Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vegetarian shop owners; and, the Catholic bishops' beef with Obama

This post has been edited and updated. See a growing list of bishop statements below this thought-provoker intended to help non-Catholics understand the issue.  For the record: I'm not a vegetarian. =)  I also understand that my spoof below is not identical to the threat posed to Catholics for a number of reasons (see combox discussion on that ).

Shock! Utter shock!!! The Obama Administration has mandated that all food stores in the United States selling refrigerated goods, MUST sell beef!

There is an exemption for vegetarians who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegetarians; and, for vegans who only employ, and sell their goods to, vegans.

What are the vegetarian and vegan store business owners to do?

How long will it take for these businesses to go bankrupt if the owners refuse to violate their conscience by carrying beef in their stores? How many people from the area, meat eaters included, frequent and buy some of the excellent products sold at vegetarian/vegan owned shops? Are people forced to shop and work at these places, or is it a choice?

If the food shop owner happens to be a Jain, then this mandate would not only be expecting him to violate his conscience, but also would be an assault on his religious liberty.

Get it? Get it?

OK, so it's a satire - an example of what you might find in a place like, The Onion.   Well, that has some similarities to what the Obama Administration wants to do to Catholic institutions with the HHS mandate (see combox discussion on this point). But, it doesn't just force Catholics and other people of faith with similar convictions to violate their conscience, it's a violation of religious liberty.

What about the Catholic business owners and other people of faith who don't want to violate their conscience over the HHS mandate?   People are not forced to purchase products or services, or to work for any particular business. Why should those business owners be forced to offer something that is contrary to their religious beliefs?

Just think of the people - those who are currently defending this mandate, or who are taking a back seat to the assault on liberty of Catholics.  Want to bet that they would fight with vigor if this was about vegetarian and vegan store owners being forced to sell beef!

Some of the Catholic bishops quoted below

And now, a word from our bishops

NOTE: Feel free to drop additional and new statements, interviews, videos, etc. in the combox, but I prefer to have statements from original sources. So, if you see a news item, go to the diocese or the diocesan paper to see if there is something there before providing a news article.

I don't think any other issue in recent years has galvanized the U.S. Bishops more than the reality of this particular threat.  This threat has many tentacles and we've only scratched the surface.  Look past the excerpts by bishops and read some of their full statements and interviews.

Where we often see one set of bishops speaking more forcefully about pro-life issues and others about social justice issues, the HHS mandate has unified bishops from one end of that spectrum to the other.  Reading through the names and statements below, you will see what I mean. 

In most cases I am linking directly to diocesan resources, or the original sources of interviews so you can see full text and not excerpts.  This is just a sampling of what is out there (in no particular order).

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has an entire page dedicated to this, including information on what you can do!  Along with tools to help you contact Congress, you will find these things:

USCCB President, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who earlier stated that Obama gave Catholics one year to figure out how to violate their conscience with the mandate has a new article which is being carried by the Wall Street JournalObamaCare and Religious Freedom.  In it he states: "Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees."

Bishop David A. Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh gets the award for the most eye-catching headline: "To Hell with You" (in reference to what the Obama administration is telling Catholics with this action.)  Excerpts have been flying around the internet, but here is the full text, along with some resources.

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, who serves as the ad hoc Chair of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty said: It is true that the HHS rule includes a religious exemption. This exemption, however, actually constitutes a very narrow governmental definition of the Church’s mission. It applies only to religious organizations that that exist solely to teach doctrine and to serve their own members. This is not how the Catholic Church understands its mission. The Church proclaims the Gospel to all and serves people of all faiths and none with an array of educational, charitable, and social services. Its contributions to the common good of society are immense.  Bishop Lori also had an interview on Fox News.

Bishop Daniel Jenky brought back an old tradition in the Diocese of Peoria.  Quoting The Catholic Post:  "I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance,” and until "the 'grave issues' are favorably resolved, he asked all Sunday Masses in the diocese include the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America."

Detroit's Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said the HHS mandate tramples religious freedom. He had a short video interview on a local ABC affiliate, and a longer interview with WJR radio show host, Frank Beckman (all found in this post).

