|“The God who gave us life gave us liberty”
A Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is slated for Sunday, Oct. 14 at 12 noon EDT. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, will celebrate the liturgy and pilgrimage as part of the U.S. bishops’ annual Respect Life prayer campaign. His homily will focus on the noted quote from Thomas Jefferson: “The god who gave us life gave us liberty.”
Mass will be preceded by time for confessions starting at 10 a.m. Following Mass, there will be Eucharistic Adoration. Shortly thereafter, attendees will recite the rosary as part of the first day of the Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty. At the conclusion of the rosary, Archbishop Lori will offer a 10-minute reflection. The event will conclude with benediction at 2:30 p.m. EWTN television will carry the Mass and Pilgrimage live. Read on…
|The recent HHS mandate requires virtually all employers to include sterilization, abortifacient drugs and contraceptives among the benefits covered in the healthcare plans they offer employees. In the face of this unprecedented new threat, and since prayer is central to the Church’s observance of Respect Life Month, we hope that many will participate in these October prayer initiatives on behalf of religious liberty and conscience. In particular, the “Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty” will inspire Catholics to learn more about our courageous forebears in the faith and even consider making a pilgrimage to one of the many shrines and devotional sites throughout the United States.
Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty
The “Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty” highlights the courageous witness of the saints commemorated during these nine days. They are witnesses to our faith, to the sanctity of every human life and to religious liberty and conscience. Among these men and women are the North American Martyrs, St. Isaac Jogues and companions, who were slain between 1642 and 1646 near present-day Auriesville, NY. We also look to the witness of three new American saints who will be canonized on October 21. Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk maiden, was persecuted for her faith and devoted herself to prayer and acts of charity, ignoring the limitations of her own disabilities. Mother Marianne Cope, OSF spent 35 years caring for the physical and spiritual needs of women and girls afflicted with leprosy in Hawaii. Pedro Calungsod, a missionary catechist, was martyred in Guam while still in his teens.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center has published a special issue of its Medics and Ethics devoted to exploring options available to employers as they face the coercive HHS mandate. Every Catholic business owner as well as all other business owners of conscience should read this document.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on Congress to address the crisis in health care sparked by the Obama administration’s contraceptive/sterilization coverage mandate in an August 3 letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
The mandate, which was announced a year ago by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he said, “would forbid Americans to provide or purchase health coverage unless it includes female surgical sterilizations, all FDA-approved prescription drugs and devices for preventing pregnancy – including drugs and devices which can destroy a human life at its earliest stages – and ‘counseling and education’ to promote these to all women and girls of childbearing age.”
Cardinal DiNardo called the mandate “unprecedented and misguided federal policy.” He added that “most of those who initiate or renew employee health plans as well as student plans at educational institutions after August 1 must comply with this mandate, notwithstanding their moral or religious objections, or drop their health coverage altogether as some colleges have now begun to do.”
“For our part, the Catholic bishops of the United States continue to advocate for life-affirming health care for all, especially for poor and vulnerable people. We do not see this policy as a step in that direction,” he said.
“Despite widespread opposition to this coercive policy by religious organizations, lawmakers and the general public, Congress has still taken no action to counter it. The time for such action is, to say the least, overdue,” he said.
“The fundamental importance of the religious freedom issue at stake demands a timely congressional response,” he said. “Through this mandate, the Administration is promoting an approach to religious freedom that is more grudging and arbitrary than any yet seen in federal law.”
He added that a minority of religious employers – those which, among other things, engage primarily in prayer and preaching – are said to be exempt from the mandate. “By contrast, religious organizations which live out their faith by reaching out to all in need with health care and other humanitarian services are deemed ‘not religious enough’ for the exemption. Many, though not all, of these organizations will qualify for a one-year delay in enforcement, after which partial control of their health plans will be handed over by the government to others willing to implement the mandate.”
Cardinal DiNardo highlighted the plight of employers who may have moral or religious objections to some or all of the mandated services, people who are “devout individuals and families who own and operate businesses, who without any word of protest from employees have been offering health coverage that does not violate their moral convictions.” With the mandate “their longtime practice will be contrary to federal law, punished by a tax of $100 a day per employee and other penalties,” he said. “In court, the Administration has insisted that these companies are entirely ‘secular’ with no claim on religious freedom. In effect, if an organization is ‘for profit,’ it is not allowed to be ‘for’ anything else. The owners who have imbued their companies with faith-based commitments to employee well-being, community service and social responsibility strongly disagree. And at a time of grave concern over business and banking scandals, does anyone think that rewarding businesses obsessed solely with company profits is sound government policy?”
