Catholics Go To Court To Resist Unjust HHS Edict. The Rising Tide of Catholic Resistance
Two major Catholic ministries announced that they have - or soon will - file Federal Lawsuits
Catholic Online will soon launch our effort to support the Bishops and the lay Catholic Catholic efforts responding at this urgent hour. It will include a call to fasting, protracted prayer and Catholic Action. That response must be undertaken on multiple fronts; on our knees, on Capitol Hill and in the Courts
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic online) - Over the last two weeks Catholics have heard read letters read at Mass which were written by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. We have been asked to rise up in prayer, fasting, Catholic Action in response to an unjust Edict issued by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on January 20, 2012.
This mandate requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception in their health care plans. The "exemption" provided for religious employers does not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission.
Catholics understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic.
This HHS Edict is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion which is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is an unjust law in the clearest sense of the expression. The Federal Government of the United States is trying to force the Catholic Church to act against its deeply held religious convictions and to violate conscience.
Failure to do so will bring punitive measures upon the Church and her institutions. This will occur in the form of onerous fines. They would have the practical result of closing many of the Church's outreaches, ministries and institutions of care and compassion. Certainly this not only injures the Church it injures American society.
The claim that such an edict is an unjust law is rooted in the western understanding of the 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 any 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 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 so integral to the American experiment.
This Pope has repeatedly warned of the growth of a "Dictatorship of Relativism". Relativism is a philosophy which denies the existence of any objective truths to guide human behavior. This kind of philosophy expresses itself in this way: "your truth" is not the same as "my truth."
When there is a denial of the existence of anything objectively true - which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life - there can be no secure foundation for true freedom and solidarity. Instead, we teeter on the brink of social anarchy.
There has been an effort to paint all the moral positions we hold as Catholics as "religious". Then, in this increasingly anti-religious culture laboring under a mistaken application of the separation of Church and State, an attempt to force us to stay behind our Church doors. It is virulently anti-Christian. The Christian faith may be personal, at least in the sense that it invites a personal response. However, it is not private - it is profoundly public.
Our positions, for example our insistence upon protecting the Right to Life and the Right to Religious Freedom, are not just our "religious" positions. They are rooted in our conviction of the existence of a Natural Law which must inform any truly just positive laws.That Natural Law can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason.
On January 24, 2012, Cardinal designate Timothy Dolan shared these words in an address at the Fordham Law School, "Natural Law is a concept of objective truth, known by anyone with the power of reason -- a truth not relativized by the special ...
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