Sunday, January 22, 2012

March for Life and Religious Liberty

Homily from the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B

I have some very good news to share with you today as well as some very bad news.

First, the good news.

Today, a number of our teens did not attend Mass at St. Vincent’s.  Ordinarily this would not be good news.  But today it is. Because today, instead of attending Mass at St. Vincent’s, a number of teens from our parish and the diocese are attending Mass in Washington D.C. with Bishop Rhoades as they prepare to take part in the annual March for Life tomorrow.

Tomorrow marks the 39th anniversary of the infamous Roe Vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court legalizing abortion in our country.  And sadly, since that decision, over 50 million American lives – unborn children in the womb, have been legally killed in our nation. 

Today, our nation’s population is approximately 312 million.  So do the math: one sixth of our nation’s population has been eradicated by abortion.

I’m so very proud of our young people, and Sarah Hill, our Life Teen youth minister, who will be sleeping on the floors of church gymnasiums throughout the Washington D.C. metro area.  I dearly wish I could be with them. I’ve been on 4 marches.  However, as Monsignor is visiting our sister parish in Honduras, I must be here.

The March for Life is truly one of the greatest displays of witness for the dignity of human life in our country.  Our teens will join over 400,000 people from across our nation on the march tomorrow.

And all of us must realize our Christian responsibility to defend with concrete action, and not mere sentiment, all human life from conception until natural death as well as our responsibility to reach out in love to mother’s and father’s who suffer the wound of an abortion; to let them know we have a merciful and loving God who offers forgiveness and healing.

So, the courageous and enthusiastic witness of our teens is very good news indeed.

However, as I mentioned I must also convey some very bad news.

Two days ago, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is ordering nearly every employer and insurer in the country to provide in its health care plans sterilization, contraception and even drugs which induce abortions.

Furthermore, and this is most egregious point of all, the administration announced that it would not expand an exemption to religious employers who object to this move on the grounds of conscience.

Meaning that the federal government may be forcing many religious employers including Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions to offer such things as sterilization, contraception, and abortion inducing drugs free of charge against their will, conscience and beliefs.

Now a religious exemption is offered. However, it is so narrow, to call it an exemption is laughable.  The federal government says that in order to qualify for a religious exemption, a religious employer must employ and serve primarily members of their own faith and must exist for the purpose of teaching religious values.

Of course, you can see how this so-called exemption is laughable.

A Catholic hospital for example does not, by mission, employ and serve primarily members of only their own faith.  A Catholic hospital serves all people regardless of faith.  Likewise, Catholic universities and other agencies provide education, health care and other services to people of all religions.

But nevertheless, the administration has stated that faith-based entities like hospitals and universities will have until August 1, 2013 to provide free birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as part of their health care plans.

Click here to see Cardinal-elect Dolan's video response.
The bishops of our nation, led by Cardinal-elect Timothy Dolan of New York have vowed to fight this unconscionable decision by our administration and I hope and pray you will too.

Last September, Fr. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, wrote Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services objecting to this mandated government interference.

He pointed out, correctly, that the federal government is placing the University of Notre Dame and similar Catholic institutions in the “impossible position” of having to violate our Catholic beliefs, no matter what we do.

He stated that this mandate, “would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plan’s in violation of the church’s social teaching.”

This is a clear attack on the First Amendment of our Constitution which guarantees religious freedom.  With this action, the federal government is saying it can force us to violate our religious beliefs.

So, let's do something so this can turn into good news.  Do not just sit back and watch.  Do what the Apostles do in today's Gospel: they hear the voice of Christ and they literally drop everything they are doing and follow him.  Do something today to speak out against this gross attack on your religious beliefs and freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Write your Congressman Marlin Stutzman tonight.  The contact page of his web site is here.

Write Senator Dick Lugar.  The contact page of his web site is here.

Write Senator Dan Coates.  The contact page of his web site is here.

Write the Department of Health and Human Services.  Their address is 200 Independence Ave, S.W. – Washington D.C. 20201.  Their contact page of their web site is here.

Write the President of the United States.  He lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. – Washington D.C. 20500.  The contact page of the White House’s web site is here.

And between now and Election Day in November, give very thoughtful and prayerful consideration to voting for a candidate who will honor and respect your religious liberty and who will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States which they have sworn to do.

Click here to read an article about the HHS mandate.


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  3. Fr. Andy - This is the letter I sent to our representatives. (I apologize for the posting issues.)

    Last week the Dept of Health and Human Services issued a mandate for employers to provide in its health care plans sterilization, contraception and even drugs which induce abortions.

    This extreme action is horribly damaging to religious institutions, such as universities (Notre Dame) and hospitals affiliated with the Roman Catholic church as it forces them to violate their religious beliefs. This is well presented by Fr. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, in a letter he wrote Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services objecting to this mandated government interference in September 2011.

    You realize the horrible affects abortion has had the past 39 years as 1 out of 6 Americans never survived out of the womb. One may reason as these "health care" benefits seem less violent than abortion, and since abortion is legal, then therefore these options are "better" and should be encouraged. In reality, the quantity of lives lost or prevented by these manmade techniques is even higher. Just consider the lives lost from abortion . Right now, you may be in a room with four other people - there should be five. Let's stop growing the proportion of missing lives from our nation.

    I recognize this is a controversial issue, but as my representative, please prevent laws like these from killing and preventing future Americans. This by design is an attack on our constitutional first amendment rights. This by design is failing to protect the innocent. This by design is making us a suicidal nation. Cultures adopting suicidal practices fail to survive.

    You may believe there are many more urgent and necessary activities on your agenda. However, there is not. This issue single handedly cleaves our very freedom on multiple dimensions and in turn generates countless socio-economic unforeseen second and third order negative consequences.

    Please work to build coalitions and shut down this egregious attack on our national morality. This is not just a matter of religious faith, but a matter on par with ethnic cleansing - self imposed - how extraordinarily diabolical in design.

    Do not allow these facts to be hidden. Those who support these abhorent policies need held publicly accountable for their positions and the resultant consequences. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

  4. I honestly avoid dabbling in ANY political debate/issues. However, your homily regarding this issue really struck me, and I felt called to entertain the right to speak my voice. I did it! I emailed every website on your blog in support of our Catholic Faith conserning this mandate. I pray they listen. Thank you Fr. Andrew, for moving the Spirit in me.

    God Bless,
    Laura O'Daniel