Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

A February Consistory & Other Updates

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Just a few items to share with you.

For one, late tonight I leave for Rome, summoned there, along with my brother Cardinals from around the world, by Pope Francis.  Your intentions accompany me, and I already look forward to returning back here in a week.

What brings us over is the consistory for new cardinals, to occur this Saturday, February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.  We “upper-classmen” are always there to welcome “freshmen”!

People wonder about the significance of even having cardinals anymore, and, occasionally, I do myself.

But, shortly after this new group of cardinals was announced last month, I met two Haitians working in the parking garage.  These men are grateful immigrants from beleaguered Haiti.  They ran up to me, ecstatic, with tears in their eyes, sharing with me their joy and pride that Pope Francis had named a Haitian bishop to the College of Cardinals!  To see their happiness convinced me that this ancient title still has relevance.

The Holy Father is a wise shepherd.  He realizes that naming a cardinal can be an act of encouragement and affirmation to a struggling people, a sign of solidarity with the Church Universal.  It sure worked for those two Haitians I met.

Prior to Saturday’s ceremony and Sunday’s Mass, Pope Francis has asked all the world’s cardinals- – including the new ones- -to come together Thursday and Friday to discuss “Marriage and Family”, a topic close to his heart, already chosen as the theme for the upcoming Synod of Bishops to take place in Rome October 2014 and 2015.

Since I was elected to the Permanent Council for the Synod of Bishops, I must remain in Rome Monday and Tuesday for all day meetings of that council.

Two, you know how I always try to alert you to any potentially negative publicity about the Church, or about me.  Well, there could be some.  My home archdiocese of St. Louis just complied with a court order to release the documents regarding cases there of sexual abuse of minors.  (Cardinal Egan already did that here a decade ago, sharing all of the information we had on abusive priests with proper district attorneys, something we continue to do today.)

Anyway, since I was an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis for a year (2001-02), and vicar for priests for nine of those twelve months, I would anticipate that my name will again be highlighted in the press.  I sure have nothing to hide, and am very much at peace with law enforcements officials reviewing the files.  In fact, we already released all the documentation to them a dozen years ago!

This will be, I suspect, a repeat of last year’s attempt by the same tort lawyers to muddy my name.  A year ago, they contended- – remember?- -that while Archbishop of Milwaukee I had “hidden funds”, and they had even deposed me.  Nothing of course ever came of it, although the ever-compliant press here gave me headlines about being deposed.  (The headlines were much smaller when the Judge eventually ruled that I had acted properly.)  However, knowing how their attorneys operate, and some reporters here cooperate with them, I would anticipate some attempt at bad publicity again.  I’ll keep you posted…

Finally, there was good news recently in our pro-life movement: the city health department reported a drop in the city’s abortion rate.  That’s good news!  The somber news is that New York City still has twice the national average of abortions.

What I also find troubling is the conclusion of the health department that this is due to increased use of IUDs and other chemical and implanted contraceptives.  Really? No proof is offered.  I guess some of the welcome decline could be due to that.  But is it too much to conclude that another reason for the decline is that more and more mothers and fathers see abortion for the tragedy that it is, the unjust taking of an innocent, fragile, human life?  Perhaps, too, its became more and more people see that casual, promiscuous sex hardly leads to health or happiness, and are now acting virtuously?  I know it’s hard for some to accept- -unless you believe in human freedom, its beauty, genuine choice to wait for marriage, and that the human person is not a slave to passion and cultural pressure.

Thanks for listening!

Respecting Life in New York

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Sunday is always colorful, interesting, and inspirational at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as thousands from all over the world crowded in for prayer, to light a votive candle, or to worship at one of a dozen Masses.

Last Sunday seemed even more so.  I started the day meeting the leadership of our Knights of Columbus, the largest volunteer organization in the country.  We spoke about our common efforts to protect the innocent, fragile life of the baby in the womb, but also about their sterling work to assist poor, mostly immigrant children attend our first-rate inner city Catholic schools, and their touching initiatives on behalf of our “special kids” with physical and mental challenges.

