(RNS) Pope Francis inspires Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his focus on the gospel call to serve “the least of these.”

Our faith calls us to put first the needs of our brothers and sisters who suffer in poverty, and Catholics are justly proud of our network of schools, hospitals and social service ministries that work every day to help the poor and vulnerable.

Yet the ability of these ministries to live out the fullness of our faith is in jeopardy.

The mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services forces countless Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service organizations to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception in violation of Catholic teaching. The mandate went into effect on Jan. 1; ministries now are faced with the choice of violating our deeply held beliefs or paying crippling fines.

If these ministries don’t comply, the financial penalties may mean that some may have to close their doors. As that happens, the poor and those who serve them will be hurt the most. Forcing our ministries to divert funds from serving their neighbors to paying government fines will have real consequences for real people.

I worked for Catholic Charities for more than two decades, and in that work I quickly learned that poverty isn’t an abstraction. It affects people with names and faces and families and friends. They’re our brothers and sisters, and we’re called to be there when they need our help.

When the elderly poor need help, for instance, the Little Sisters of the Poor are there to serve them. The Little Sisters went to court to prevent the government from forcing them to act against their beliefs or pay crippling fines under the mandate.

On New Year’s Eve, the Supreme Court issued an order offering them temporary protection. Unfortunately, there are countless groups just like the Little Sisters that have not received such legal protection, groups that still face government fines for living by their beliefs.

One recent federal court decision offers a window into just how many people might be affected by the fines the mandate imposes.

Deciding on religious liberty grounds that the government couldn’t enforce the mandate against the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie and their related service ministries, the court noted that “Catholic Charities (of Pittsburgh) provides approximately 230,000 acts of service for people in need in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” including “adoption, counseling, safety net and stability services, health care for the uninsured, housing and homeless assistance, pregnancy and parenting support, and refugee and senior services.”

Similarly, the court found that social service organizations in the Diocese of Erie provided aid to some 56,000 people a year, “including many who would otherwise not receive necessary food, shelter, and other services.”

Extrapolate these numbers from part of Pennsylvania to the rest of the country and you can see what’s at stake. Is it any wonder that the court held that the mandate’s fines “will gravely impact Plaintiffs’ spiritual, charitable, and educational activities, and the individuals who rely on (them)”?

Once the government starts to enforce the HHS mandate against religious nonprofits, watch for consequences like these to begin to unfold over the coming months.

We have spent significant time and effort seeking sincere dialogue with the Obama administration in hopes of preventing this impasse, and we are long-standing advocates of accessible, life-affirming health care. Yet our concerns continue to go unheard. The administration has crafted an “accommodation” that continues to compel our ministries to participate in providing drugs and services that violate our deeply held religious beliefs.

With the implementation date now upon us, we have made one more effort at dialogue, again asking President Obama to exempt nonprofit institutions caring for those in need from the harsh penalties imposed by the mandate.

The administration has shown flexibility in implementing other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, issuing numerous delays and exemptions for many employers and individuals.

We’re only asking that it offer that same consideration to those who want to live by their religious beliefs without facing government penalties for doing so. We continue to ask Congress to provide relief as well, and we look to the Senate to work with the House in that effort.

We know that the Constitution and the law protect us from heavy-handed government demands that we violate our consciences or pay crippling fines.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., talks with Catholic News Service after he was elected the new president of the  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday (Nov. 12) in Baltimore. Photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec, courtesy Catholic News Service

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., talks with Catholic News Service after he was elected the new president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12, 2013 in Baltimore. Photo by Nancy Phelan Wiechec, courtesy Catholic News Service


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

On behalf of those served by our schools, hospitals and social service ministries, we will continue to resist the burdens imposed by the HHS mandate.

We hope and pray that the administration and Congress will protect us from those burdens, and that the courts will uphold our freedom to serve those who depend on us.

(The Most Rev. Joseph Kurtz is the archbishop of Louisville, Ky., and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

KRE/AMB END KURTZ

 

 

51 Comments

  1. “The Little Sisters went to court to prevent the government from forcing them to act against their beliefs or pay crippling fines under the mandate.”

    Because they didn’t want to fill out the paperwork expressing their religious objections which would have given them the exemption they’re looking for. I really have no sympathy for your position here.

