Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Terence P. Jeffrey

2/7/2012 (3 years ago)

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote a letter to be read at all Sunday Masses for U.S. military personnel around the world that said that a regulation issued by the Obama Administration under the new federal health care law was "a blow" to a freedom that U.S. troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

Archbishop Timothy Broglio

Highlights

By Terence P. Jeffrey

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

2/7/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Army chaplians, Obamacare, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Military chaplains, Health Care Law


WASHINGTON,DC (CNSNews.com) - Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote a letter to be read at all Sunday Masses for U.S. military personnel around the world that said that a regulation issued by the Obama Administration under the new federal health care law was "a blow" to a freedom that U.S. troops have not only fought to defend but for which some have recently died in battle.

"It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle," the archbishop wrote.

Another line in his letter said: "We cannot-we will not-comply with this unjust law."

The message from the archbishop touched off a controversy both in and outside the military when the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains told the service's senior chaplains that Catholic priests serving as Army chaplains should be told not to read the archbishop's letter from the pulpit.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services has described that move as a violation of the archbishop's First Amendment rights as well as the First Amendment rights of the Catholic chaplains involved and their congregations.

The regulation the archbishop spoke about was finalized by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Jan. 20. It mandates that all health-care plans in the United States cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions.

A "religious" employer exemption included in the regulation only applies to organizations that primarily focus on inculcating the tenets of the church in question, primarily employ members of the church, primarily serve members of the church, and is organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code used by actual parishes.

Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable institutions would not be exempt from the regulation, nor would Catholic individuals, business owners, or insurers.

Because the Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception, and abortion are morally wrong and that Catholics cannot be involved in them, and because the Obamacare law requires that all individual purchase health insurance and that larger employers provide health insurance to their workers or face a penalty, the regulation would force Catholics to act against the teachings of their faith and against their consciences.

Archbishop Broglio's letter opposing the regulation and describing it as a violation of the constitutional rights of Catholics was read verbatim at Masses served by Navy and Air Force chaplains around the world.

However, the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to silence Catholic Army chaplains from reading it at their Masses-an effort rejected and resisted by Archbishop Broglio.

"On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels," the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military said in a statement.

"The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution," said the statement by the archdiocese.

"The Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop's letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit," said the archdiocese's statement. "The Chief's office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel."

On Saturday, Jan. 28, after the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains issued this directive, Archbishop Broglio spoke with Secretary of the Army John McHugh, a political appointee of President Barack Obama.

Archbishop Broglio's position was that, in trying to stop Catholic Army chaplains from reading his pastoral letter, the Army was violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion and the First Amendment rights of Catholic chaplains and Catholic service members.

"Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants," said the statement from the archdiocese.

In his Jan. 28 telephone conversation with Army Secretary McHugh, Archbishop Broglio was able to extract from the secretary an admission that it had been wrong for the secretary to try to silence the Catholic chaplains. The archbishop decided that the line in his letter that said Catholics cannot and will not comply with the "unjust law" of the HHS regulation would not be read aloud in Catholic Masses by the chaplains, but that the rest of the letter would.

The line stating "we will not ... comply with this unjust law" did remain, however, in the printed letter that was distributed at Masses said by Army chaplains and it remains in the copies of the letter posted on the website of the Archdiocese for the Military.

"Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop's letter," said the statement by the archdiocese.  "Additionally, the line: 'We cannot--we will not--comply with this unjust law' was removed [from the reading of the letter] by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

"The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio's statement from the other branches of service," said the archdiocese's statement.

Archbishop Broglio's letter minced no words in telling Catholics in the Armed Forces that the federal government was not only violating their constitutional rights through the new Obamacare regulation but was also violating the constitutional rights of all Catholics, while harming the freedom of religion generally.

"It is imperative that I call to your attention to an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith," wrote the archbishop.

"The federal government, which claims to be 'of, by, and for the people,' has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people-the Catholic population-and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faith," wrote the archbishop.

"It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle," said Archbishop Broglio.

The archbishop made clear that the regulation seeks to force not only Catholic institutions but also individuals, employers and insurers to provide and/or purchase immoral services.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be  forced to offer their employees' health coverage the includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception," said Archbishop Broglio. "Almost all health insurers will be forced to include these immoral 'services' in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies."