It was frigid outside as I processed to the Cathedral for 10:15 Mass, and I noticed a larger than usual number of police officers.  When I asked why, I was told that a Fundamentalist sect had warned that they would protest in front of St. Patrick’s, to blast the Church for being “gay-friendly,” for welcoming people with same-sex attractions, and for the teaching of the catechism that gays were God’s children, with an inherent right to dignity and respect.  Nothing new – – these fringe folks had picketed us before.

Sunday’s was a special “Right-to-Life” Mass, penance for the tragedy of abortion on demand, and recommitment to the civil right to life for the baby in the womb.  The Knights were there, as mentioned earlier, and the Mass as SRO with others in the pro-life movement.  The Sisters of Life were there, for instance, with mothers and their babies who had gotten through a “problem pregnancy” with the sisters’ love.  A high school basketball team from California, on their way to a championship game, then to D.C. for the renowned March for Life on Wednesday were there, and there was the police officer, his wife, three other children, and their new baby, whom I would have the joy of christening after Mass.  That beautiful new baby had Down’s Syndrome, reason enough for an abortion, as 90% of such babies are aborted, in this culture Pope Francis calls “throwaway.”  Not for this loving family!

After the moving Mass, back out to the cold, in yet another “Pro Life” project, the Feeding Our Neighbor initiative, sponsored by Catholic Charities and the United Jewish Appeal.  Last year, 900,000 meals were provided the hungry by the food donated in parishes and synagogues last Sabbath and next.

A reporter asked if the scheduling of the event had anything to do with the Birthday of Reverend Martin Luther King.  I replied that the date was chosen since it’s the coldest time of the year; when a lot of the food donated at Christmas had already run out; because it was close to the January 22nd Respect Life observance, and to feed the hungry was sure pro-life; and, yes, because Reverend King preached the Bible, that all are God’s children, made in his image and likeness, and that wherever life was threatened – – violence, poverty, hunger, discrimination, abortion – – God’s People defend it.

On the way back into the Cathedral, I greeted many of the great folks from the Dominican Republic, now proud New Yorkers, jamming St. Patrick’s for their feast of “Our Lady of Altagracia.”  I know so many of them as Catholics active in immigration reform, pro-life, curbing of gun-violence in their neighborhood, and keeping our inner-city schools open for their kids.

A good Sunday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral . . .does any of this seem “extremist” to you?

Ways to Love the Poor with Pope Francis

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Pope Francis is an excellent teacher.  He’s a classical Jesuit, and has himself taught in high school (chemistry and literature, I hear) in Argentina.

An effective pedagogue sets a few clear goals for his class.  “Professor” Francis sure has done so for the Church, for the world, for all God’s children.

Among his goals is a call to love and serve the poor.  No surprise, since this is a clear, clean goal of Jesus in the gospels.

This month of January presents us a chance to grow in our love and service of the poor.

January 20th is the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King, a man admired by Pope Francis, a man prophetic in his summons to racial justice and equal opportunity for the poor.

Then, January 22 is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn Baby.  Is anyone more vulnerable, more fragile, more in need of love, care, and protection than the unborn baby in her mother’s womb?

January 26 – February 2 finds us again in the Feeding Our Neighbor Campaign, as we come together in the cold to collect food to stock our shelters, soup kitchens, and parish pantries, responding to the Lord who said, “When I was hungry you gave me to eat.”

And, January 26 – February 1 is Catholic Schools Week.  The experts tell us that one of the tried-and-true ways of helping the poor escape a trapped-life is by educating the children in one of our excellent Catholic schools.  They’re really the best “War on Poverty” programs around.

Not bad messages — from Jesus and Pope Francis — this first week of the year.

Fortnight For Freedom

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Standing in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty is one of our most beloved landmarks, both as New Yorkers and as Americans.  So many of our ancestors fondly recalled seeing Lady Liberty, their first vision of a new homeland.  Many of them told the story of seeing her for the first time, and not a few of them had to pause in retelling it because of a lump in their throat or a tear in their eye.