    • Duane Lamers

      Ghoti, the reasons why the sisters object is based on their First Amendment rights. You might ask yourself why liberals have no respect for the Constitution. As far as I can tell, none of them ever do flatly state their objections to the Document, but they sure invent means to circumvent it. Why? Your move.

      • What First Amendment rights are being violated? The right to not fill out a paperwork to obtain a religious exemption? I’m sorry, I don’t recall seeing that in the First Amendment.

        Birth control has been demonstrated to be a public health issue. The Constitution includes the requirement of the government to look out for the public welfare and common good. Ensuring that people who need it have access to basic health care — including birth control — falls under that heading. No one is circumventing the Constitution in this regard, you’re engaging in a dishonest representation of the issue. No one is being forced to take birth control, but it is a violation of religious rights to demand that it not be included as part of the public welfare. Just because you’re stuck in the Bronze Age with regard to reproductive rights doesn’t mean you can impose your value onto the rest of us.

        • Actually, SpaceGhoti, they are not eligible for an exemption precisely because they work they do is not religious enough. The way the law is written, if the primary function of the work done isn’t religious education or spiritual guidance of some sort wherein the main beneficiaries are coreligionists, the exemption does not apply… So any organization whose primary mission is feeding *all* the hungry, clothing *all* the naked, etc., and not just people who share their faith cannot get the exemption.

          • How do they know? Where did this expert opinion come from? Furthermore, if they’re not a religious organization doing sufficient charity work to justify a non-profit status, why should they get such an exemption in the first place? What right does any employer have in deciding what medical options should be available to its employees?

            Employees who agree with them should be free to pursue that choice. Employees who don’t agree with them should be equally free to pursue their choice. It is not the place of the Little Sisters or any employer to decide that you can’t take advantage of medical they don’t agree with. That choice should always reside with the individual. It is not a violation of the Constitution to make that choice available to everyone.

          • Its not a 1st Amendment issue anyway. Your right to religious expression ends where it adversely affects the rights of others. It never grants an exemption to laws affecting things the government normally has the power to control.

            An employer’s religious belief does not give them the right to compel employees to accept the same. They have the right to refuse contraception themselves, but not to force others to do so. Working for an organization owned by a church, which handles something other than religious services, does not mean every employee has accepted the church’s faith. Nor does it give the expectation they should. There is no reason for exemptions under such circumstances.

            People bring up RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) in the opposition to the contraception mandate. But the purpose of the law was to shield the religious belief of employees from religious discriminatory practices of employers. This is an instance of employers engaging in sectarian discriminatory practices against all employees. The employer’s religious beliefs overriding those of the employees. Exactly the sort of thing the RFRA was designed to prevent.

        • To clarify further, the “expansion” on the exemption has been a ruling by fiat that the insurance agencies will absorb the cost. But where do the insurance agencies get their money? From the company. What do businesses do when governments impose costs on them? Pass them on to the consumer. In any other context, I don’t think it would be a controversial conclusion that this “fill out a form” option is misleading, and only an option for those whose conscientiousness is mainly about saving face.

          I would never require anyone to provide material support for something he or she believed to be wrong, even if I thought they were crazy. Whether or not the Sisters or the bishops are right or wrong is immaterial – given that contraception is available elsewhere, often subsidized, there is no compelling reason to force these people to do something they think is wrong.

          • So where’s the outrage over male impotence treatments? Most insurance companies carry coverage for that. Why is the Church making such a big deal over a woman’s right to not become pregnant versus a man’s right to get them pregnant? If this were really about individual rights I’d think you’d be more egalitarian in your outrage, but you’re not. This is about imposing your values on people who don’t have the voice or resources to fight back.

            If you think birth control is wrong, don’t use birth control. Don’t claim the authority to deny it to someone else who chooses it for themselves. We pay for all sorts of things that we don’t agree with, like foreign wars of aggression and subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Where is the Church’s constant denouncement of those values? I don’t see them anywhere.

        • Duane Lamers

          There should be no requirement in the first place that anyone file for an exemption. The ACA is a flawed document to begin with by introducing elements that the Socialist-in-Charge knew would create problems.

          No, birth control is not a public health issue except in the minds of liberals who’ve decided to redefine language to make it so. People who need birth control always have had access to it. People who do not act responsibly don’t bother with it.

          You are the one stuck in the Bronze Age, or in an earlier time, wanting someone to look after you and everyone else. This country has 200 years of great history precisely because we’d enshrined the virtues of personal liberty and initiative and responsibility.

