Tough Times Ahead: Courageous Cardinals and Catholic Action
It is time to engage in Catholic Action, each according to our distinct and complimentary role.
"It is a freedom of religion battle.It is not about contraception. It is not about women's health. We're talking about an unwarranted, unprecedented, radical intrusion" into "a church's ability to teach, serve and sanctify on its own". The cardinal warned of a secularized culture which "seems to discover new rights every day.Now we hear there's a right to sterilization, abortion and chemical contraceptives."
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In a powerful speech delivered to over 1,000 people engaged in public policy activism, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York again showed his mettle. We are fortunate to have him at the helm of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops during the growing conflict with the contemporary Caesar called the Obama Administration. Any Catholic commentator complaining about the Bishops somehow not showing courage needs to get a new script.
The Cardinal spoke to a Diocesan convention at Holy Trinity High School held in preparation for the annual lobbying day in Albany New York on March 13, 2012. He reminded them, and all of us, "We are called to be very active, very informed and very involved in politics." He spoke of the Federal Governments current effort to compel the Church to provide contraception, abortion inducing drugs and sterilization in their social outreaches or face punitive measures:
"It is a freedom of religion battle.It is not about contraception. It is not about women's health. We're talking about an unwarranted, unprecedented, radical intrusion" into "a church's ability to teach, serve and sanctify on its own." The cardinal warned of a secularized culture which "seems to discover new rights every day.Now we hear there's a right to sterilization, abortion and chemical contraceptives."
He affirmed what the Church has taught since the Second Vatican Council that the lay faithful are called to the primary role in this struggle. He explained that while priests and Bishops "stick to principles.we leave a lot of the messiness of politics up to you." In his characteristically self deprecating manner he told the crowd, "In the public square, I hate to tell you, the days of fat, balding Irish bishops are over."
Cardinal Dolan is one of the great communicators of our age. In "The Gospel in the Digital Age" he recently posted "I Owe You an Update." He summarized the struggle: "Over the last six months or so, the Catholic Church in the United States has found itself in some tension with the executive branch of the federal government over a very grave issue: religious freedom. Can a government bureau, in this case the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), define for us or any faith community what is ministry and how it can be exercised? Can government also coerce the church to violate its conscience?"
He warned of tough times ahead and affirmed another brave Bishop, Francis Cardinal George: "So, we have to be realistic and prepare for tough times. Some, like America magazine, want us to cave-in and stop fighting, saying this is simply a policy issue; some want us to close everything down rather than comply (In an excellent article, Cardinal Francis George wrote that the administration apparently wants us to "give up for Lent" our schools, hospitals, and charitable ministries); some want us to engage in civil disobedience and be fined; some worry that we'll have to face a decision between two ethically repugnant choices: subsidizing immoral services or no longer offering insurance coverage, a road none of us wants to travel."
In a February 26, 2012 column in "Catholic New World" the Cardinal from Chicago wrote: "This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must "give up" her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.
"Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church's mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience."
"So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That's what we've meant by freedom of religion. That's what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we "were foolish to believe ...
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