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Silver Lining in the Unconstitutional HHS Edict? A New Catholic Action Is Rising
By Deacon Keith Fournier
February 8th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
There is an old adage, "Every cloud has a silver lining". It simply affirms that even in the midst of a bad situation, something good can arise. I suggest that is precisely what has happened with this unjust and unconstitutional Edict. It has given birth to a New Catholic Action - just in the nick of time.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I was driving back from Washington, DC on Monday after a speaking engagement for a wonderful new evangelization apostolate called the "Institute of Catholic Culture".
The trip is a long one. Though I use it for prayer, thought, and cell phone communication, it seems to have gotten longer as I have grown older. It is one of those times when I am grateful for talk radio. I was struck by the uniform focus of the discussion, in both secular and religious radio venues.
Fortunately, our courageous Bishops are responding with heroism, clarity and conviction. Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote, offers a running tally of the strongly worded letters of the US Bishops (up to 166 of them the last I checked) here. Thomas also links to their statements.
Another response, among a growing number of New Catholic Action efforts, is offered by Catholic Advocate, The organization offers a parish based response here. St Gianna Physician's Guild is sponsoring an online petition to help stop the mandate.
This edict from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came days after the unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court reaffirming the primacy of Religious Liberty and the freedom of Churches as protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. I wrote about this important decision in Hosanna-Tabor: U.S. Supreme Court Church-State Decision Protects the Church.
The edict from the Secretary of Health and Human Services came just one day after the prophetic Pope Benedict XVI addressed one group of US Bishops during their ad limina visit, warning them of the growth of radical secularism in the United States and the accompanying threats to the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom. See, Pope Warns US Bishops of Radical Secularism, Threats to Religious Freedom
Cardinal-designate Dolan is leading the very strong response of the US Catholic Bishops. Among his comments, "The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand. In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences. To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable."
"It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty. The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs."
He is correct - and we must act. For many years I have written concerning the pressing need for a New Catholic Action. I have also spent those years helping to build such a needed movement. A New Catholic Action, led by the lay faithful and built upon the firm foundation of Catholic Social Teaching, is the greatest hope for building a future of authentic human freedom.
With the publication of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church every Catholic - indeed other Christians and all people of good will - can now go right to the sources. Lay men and women are no longer wrongly dependent upon self styled "experts" (some helpful and some not) to tell them what Catholic Social Doctrine truly is. They can read and study it for themselves. Then, they can inform their consciences, as well as their social, economic, cultural and political participation, by that teaching.
Catholic Social Doctrine offers principles for action addressed to the citizens of every Nation, concerning how to live with one another in a manner that promotes the fullness of social life for the entire human community. These are not just "religious" ideas, in the sense of being offered only for religious people. Rather, they find their origins in the Natural Law and are confirmed by Revelation.
This Social teaching is not only for Catholics, other Christians or even just "religious people". It is for all people, offered by the Church to all who seek to build a truly just society. It is called "social" because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions, beginning with the family as the first society and first mediating institution.
Catholic Social teaching proclaims that there are some unchangeable truths, such as the dignity of every human person and the right to life, from conception to natural death; the primacy of authentic marriage and the family and society founded upon it; and our obligation in solidarity to one another, and, most especially, to the poor and needy in our midst.
It presents an understanding of human freedom as being properly exercised only with reference to the truth and at the service of our obligations to one another. It also proposes social ordering principles such as the principle of subsidiarity which helps in structuring governance in a manner which respects the family first and then looks to mediating institutions.
This principle also has applications in helping to build a truly just economic order where participation is continually expanded; an economic order which is at the service of the human person, the family, human flourishing and the true common good.
At the root of every social question, there are fundamental norms of morality which should inform our life together. The idea that "social" and "economic" issues can be separated fails to understand the unity of life and the primacy of the human person in the social question. It also fails to properly understand social charity or solidarity.
There is an old adage I am sure most of my readers have heard, "Every cloud has a silver lining". It simply affirms that even in the midst of a bad situation, something good can arise. I suggest that is precisely what has happened with this unjust and unconstitutional Edict. It has given birth to a New Catholic Action - just in the nick of time.
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