          The whole damned ACA is a travesty, as it continues to show itself to be. You and yours love it because it chips away at the substance of this nation in your efforts to remake it.

          We conservatives have no truck with private employers deciding to offer birth control as part of the insurance programs. In fact, we’d object if the government stepped in and told private business it couldn’t do this. We object to the notion that the government mandates any of this.

          Dishonest representation of the issue? You’re the one who said that the pill, the diaphram, the condom, and intrauterine devices are health issues. Abortion is not a “women’s health issue,” either, regardless of claims, except when it is a matter of the physical health and life of the woman.

          I am not imposing my value on anyone. It is you and yours who are imposing values. Once again we have in your posting an example of liberal-speak, where everything is inside out, upside down, and backwards. You cannot see this because you don’t want to see it. Your argument, to elevate it, is nothing more than emotional venting that cannot stand up to rational debate. You demonstrate that by poluting language by redefining terms to suit your purposes. “Affordable Care Act”: HA! Tell that to all the people losing existing coverage and facing inferior coverage at higher costs. Sheer lunacy and you cannot see it!

          To this day we’ve had nobody denied birth control. Anyone who desires it buys it, just like they buy everything else they want.

      • I’m confused.
        When we break ground for a new Church, somewhere a form is filled in that says, “We’re a church. We don’t have to pay property taxes.”
        In many localities, I suspect that these forms are filed yearly.

        Now if the sisters were to open a bakery and employ hundreds of people to bake the pastry, it might require some footwork to gain an ACA exemption, but I can’t think that they will be able to get to the Supreme court without their objections being written down.
        Why is it a freedom of religion issue to not fill out a federal form, but not a freedom of religion issue to have to make a defense before the Supreme Court?

        • Even the Justice Department as admitted that completing the form is required in order for the third-party insurer to provide the contraceptives instead of the Sisters. In Catholic teaching, this would be immoral participation in the providing of an immoral act. Many might disagree, but the basis of religious freedom is that it is not the majority or the government that determines whether something is immoral according to a particular religious creed.

    • Deacon James Anderson Murphy

      Thank you for the reasoned dialogue you have been having with Mr. Lamers. I agree with your thesis. I also wonder why male “impotence” medications are also not banned by the Church. There is a lot of spilled seed here that is not meeting it’s “proper end.”

    • Deacon Gaspar

      It’s about morality! The sisters don’t want to facilitate evil. Would you want orthodox rabbis to sign a form facilitating purchasing pork? ITS ABOUT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!

      • No, its about exercising power over others which they are not entitled to. The notion that being Catholic means you can treat everyone else like crap. An employer has no right to force employees to comply with religious dogma.

    • They are only too happy to fill out the required paper work to obtain funding for any of their enterprises from federal or state treasuries. And then they have the nerve to call them “Catholic” Charities. The Little Sisters and Kurtz are liars.

  2. Baloney.

    If contraceptives are properly used, there are no unborn children to protect. If contraceptives are unavailable, then there may (or may not, but we won’t get into that) be unborn children who need protection.

    By denying poor women (and I know your employees are poor) contraceptives you are CREATING a problem, not solving a problem.

    Why you wish to bring unwanted children into this world is a reason for you to examine your conscious. Perhaps you make money by selling them into adoption and causing them and their mothers a lifetime of emotional suffering. Whatever the reason it’s time you reconsider how best to reduce the amount of suffering your parishioners endure instead of simply ministering with thinking.

    • Duane Lamers

      No bishop or anyone else is denying anyone the use of contraceptives. They can be paid for over the counter like every other product.

      All people make judgments about discretionary use of the money they have, poor and rich alike. You cannot demonstrate otherwise.

      Contraceptives are not expensive, but the aim of socialists is to bring every aspect of life under the control of government. You know this. Admit it.

      • And how much “discretionary money” do poor people have? Not a whole lot if they don’t have children and none at all if they do have children.

        With contraceptives you get what you pay for. The ones that are best at family planning are upwards of $1000, well outside the budget of a working mother.

        “Socialism!” was the cry when the government wanted to make sure old people didn’t starve to death when they could no longer work and brought in Social Security.

        “Socialism!” was the cry when companies were forbidden to hire children to work adult jobs. Would you like to return to having babies in the mill and the mines?

        “Socialism!” was the cry heard when the 40-hour work week was passed so people no longer died of overwork.

