Friday, January 27, 2012

Religious Liberty Undermined in America. We Must Stand Firm!Religious Liberty Undermined in America. We Must Stand Firm!

On August 1, 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services, directed by Kathleen Sebelius, adopted the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods” be determined a “preventive care service for women.” Under these new guidelines, mandatory coverage will be provided for surgical sterilization, all prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA - including drugs like Ella that can cause abortions in the early weeks of pregnancy - as well as counseling to promote them. This directive from the Affordable Care Act initiative will be supported by tax payers without a conscience clause exemption, violating the civil and religious liberties of millions of Americans.


Dear Friends,

Religious liberty in our country is facing the greatest threat ever in history. On January 20th the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced that the department will stick by its demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans.

In an unexpected move which clearly has a political motive, President Obama has extended compliance to Catholic entities for an additional year to comply with the birth control mandate. As Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York City stated "as if we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences in 12 months from now." This move is clearly transparent as we approach the 2012 election.

Now, more than ever, we must be vigilant in our efforts to make sure this mandate is never implemented and St. Gianna Physician's Guild promises to do all we can, with your help, to stop it. Just this moring I was invited to appear on a local TV news station to clarify this issue and present the Catholic Church's position on this matter. Click here

We applaud Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan for speaking out on behalf of the church regarding the new federal mandate for all healthcare plans to cover sterilization and contraception. Click here to read Cardinal-designate Dolan's oped which appeared Wednesday in USA Today on religious liberty.

Below is a statement from Catholic League president Bill Donohue which summarizes well what the Catholic Church's position is on this matter. He comments on the January 19, 2012 address by Pope Benedict XVI to U.S. Bishops on their "Ad Limina" visit:

"Without explicitly naming President Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear today that he sees the administration as a threat to religious liberty. The pope spoke eloquently on the role that religious freedom has played since the founding of America, and of the need for Catholics to follow the natural law. But he also said, "The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues." Specifically, he called attention to the "grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres."

How do we know that the pope was addressing the Obama administration when he cited the threats emanating from the political sphere? Speaking of his discussions with U.S. bishops, the Holy Father said: "Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

Pope Benedict XVI is obviously aware of the public pronouncements of people such as Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, Bishop William Lori, and others. They have rightfully objected to the Obamacare provisions that would mandate Catholic institutions to provide sterilization and contraceptive services (including abortifacients) without any realistic religious exemption, and of the decision to deny funding to a Catholic agency that combats human trafficking simply because the Church opposes abortion. The term "freedom of worship," which was coined to distinguish it from "freedom of religion," expresses a highly privatized understanding of religious liberty that does not embrace the public expression of religion. It is the preferred term of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

This further validates that we are called upon to stand tall in defense of our position to stop the birth control mandate.

Please forward our petition and the Pope's messeage to your entire email list.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Thomas J. McKenna
President, St. Gianna Physician's Guild