Even those of us who were born in America cherish the Statue of Liberty, and, even more importantly, what it stands for.  Who indeed can fail to be moved by the line from Emma Lazarus’ famous poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

That atmosphere of liberty is so much a part of the American experience and heritage.  Of course, most of us did not have to travel far and suffer hardship to glimpse the torch of the Statue, and to embrace her promise of freedom.  Most newcomers today do not come by ship, and so never set eyes upon her.  We New Yorkers, frequently in a rush to our next destination, don’t even look out into the Harbor very often.

So it would be easy for us to take the Statue of Liberty for granted, as just another landmark for tourists to visit.  And it would be all too easy to forget how precious — and fragile — is that breath of freedom that our forerunners yearned for so ardently.  This desire for freedom was written into the human heart by God, and exalted in God’s word in the Bible.  It is expressed so powerfully in the founding documents of our nation, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  It is the ideal to which all our national institutions aspire, and which they are bound to protect and respect.  It is for freedom that so many of our brothers and sisters have been willing to sacrifice their lives to defend.

I don’t wish to push this analogy too far, but in recent years it has become a bit more difficult to “breathe free” as deeply as we would like.  The atmosphere is not quite so clear and mild any more.  Our liberty — like clean air — isn’t something we can take for granted.

This is the reason that the Bishops of the United States have called upon all Catholics, and all people of good will, to spend the days from June 21 through July 4 as a Fortnight for Freedom.  These fourteen days are designed to raise awareness and to encourage action on a number of the current challenges to religious liberty.  These include:

  • The HHS mandate, which presumes to intrude upon the very definition of faith and ministry, and could cause believers to violate their consciences.
  • Impending Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage, which will present a host of difficulties to institutions and people who stand on their faith-based understanding of authentic marriage as between one man and one woman
  • Proposed legislation at the national and state levels that would expand abortion rights, legalize assisted suicide, restrict immigrants from full participation in society, and limit the ability of Church agencies to provide humanitarian services.
  • Government intrusion into the rights and duties of parents regarding their children.
  • Overt persecution of believers in many countries of the world.

My brother bishops and I are encouraging people to offer prayers to God, the source of our freedom, that we may fully enjoy the liberty that was sought by those who came to our shores.  We are also urging practical action to defend our freedom.

Our two weeks begin tomorrow, June 21, and include moving feasts, such as June 22, the feast of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, both martyrs in England as they prophetically defended the rights of the Church against intrusion by the crown; June 24, the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the one who defended God’s law to a tyrant and lost his head because of his courage; and, of course, Independence Day.

We must never forget the power of the American promise, which was passed on to us by our ancestors, and which we hold in trust for generations to come.

And, like Lady Liberty, may we always be proud to lift high the torch of freedom and hope to those who yearn for it today.

Greetings from San Diego

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Greetings from San Diego, where I have joined with my brother bishops from across the country for our annual Spring meeting. I spent last evening catching up on the news from back home, and came across a few items I’d like to share.

Yesterday, the online edition of USA Today ran an op-ed column from me, as president of the USCCB, expressing our support for the immigration reform bill now before the U.S. Senate. Let me share an excerpt with you:

Immigration reform is an issue close to Catholic hearts. America has wonderfully welcomed generations of immigrant families, and our parishes, schools and charitable ministries have long helped successfully integrate immigrants into American life.

Congress will soon debate the most comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s immigration laws in almost 30 years. With the stakes so high, it’s important that Congress craft legislation that balances the legitimate needs of security with our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the gifts they bring to our country.

You can read the whole column here.

This past weekend, I asked that a letter be shared in the parishes of the Archdiocese of New York on two very important issues: immigration reform, and, here in New York, the provision in the Women’s Equality Act that would expand abortion.

There were also two well-written pieces on the Women’s Equality Act. The first opinion piece was written by Greg Pfundstein in the New York Post. Pfundstein examines the problems with the abortion provision of the bill. Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:

Gov. Cuomo is trying to sell New Yorkers a bill of goods about his abortion legislation — claiming it would just codify federal law. That’s a lie.

The governor and his allies say the bill would merely align state law with Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

Yet Roe — which effectively constitutionalized abortion on demand up until birth — is no longer the governing federal case on abortion. In 1992, Casey v. Planned Parenthood substantially altered the landscape by explicitly allowing states to impose some sensible restrictions on abortion.

