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Archive for the ‘Right to Life’ Category

Here is the HHS Compromise, be attentive because it gets complicated: “With respect to self-insured group health plans, the eligible organization would notify the third party administrator, which in turn would automatically work with a health insurance issuer to provide separate, individual health insurance policies at no cost for participants. The costs of both the health insurance issuer and third party administrator would be offset by adjustments in Federally-facilitated Exchange user fees that insurers pay.”

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Since the Archdiocese is self-insured, this would in effect mean that some of our employees would have to be insured by an outside organization, either in whole or in part. Look at all the actors in this play: (1) the Church; (2) the third party administrator; (3) an outside health insurance issuer; (4) the federal government; (5) the supplier of services; and (6) the insured person. The user fees are essentially a tax to insure that contraceptives are free and to pay the third party administrator. What happens to the viability of the self-insurance program if people opt out for the third party insurer?

In any case, I still think people are going to pay more for heart and blood-pressure medicine to make up the cost for free contraceptives. What insurance company will cover just contraception, sterilization and abortifacients without funds to shift from other medical coverage? I doubt federal fees with be sufficient. It will be exploited. Is the Church still morally culpable if we collaborate with other agents in such a scheme? Are we culpable for money given to the government to pay the insurance companies to supply people with contraceptive services?

Given the intransigence of the administration with insisting that health care include free contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization; I cannot say that I trust the latest offer of exemption to the Church and associated religious entities. It seems to me that religious liberty is still very much threatened. Remember, this is the same administration which sought jurisdiction over ministerial assignments; no doubt supposing that if they lost one ridiculous or outrageous battle, it would make churchmen more passive about what was viewed as a lesser campaign. I think they were genuinely surprised by men like Cardinal Dolan. Suddenly Catholic bishops had teeth and could bite back.

I suspect this newest offer is to convince the bishops of a need to see the dentist. The administration still insists that the agenda of Planned Parenthood will become the official policy of government. No matter how you spin it, that means a confrontation with the Church and the Gospel of Life.

I was amazed that some critics and churchmen quickly rejoiced and sang Hallelujah when the revised policy was announced. We must not return to a posture of passivity and ineffective opposition to Big Brother and modernity. More level-headed religious leaders argue that we need to look at this offer closely. It may be a trick. It seems to me, upon closer examination, that there is no miracle break-through or adequate accommodation. The shell-game continues.

The question proposed is this: can such a policy be mandated against Church institutions with religious and moral reservations? The response of the administration seems to be that some institutions have more of a claim upon religious liberty than others. If the previous offer only preserved such liberty within the walls of the churches, this new policy will only add the porch or parking lot. Churches, individually or corporately, are protected, as are religious orders, but the rest is still up for grabs. Again, this administration has a very narrow notion of what constitutes “church.” Ministries in the area of community service are understood entirely within the matrix of secular humanism. President Obama’s religious vision is wholly a horizontal one (earth-bound) with little or nothing of the vertical or transcendent. In other words, God made us— great; but WE make the rules.”

We still have a fight on our hands because of the indiscriminate outreach of our religious charities, hospitals and schools. This element of the policy has not really changed. Okay, even if self-insured, we would not be required to pay “directly” for the contraceptive coverage; however, we still have to find other insurers to dirty their hands for us. The cooperation with evil becomes more remote but they will still be our agents.

Throughout it has saddened me that we have stressed the religious liberty of the Church as an institution but not the same rights of individual believers and citizens. There is no exemption for them and their businesses. It is bad enough that pro-life groups, EWTN, the Knights of Columbus and others might be forced to comply; however, what about the good Catholic entrepreneur who bakes donuts or fixes cars or cuts the grass. There are no exemptions at all for them. I know, some will say that they could fight and pay out hard-earned money to litigate for themselves. But this is America, our rights are supposed to be guaranteed, not entitlements for which we have to fight and beg.

