Catholic Resistance Must be the Response to the Unjust HHS Edict to Violate Conscience
The claim that such an edict is an unjust law is rooted in the western understanding of the very nature of law
The Catholics Bishops of the United States have asked the faithful to pray, fast and engage in Catholic Action. This is in response to the unjust edict demanding that Catholic hospitals and institutions dispense contraceptives (some of which are abortifacients) and offer sterilization under the so called "Affordable Care Act".
Religious Freedom is a fundamental human right
WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - On Sunday, January 29, 2012, Catholics around the Nation heard from the ambo - or read in their parish bulletins- individual statements and letters from numerous US Bishops calling them to rise up in prayer, fasting, Catholic Action and resistance. This response has been triggered by what they called in a group letter an unjust edict issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
This Edict demanded that Catholic hospitals and institutions dispense contraceptives (some of which are abortifacients) and offer sterilization under the so called "Affordable Care Act". They have been given thirteen months to comply. This is an unjust law in the clearest sense. The Federal government of the United States is trying to force the Catholic Church to violate conscience. Failure to do so will bring punitive measures upon the Church and her instituions.
The claim that such an edict is an unjust law is rooted in the western understanding of the very nature of law. It is the same firm foundation upon which the American founders grounded their insistence that there are inalienable rights, endowed upon us all by a Creator, which cannot be taken away by a civil government. Positive law must reflect the Natural Law or it is unjust.
Saint Augustine said of an unjust law, "For it seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all." Saint Thomas Aquinas explained, "Human law is law only in virtue of its accordance with right reason: and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence." In doing so, they echoed Cicero, Aristotle and Plato and the entire Natural Law Tradition.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, gave a this explanation of how one determines whether a law is unjust, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."
This unjust Edict from Secretary Sebelius came one day after Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group of US Bishops during their ad limina visit. He warned them of the growth of radical secularism in the United States and the accompanying threats to the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom.
In a January 25, 2012 article for the Journal First Things entitled "A Time for Catholic Action and Catholic Voices" Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, commented on Pope Benedict's address:
"Last Thursday in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a remarkable address to a group of visiting American bishops. He praised America's founders for their commitment to religious liberty and their belief that Judeo-Christian moral teachings are essential to shaping citizens and democratic institutions. The Holy Father warned that our heritage of religious freedom faces "grave threats" from the "radical secularism" of political and cultural opinion leaders who are "increasingly hostile to Christianity."
Archbishop Gomez is one of many heroic Bishops in the United States who have stood up and raised a prophetic voice of resistance. They are being led by Cardinal - designate Timothy Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Archbishop Gomez summarized the effects of this Edict, "Last Friday, the day after the Pope's address, our federal government issued a ruling that confirmed his worst fears about our country's anti-religious and anti-Christian drift. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a final decision to mandate that every U.S. employer must provide health insurance coverage that makes birth control, sterilization, and even abortion-causing drugs available to its employees free of charge.
"The government rejected the U.S. bishops' efforts to negotiate an exemption for faith-based employers-including Catholic hospitals, charities and colleges-that are morally opposed to abortion and contraception. Instead, the government is giving us until August 2013 to obey or suffer the consequences-fines so large they could drive some Catholic employers out of business. It is hard not to see this new mandate as a direct attack on Catholic consciences and the freedom of our Catholic institutions."
"The mandate does not promote any civil liberties and it does not advance any significant public health goals. The government justifies the mandate by arguing that employers who do not provide these services are discriminating against women. But access to free contraception has never been a basic human right. And there is no evidence that birth control has any effect on women's ...
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