        “Socialism!” was the cry heard when Medicare and Medicaid were passed.

        “Socialism!” was the cry heard when the Equal Rights Act ended job discrimination.

        Any student of American History knows that whenever business cry “Socialism” it’s because something is happening that will tremendously improve life for the average American citizen. This time is no different.

        You cry “socialism” only to disguise the fact that YOU want to be the one who takes choices away from your employees.

        • Duane Lamers

          Lioness, you are wrong in asserting that “socialism” was the objection raised to child protection, workplace safety, etc. In case you don’t know it, the Civil Rights Law in 1964 was passed with a greater percentage by party of Republicans than Democrats voting for it.

          I’ll challenge you to prove that a woman typically pays even $1000 over a full year for birth control.

          Yes, there is discretionary money in virtually every household. I am personal witness to welfare moms whose children come to school wearing expensive sneakers, etc. etc. Besides, conservatives are willing to assist the truly needy. No liberal, however, will accept means testing regarding aid. When means testing is mandated, the corrupt “social services” people close their eyes–primarily because keeping welfare rolls “healthy” is insurance for their own jobs. Plenty of “memos” to staff on such matters have become public. Best-selling books documenting such facts are readily available.

          • Lioness, you are wrong in asserting that “socialism” was the objection raised to child protection, workplace safety, etc.

            So you know nothing about the history of either socialism or worker’s rights in America. “Socialism!” has been the cry used to deny every worker’s advance in America for over 130 years. Did you sleep through your American History classes between the Civil War and WWII?

            I’ll challenge you to prove that a woman typically pays even $1000 over a full year for birth control.

            And you’ve never priced contraceptives. Or even googled a comparison chart. An IUD which will delay childbirth for a woman for a decade, allowing her to secure her work history and/or rear the children she already has, costs $600 plus the doctor’s expenses.

            Why do you speak on these subjects when your ignorance of them is so phenomenal?

          • And I might be impressed by your welfare mothers whose children wear expensive clothes if it weren’t for the fact that my own children wear mostly expensive designer jeans — bought secondhand at charity thrift stores for $5 each. Nice try.

        • Also, depending on the form of socialism, it might be a very commendable, even “holy” practice. After all, the religious orders of the Catholic Church are forms of socialism. They are “communities” or “societies,” both of which relate to “communism,” but in a far different form than most people are limited in considering because they have been brain-washed about the evils of the communism of the soviets led by Lenin-Stalinist Russia. There is communism and there is communism. There is socialism and there is socialism.

    • Don’t ask celibates to answer your question about bringing unwanted children into this miserable world–unless the celibate clergy want them to satisfy their pedophilia urges.

  3. Didja ever think, Bishop, that your church’s teaching on this contraceptive thing is idiotic? And why should a bunch of old, single men even have a say on whether women can have safe sex or not, anyway??

    • Duane Lamers

      Green, you miss the point entirely and thus risk the protections offered by our Constitution, which in the main limits the role of government and doesn’t expand it.,

      No old men are denying safe sex for women. Until now women have paid for their contraception themselves, or their partners paid for theirs. Why do you think it is the job of everyone to fund anyone’s contraception choices?

  4. This article does nothing to explain why you resist the government providing contraception.

    If you really cared about the poor you’d be handing out condoms for free in order to protect from disease and mothers who can’t afford to provide for children.

    I don’t feel sorry for you, if you have employees they should have the same health care and protections as everyone else.

    • Duane Lamers

      Chip, the government does not provide contraceptives because the government has no money other than what it raises in taxes. There is a half-century of evidence that the government has not helped the poor. No federal social program has proved successful or we would have abolished poverty by this time.

      In the five years of the Obama regime, while he continues to tell us that the economy has been steadily improving during this time, we have a rise in poverty. How does your president explain this? How does anyone explain an expenditure of over 8 trillion dollars on “great society” programs that have given us what we have today?

      Ever hear of the First Amendment? Perhaps you don’t believe in Constitutional rights. If so, please man up and say so. If you have answers to the above questions, I am all ears and eyes.

      • Actually, it isn’t a federal money issue. The insurers were required to provide the coverage at no cost to the employers or the insured. As it’s cheaper to provide contraception than it is to pay for a delivery, it actually saves the insurers money.