Click here to read his whole op-ed.

The second piece that I came across is an editorial published in the New York Daily News questioning Governor Cuomo’s decision to promote this abortion expansion bill at this time. Here is an excerpt:

The governor triggered the fight by proposing a bill that, he says, is intended only to clarify a woman’s legal right to terminate a pregnancy in New York. But in so doing, he is addressing an issue that has long been settled in both law and practice.

This state can rightly be called the abortion capital of America, thanks to the city’s extraordinarily high rate of pregnancy terminations.

Women in the city have abortions at a rate more than three times that of the U.S. as a whole, while women in the rest of the state surpass the national average by a small margin.

You can read the editorial here.

Statement of the Bishops of New York State on Abortion Bill

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Today I joined my brother bishops of New York State in releasing a statement to the press regarding the New York State abortion bill.

Here is the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2013
STATEMENT OF THE BISHOPS OF NEW YORK STATE ON ABORTION BILL

The following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops of New York State:

We are profoundly distressed by the introduction of a bill in New York State today that would ease restrictions in state law on late-term abortion and runs the serious risk of broadly expanding abortion access at all stages of gestation. This legislation would add a broad and undefined “health” exception for late-term abortion and would repeal the portion of the penal law that governs abortion policy, opening the door for non-doctors to perform abortions and potentially decriminalizing even forced or coerced abortions. In addition, we find the conscience protection in the bill to be vague and insufficient, and we are concerned about the religious liberty of our health facilities. While the bill’s proponents say it will simply “codify” federal law, it is selective in its codification. Nowhere does it address the portions of federal laws that limit abortion, such as the ban on taxpayer funding, the ban on partial birth abortion or protections for unborn victims of violence.

As the pastors of more than 7.2 million Catholic New Yorkers, we fully oppose this measure, and urge all our faithful people to do the same, vigorously and unapologetically. We invite all women and men of good will to join in this effort and defeat this serious attempt to expand abortion availability in our state and to codify the most radical abortion proposals of any state in the nation.

We support the first nine points in the Governor’s agenda that enhance the true dignity of women. We commit ourselves to examining those proposals and working with the legislature on any and all efforts that help guarantee real equity for all women and men.  Our position on these issues will be consistent with all the efforts of the Catholic Church throughout the world to enhance the dignity of women. The direct taking of the life of a child in the womb in no way enhances a woman’s dignity.

Instead of expanding abortion and making abortions even more prevalent, we would like to protect both the woman and the child in the womb. In New York, where one in every three pregnancies ends in abortion (and upwards of 6 in 10 in certain communities), it is clear that we as a state have lost sight of that child’s dignity. We pledge all our efforts to defeat this proposal. We call on all pro-life New Yorkers to stand together with us and with all the leadership in Albany who share our conviction that we have no need for such a bill to become law. We need instead to enhance and promote the life and dignity of all human beings from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

-30-

The Gift of Life

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Here we are, in the month of May, when everyone joyfully celebrates Mothers Day, and we Catholics particularly remember our Blessed Mother Mary. It is Springtime, when God’s creation is bursting forth in all its beauty and fertility. All around us, we are reminded that our lives are a gift, ultimately from God, but also from our human mother and our human father. And we are grateful for this gift.

But anyone who picks up the morning newspaper, or turns on the television, can’t help but be deeply troubled by the condition of our culture, particularly how we treat the gift of life.

The national news has given us the nauseating story of the late-term abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He was convicted of multiple counts of murder last week, for killing babies who had been born alive after attempted abortions. For years he carried out his terrible trade under unsanitary and inhumane conditions, while the public health authorities of Pennsylvania stood aside and did nothing, out of an ideologically-motivated reluctance to intrude upon a woman’s “right to choose”. Many people, including other abortionists, knew about the abuses and injuries, yet nobody intervened. The Gosnell trial focused our nation’s attention on something it has been avoiding for decades — the essential cruelty of abortion.

So, you would think we could now finally start speaking openly and with common sense about abortion, seeking ways to limit it, discussing creative alternatives.