In Arlington, Bishop Paul S. Loverde said, "a dangerous line has been crossed"

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the United States said, "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law".  (Note: The letter here is based on a form letter sent out by the USCCB, so similar letters will be seen at other dioceses.  It is rather strongly worded and the bishops sending it out are  basically saying, "it speaks for me."  In some dioceses I'm reading that the bishop wanted it stuffed into bulletins or shared at Masses.  Those using variations of this form letter include Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinatti, and Bishop McFadden of Harrisburg, and Bishop Sample of Marquette and probably many more.)

Cardinal Wuerl of Washington D.C. offered a video response and in an interview with CNA he said, “This is all new, in the sense that never before in our history has any government simply issued a decree emptying the religious convictions and conscience protections of all the institutions that serve the poor.”

At the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Joseph Bambera says, "the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

In his column in The Tidings, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles said, "this is a time for Catholic action and Catholic voices.

At his blog, Archbishop-Emeritus of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony called the ruling, "a direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience" and, "any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote."

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, commenting from Rome during his ad limina visit, said, "As bishops, we can't stand back and let this go unnoticed."

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston expresses, "deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country."

In the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky called it a, "bigoted and blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of every Catholic believer."

Bishop Leonard Blair, urged everyone in the Diocese of Toledo, beginning with the clergy, to address this issue squarely, to inform people what is at stake, to prepare them to make sacrifices for their faith, to keep our country in their prayers, and to work to overturn what we Bishops have called a ‘literally unconscionable’ decision by the Obama Administration."

In the Catholic Spirit of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Archbishop John Nienstedt said, this is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration’s approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison asks Catholics to pray and offer sacrifices like fasting, and to contact members of Congress.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said: HHS's mandate includes an incredibly narrow exemption for "religious employers" that protects almost no one. Those who sponsor, purchase and issue health plans should not be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious convictions in order to take part in the health care system or provide for the needs of their families, their employees or those most in need.

Bishop Farrel (Diocese of Dallas) and Bishop Vann (Diocese of Forth Worth) co-authored a guest column in the Star-Telegram in which they said: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." But in recent days the latest salvo in the attack on religious freedom was fired by the Obama administration and, sadly, by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic.

Read more here:

Bishop Patrick Zurek of the Diocese of Amarillo has an interview and a video response.  He points out:  First of all, it’s much broader than just contraceptives, the Order also includes pills that can act as abortifacients. So it is a very serious threat to our Catholic moral tradition and belief; and, The Right of Conscience, or Freedom of Conscience, is supreme in our Catholic tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas was very clear on that point. The Second Vatican Council even refined this more. The Second Vatican Council teaches that “Conscience is that inner sanctum within each individual human being where the individual meets God.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami said, "To force all of us to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience."

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis point out: "Even Jesus and the apostles would not be 'religious enough' under such a test, as they served and healed people of different religions."

Additional statements by bishops will be added above this note (see what I have noted next to Archbishop Broglio's statement about a form letter being used.  Some bishops feel it speaks for them and are using it; others are adding in a few words of their own.  I'd like to collect unique statements here, whether they accompany the form letter, or do not use the form letter).

Several blogs have quoted something by Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB communications.  She may have coined something new here (empahsis mine in bold):

Some months ago HHS refused to award an anti-trafficking grant to the U.S. Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). It did so despite MRS’s scoring higher on an objective scale (according to the government’s independent advisors evaluating grant applications) than two of the three organizations that were awarded grants. (And two of those scored so low that they were deemed unqualified.) I suggested then that HHS had an ABC rule, “Anybody But Catholics.” Now I wonder if ABC isn’t also the answer to who gets freedom of religion.

Additional links:

The Anchoress talks about having shared my example with a friend:

Reading this to a vegetarian friend of mine — she’s not a Vegan; she eats dairy — I was not surprised at her expression of outrage for the sake of the Vegan shop owners. She wondered if there was any sort of petition being offered or a demonstration being planned, because she’d participate: “I may not be a full Vegan, but that’s not right! You can’t force a Vegan to sell beef! That would be like telling them they have to actually slaughter the cow — it would repulse them! They wouldn’t be able to do it!”

Nota Bene: There is a Facebook page for standing with the US Bishops against the HHS mandate

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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