Cleansing Fire

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+Clark speaks, but what does he say?

February 5th, 2012, Promulgated by Abaccio

As promised, if Bishop Clark spoke out on the Contraception Mandate, I would give him credit.  I’m surprised to see that His Excellency has joined over 150 other American Bishops in speaking out against this mandate.  Kudos, Your Excellency!  That said, let us examine precisely  what he said, what the standard form-letter states, and some of the more impressive  responses given by other Bishops.  I will let you be the judge of the quality of his…”speaking out on the issue,” but I, quite frankly, think it is exceedingly weak and, much like most of the fruits of his administration, rather emasculated.

Bishop Olmsted’s letter here is essentially the form-letter used by a great many Bishops.  Here is Bishop Clark’s letter.

The following text is from the form-letter.  The bold parts are those included by +Clark.  The [bracketed parts] were added by +Clark.  That which is neither bracketed nor bold was struck out by +Clark. That in (red) is my commentary

Dear Brothers and Sisters [Sisters and Brothers] in Christ, (always obsessed with women…)

[With a heavy heart,] I write to you [today to call your attention to an important development which] concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at [threatens] 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. (note the difference in opening paragraph.  +Clark refuses to acknowledge the fact that this is a direct attack on the Catholic Church and her people.)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced [on January 20, 2012] last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, (won’t acknowledge the specifically Catholic problem…)will [now] be forced [mandated] to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. (+Clark does not use the word “forced,” thus making it seem less problematic…mandated sounds less dictator-ish than “forced”)

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule [ruling] is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared [will be required to] either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply. (+Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration, does not note that there are penalties for dropping health coverage, nor acknowledge their absurd “concession.  Furthermore, his use of “ruling” makes it seem like an impartial judge, rather than an anti-Catholic bigoted President made this decision.)

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. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

[As we have done in the past, so now we must make our voices heard on this important matter of religious freedom.] (So very inspiring! A true call to action…uh…nope!  He also does not suppose civil disobedience as a course of action, just suggests that we talk about it.  ONCE AGAIN, stripping the letter of any real courage.)

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must  [to] commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may [might] prevail, and [that true] religious liberty may be restored. (He really hates the word “must,” apparently.) Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I [ask you individually to visit] would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault (severe sounds mean, let’s skip that too!)on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s [administrative] decision. (SEE! +Clark refuses to implicate the Obama administration in a way that might form our voting consciences in 2012!)

[May God Bless our efforts to do what is right.]

Some other Bishops’ responses include

Bishop Tobin of Providence, who stated, “The ruthless decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to impose mandatory coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives upon private insurance programs, including those offered by the Catholic Church, is an unprecedented, outrageous and unacceptable attack on religious freedom and the moral life and ministry of the Church.”

Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn noted, “As a Bishop, this troubles me because it indicates that we have failed to teach the truths of the Catholic Faith clearly and convincingly.”

Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh, when his first impassioned response was met with complaints, responded to them.  His answer to  “The Church doesn’t care about women’s health.” follows:

I think that is when my head nearly exploded. The truth be told, the Catholic Church throughout this country virtually created health care in the United States. In Pittsburgh, the first hospital, Mercy Hospital, was opened under Church auspices within a year of the founding of our diocese and long before the government responded. The Church’s health care ministry was built primarily by Catholic women and has served women of all faiths and no faith from its inception. What we don’t do, can’t do, won’t do is consider pregnancy a disease equivalent to the flu. Or to be “cured” by death.”

Finally, let us hear Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, who exclaims:

“As your bishop, I want to make it clear that I consider this mandate unconstitutional, unjust and evil.

This mandate is unconstitutional because it does not allow us the full and unfettered practice of our faith. The religious freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is not simply the freedom to worship God on Sunday morning, but also the freedom to worship Him by living moral lives. No Catholic can claim to live a moral life and at the same time support contraception, direct sterilization and abortion. The first amendment guarantees us the freedom not to participate in health care plans that would require us to insure and pay for actions that are gravely sinful.

Because this mandate is unconstitutional, we will refuse to comply with it.

This mandate is evil, because not only does it require that all Catholics cooperate in sin by providing for and paying for coverage for gravely immoral actions which have as their final end the destruction of human life, but also by requiring that Catholics who do not cooperate in this should be punished. Were we to comply with this law, we would offend God and imperil our souls. We will not comply.