I bet if it had not been for the courts, we would not have seen even these concessions. No doubt the administration wants to promote a particular public perception: a liberal government wanting to dialogue about national healthcare and a backward-thinking Church wanting to deprive couples of pills and condoms. President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius know full well that many if not most American Catholics are out of sync with Church leadership and moral teachings. As in Maryland with the proposition for same-sex marriages, they hope to exploit this advantage and show that they are the true magisterium, not the ecclesial shepherds largely abandoned by their flocks. As much as the USCCB has sought to frame this debate under the banner of religious liberty and the First Amendment, the administration has been highly effective in convincing many people that it is about reproductive choices and health. God help us!

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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.

http://bloggerpriest.com/category/awalt-papers/

Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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Who is the architect of this fiasco with the HHS?

The buck stops with the President and the head of the department, which he appointed: Kathleen Sebelius. What is her background as a “Catholic”?

When she was governor, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas told her that she “should stop receiving Communion until she publicly repudiates her support of abortion.” More recently, Archbishop Raymond F. Burke, former archbishop of St. Louis but now prefect for the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, ruled that Mrs. Sebelius should not approach the altar for Communion in the United States. Despite pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin and now she would entice the bishops and the rest of the Church to join her.

In 2008, Sebelius vetoed House Substitute for Senate Bill 389, titled the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act by its sponsors. Proponents of the bill claimed the legislation would strengthen late-term abortion laws and prevent “coerced abortions” particularly with respect to minors.

She has been given high ratings and endorsement from Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion provider around. It has made a financial “killing” in destroying unborn children under the banner of women’s rights.

The administration was SHOCKED into making a compromise… not because religious liberty was esteemed as an important value in itself.

The Obama administration hopes that the U.S. bishops will accept its proposed compromise (February 10, 2012). However, while we are still awaiting word from our shepherds, I still have serious reservations. The administration was shocked that even liberal Catholic voices were joining the chorus in deploring the initial policy as encroachment upon religious liberty. It was certain that there would be no movement of the Obama Whitehouse away from the giving women free access to contraception. But as Republicans picked up on the issue, election strategists urged an immediate counter-strategy. The offer of a year of grace was insufficient. Is this the best for which we can hope? Might this merely be a ploy to defuse the situation while really changing very little? Catholic parishes, schools, charities, and hospitals should not be forced to provide birth control to employees since such would violate Catholic teaching against artificial contraception. That is the bottom line!

Even if the institution is protected; what about the rights of individual believers? What about individuals and organizations that are not part of the Church administration but are Catholic in values? EWTN, for instance, is a lay organization with a lay board.

The sentiments of Catholics and other pro-life Christians would not be respected by this change. The Church is more than the institution but is found in her membership. Their personal religious rights and conscience would not be respected. I know a doctor who runs her own practice and refuses to prescribe birth control. Now, she would still be forced to pay for it as a health benefit for employees! That is wrong and the Church needs to be a voice for people like her. Similarly, I know a man who refused to take a vaccine because there was the remote use of embryonic material from an abortion. He would rather close shop than add his money to the purchase of abortifacients.

The First Amendment protects not only the rights of churches but the individuals who make up those faith communities. Even if Catholics should themselves personally dissent, continued membership implies that they still respect (on some level) the teachings and the authority of the Church. I suspect that President Obama miscalculated in thinking that Church teaching was subject to polls or that liberal Catholics could force further passivity upon the bishops. This new measure might protect Church institutions and pamper dissenters, but it would hang faithful Catholic citizens out to dry. Their rights would not be respected.

Nothing has really changed, what we have here is only magical sleight-of-hand.

The revised rule says that religious organizations would not have to offer or pay for contraception. So far, so good; but then it stipulates that health insurers would have to take up the cost and provide it directly to women for free. Does this really leave the employer out of the equation? It seems to me that what we have here is a new version of the old shell game. Nothing is really free. The money is going to have to come from somewhere. What will happen is that premiums will go up and people will pay more for a sick person’s needed antibiotic to make up for a promiscuous woman’s contraceptive.

What about those dioceses which are self-insured? Would this force us out of the insurance business?

