Hudson and Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012. On the Lord's Day, Voting for True Progress
which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience."
"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."
On Thursday, January 19, 2012, he addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States (Baltimore, Washington and the archdiocese for the Military Services) gathered for their ad limina visit. He warned of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres". He warned the Bishops that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion."
On January 20, 2012, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration, issued a mandate requiring all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans. The alleged exemption provided for religious employers did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission outside of our church buildings. The purported accommodation which followed was a fraud, a shell game, which accomplished nothing.
Perhaps it could have been considered an act of charity that the President gave the Catholic bishops a year to consider whether or not they would conform to the demands of the unjust mandate. But an act of charity must always be ordered to the good, and the willingness to give the bishops more time to consider whether or not to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization does not fit that criterion. It displayed, in our opinion, arrogance of power.
Catholics believe that 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. For an institution to receive an exemption from the Obama administration it must serve only members of its own denomination.
As many of our good bishops and leaders pointed out, even the ministry of Jesus would not qualify for an exemption. Well, the ministry of Jesus continues through his Body, the Church, of which we are members. We cannot - we will not - comply with this mandate. This HHS Mandate not only injures the Church and religious institutions it injures American society. It harms the common good.
This HHS Edict is not only a roadblock on the way to true progress, it is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion which is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Birth Certificate of our Nation, the Declaration of Independence, affirmed the existence of inalienable rights and self evident truths. Those Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness are endowed by our Creator and not conferred by a Government. They cannot - they must not- be taken away by Government. Religious Liberty is at the heart of the very understanding of Right to Liberty in the Western tradition.
The Competing Visions of Progress
We know there are many, many other issues and concerns which need to be addressed, applying the principles offered by Catholic Social Doctrine to the arena of public policy. We hope to continue to do that in the future. However, there is a hierarchy of application and urgency in the three areas we addressed above.
The positions being espoused and lifestyles being affirmed as "progressive" by those currently using the term as a political label are anything but. They turn the clock back on true human progress.They show us that we are dealing with competing definitions of human freedom, human flourishing and human progress. What is also threatened in this particular election is the vital role of religious faith and institutions and the values and services they offer society.
It is the promotion of faithful, monogamous marriage, family, authentic human freedom, the dignity of every human person - and the insistence that there are objective truths that can be known and unalienable rights that are endowed on all men and women - which have guided true progress in human history. Such a vision has helped to overcome the slaveries that have arisen from flawed ideologies that have treated people as property to be used and manipulated.
Such a vision of progress has inspired leaders to speak truth to power, condemning the lies that elevate power and function over the primacy of the person, thereby suppressing the deeper and higher values that civilize and set people and Nations free. This is the vision of progress which should inform our Vote on November 6th.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: catholic Vote, progress, progressive, Faithful citizenship, HHS Mandate, Pro-Life, pro-Marriage, pro-Freedom, Religious Liberty, Religious Freedom, Deal W Hudson, Keith A Fournier
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