        • Duane Lamers

          JohnV, mandating such provision is a violation of the First Amendment rights of those required to do the providing. We have no quarrel with any provider freely offering contraceptive coverage; our problem is with the federal government mandating it.

          It isn’t a federal money issue? Who’s paying the over 16000 IRS agents hired within the past year to enforce Obamacare? That doesn’t even include the bloating going on in Sebelius’s bailiwick.

    • You must remember that clerics only rise on the ladder to the episcopacy by being loud and sure preachers of the party line. Numerous bishops have done graduate study in Rome seminaries. The Italians have a good word for the “germ” they acquire while there to eventually be a bishop. They call it “Romanita.”

      • Duane Lamers

        No question about that. Pope Francis is addressing this very issue. Recently he put a stop to promotions of priests to the title of monsignor unless they are 65 or older in part of his attempt to address careerism. He is also bringing into his management team individuals who sometimes don’t have the recommendations of other Vatican officials. The pope is making clear that, since the buck stops with him, he’ll use his own judgment where he deems fit.

        • Stopping the title of monsignor would be great if it were totally ended. Even the name smacks of royalty. If priests were true followers of Jesus, they wouldn’t want anything to do with a hierarchical system. Paul VI placed the papal tiara on the altar in St. Peter’s after his coronation, supposedly signaling the end of the papal monarchy. Trouble is that the “monarchy” persists, the last absolute monarchy of the West, and it is long, long past the time to put it all to sleep. Bury it.

          Along with “monsignor,” the title of bishop is sufficient. We don’t need archbishops or cardinals. Not even popes. The figurative head of the church should be chosen by selected representatives of all the people of the church from all regions. Let Rome have its own bishop as is the virtual case now. The regular work of the “head” bishop is too much to allow attention to any single diocese. The church should be managed on a consultative basis, not by dictates.

  5. What’s more important – (1) helping the poor for the poor’s sake (altruism) or (2) helping the poor and observing your religious denominations peculiar doctrine in order to get to heaven (ulterior motives disguised as altruism)?

    • Or helping the poor with public funding only to snatch them into your church. Formally, it’s called evangelizing. Public funding of such religious activity is unconstitutional according to the first clause of the First Amendment to that document.

    • Duane Lamers

      Do you really think that government helps the poor for the poor’s sake? If so, why is the Democrat Party so active in soliciting votes among the poor if their interest is altruistic? The Party wants the expansion of government because that means more government workers who belong to SEIU and pay dues to support liberal politicians.

      Do you know that the wealthiest counties in the country are the five that surround Washington, DC. What does that tell you?

      • In a real democracy, all political leaders, those who do the work of government, are chosen by the people, the electorate. Any problems that ensue can only be blamed on the lethargy and the illiteracy of the electorate, the real government, for not doing their proper and vital work of learning and understanding politics and government and making wise choices of politicians to do the work of government. Any time a country claiming to be a democracy is not functioning as such, as is the case in the U.S. currently and too often in the past, that “bad” non-democratic government can only be blamed on its electorate.

        Many politicians, like numerous Democrats and some Republicans, solicit votes from the poor and many others precisely because they are “altruistic” and because they, like our Founders, wish to see a political system that functions in ways that “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

        Many Catholic clergy and Religious choose their lives for somewhat the same purpose. But we abide by the caution to avoid mingling religion and politics, church and state, simply because history has so often taught us the painful lesson that they are an extremely poisonous mixture.

        In precise reaction to your initial question, are you inferring that the Republican Party solicits votes and enough money to buy our government from the likes of the Koch brothers and the rest of the minority at the top of our oligarchy for altruistic reasons?

  6. Archbishop Kurtz is being facetious with his claims about the NCCB’s opposition to the contraception aspects of the Affordable Care Act. All that is needed by non-profits such as Catholic Church employers is to fill out the forms needed for their compliance with the exemption. They readily do the same to qualify for many exemptions and donations from the federal treasury they receive–like paying no tax on a bit of church property.

    This is nothing but a ploy to control the faith and morals of other people, just like Hobby Lobby. The church is obsessed with the sex lives other others while the bishops continue to try to hide the sex crimes of its clergy and payment of court awards to victims. The bishops continue to try to force their beliefs on others in violation of the Constitution. Hobby Lobby and other for-profit businesses use it as an excuse to increase their bottom line by reducing the earned remuneration of their employees.

    Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. If they could, such outfits as Hobby Lobby would avoid paying their portion of the remuneration of its employees in unemployment insurance–just as they benefit greatly from many Treasury Department exemptions in the income tax they pay that their employees cannot claim.

  7. Consider Archbishop Kurtz’s first comment, referring to the “inspiration” Pope Francis has already spread in a little over nine months. That is due to the fact that Pope Francis is diametrically different than John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, or later Benedict in not being dictatorial when it comes to sharing ideas of faith, not even with members of his own church. It could never be said that John Paul or Benedict were inspiring, not even as John Paul is about to be raised to the altar. John Paul was definitely dramatic, and Francis has to preside at his canonization, but to soften that blow, John Paul has been paired with Good John XXIII–after so many years–for that ritual. Those are “strange ‘altar fellows’ ” indeed since even John Paul or Benedict wouldn’t canonize John XXIII.

  8. After a further reading and deeper consideration of Archbishop Kurtz’ efforts to find endless reasons to force his church’s moral doctrine on everyone else, it is clear that he is plainly deceitful in his efforts. As noted by the Affordable Care Act and many other laws that pertain to public funding for non-profits, the only thing necessary is that such agencies fill out the legal forms to qualify for exemption to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provisions, just as Kurtz’ church and others fill out forms to qualify for tax exemptions and to qualify for federal funding without which Kurtz’ church could not provide what he and others improperly call “Catholic Charities.”

    Kurtz goes on with the non-sequitur that if his churches closed their doors to those they serve as “Catholic Charities,” that would force their ministries “to divert funds from serving their neighbors to paying government fines.” Correction to that deceit: If Kurtz’ churches closed their doors to “serving their neighbors,” they wouldn’t have to pay any government fines, Such fines are only lodged for not filing the same forms they file for all other exemptions they receive and for receipts of funds from public treasuries. The Affordable Care Act is no different.

    Are the rectories in Louisville and other dioceses in which clergy live tax free? Does Kurtz support or lament that benefit?

    The Little Sisters did not go “to court to prevent the government from forcing them to act against their beliefs or pay crippling fines under the ACA mandate. That is a monstrous lie. They are all acting thus to try to neutralize the ACA and make it conform to their religious beliefs, thus forcing their religious beliefs on everyone. The Little Sisters and Kurtz should be mindful that their church doctrine claims that lying is a sin. Confession is fading as a sacrament, but it still exists if wanted.

    Another deceit? The Little Sisters and Kurtz did not solicit Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s injunction against the immediate implementation of that portion of the ACA to obtain legal protections against anything unlawful. They already had those legal protections before the ACA was enacted by Congress, signed by President Obama, and approved by the Supreme Court. Again, their motives are to force their religious beliefs on others. Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion, even the religion of the Little Sisters and Kurtz who has replaced Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, as president of the USCCB.

    Kurtz claims that this applies to the “Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh” and Southwestern Pennsylvania. That is again misnamed because such “charities” could not exist without huge funding from federal coffers. Also, better access to contraceptives for the poor and needy helped by these U.S. supported charities would immensely reduce the number of those poor and needy and the amount of public funding required for those “Catholic Charities.” Those seeking assistance from such charities are not asking for contraceptives.

    Kurtz’ attempted “extrapolation” from the setting he creates in Southwestern Pennsylvania “to the rest of the country” is more of his deceit. A lying archbishop! What’s new? How many lying bishops have we witnessed for many years hiding the sexual molestation of clergy. How many bishops like Timothy Dolan, now of New York, transferred diocesan funds to untouchable endowments, as he did to cemetery endowment when Archbishop of Milwaukee in order to avoid paying court awards to victims of clergy pedophilia. Benedict rewarded Dolan for that deceit by moving him to New York and giving him a red hat. And then Benedict forced him onto the bishops of the USCCB, out of line, as their president preceding Kurtz.

    The politics of the Catholic Church is as evil as anything we witness in our state or federal capitals.

    Kurtz is again deceitful when he writes about a “sincere dialogue” between the bishops and President Obama. He acts as if the Catholic bishops are the fourth branch of our federal government. That is not dialogue, that is the dictation of religious belief to which Kurtz is very accustomed. Even the vast majority of Catholic lay people do not subscribe to such dictation.

    Religious dictation is not freedom of religion. It is a violation of the first clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution calling for what Thomas Jefferson referenced in Roger Williams’ description as a “hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” when Jefferson addressed the Danbury, CT, Baptist Association.