Apparently, though, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Instead, we see the President of the United States attending a gala event and toasting Planned Parenthood. Interestingly, the President never mentioned the word “abortion”, but instead praised Planned Parenthood for their work for “women’s health”. But make no mistake — Planned Parenthood may hide behind the term “women’s health”, but their business is really abortion. They do over 300,000 abortions every year, a great number of which are paid for by taxpayers. And they oppose any and all reasonable regulations of abortion, or even discussion about it.

We also have the threat of an expansion of abortion here in New York, under the rubric of “women’s equality”. Many of the governor’s proposals being advanced under that title are worthy of support, and we have not yet seen the actual details of his “Reproductive Health Act.” However, some of the advocates continue to insist that abortion is a central part of “women’s equality.” Their proposals include defining abortion as a “fundamental right”, as if it were equal in significance to the right to vote. They are also pressing to permit non-doctors to do abortions, and allowing risky late-term procedures to be done outside of hospitals. All this would expand the number of late-term abortions, and prevent many common-sense regulations, like ensuring that parents are involved in a decision made by a minor.

How does any of that make any sense? One abortion is too many, but every year we have over 100,000 in New York, and over a million in the United States. Over half of the African-American children conceived each year in New York are aborted, as much as 60% in some areas. So expansion of abortion is hardly something that anyone needs. I’m glad that more and more of our political leaders, including Governor Cuomo, are urging creative ways to decrease the number of abortions by assisting pregnant women, their unborn and newly-born babies.

Nor is there any reasonable way to consider abortion as good for “women’s health” or “equality”. Half of the aborted children are women, some of whom are aborted for no reason other than their sex. Women who have experienced abortion sometimes die from complications, or suffer psychological and physical effects for years afterwards. It is utter madness to treat the gift of a woman’s fertility as if it were a disease, and her unborn baby as if it were a tumor to be eliminated.

We frequently hear calls for a “national conversation” about serious issues, yet our leaders never seem to want to talk frankly about abortion. It has become the great taboo, the subject that we must never mention. When we do raise the subject, we are accused of “imposing our values” on others.

Really, who is imposing values? When our cultural leaders deny or avoid the truth about abortion, isn’t that imposing a view of reality? When the government forces taxpayers to pay for abortion, isn’t that an imposition of anti-life values? What about the unborn babies — how do they feel about having the value of “choice” imposed on them in the most permanent way possible?

Deep in our hearts, there are truths that cannot be erased, that cannot be completely clouded by ideology, or utilitarian calculations, or by our own weaknesses and self-delusions. Our lives are an awesome gift, they are precious and must be safeguarded and nurtured. But not just our own — every human life is just as important, and must be preserved and protected as well. We are all called to be a gift of self, a loving servant, to our brothers and sisters, particularly those in need. And we know, at the core of our being, that abortion contradicts these truths.

Our society is once again challenged to recognize these fundamental truths, to discuss them candidly, to deal with the hard and challenging decisions that they entail, and to support those who struggle with them. The days of denial have to come to an end. We can no longer hide behind euphemism and distraction.

Can we all finally agree that things have gone way too far, and begin to make corrections? Can we start to talk common sense?

 

Priorities?

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The New York Post’s Sunday Editorial Page has a great piece, All the Governor’s Priorities, criticizing the latest push for unlimited abortion:

It’s hard to see the demand. A just-released statewide poll taken by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of the Chiaroscuro Foundation suggests that when New Yorkers are informed about the number of abortions in their state, they don’t share the governor’s sense that this is a priority.

Indeed, nearly four out of five believe the state already provides sufficient access. Four out of five also oppose having unlimited abortion through the ninth month. And three-quarters oppose changing the law to allow someone other than a doctor to perform surgical abortions.

Read the rest here.

A Letter from a Pro-Life Democrat

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Recently, Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter, cited an interesting letter on his blog from a pro-life Democrat. Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life, wrote to Senator Jeff Klein in response to his statement on abortion.

Here is an excerpt from Ms. Day’s letter:

I am writing to respond to your comments that “real” Democrats support a woman’s right to choose. I disagree with your assessment. Opportunity for everyone, not abortion, is a core Democratic value.

