.  It is time to defend our Faith, and stand up for our right to practice it.  In the words of John Paul II, “Be Not Afraid!”  We are speaking the Truth and we are standing up for the Truth, for Truth and Freedom go hand in hand.  We mustn’t be complacent, we must be strong and courageous.  “For if Christ is for us, who could be against us?”

Now is the time, my friends.  For if we do not do something now, today, in a generation from now, when our grandchildren ask us, “When did America stop being free?”  we will be forced to answer, “Well, it started with the Catholics.”

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