Cardinal DiNardo noted several current lawsuits opposing the mandate brought by institutions and individuals.
“Vindication of the fundamental rights of these individuals and organizations may take years of litigation,” he said.
“The validity of the religious freedom claim against the contraceptive mandate is clearer than ever – even for those supposedly ‘secular’ companies whose rights are completely ignored under that mandate,” he said. “Yet timely and uniform protection of these rights cannot be expected from the current lengthy judicial process. Therefore the Catholic bishops of the United States and many others fervently hope Congress will address this urgent and fundamental issue before it completes its business this year.”
|On August 1, the HHS mandate requiring health care coverage of morally objectionable services went into effect for most employers. In an August 3 letter to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo stated that the time is overdue for Congress to pass corrective legislation. See: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Cardinal-DiNardo-s-August-2012-Letter-to-Congress-Regarding-Conscience-Protection.pdf .
NCHLA has updated its Action Alert in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Members of House and Senate are urged to support and work for the enactment of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act this year. See: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=292.
Contact Members during August Recess
Congress is scheduled to begin the August recess, and is slated to return September 10 after the conventions. When in their local states and districts, Members form judgments about what is important to constituents. Please make your voice heard. Decisions are being made now about what will happen during the remaining days of the current Congress.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS “took a first, urgently needed step toward upholding rights of conscience and religious freedom in our health care system,” by including two key provisions in its appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, according to the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston welcomed the inclusion of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA, HR 361) and the policy of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179) in the appropriations bill, July 18, saying it will “strengthen federal protections for health care providers who decline to take part in abortions, and will ensure that the Affordable Care Act allows Americans to purchase health coverage without being forced to abandon their deeply held religious and moral convictions on matters such as abortion and sterilization.”
Cardinal DiNardo expressed gratitude to subcommittee chairman Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) for his leadership in sponsoring the conscience provisions when he introduced this bill, adding, “The Catholic community and many others concerned about religious freedom will work hard to ensure that these protections are enacted into law.” The Labor/HHS bill must be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee, then the House of Representatives, before it can be sent to the Senate for further action.
In a July 17 letter, Cardinal DiNardo had urged the subcommittee to include both provisions in the appropriations bill. ANDA, he wrote, would codify the Hyde/Weldon amendment, a longstanding part of this appropriations bill that prevents government discrimination against health care providers who decline participation in abortion.
“Instances of discrimination against pro-life health care providers continue to emerge, and some states implementing the Affordable Care Act have begun to claim that they can force all private health plans on their exchanges to cover elective abortion as an ‘essential health benefit,’” Cardinal DiNardo wrote. “By closing loopholes and providing victims of discrimination with a ‘private right of action’ to defend their rights in court, Sec. 538 will provide urgently needed relief.”
Cardinal DiNardo said the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which is sponsored by 224 House members and supported by nearly half the Senate, should be incorporated into the bill to counter “the most direct federal threat to religious freedom in recent memory” – the HHS mandate for all private health plans, even those sponsored by most religious organizations, to include sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an early abortion. He added that this provision leaves in place all existing legal protections against discriminatory withholding of health care, only allowing “an opt-out on moral or religious grounds from the new benefits mandates to be created for the first time by the Affordable Care Act itself.”
The full text of Cardinal DiNardo’s letter is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/Cardinal-DiNardo-July-2012-Letter-to-House-Subcomm-on-Labor-HHS-Re-Conscience-Protection.pdf
Catholic communities nationwide join text message campaign Promote education, action in support of First Amendment Support Fortnight for Freedom June 21-July 4
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops launched a text messaging campaign June 21 to provide a new way for people to join the national campaign for religious freedom.
Catholics and supporters of religious freedom from all other faiths around the nation now can send the text message “Freedom” to 377377 to join the movement. Texters can then receive information regularly on how to help protect religious freedom worldwide.
“Across America, our right to live out our faith is being threatened — from Washington’s forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that contradict their beliefs, to state governments’ prohibiting religious charities from serving the most vulnerable,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. “We encourage all supporters around the country to text the simple, meaningful word ‘Freedom’ (for English) or ‘Libertad’ (for Spanish) to 377377 to join the movement.”
