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EARLIER: MY WORD: Clarifying the Catholic isssue

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By Phyllis Sowers

The article The Sentinel-News published from Raymond Broussard (“The trouble with Catholics’ cause,” My Word, July 11) reflects a serious misunderstanding of both the teaching of the Catholic Church and the impact of the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate.

In essence, the article is an attack on Archbishop Kurtz and others (including the undersigned, who was also present at the Religious Freedom Rally) for the exercise of freedom of speech, assembly and religion at a lawful rally in front of the federal courthouse in June protesting the HHS Mandate. HHHHH    hh The protesters were courageously taking a stand for the protection of religious freedom, as hereafter explained. The archbishop and attendees should be applauded for their courage.

 It is to be hoped that the author does not claim to be Catholic if he honestly believes “Catholics do not have a corner on the morality market.” Catholic moral standards derive from the Bible; the Canon of the Bible was determined by the Roman Catholic Church’s decrees of the Councils of Carthage (397 & 419 AD) and preserved by her through the ages.

Perhaps the author is not a Christian, for he cites Karl Marx’s famous line, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” If the author is a follower of Marx and believes this, then the author takes an atheistic position. It is always important to know an author’s viewpoint and agenda in assessing his/her written work. In this instance, perhaps Marxist leanings shaped Mr. Broussard’s attack on the Catholic Church.

The assertion in the article that it is the choice of Catholics to use contraception in “spite of Catholic dogma and ecclesiastical rules” and that it is an “internal issue within Catholics and their beliefs system” (sic) cries loudly for clarification.

The author insinuates that Catholics may pick and choose what to believe and that they may follow their own consciences on the evils of abortion and contraception. Certainly, all persons have free will and may exercise it to do what is wrong (jails are full of such people). Butthe choice is not a moral one, and there are consequences, which may include excommunication.

It is, in fact, the teaching of the Catholic Church that contraception and abortion are moral evils. No matter how many people claim to be Catholic yet violate her teachings, the eternal teaching of the Roman Catholic Church will never change; it cannot. Scripture has it: The gates of hell shall not prevail against my church.

The church’s mission is the salvation of souls, but that does not mean she is to be silent on the social issues. Rather, the church is composed of people, who form societies, and she has rightfully spoken on society’s behalf on many issues relating to the common good, such as fair wages, protection of private property rights, the principles of a just war and much more. This must always be as well.

Priests and bishops do not generally hold public office, but that does not mean that the church is to remain mum on social issues that relate to human dignity and salvation. (This is a shocking assertion in light of the recent false accusations against Pope Pius XII for not doing “enough” against Nazi atrocities!)

The author seems to harbor great animosity toward the Church and her teachings: Is the Church to be denied tax-exempt status because she defends herself and takes a stand for the truth?

 

A critical point entirely missed in the article is that the Obama administration has attacked the Catholic Church and religious freedom in this country. This is why evangelical Christians and Jews have joined the Catholic Church under the rallying cry, “We are all Catholics now!”

The HHS mandate is an unprecedentedwar on religious freedom. Even the Wall Street Journalin an op-ed piece 12 to 14 days ago referred to the mandate as an attack on conscience. The author seems unaware that everyprivate business will be forced to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion – inducing drugs even if their religious beliefs are violated.

­­­­­­­­­­­Beginning Aug. 1, fines can be imposed of up to $100 per day per employee. Employers will be forced either to violate their consciences, face crippling fines or close. This is a war on religion in this country.

Professor Charles Rice of Notre Dame Law School recently wrote that the so-called “conscience clause” exception in the HHS mandate is so narrowly drawn that Jesus Christ himself would not qualify!

At one point the author writes, “Also those who are Catholic and those non-Catholic should also have the right to choose not to exercise the use of the contraception mandate.” Indeed! What he does not seem to understand is that the HHS mandate ordersall employers (including religious hospitals, charities operated by religious organizations, groceries, department stores, the butcher and baker and on and on), regardless of religious beliefs, to furnish coverage to all employees and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient chemicals.

Noted clinical and consultant pharmacist Dr. Bogomir M. Kuhar (also a pharmacology instructor) summarized the research data on abortifacient drugs and devices as follows: Approximately one contraceptive or IUD –induced abortion occurs each year among those who use these devices. Forced participation in this is untenable for faithful Catholics.

For these reasons, Christians exercised their right to protest at a Freedom of Religion Rally in Louisville. The author mentions giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Indeed, Jesus said this, but what is not understood is that when Caesar’s law is in conflict with God’s law, God’s law takes precedence. (See Romans 13:1, “There is no authority except from God...”). Similarly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides that political authority must be exercised within the bounds of the moral order (sec.1923).

The closing line of the article that “choosing sides goes against Jesus’ greatest commandment” is patently absurd. All Christians know that God must be first in our lives, including work, family, government, everything. Jesus clearly instructed that we cannot serve two masters; we are either with him or against him (and wemust choose).

Let us all choose to stand together against the HHS mandate’s threat to religious liberty.

 

Phyllis Sower of Shelbyville is an attorney and principal of Corpus Christi Academy in Simpsonville.