01 March 2012

Cardinal George: "We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack"

Writing in his column in the Catholic New World, His Emincence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, recently considered the implications of the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services, if it is not rescinded:
What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.
None of these four options are helpful, but they do achieve the Administration's aim to remove faithful Catholics from public life.

As part of his considerations, Cardinal George distinguishes between the freedom of religion - as guaranteed by the First Ammendment - and the incorrect interpretation of that freedom as simply the freedom of worship:
The provision of health care should not demand “giving up” religious liberty. Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship-no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long cold war to defeat that vision of society.
The Constitution does not guarantee a freedom of worship, but of religion, which encompasses the living of a moral life; religion, if it is authentic, shapes every aspect of an adherent's life.  It cannot simply be compartmentalized.

His Eminence also considers the charge that the Bishops are not respecting the so-called separation of Church and State:
The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church.
In the end, it should be remembered that "the bishops didn’t begin this dismaying conflict nor choose its timing. We would love to have it ended as quickly as possible. It’s up to the government to stop the attack."

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