Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
February 14, 2013
The greater peril: the loss of religious freedom or the loss of religion? (Part 2)
By Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I. Building up the Household of God

In 1960 the American culture and the Catholic Church in America was not ready for the sudden appearance of "the Pill" and miscalculated its long term effect on women and society. First sold as a cure of menses disorders in women the pill's use as a contraceptive grew rapidly as documented in the PBS film, The Pill. Within a coupe of years half the women in the nation of child bearing years were 'on the pill,' not fully understanding, morally and factually, what lasting consequences contraceptives would have in their lives and relationships. Many of the unexpected consequences brought on by the pill and other contraceptives have now become more apparent since Pope Paul VI in 1968 foresaw in the Encyclical, "Of Human Life," the grave moral and social disorders which contraception would usher into our lives. By then, however, a culture of personal morality under the guise of the 'rights of privacy' were established by the Supreme Court in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v Casey which ruled that "individual liberty" includes an individual's right "to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

Today, less than twenty years later The Affordable Health Care Act and the federal government mandate that women's health be protected with guaranteed free access to conception and abortion and be provided by their employers or the government – with a narrow exception for Churches and some un-named church affiliated organizations. Non-church employers, however, are not excepted from the mandate. They are considered secular entities and have no claim of religious or moral rights although they may hold to the same religious and moral tenets professed in the churches they attend and support.

In support of its own ideology the federal administration claims that it has the final right to decide who may and may not follow their own faith and moral standards. Those who refuse compliance will be penalized with exorbitant tax levies as much as one hundred dollars a day to be exacted by the Internal Revenue Service. In effect the federal administration would allow some individuals within a church community to follow their tenets of faith but forbid others to practice the same shared faith tenets. All this is mandated to improve our health by contracting the size of one generation to the next until we the people are fewer and a weaker. Last year our country's birth rate was the lowest it has been since the government kept these records from the year of 1920. Catholics and other conscientious Americans have taken the government to court in many separate legal complaints arguing that their religious beliefs and mores define the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" they seek for themselves and others, whether they are religious or secular employers and employees, non-profit or for profit organizations.

Recently, speaking for the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Dolan affirmed that the members of the Catholic Church are a single class of people, not two classes, some under the law and some outside the law, a discrimination of class as injurious as a discrimination of race. Admittedly, many Catholics have been mislead by many in the medical profession, drug companies and advertisers who both promote and disclaim the wares they sell – often a futile attempt to minimize damages for serious medical malpractice. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, encourages Natural Family Planning not as a contraceptive ploy but an intelligent plan for bearing children, their family heirs and future generations open to life.

We are Catholic because we are one and universal, the same faith and morals for the clergy and the laity. We are militant Catholics because we live by standards greater than this world's, by God's ancient commandments who defines our faith and morals. We are indivisible Catholics of one Faith, one Church, one Lord. When a government chooses to subvert our moral practices no amount of coercion can move our minds and wills, only our bodies. Pope Benedict XVI said as much, "There is no compulsion in religion," (a lecture given by the Holy Father at the University of Regensburg, 12 September 2006).

Unwittingly, when the federal government trespasses on our morals it makes us more spiritually militant and strengthens our resolve as citizens of God against an administration which changes every few years. This government will pass, and this maelstrom outside and inside the Church will subside in time when the laity and the clergy are joined and publically affirm church morals and teachings. The federal administration would better serve the people by raising public awareness of the awful sexual dysfunction of our society, divorce, abandonment, fatherless households and disintegration of American society much of which is linked to government's failed remedies promoting contraception, abortion and sterilization.

As in the civil rights movement of the 1960s which ultimately corrected racial discrimination in our country our federal administration, unless it relents, will leave faithful Catholics and others no other option than civil disobedience. The longer the federal administration delays, contrives and contorts its plan the more likely Catholics and others will resort to civil disobedience.

Since January first this year, many employers and employees have been unaware that their health insurance policies already mandate contraception, abortion and sterilization services which they pay for through their insurer. By paying their insurance premiums they are materially subsidizing contraception, abortion and sterilization contrary to Church teaching and morals, including employees who may pay a share of their own health insurance. Come August first this year, the mandate will fall upon Church affiliated employers, hospitals, schools and other charitable organizations.

© Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

 

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Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, in 2006 at age 69. After graduating Saint John's University, New York, B.A. (1965) and M.A. (1967) in English, I taught a year of high school and a few years of college... (more)

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