There is no longer overwhelming support for abortion without restrictions and no longer overwhelming support for taxpayer funding of abortion. An increasing number of individuals are identifying themselves as pro-life — reaching over 50 percent in a recent Gallup Poll. Conversely, people identifying themselves as pro-choice has reached a record low of 41 percent according to the same May 23, 2012 poll. Further, one-third (or 21 million) Democrats self-identify as pro-life.

We, as a party, need to focus on ways to bring together Democrats on both sides of this issue and focus on what unites us — not tell people that they do not belong because they disagree on one position.

You can read the whole letter here.

Fighting the Good Fight for Religious Freedom

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

One part of the HHS mandate sadly goes into effect today.

You probably know all about the mandate by now.  It’s the decree from the Secretary of Health and Human Services that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer health care plans to include contraceptive services for women, including drugs called abortifacients. Although, in America’s finest tradition, the bill allows an exemption for religious reasons, it presumes to define just what a church’s ministry must be to qualify, a dramatic and unprecedented intrusion into the integrity of all faiths.  My brother bishops and I – in welcome collaboration with other religious leaders – think that this mandate is wrong and misguided and have tried to work with the Administration to correct it.

What’s most troubling about the HHS mandate is that it carves out a religious exemption that is so narrowly drawn that most Catholic agencies – including Catholic Charities, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, and potentially many others – would not qualify.

How does a Catholic or other religious entity qualify for this exemption?  It must be a non-profit organization under certain IRS guidelines, and must meet all of the following criteria:

  1.  The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization;
  2. The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization;
  3. The organization serves primarily persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.

Got that?  The federal government is graciously allowing your parish church to consider itself Catholic.  But, not much else would qualify.

Consider:

A Catholic hospital founded and still sponsored by nuns, striving to carry out our Savior’s command to care for the sick?  Sorry, not Catholic enough.  No religious freedom here!  After all, its purpose is not the inculcation of religious values, and it hardly asks for a person’s religion before admitting a patient.

A Catholic Charities homeless shelter, providing a bed, a shower, and a nutritious meal?  Sorry, not Catholic enough.  No religious freedom here!  After all, it serves all seeking help, regardless of their religious beliefs.  (Would the government prefer us to turn away anyone who can’t produce a baptismal certificate and recite the Nicene Creed?)

A Catholic high school founded and still run by a religious order, which has proudly educated young men, preparing them to succeed in college, in the work place, as husbands and fathers?   Sorry, not Catholic enough.   No religious freedom here!  After all, the student populations is more than 50% non-Catholic.

Yes, the Archdiocese of New York has joined dozens of others in filing a lawsuit against the administration and HHS, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional.  And, yes, the administration has granted a one-year reprieve to religious agencies whose conscience would be violated by this mandate.  (That’s right – the government acknowledges that this will be a problem for many religious agencies.  But their response is, essentially, “too bad.”)

What will happen when the year is up?

I suppose one option would be for those agencies to stop offering health insurance to their employees, and pay a $2000 per employee penalty.  While some would argue that the agencies would, in fact, save money by choosing this option, it hardly seems to be the right and just way to treat your co-workers, does it?

Another option is to continue to offer health insurance, but, honoring our conscience, not include these objectionable services.   There would be a $100 fine per day for each person who qualified for the coverage.  Let’s assume that an agency has 50 people for which it would be subject to this penalty.    At $100 per day, per person, over the course of the year it would pay a penalty of $1,825,000.  ($100 x 50 people x 365 days).  That’s a steep penalty from the government in order to try and convince religious agencies to turn their back on their conscience. That’s money that will then not go to serve those in need.  Many of our services could not survive this heavy penalty.

A third option, I suppose, is to capitulate and accept the strangling mandate…I don’t want to go there.  We just finished a Fortnight for Freedom, and the saints we honored – Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul – would not want us to go there, either.

Over the course of the coming year, the effort to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience will continue.  In the end, this is not about bishops, it is not about Catholics, it is not about contraceptives.  It is about the ideals our nation was founded upon: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  You can’t do much better than the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The founding fathers got it right.  The HHS mandate gets it wrong.  We are fighting to correct that wrong, in order to make sure that religious freedom continues for the generations to come after us.