Bishops: It’s time to turn in your man cards

At the conclusion to their Fall Meeting in Baltimore last week, the Bishops of the United States issued a Special Message concerning the HHS mandate that is just begging for a Catholic reading.

Pope Francis has reminded us that “In the context of society, there is only one thing which the Church quite clearly demands: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, even when it runs counter to the world, even when it goes against the tide.”

At first blush this seems reasonable enough, but then the bishops shed a little more light on what they consider the “Gospel in its entirety.”

[WARNING: SOCIAL JUSTICE ALERT!]

We stand together as pastors charged with proclaiming the Gospel in its entirety. That Gospel calls us to feed the poor, heal the sick, and educate the young, and in so doing witness to our faith in its fullness. Our great ministries of service and our clergy, religious sisters and brothers, and lay faithful, especially those involved in Church apostolates, strive to answer this call every day, and the Constitution and the law protect our freedom to do so.

Feeding the poor, healing the sick, and educating the young…

If this is all it takes to proclaim the “Gospel in its entirety” and to witness to “our faith in its fullness,” for what exactly did the martyrs lay down their lives?

Needless to say, the bishops aren’t exactly swimming against the post-conciliar tide here, but it does cause one to wonder at what point it will occur to these men that setting aside the mission of converting the world to Christ; behaving instead as if Our Blessed Lord had commanded His Church to go out into the world like a body of Peace Corps volunteers, is what got us into this mess in the first place?

Yet with its coercive HHS mandate, the government is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers. Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.

While I have little doubt that the overwhelming majority of the faithful, having been robbed unawares of any meaningful sense of Catholic identity, likely find this to be a perfectly commendable defense of the Faith, it is nothing of the sort.

So unabashedly anthropocentric are the bishops of Newchurch, that they can actually say, apparently with a straight face, that the “three basic problems” with the HHS mandate are all about us; our freedom, our liberty, our deeply-held beliefs, etc.,

If the Body of Christ was even slightly healthy every Catholic kid of confirmation age would realize that the number one problem with the HHS mandate has to do with its utter incompatibility with Divine Law and therefore the degree to which it is an offense against the sovereign rights of Christ the King.

Despite our repeated efforts to work and dialogue toward a solution, those problems remain. Not only does the mandate undermine our ministries’ ability to witness to our faith, which is their core mission, but the penalties it imposes also lay a great burden on those ministries, threatening their very ability to survive and to serve the many who rely on their care.

Bishops: It’s time to turn in your man cards. This is just embarrassing.

“God knows we’ve tried to dialogue! Wahhh!”

Yes, and God also knows that you’ve spent the past fifty years courting the favor of the worldly, doing backflips at every turn to avoid offending those in civil authority, neglecting therefore to preach the Kingship of Jesus Christ, the entirely unique freedom of His Holy Catholic Church and the objective moral truths entrusted to her care.

Now, as your abject failure is coming home to bite you in your collective black slacks, the best you can do is sniffle about how hard you’ve tried to “dialogue toward a solution;” an activity more properly known by those with even a modicum of Catholic sense as “negotiating with the Devil.”

Collectively, you “men” (to use the word lightly) are pathetic.

That said, what isn’t entirely clear is how many of the bishops would sign their name to this drivel as if coming from them personally and individually. I suspect there are some (likely not many, but some) who would not so attach their name to this text, and yet, in weakness they give their tacit approval by their silence.

This just goes to highlight (as if such were necessary) the dangers inherent to collegiality as group-think and bureaucraticism is inevitable.

The current impasse is all the more frustrating because the Catholic Church has long been a leading provider of, and advocate for, accessible, life-affirming health care. We would have preferred to spend these recent past years working toward this shared goal instead of resisting this intrusion into our religious liberty. We have been forced to devote time and resources to a conflict we did not start nor seek.

The whining continues.

Yes, the USCCB would have preferred working toward the fairytale, authored by Satan himself, that “life-affirming health care” is a “shared goal” with a government that is Hell bent on exterminating the most innocent of human beings.

And while it is perhaps true that “we” did not seek this conflict, “we” most certainly invited it the very moment “we” decided (in earnest with the approval of Dignitatis Humanae at Vatican II) that a State does well to treat the Holy Catholic Church as if she is but one religious choice in a free society, of no more value than the many false religions that reject Our Lord Jesus Christ and His life giving truth.

As the government’s implementation of the mandate against us approaches, we bishops stand united in our resolve to resist this heavy burden and protect our religious freedom.

Once again, it’s all about us. I am sick unto death of hearing these should-be Apostles simper on about “our religious freedom,” as if “our” freedom is no different that the liberty that is supposedly due to Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and everyone else who worships a false god in a false religion that cannot possibly save anyone from anything.

Even as each bishop struggles to address the mandate, together we are striving to develop alternate avenues of response to this difficult situation. We seek to answer the Gospel call to serve our neighbors, meet our obligation to provide our people with just health insurance, protect our religious freedom, and not be coerced to violate our consciences. We remain grateful for the unity we share in this endeavor with Americans of all other faiths, and even with those of no faith at all.

Oh how they struggle and strive!

When will the bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, finally wake up to the reality that one of the reasons the Church in our day struggles so mightily is because this so-called “unity” that we supposedly share with the practitioners of false religions is a facade built upon mere earthly concerns?

It is our hope that our ministries and lay faithful will be able to continue providing insurance in a manner consistent with the faith of our Church. We will continue our efforts in Congress and especially with the promising initiatives in the courts to protect the religious freedom that ensures our ability to fulfill the Gospel by serving the common good.

What ever happened to “For thou, O Lord, art my hope?” (That, by the way, is a strictly rhetorical question.)

I suppose that went by the wayside, at least for the current crop of shepherds, the day Pope Paul VI paid homage to humanity at the UN saying, “The peoples of the earth turn to the United Nations as the last hope of concord and peace.”

This resolve is particularly providential on this feast of the patroness of immigrants, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was a brave woman who brought the full vigor of her deep religious faith to the service of the sick, the poor, children, the elderly, and the immigrant. We count on her intercession, as united we obey the command of Jesus to serve the least of our brothers and sisters.

Closing their message by invoking the intercession of a Saint who came of age during the pontificates of Blessed Pope Pius IX, Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X, is certainly a nice touch, but who’s kidding who?

If she could have read this text during her lifetime, St. Frances Cabrini wouldn’t have recognized these words as even Catholic, much less befitting a body of bishops.

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