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?