Another wrinkle, and I see this as very problematical in my own Archdiocese, is that we are self-insured. There is no absolutely independent insurance entity to which we can give the dubious honor of providing contraception. I suppose such a measure would also make it hard for practicing Catholics to function at the leadership level or as CEOs of insurance agencies.

Where do we go from here?

It is not clear to me that the Obama administration really wants to go to the bargaining table. However, the bishops have suggested that this newest offer is a sign that he is willing to make some kind of compromise. It is my interpretation and I admit to being fallible, that there remains a serious hurdle and that we must take to heart Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s remarks in The Wall Street Journal, “Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience.” This really says it all and is the line from which we must not retreat.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made this statement: “The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.” The statement continues, “We will therefore continue–with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency–our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government.”

We must urge Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act!

CLICH HERE to leave comments at BLOGGER PRIEST

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Attached is a letter from Cardinal Wuerl to the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington.

It has been asked that we please bring this information to the attention of parishioners.

Recommendations were made for a bulletin announcement or information on the parish website, recommending that parishioners visit…

www.usccb.org/conscience

www.mdcathcon.org

…for details about the new federal mandate and how to contact Congress to support legislation that would reverse the administration’s decision.

On January 20, 2012, the United States Department of Health and Human Services with the approval of President Barack Obama issued a new federal mandate making coverage of abortifacient drugs, sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptives obligatory for virtually all employers, including faith-based institutions.

What will happen if this mandate stands? Our schools, hospitals and charitable organizations will be placed in the untenable position of choosing between violating civil law and abandoning our religious beliefs.

There can no longer be any doubt that religious liberty in our country is in jeapardy. Only weeks ago, the Obama administration unsuccessfully argued to the Supreme Court that the government has the right to interfere in a church’s choice of ministers. Thankfully, the Court unanimously rejected this radical position. Undeterred, the government has advanced on another front.

Archbishop P. Broglio of the Military Services has sent a letter to those in the Armed Forces and their families, expressing similar concerns. He writes:

It is imperative that I call to your attention an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church of the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people–the Catholic population–and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.

We cannot–we will not–comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA  2011

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH  2001

Good afternoon, friends and fellow citizens. Two days ago, Americans gathered on the Washington Mall to celebrate our Nation’s ideals. Today, you are gathered to remind our country that one of those ideals is the infinite value of every life. I deeply appreciate your message and your work. You see the weak and the defenseless, and you try to help them. You see the hardship of many young mothers and their unborn children, and you care for them both. In so many ways, you make our society more compassionate and welcoming. We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. We know this will not come easily, or all at once. But the goal leads us onward to build a culture of life affirming that every person, at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God’s image.

The promises of our Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the independent, or the healthy. They are for everyone– including unborn children. We are a society with enough compassion and wealth and love to care for both mothers and their children, to seek the promise and potential in every human life. I believe that we are making progress toward that goal. I trust in the good hearts of Americans. I trust in the unfolding promise of our country– an expanding circle of inclusion and protection. And I trust in the civility and good sense of our citizens– a willingness to engage our differences in a spirit of tolerance and good will.

All of you marching today have never tired in a good cause. Thank you all for your conviction, your idealism, and your courage. May God bless you all.

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Dr. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, Champaign, who taught classes on the Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, was fired for teaching and explaining in an email to students the Catholic teaching on homosexuality. While the Catholic position is based upon the clear Scriptural prohibition, the meat or substance for our position is a reasoned stand applying Natural Law.

The universal catechism is very clear:

[CCC 2357] Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The context of the current controversy was an upcoming test on the theory of utilitarianism. He contrasted it with the Catholic appreciation of natural law. Apparently, the university wanted him either to be silent regarding such Catholic teachings or to encourage dissent. Because he honestly taught what he was charged to teach, he was terminated. A friend of the student complained that the explanation he gave amounted to “hate speech.” This is precisely the kind of repercussion that we were told by liberals would not happen when legislation redefined such speech. Professor Howell has also suffered the loss of his position at the campus Catholic center. I suspect that the school will now seek out lapsed and/or bad Catholics to replace him. No “good” Catholic would take such a position since that school has unveiled its blatant anti-Catholic bias. 

