My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The recent uproar over the ill-advised United States Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) regulations implementing the new health care mandate is not over yet. The protections of conscience in the provisions of this “health care” law need to be strengthened. The new regulations, in effect, would force the violation of the corporate conscience of the Church and other entities which object to the distribution of birth control and abortifacents.
It seems inconceivable that a society such as our own, founded on the principles of religious liberty, would come to this juncture under the apparent implementation of “expanded health care coverage.” The radical and callous disregard for religious liberty in the name of so-called “preventative healthcare services” needs to be challenged and it will be.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked that a letter I wrote be read at every Mass at each Church in Brooklyn and Queens describing the situation. I asked for parishioners to contact their elected representatives, especially the two U.S. Senators representing the State of New York; namely, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to voice opposition to this regulation and seek the senators’ support of legislation that would restore some rights of conscience to the HHS regulation. At this writing, there still seems to be no recognition by the administration of this egregious error committed on its part. The recent initiative is yet to pass the laugh test. The indirect provision of contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacent drugs by medical insurance companies hardly is the answer.
The recent example of the Susan G. Komen Foundation reversal of its ban on funding Planned Parenthood because of a federal investigation underway shows the power of social media and an organization that will stop at nothing to have its way. Planned Parenthood claims that only three percent of its annual budget is spent on abortions, while ignoring the fact that its performs over 300,000 abortions per year. This number is by far the largest number of any single entity in the United States of America. The resignation and indignation of the vice president of the Komen Foundation should be lauded, as she pointed out the involvement of Planned Parenthood in the campaign to reverse the Foundation’s decision.
We must become aware of the attacks on conscience in our nation and society today. There is no end to what can now be perpetrated in the name of the so-called “health care law.” Recently, at the Cathedral Club’s annual dinner, I gave the following example. If an enzyme was found in pork that had great curative powers for cancer, would the government then force observant Jews and Muslims to eat pork in order to prevent cancer? It is not such a far-fetched example as some might think. The question and the principles behind it are at stake. Can the government force private individuals to violate their consciences for any reason?
The Church has never launched a campaign such as a “prohibition” in banning contraceptives — pills and devices. But used to avoid contraception, these inanimate objects can lead people to violate the dignity of the human individual. The Church never seeks to impose its moral judgments on others. As Blessed Pope John Paul II said many times, “The Church proposes, it does not impose. We propose what we understand to be good moral principles and actions. It must leave to the conscience of others to follow what is right and good. No one can be forced to do what is right. Nor should anyone be forced to do what they believe is wrong if one truly wants to understand and respect human freedom. Would that we could teach our present administration that lesson.
The battle is far from over. We ask you to continue to contact your elected United States representatives and make known your opinion on the current HHS regulations and ask that they be completely abrogated or done away with. Unfortunately, the administration believes that some type of compromise can be found. But there is no compromise when it comes to the violation of a person’s conscience.
We truly again put out into the deep as a society in unchartered waters where the dignity of the human person and the human conscience is at stake. We cannot sit idly by and have religious freedom curtailed in our nation. Make known your displeasure, especially on Election Day.