This mandate is unjust because it imposes a secular definition of religious freedom that makes it a crime to practice our faith in the public square. It is the Church – not the government – which has the right to determine how and when we practice our faith. In this matter, President Obama’s administration has overstepped its authority. This is what Pope Leo XIII cautioned against when he wrote over a hundred years ago: “if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, then those rulers exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice. Nor can their authority be valid, since authority without justice is null.”

From the founding of our nation, we Catholic have always obeyed the laws. But this law, we cannot obey.”

Therefore, I ask you: What do you think about Bishop Clark’s response to this debacle?

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18 Responses to “+Clark speaks, but what does he say?”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    My impression is much like your own. The bishop sounds like he is more concerned about religious liberty in general (this could include Islam and Judaism) than the specific Roman Catholic issue of Catholics being forced to provide employees with insurance that covers birth control. The bishop uses the words religious liberty or religious freedom four times. Catholic is found but once.

  2. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    wow – interesting work putting that all together. I would have had no idea that he soft-balled it like that. Really provides some decent context.

  3. avatar Bernie says:

    Quite frankly, I was surprised he put anything out.

  4. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Indeed, Bernie. And ultimately I’m not sure the fact that he may have softballed it really matters. To the typical observer the message certainly comes through.

  5. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Did priests announce to their congregations there was an important letter in the bulletin for them to read, or was the letter just “stuffed” in the bulletin without any heads-up?

  6. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Wishy-washy when it comes to defending the faith but boy, is he definitive and “courageous” when he suppresses organizations like the St. Thomas More Lawyers Guild and the Catholic Physician’s Guild.

  7. avatar y2kscotty says:

    I’ll bet our successor bishop wouldn’t have said anything much different from what Clark said. Look, Olmsted has shining credentials and even he said nothing more than what Clark said. In other words, Clark’s letter was acceptable – unless you think the whole US hierarchy should be removed for whatever. Oh – what did Dolan say in his letter to the people? Does that pass the orthodoxy test?

    Furthermore, I hope the Bishops are preparing a Supreme Court case on this matter… and I’ll bet that the Court will uphold the Bishops.
    However, I need to say more: when we ask for government help for Catholic schools (books, bus transport, etc.)we emphasize the public benefit, not the religious instruction. How will this impact Catholic colleges, for example? They serve a public function, not just a religious function. In other words, how much entanglement with the government do we want?

  8. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Abaccio, excellent work! First I read the two letters you linked, Bishop Olmsted’s reflects the heroically moral man that he is. I admire him so much! Bishop Clark surprised me that he put out a letter at all. I thought it was good he did, but strange, and suspiciously strange when a tiger seems to change his stripes, and merits a closer look to see if this has really happened. Thanks for the closer look.

    I agrees when I read Clar’s letter compared to Olmsted’s – somehow “exceedingly weak and, much like most of the fruits of his administration, rather emasculated.” Yes, “emasculated” is a word that comes to mind often here. Your work of putting the two letters together explains it. It is interesting to study his style.

    Or is it his style? I wonder sometimes if he doesn’t hand the problem over to the Diocesan Canon Lawyer we all pay for that does not have to account to us for his work, and say to him, “Do I HAVE to protest this thing to keep my nice job? And if I do, can you write me a letter that does it in the vaguest, weakest way possible, just enough so I can say I got on board with those stupid conservatives?”

    One of his techniques is to hypnotize you to sleep with his writing so you think all that administrative stuff is not important or relevant, and we can thankfully leave it all to Diocesan leaders to so kindly take care of this boring old stuff for us. One of his favorite sleep-inducing tools is to pad with lots of meaningless extraneous phrases. Abaccio’s work here highlights such favored phrases:

    “With a heavy heart”
    “to call your attention to an important development which…”
    “As we have done in the past, so now we must make our voices heard on this important matter of religious freedom.”

    Such phrases serve to not only put you to sleep but keep you from noticing that his content is so lite – or often, doesn’t exist at all.

    I really do wonder if he writes this stuff himself or if his advisers do it for him.

    Your red-letter comments were also insightful, Abaccio!

  9. avatar Dr. K says:

    The true test for Bishop Clark will come if we lose out to Obama. Will the Bishop really drop insurance coverage to avoid violating our consciences, or will we witness the usual inaction?

  10. avatar snowshoes says:

    Which Bishop was it who recently said to the effect, “I will probably die in my bed, my successor will probably die in prison, and his successor will probably die a martyr.”?