The professor wrote:

  • In short, to judge an action wrong is not to condemn a person. A person and his/her acts can be distinguished for the purposes of morality.
  • Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.
  • Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act. Consent is important but there is more than consent needed.
  • One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the “woman” while the other acts as the “man.” In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted.
  • I don’t want to be too graphic so I won’t go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.
  • Thus, people tend to think that we can use our bodies sexually in whatever ways we choose without regard to their actual structure and meaning. This is also what lies behind the idea of sex change operations. We can manipulate our bodies to be whatever we want them to be.
  • Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex. Why? Because that is what is REAL. It is based on human sexual anatomy and physiology. Human sexuality is inherently unitive and procreative. If we encourage sexual relations that violate this basic meaning, we will end up denying something essential about our humanity, about our feminine and masculine nature.
  • I know this doesn’t answer all the questions in many of your minds. All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions.

To read the complete email, go to:  THE GAZETTE

This honest and good teacher taught for nine years at the University of Illinois. He told his students that they would be tested on their understanding of Catholic teaching, not judged upon their personal acceptance or beliefs.

The setting for the controversy was one of his lectures in the Introduction to Catholicism course. He wrote an email in May to his students in preparation for an exam regarding the application of natural law theory to a practical social issue, i.e. like judging the morality of homosexual acts. Despite acknowledging that many might disagree with Catholic doctrine, and the notion of natural law (like Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan), the good professor gave an accurate application to a pertinent issue from Catholic social teaching. Nevertheless, the school insisted that the teachings and email violated their standards of inclusivity.

Today, certain concerned administrators of the school have asked that the faculty committee determine whether or not academic freedom was violated. I suspect for many of us, even those unsympathetic to such views, would regard this as a no brainer. It seems obvious that a pro-homosexual litmus test usurped such freedom and an accurate, if offensive to some, Catholic teaching. Would he have also been fired for the application of natural law to the abortion question? Liberals hated Justice Clarence Thomas for his paper in such an application, drawing an analogy with the question of slavery and the violation of the innate dignity of human personhood.

It amazes me that a facility dedicated to open education could be so closed-minded. What are they saying to their students?

Truths are relative, unless they are liberal truths.

Judge no one but we can judge you.

All ideas are welcome, except those which are not politically correct.

Exercise your faith, unless you are a conservative Christian or Roman Catholic.

This professor was hired to teach Catholic thought. This university has not only wronged this man but sends the bigoted message that Catholic thinking is unacceptable on their campus. Perversion (my word, not that of the sensitive and gentle professor) is tolerated but no insinuation that such actions might be judged morally wrong. I suspect that this speaks ill both for the religious studies and the philosophy departments. If religious tenets and philosophical/ethical questions cannot be freely addressed, then any insistence of academic freedom becomes a hypocritical sham. Discussions about homosexuality, fornication, and abortion would be limited to the left or made taboo. The teacher gave a forthright answer. The students could have argued and disagreed with it. Instead, the professor was silenced. He attacked no one. He merely gave the Catholic position on a question of conduct.

Faithful Catholic students should complain that they are not really welcome to be fully engaged in the life of the school. Parents should consider sending their children elsewhere. I know one Catholic university which hired a renowned atheist philosophy instructor. The students and other faculty members often delighted in debating with him. They respected each other. But here is a case where a believer is punished precisely because he teaches views which non-believers or secular students will not tolerate. It is ironic that those who are the most fanatical about toleration are so often incredibly intolerant.

Dr. Kenneth Howell is an award winning educator (recognized by the university in 2009) and a convert to the Catholic faith. He has taught there for nine years. The word is out that even the local bishop is requesting his reinstatement. The professor was very careful to admit that he was a faithful practicing Catholic and thus he was sympathetic to the subject matter he was hired to teach. He slandered no one and even admitted that a critical eye to certain actions should not be interpreted as condemnation or hatred against others. Rather than a professional and academic debate, anonymous students and “politically correct” co-workers decided they would simply get rid of him. It reminds me of the spoiled child who takes his ball and runs home when he starts to lose in a game.

