It was not all that long ago that there was a big hubbub about president Obama speaking at Notre Dame University.
We were assured at the time by people like Fr. Jenkins president of ND and Douglas Kmiec that it wasn’t an issue. Even when the local Bishop corrected him and then declined to attend, they persisted, even when Mary Ann Glendon declined the Laetare Medal the Catholic left insisted that Obama was not a foe of the Catholic faith.
What a difference a few years makes
With the latest HHS release any pretense of “common ground” or a “sensible conscience clause“. He has given Catholics nationwide what Elizabeth Scalia calls a gift of clarity:
On one side, there is cheering. “Women’s groups” are happy. Anti-religionists, particularly those with an animus toward the Catholic church, are nearly delirious. On the other side, there is a grimness that is interesting in its unity, particularly as it is playing out in Catholic media. The furor of more conservative Catholics is unremarkable, but the reactions of the so-called “progressive” church may surprise some for the intensity of their disappointment. At the National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters—furious on behalf of those Catholics who “took some punches” for the sake of President Obama—declares he cannot, in good conscience, cast another vote Obamaward. He now suggests that the bishops chain themselves to the White House fence in order to bring attention to the direct assault this administration is making against the church’s constitutional right to its own conscience—its right to be what it is.
As of this writing 115 Bishops (it was 109 when I started writing) including my own, have denounced it (and as Nice Deb points out, those guys are hard to rile up.)
Some bishops have openly declared they will defy it and the Pope himself has denounced it:
“It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize 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,” he said Jan. 19 in an address to a group of American bishops visiting the Vatican.
The Pope said he was particularly concerned with “certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”
The bishop of Peoria is enlisting St. Michael the Archangel in this fight:
Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill. has asked parishes, schools, hospitals and religious houses to insert the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the intercessions at Sunday Mass to pray for Catholics’ freedom.
The move comes in response to a new federal requirement that will force many Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives.
“It is God’s invincible Archangel who commands the heavenly host, and it is the enemies of God who will ultimately be defeated,” the bishop said in a Jan. 24 letter to the Catholics of his diocese.
The prayer should take place in the general intercessions before the concluding prayer, Bishop Jenky said. He asked that the intention of the prayer be announced as “for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America.”
this is the prayer for those unfamiliar with it:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Our secular friend might laugh at this but to those who know their history they understand the meaning:
Why is that significant? Between 1930 and 1965, when it was last included in regular services, the prayer was recited for the benefit of believers trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
This isn’t just opposition; this is a declaration of war.
Meanwhile when it is reported at all it is reported with the kind of journalistic integrity we’ve come to expect from our American media.
But that really doesn’t matter any more than their ignoring the March for Life matters. Although our friends in the MSM and our friends on the left may promote their propaganda, they know how to count>
MONTAGNE: Well, Cokie, given all this division among Republicans, what about the Democrats? Should they feel as confident as some seem to be about next November’s elections?
ROBERTS: Well, the president is certainly out on the campaign trail himself and he knows that he has big problems ahead. The economy is still very shaky. You could have, at any moment, an enormous foreign policy crisis.
But also the administration is creating problems of their own. The health care law is, as you know, already unpopular in the polls, and the administration has issued regulations that now – that say that Catholic or religious institutions that hire and serve people outside of their own religion have to cover contraceptive services and sterilizations in the health care bill.
It’s got the Catholic bishops furious. There was a letter in church yesterday, calling this an attack on religious liberty, and that’s a problem for the president’s allies – the social justice Catholics – and it could be a problem with Catholic voters. And that becomes a huge issue if the president really starts to lose Catholic voters, because he can’t win without them.
Even E.J. Dione who never saw an Obama move he didn’t like is worried:
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.
or in English: This is an election year what are you doing?
Cripes even Sr. Carol (I have $800,000 reasons to love Obamacare) Keehan, last seen on these pages defending a hospital that lost it’s “Catholic” designation over performing an abortion, found it necessary to object:
From President Thomas Jefferson to President Barack Obama, we have been promised a respect for appropriate religious freedom. The first amendment to our Constitution affirms it. We are a pluralistic country, and it takes respectful dialogue to sort this out fairly. This decision was a missed opportunity.
CHA has expressed concern and disappointment about this on behalf of the ministry. We have said the problem is not resolved, and we must have a national conversation on this. CHA is working closely with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and others to look at options to resolve this. We will be discussing it at the CHA board meeting on Feb. 8.
I assure you that we will use the time to pursue a correction during the one-year extension. We will give this issue priority and consult with members and experts as we evaluate options to deal with this. Any suggestions, comments or questions are welcome. I promise to keep the membership informed as we move along in this effort. Please keep this important effort in your prayers as well.
I expect to see a lot of face-saving gestures from Catholics who toed the Obama administration line on Obamacare in the past, meanwhile the best political advice I’ve seen on the subject comes from Pat Buchanan:
Not only should the bishops file suit in federal court against the president and Sebelius for violation of the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, they should inform the White House that no bishop will give an invocation at the Democratic Convention.
Then, they should inform the White House that in the last two weeks of the 2012 campaign, priests in every parish will read from the pulpit at Sunday mass a letter denouncing Obama as anti-Catholic for denying the Church its right to live according to its beliefs.
If Obama loses the Catholic vote, he loses the election.
The White House will come around, fast. Rely upon it.
That is the right secular move but I have a more spiritual suggestion to impart.
On Feb 18th at 1 p.m. I intend to go to St. Anthony of Padua Church in Fitchburg and pray a holy hour for religious freedom in America before the blessed sacrament.
I suggest my fellow Catholics do the same and/or encourage their pastors, bishops et/al to do the same.
I already know the power of prayer, I suspect the phenomenon of millions of Catholics at prayer nationally over this issue might also illustrate the power of mathematics.