Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We Are Taking a Stand

The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a decree that will force non-profit organizations, including those with an explicitly Catholic identity, to participate directly in health care programs that go against the constant teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church. This means that many Catholics are facing the prospect of incurring civil punishment for practicing their religion.

I have dedicated my life to building Catholic educational institutions.

The executive branch of this country has overstepped the boundaries of its authority and issued a direct challenge, not only to Catholic educational institutions, but to the whole Catholic contribution to American society.

Some will say, perhaps, that this is just a detail. But details are what make up life. We show who we are by how we engage the concrete details of life. Catholic Christians across this country are willing to put their institutions, their initiatives, their works, their aspirations, and their hearts on the line. We are taking a stand, together.

We will not be "flexible" and we will not "adapt" to a government-imposed judgment about what is good for the human person, a judgment that violates our religious convictions.

We are schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations of all kinds. We make up the largest private human services network in this nation.

We have the support of our bishops; indeed the bishops have taken the initiative in this, and have charged us with responsibility for it, united by their ecclesial communion with Pope Benedict XVI.

We will fight for our religious freedom. We will fight for the freedom of the Church.

Of course, we will fight with the weapons of non-violence. An unjust law is no law at all. Thus we will refuse to obey this "law". We do not know how the coercive power of the government will respond to our refusal. How far will they go in this challenge?

What will happen to Christendom College? What will happen to my son's academy? To the Montessori Center? Certain powers in our government are threatening to impose penalties on these and other institutions that could result in their ruin. This is a challenge to the freedom of every private institution that seeks to build up our culture. Even if these powers back down (and I think they will, at least this time), they have shown openly their controlling and destructive and ugly agenda. We will have to guard our freedom henceforth with more arduous vigilance.

They have aimed their threats directly at me and my family, and all we have worked for in a lifetime of serving the community. I feel as though this bureaucratic edict trespasses on the sanctuary of my soul. It also trespasses on that realm of the spirit, which shapes the vital forces that hold communities together: the forces and the energies of the heart.

I pray that, by the grace of God, we will stand firm, come what may.

Jesus have mercy on us all!