Happy Father’s Day to our fathers, and all who have sacrificed natural fatherhood for the sake of the Kingdom of God, including our priests! May God grant them many years of faithful and loving service!
Congratulations and Thank You to our team of volunteers who assisted our staff members in presenting this year’s successful Vacation Bible Camp. What you have done to bring our “little ones” closer to God can only bring you hidden blessings from the One who sees and knows the true intentions of our hearts. May your spirit of volunteerism continue to spread throughout our parish and beyond!
I really enjoyed the showing of the new film, “For Greater Glory.” It tells about a troubled moment of Catholic and Mexican history that was concealed from their history books. We, too, are in an interesting time in the history of the Catholic Church in our country. I wonder just what our own books will say about this moment of our history when they are written a generation or so from now.
We’ve come to a point in our history where some important issues are causing us to wonder whether the founding principles of our own country and its government are being compromised. Primary among these issues is the same one that many of our forefathers came to America to enjoy, because they were deprived of it elsewhere. It is the one about religious freedom, and the controversy it has generated is the result of a recent federal mandate that goes way too far in testing our ability to practice our religious beliefs openly and freely, without unreasonable constraints via governmental control.
As is the norm with such laws, this HHS mandate includes an exemption for religious organizations. If the exemption in this case were reasonable, there would have been no need for a lawsuit — after all, the Catholic Church in America is, indeed, ‘religious’ under any sensible definition. But this mandate’s religious exemption is the narrowest ever adopted in federal law.
For example, it doesn’t include any religious organization that serves the general public. So under this mandate, our Catholic hospitals, schools and social service programs, which serve all-comers, are now considered not ‘Catholic enough’ to be allowed to follow our Catholic beliefs. But, allowing religious organizations to serve the public doesn’t seem to violate the non-Constitutional “separation of church and state;” yet, conscripting us into advancing government objectives against our conscience does. What’s the rationale for this kind of reasoning???
Then you may have heard that at one point an ‘accommodation’ or compromise was offered by the current Administration for organizations like the Catholic universities and colleges and hospitals which we built and operate. It would supposedly transfer the cost of providing the mandated coverage away from the employer and onto its insurance company, which would provide the coverage ‘for free.’
That so-called “compromise” doesn’t solve the problem. Unlike the mandate itself, this proposal was never adopted into law; nor is it clear that it will be. The so-called “accommodation” does not take into account those that are self-insured; and, in any case, religious institutions would inevitably be forced to subsidize all of this through increased premiums or fees. It continues, in its practical effect, to force faithful Catholic employers to violate their religious beliefs. In short, the mandate is coercive and deeply troubling in its implications for the rights of conscience. Even if there were such a thing as free contraceptives, this isn’t about money. This isn’t about a Church’s teachings on birth control. It’s about a government forcing us to violate our beliefs!!!
This administration, despite the good will it has enjoyed from many Catholics, has taken a path that it knows to be unnecessary and knows to be hostile to our Catholic belief. Nor, do I believe, is this accidental! It suggests a sub-plot of an Administration in Washington that simply doesn’t value religious beliefs and the right of conscience, or thinks violating them is a small price to pay to “fire up the base.”
This isn’t the first time that this Administration has attempted to expand government power at the expense of religious liberty, which helps explain why not only the Catholic Church, but other institutions and other religious denominations are responding so vigorously to this attack on our basic freedom.
Our bishops have rebuffed various calls for a tactical retreat. There will be no compromise here, for there can be no compromise of first principles! So, I hope that all those who understand the fullness of this issue will gather their God-given energies and continue to defend both our Catholic and American traditions; and that they will instruct their less-informed brothers and sisters of the grave seriousness that lies ahead. We will PRAY and WORK with what God has given us for the protection of our freedom of religion, and the obligation to ensure its continuance.
As we come to the observance of our “Fortnight For Freedom,” beginning with the national ringing of church bells on Thursday, June 21st at 12 Noon, we are being asked by our bishops to “storm heaven” with our prayer and fasting for two weeks for the restoration of our religious rights and preservation of our religious freedom. This will include each public recitation of the Rosary each day in church, and the Monday evening Rosary in the Adoration Chapel. If you cannot be present, set aside a specific time each night to pray the Rosary as a family for the intention of our country. Additionally, ask those Saints and all those now being considered for canonization from the U.S., to intercede on our behalf to secure God’s blessing upon our endeavors. You can obtain a copy of the Litany to the U.S. Saints and the Blessed at http://www.rbmediainc.net/. We will also have petitions inserted into the Prayer of the Faithful at Masses that will direct our attention to these needs. Then, when we come to the conclusion of our two-week focus on praying for the preservation and restoration of our religious freedom on July 4th, we may become more aware of the meaning of our Independence Day celebration.