Catholic Church must oppose government mandates on reproductive issues
There was a time when Catholics here in the United States were regarded with great suspicion by their mostly Protestant neighbors. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the numbers of Catholics grew because of immigration; many thought that these immigrants who accepted the religious authority of a pope could never be successfully integrated into the American experiment of democracy.
Fortunately, the civil liberties granted by our Constitution allowed Catholics, in spite of these prejudices, to prosper in America. The Constitution guaranteed citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to the common life together. And, as Catholics and as Americans, we can take some holy pride in pointing out our own contributions. We built schools, orphanages, hospitals, universities; we served in our nation’s wars, we founded businesses, we served in public office, etc. We were no less Catholic for being American; and no less American for being Catholic.
However, today, America’s “first freedom,” the freedom of religion, is under great stress if not under outright assault — and not just for Catholics.
Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant legislation “criminalizes” bible classes for irregular (undocumented) immigrants. The federal government recently attempted to redefine for churches the definition of “religious minister” or “religious employee” — in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor. In several states, Catholic Charities have had their licenses revoked to provide foster care and adoption services.
A radical rereading of the First Amendment protections has resulted in concerted efforts to deny right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices — ACLU v. Sebelius. The State Department in its analysis of the state of religious liberty in the world also seems to have reduced freedom of religion to mean merely freedom to worship.
And even more ominous is the HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs represents. This represents an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government to force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching. The mandate purports to define which religious institutions are “religious” enough to merit the protection of their religious liberty.
The Church cannot not oppose this unjust (and we believe unconstitutional) mandate. It is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs. [More]