Archbishop Broglio declared that the Administration's regulation was an "unjust law" and warned that Catholics would resist it.

"In so ruling," he wrote, "the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.

"And, as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health care coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so)," said the archbishop.

"We cannot-and will not-comply with this unjust law," he wrote.

When she finalized the regulation last month, HHS Secretary Sebelius said she would give religious non-profit organizations-such as Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable institutions-until Aug. 1, 2013 to "adapt" to the new regulation and comply with it. For Catholic business owners, insurers and individuals the rule will take effect this Aug. 1.

In comments on the regulation submitted to HHS in September, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called it an "unprecedented attack on religious liberty" and urged the administration to completely rescind it. "The HHS mandate should be rescinded in its entirety," the bishops said.

In November, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, personally made the Catholic Church's case for rescinding the regulation to President Barack Obama.

Over the past week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has repeatedly defended the regulation, saying at one point that it did not raise any "constitutional issues."

A spokesman for the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains told CNSNews.com that the office sent an email out to senior chaplains around the world a week ago Friday asking that Archbishop Broglio's letter not be read during Mass last Sunday but only be mentioned during Mass and then handed out afterwards.

---

CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, CNSNews.com is able to provide its services and information to the public at no cost, thanks to the generous support of our thousands of donors and their tax-deductible contributions.This article is reprinted with permission.



Comments


More U.S.

Lower Your Nets For a Catch! We Are All Called to Evangelize Watch

Image of Lower your nets for a catch

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The New Evangelization is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical ... continue reading


'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


Phony priest celebrated masses, funerals and performed marriages - for more than 20 years! Watch

Image of Operating out of St. Ignatius of Loyola in northeastern Los Angeles, Erwin Mena allegedly sold tickets to a pilgrimage to visit New York to see the Pope during his visit to the United States last year (Facebook).

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

He might have talked a good talk and walked a good walk, but authorities finally caught up with fifty-nine-year-old Erwin Mena, who posed as a priest for more than 20 years in Los Angeles. Mena was arrested and will enjoy a lot of time in small rooms - with bars on the ... continue reading


'Christian Refugees 2 Christian Nations, Muslim Refugees 2 Muslim Nations, That's Only Fair': Protesters rally in Missoula County Courthouse Watch

Image of Protesters stand in snow (not pictured) to stand against new influx of refugees into America (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In an effort to ease the strain on other countries who have accempted several thousand refugees, the Obama administration plans to send refugees to smaller Montana cities. Over 120 Montana citizens faced snow and ice on Monday to protest outside the Missoula County ... continue reading


Why did secret Muslim Obama visit a controversial mosque? Watch

Image of Why is Obama visiting a mosque with questionable ties?

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President Obama is visiting a controversial mosque in Baltimore today, one that has ties to Islamic extremism. Even fellow Muslims are upset that he chose the Islamic Society of Baltimore for his visit, when he could have chosen more "moderate" mosques. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


In the minds of murderers: 9/11 began with a small question and grew to a national tragedy Watch

Image of 9/11 was based on a flight that crashed into the sea (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The horrific tragedy of 9/11 was reportedly started when Osama bin Laden heard of the murder-suicide on EgyptAir Flight 990. The plane's pilot crashed into the ocean, prompting bin Laden to wonder why he didn't choose to crash into a building. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


What does the Super Bowl have to do with the Catholic Church? Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Who else is facing off during the Super Bowl? Catholic Charities. Whether fans are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Super Bowl 50, Catholic Charities of Denver, Colorado, and Charlotte, South Carolina are uniting to host ... continue reading


Did the Groundhog see his shadow? 6 fun facts about Groundhog Day you never knew before Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The fate between winter and spring anxiously awaited the arrival of the weather-predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. The furry groundhog emerged from his hole on February 2 in search of a shadow ... that he never found. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
1 Solomon then summoned the elders of Israel to Jerusalem to bring the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:6-7, 8-10
6 Listen, we heard of it in Ephrathah, we found it at ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:53-56
53 Having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 8th, 2016 Image

St. Jerome Emiliani
February 8: Jerome Emiliani lay chained in the dark dirty ... Read More