The U.S. bishops have issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urged laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights. In one major initiative, the Fortnight for Freedom, from June 21 to Independence Day, July 4, dioceses and parishes will commemorate this special two-week period of prayer, study and public action to emphasize both the Christian and American heritage of liberty.
The U.S. bishops plan to communicate with supporters by SMS (short message service) about twice a month. Standard text message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt-out. Reply HELP or contact FREEDOM@USCCB.ORG for help. Bulletin inserts about the texting campaign can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert.pdf (English) or http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/fortnight-for-freedom-bulletin-insert-spanish.pdf (Spanish). Visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org for more details.
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. As such, we must be ever-vigilant to ensure that this precious right is always protected and respected. The outcome of the vote on Measure 3 will not distract us from that task.
North Dakotans have, by and large, not recently witnessed blatant attempts to curtail their religious liberties. As such, many were unaware that North Dakota law provides very little protection for religious freedom.
One success of this campaign is that more North Dakotans now know what the legal experts concluded – North Dakota does not provide adequate protection for religious freedom. The massive amount of out-of- state money Planned Parenthood poured into the opposition campaign confirms that religious freedom in North Dakota is not safe and that there are well-organized and well-funded groups ready to take advantage of that situation.
We are, therefore, only at the start of a journey. We will not rest until religious freedom in North Dakota is protected in the law as a fundamental human right.
We look forward to working with all North Dakotans of good will, no matter what their faith, in this task and we call on everyone who claims to support religious freedom to join us.
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila joined civil leaders and representatives from various faith traditions in Fargo today to express support for Measure 3. The Archbishop, who will be leaving North Dakota to become the Archbishop of Denver, said:
“Now is the time to stop those who wish to trample upon our treasured religious liberties. Now is the time to stop Planned Parenthood’s plans for North Dakota. Now is the time to say “Yes” to Measure 3. With your prayers, with your efforts, with your votes, when I leave North Dakota it will be a better place because of Measure 3. Measure 3 will help preserve the North Dakota we love for your children, your grandchildren and all who come after us.”
The Archbishop’s prepared remarks are below.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are here today because North Dakota is vulnerable. It is vulnerable because North Dakota law does not provide adequate protection for religious liberty. It is vulnerable because those, like Planned Parenthood, who wish to trample upon conscience and religious freedom have realized that North Dakota’s weak level of protection for religious freedom provides fertile ground to pursue their anti-life and anti-family agenda.
North Dakotans were not responsible for creating this gap in legal protection. It came about from a series of legal decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. But with Measure 3 North Dakotans can close this gap before those with bad intentions use it to their advantage.
Religious liberty is a precious gift from God. It is a right that every human person possesses by virtue of being human, whether we are Catholic or Protestant, Jew or Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, Mormon or Buddhist. Civil law must protect this natural right to the greatest extent possible without threatening the peace and safety of others.
His Holiness Pope Benedict has appointed me as the new Archbishop of Denver, but for now I am with you as a citizen of North Dakota. During my eleven years in this state I have come to learn that North Dakotans are a pro-life people. They are also a pro-family people. But make no mistake, your ability to be pro-life and pro-family is being threatened and Measure 3 is a strong defense against that threat.
This is why Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider and an organization committed to infringing upon the religious liberties of pro-life people of conscience, has funded nearly all of the negative “No on 3” campaign, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the state to prevent you from having religious freedom. They know what legal experts from the Ivy League to the county courthouse know: under current North Dakota law government can infringe upon your religious freedom for any reason, even if is not a compelling reason, and you have few or no remedies.
Measure 3 restores protection for peacefully acting North Dakotans trying to live according to their faith. But this is unacceptable to Planned Parenthood and the culture of death. That is why they hate Measure 3. It stands in their way of imposing their will on North Dakotans.
Now is the time to stop those who wish to trample upon our treasured religious liberties. Now is the time to stop Planned Parenthood’s plans for North Dakota. Now is the time to say “Yes” to Measure 3.
With your prayers, with your efforts, with your votes, when I leave North Dakota it will be a better place because of Measure 3. Measure 3 will help preserve the North Dakota we love for your children, your grandchildren and all who come after us.