    My friends, it appears Ms. Sebelius and company are moving up the timeline… What are the best books to read to prepare to live in a country where we as Catholics are considered outlaws? I definitely hope and pray the Bishops bring a suit to court on this “regulation”, if the administration doesn’t see the light and vacate such an evil rule beforehand.

    We must be creative, it is certainly the case that in the diocese of Rochester, a “Catholic” healthcare system would need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Other dioceses have a more complicated set of decisions to make.

    What I am proposing is a Catholic healthcare system which is completely separate from the current US system. I realize I may be jumping the gun, and I hope we never need to go there, but… Certainly it would be basic at first, but since we may be faced with violating our consciences or not being able to pay for healthcare at all, a separate system is becoming more of a possible necessity, if not a happy one, since we as Catholics are happy to participate in the normal public life and functions of the state as long as we can do so without risking our immortal souls. So let us pray. St. Paul Miki and companions, pray for us!

  11. avatar Raymond F. Rice says:

    Did it ever occur to anyone that the Washington administration is trying to dictate to the Church just as the goverment does in China?? Will the American branch of the RCC be functionally seperated from Rome and no longer subject to the pope?? Will we become like the Anglicans and have a high and a low church; will we be a seperate unit like the Episcopalians in the US and Anglicans in England.???? Will we be like China and have state approved bishops and others not approved and be second level bishops???? This is a major issue in the Church and is not receiving the attention it deserves.

  12. avatar Scott W. says:

    I’ll bet our successor bishop wouldn’t have said anything much different from what Clark said. Look, Olmsted has shining credentials and even he said nothing more than what Clark said. In other words, Clark’s letter was acceptable

    The devil is in the details. +Clark takes the form letter and nerfs it. He doesn’t get an “F”, but a C- is generous.

  13. avatar militia says:

    How can Scott say that Bishop Clark said the same thing as Bishop Olmsted? That isn’t true.

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    just to be clear, Scott W. was quoting y2kscotty

  15. avatar Lionel says:

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012
    A MOTHER WHO LOVES US CRIES TEARS OF BLOOD AT THE SANCTUARY OF OUR LADY OF TEARS CIVITAVECCHIA
    Italian Pro lifers meet at St.Peter’s Square

    Last Sunday I walked passed St. Peter’s Square and saw a large number of people for the Angelus with the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Later I learnt that they were members of an Italian pro-life group which had come there from the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears, Civitavecchia. The previous day their meeting was addressed by Olympia Tarzia President World Women’s Alliance for Life & Family. Its ten years for the weeping statue of Our Lady of Tears in St. Augustine’s parish, Civitavecchia, Italy.The statue wept blood also in the presence of the bishop.

    A mother who loves us and tells us that God is love and wants us all to be in Paradise, wept tears of blood ?When a mother cries for her children something is dead wrong.Is she weeping along with Jesus for the many who chose not to be saved in the Catholic Church outside of which there is no salvation?
    She loves us we would agree, yet at Fatima she spoke about Hell. She showed Hell to Sister Lucia.
    Our Lady weeps at so many places. It is because of her love for us. She knows many of us could be lost forever.
    For the pro lifers Our Lady could be crying for the millions of babies killed through legal abortion.
    -Lionel Andrades

    BAPTIST CONVERTS INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AFTER READING A BOOK ON HELL

    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2012/02/baptist-converts-into-catholic-church.html

  16. avatar Scott W. says:

    Right Ben. I guess I need to start using the “X said,/I reply” format. 🙂

  17. avatar militia says:

    Thanks, Ben, for correcting me. I’m sorry, Scott, that I misunderstood. My mistake. Peace to all!

  18. avatar bobbyva2001 says:

    The Bishop’s comments are a reflection of his pastoral approach. In time prior to VII legalism was taken to an extreme, and after VII this changed. However, it has been taken to the opposite extreme and opened the avenues of dissent by neglecting the law, and diminishing its importance. This is why you never hear words like: “contraception” or “mortal sin” from the pulpit, they don’t want to burden the faithful.

    The reality is that this approach has proven to be a COLOSSAL FAILURE. It is most popular with those who embrace dissent, and either overtly or secretly hold heretical beliefs. It has resulted in fewer seminarians, indifferentism, and poor formation of priest and laity. With the wealth of evidence(various polls, decrease in seminarians, etc.) that suggests its ineffectiveness, one has to wonder why is it still embraced?


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