    Kurtz need only look at the horrid history of his own church that is only recently very slowly crawling out of monarchical status–after taking two steps forward with Good John XXIII and Paul VI and one giant step backward with John Paul II and Benedict–to see what an evil mixture religion and politics is.

    Kurtz goes on to repeat his remarks about all the services to the poor and needy his church provides–as if that is possible only with money placed in baskets by the people who sit in the pews of Catholic Churches. He again ignores the reality that none of his so-called Catholic Charities could exist without doles from our federal treasury.

    It is absolutely unconstitutional that any public funding should go to church schools because there is no way such funds can be controlled in ways that do not support religion. Let the churches preach and teach religion. Let us all remember that it took Pope John Paul II over 400 years to apologize for his church’s imprisonment of Galileo in his own home for teaching his discovery and conviction that the sun was the center of our galaxy, not the earth.

    As Kurtz hopes and prays that the Administration and Congress will protect his church from unnamed and non-existing “burdens” and that the “courts will uphold our freedom to serve those who depend on us,” he carefully neglects all reference to religion and evangelizing. That is another of his deceits. The people Kurtz’ church serves with public funding depend on the rest of us for that help.

    We are our brothers’ keepers, in spite of the Republican cuts to learning preparedness for little poor kids, their cuts in food for the poor, and their very recently forced cuts to benefits to help the unemployed and their families subsist while they continue to seek work in an economy our oligarchs destroyed. Those heartless, faithless destroyers were the swindlers on Wall St., the Koch brothers, the Romneys, and other hedge fund owners.

    Why aren’t the Catholic bishops attending to that very real harm to our people, caused by the Republican Party? Those harmful acts make charities necessary? Let’s call the charity what it is. It is forced on those who need it by the wealthy. It is funded majorly by public treasuries, It is good that right-spirited Catholics, and others, participate in the front lines of those services, but those are not Catholic-only charities by any means. Any charities in which public funding is used and Archbishop Kurtz’ church participates should never include an effort to proselytize. It should be done in the name of charity only.

    No one in this country should ever be subjected to a violation of the religious liberty protected by our Constitution, not even by the distortions of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, of Louisville, KY, recently elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, replacing Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York..

  9. Thank you, gilhcan, for the clear and coherent posts above.

    Unlike the dodging and deception used by Joe Kurtz in his hurtful article above, your posts are evidence based and sensible.

    It’s sad that the church I grew up in still harbors people like Joe, who would go to such lengths of hurting people simply to be allowed to force his views on employees.

    • Duane Lamers

      Jon, your reply does not place you in good light. Who is “hurting” anyone when contraception has always been readily available and relatively cheap? No employer is enforcing any views on anyone regarding contraception. It is there for the purchase.

      Why has “free” contraception not been an issue until the Supreme Socialist (and would-be dictator) got elected? Do you not see the bigger picture involved in the expansion of governmental power?

      • Duane, a more careful read of Jon would help you understand that he is not making any claims about employers and contraceptives. Further, more knowledge about well functioning contraceptives would enlighten you that they are far from all the same, far from equally effective, and reliable ones are not “relatively cheap.”

        Your unchristian racial prejudice is showing with your ungrounded descriptions of President Obama as a “Supreme Socialist (and would-be dictator).” All Ten Commandments are dictates, as is much of the rest of Scripture. Being elected twice by the electorate of a free democracy hardly qualifies Obama as a “dictator.” If you ever listened to Obama, you would hear him frequently repeat the limits of his authority, that bipartisan cooperation with the Congress is the law and proper.

        Congress pass the law you are debasing, the the Supreme Court approved it.

        “Do you not see the bigger picture (of anarchy) involved in the (elimination) of governmental power?” What do you suggest, uncontrolled street violence in its place. or a return to the inhuman vulture system of “dog eat dog” that seems to be threatening us?

        Of course, a study of religion clearly discloses it is far from free of wickedness just as have been all lawless cowboy or fascist societies.

  10. I totally stand with the Catholic Church on this, and I’m glad Archbishop Kurtz has so clearly articulated the reasoning behind our opposition to the outrageous HHS mandate.

    It is amazing that birth control is considered part of health care. I have never heard of anyone who got sick or died because they weren’t having sex. Maybe exercising a little self-control would be a good option for a number of people.

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