My Dear People of God:
There has been much written and said about the recent Health and Human Services Directive that every employer sponsored health plan must provide payments for contraception, which includes that abortion drug euphemistically known as the ‘morning after’ pill. There is nothing I can add to that which has already been so well stated by many others. Unfortunately, as Catholics we have allowed ourselves to be compromised in our values and teachings over the decades and this is the net result.
This moment presents us with a challenge to our free exercise of religion. As one writer in the local paper implied, If the Catholic Church wants to participate in healing the sick, teaching the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, clothing the naked or any other work of mercy then this can only be done if they are also willing to kill the innocent and abandon doctrinal teaching. The response is not simply that we will not do this but more properly, we cannot do this. As painful and as difficult as it would be for the Church to leave these public works of mercy it would be grossly irresponsible for Church leaders to teach the truth and at the same time show a willingness to abandon or compromise that very truth when opposition is encountered.
In California this issue was faced a number of years ago when the State placed a similar mandate on Catholic Institutions which provide services for persons other than their own members or hire persons other than their own members. I must admit that I have not yet fully understood how this was resolved but in light of this HHS ruling it will undoubtedly be necessary to revisit the accepted “solution”.
While we are perhaps stunned by the aggressiveness of the current mandate, the truth is that most health plans which our Catholic people pay for, either by way of private insurance or as Catholic business leaders who provide this benefit for their employees, already have plans which pay for all contraceptives, abortifacients and chemical and surgical abortions. I would like every Catholic to review their health care plans carefully and recognize the extent to which this teaching of the Church has already been publicly compromised. While we can recognize the claims that large percentages of Catholics reject the clear teachings of the Catholic Church (to their spiritual peril) about the sinfulness of artificial contraception, the truth is that this is the official teaching of the Catholic Church and it is not scheduled to be changed. Not only official Church Institutions but individual faithful Catholics have the right to have their free exercise of religion respected. You should not be forced to pay for “objectionable services” in your health care plan and you should not be forced to provide for these same “objectionable services” to which your children would have free access even without your knowledge or consent.
The current mandate is an attack on institutional freedom of religion but it is also a part of a much greater attack on legitimate individual religious freedoms which touches children and family life.
May God bless you — Bishop Robert F. Vasa
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