We are told that the university president, Michael Hogan, has received over 100 emails. Now he has asked that the matter be reviewed. Maybe more of us should say something about this as well?

UI President
uipres@uillinois.edu
http://www.uillinois.edu/president/

Executive Offices
http://www.uillinois.edu/administration/vps.cfm

Trustees
http://www.uillinois.edu/trustees/

Ethics Office
http://www.ethics.uillinois.edu/policies/index.cfm

My suggestion is that the professor be rehired or that the public school make it very clear that Catholic teachings are neither welcome in the classroom nor in regular discourse.  If they do the latter, they should also forfeit tax dollars and public support.  They can hang a sign on their doors, saying, “Catholics are only welcome if they shut up and compromise their faith and values!”  

Further, if he is reinstated, I would recommend that those administrators, faculty members and students who violated his academic and personal rights face, themselves, some sort of disciplinary censure.  They violated this man’s academic freedom, religious freedom and freedom of speech.  Where he was open to rational discourse, they were not.  He gave a coherent presentation of the subject matter he was charged to teach, Catholicism, without any foul language or attacks upon persons.  Those who fired him were not so noble or magnanimous. 

Is it not interesting that a liberal atheist professor at another university faced no reprimand when he urge the theft and desecration of the Eucharist while mockingly name-calling Christians and Catholics?  However, when a Catholic professor who stresses respect for persons and freedom for intellectual inquiry, shares ideas which are found offensive by a radical minority over-sensitive about homosexual rights, he is quickly terminated. 

Finally, I would urge other Catholic professors, students and those sensitive to matters of academic freedom, to take Dr. Howell’s email and to sign it themselves.  At present, he is a man who stands largely alone.  He did nothing wrong.  This could be done online and with hard copies sent to the university.  This should not be anonymous.  That is the route of cowards, like the one who started this mess for the good professor.  We should stand up and be counted.

We love our homosexual brothers and lesbian sisters. 

However, Catholic teaching rightly stipulates that homosexual acts are disordered and a violation of our nature. 

In any case, even if you disagree with Catholic teaching, given the public setting and the classes he was hired to teach, those who favor academic freedom should also support him.

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cartoonkennedyNARAL had awarded the Massachusetts senator a 100% approval rating.

He was the Catholic voice for the culture of death for a quarter of a century, supporting not only abortion but partial birth infanticide, the use of embryonic human beings for research, and same sex unions for homosexuals and lesbians. He also championed repression against free speech and religious liberties (at least for conservative, orthodox or biblical churches) by expanding “hate crimes” legislation to include criticism of gays.

He was also responsible for the increased politicization of the Supreme Court by his pro-abortion litmus test against the nomination of Judge Robert Bork, a strict-constructionist, in 1987.  Judge Bork came into the Catholic Church a few years ago.

At the time of his death, Senator Kennedy was advocating health care reform that would guarantee federal money for artificial contraception and abortions.

While many acclaimed him as a hero for women and the poor. Many pro-lifers regarded him as one of the nation’s chief enemies of motherhood and the poorest of the poor, innocent and voiceless children in the womb.

His was a life of many personal scandals and a general lack of discretion. However, I have no desire to enumerate upon those things in his personal life which are already public knowledge. Our reaction now should be one of prayer for a man who was baptized and raised as a Catholic. God will be his judge, even as we continue to repair the damage that he did to the witness of the Church and the moral standing of our nation. Indeed, for all we know, God’s grace might have brought him to repentance and conversion in the last moments of life.

Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered groups are certainly weeping the loss of one of their great defenders and proponents. It is too bad that they neither weep for the murdered children nor about the decomposition of morals and marriage.

It is also said that Ted Kennedy was a pivotal figure in the transformation of the Democratic Party and its agenda, making possible the Obama presidency. He certainly made his impact felt upon history. Now, the final chapter is closed. He passed away from his brain cancer on Tuesday night in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. First Joseph, then John, next Robert and now Teddy— the last of the Kennedy brothers has gone to God.

Rest in peace.

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