Editorial

Support our Church in fight against unconscionable assaults on religious freedom

And so it has come to this: Catholic dioceses and Church agencies across this country forced to sue the government of the United States of America (see page one) to protect the religious freedom — of the Church and of individual Catholic citizens — from being trampled on by a federal mandate that would force us to choose between violating the moral teachings of our faith or abandoning our commitment to serve countless millions of people in need.

Somehow, this blatant government assault on the free exercise of religion continues to be falsely spun — in classic Orwellian fashion — as an assault by the Church on the heralded “wall of separation” between Church and state.  So let’s once again review the facts:

The Obama administration has determined that Americans have a “right” to “free” — i.e., paid for by someone else — contraceptives, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs; and that therefore every employee health insurance plan must provide coverage for these drugs, devices and procedures. Then, conceding the need for some religious exemptions, the administration compounded its attack on religious freedom by presuming to dictate to religious institutions which of their ministries truly fall within their religious mission. In so doing, the administration excluded many religious educational institutions, as well as health care services and assistance programs for those in need — two central components of the Catholic Church’s earthly mission, as ordained by Christ.    

Nor, as our U.S. bishops have made clear (“Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty,” TLIC 4/18/12), is this an isolated attack. It follows similar actions at the state level, in which Catholic foster care and adoption services have been forced out of business because they  refused to violate Church teaching by placing children with same sex or unmarried heterosexual couples; state laws that seek to prohibit the Church from offering humanitarian assistance to undocumented immigrants; and the federal government forcing the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to either provide contraceptive and abortion “services” or discontinue its vital services to victims of human trafficking.

In short, the Obama administration’s latest salvo, the Health and Human Services mandate, is but an escalation of an ongoing assault on the religious freedom of the Catholic Church in America. As such, the Church has no choice but to sue a government that is clearly breaching the First Amendment to the Constitution.

All American Catholic citizens should stand squarely behind our Church institutions in this matter, recognizing that, whatever our personal views on the specific issues involved — be they immigration, contraception, same-sex “marriage” or out-of-wedlock cohabitation — the government must not be permitted to force religious institutions and individual believers to act against the tenets of our faith. And it is simply unconscionable for the government to hold hostage to its dictate the myriad range of human services that the Church provides, and on which millions of people in need absolutely depend.