This past week more than forty Catholic entities across the country have filed law suits against the Health and Human Services (the biggest religious lawsuit in American history, too!) in the defense to protect religious liberty. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of the Diocese of Washington D.C. went on the record yesterday to explain what the Church is fighting for:
Cardinal Wuerl uses the example of the work of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, that under the definition of the HHS Mandate would not be considered a Religious work. Why?
The HHS regulation exempts “religious” organizations only if they meet four criteria:
- their primary purpose is the inculcation of religious values,
- they primarily employ people who share their religious tenets,
- they primarily serve people who share their religious tenets, and
- it they are organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code used by churches per se.
Under this narrow definition, the work of the Missionaries of Charity – and most Catholic institutions – would not qualify as religious, because Catholic charities have always provided their services to anyone – regardless of faith or lack of faith – that finds themselves in need. Catholic institutions employ many people of other faiths because of the skills they offer to assist the works of charities; not because they share in the same ‘religious tenets’.
Under such definition, it is true, Mother Teresa and her works of charity are not ‘religious’ at all, and would be forced to provide medicines and procedures (contraceptives and abortion-related procedures) that go against her religious beliefs. Her religious freedom to act according to conscience would indeed be suppressed. Either, she (now her Sisters in her name) would have to cease and desist from serving the dying who are not Catholic (which goes against her Christian principles of having loving concern for her neighbor), or provide the drugs and procedures that – by conscience according to her faith – she cannot provide. This would leave her with only one other option; to closer her doors to the poor altogether. If she defined her work in such a strict way, would she have picked up that first dying man on the streets?
This is the battleground folks. The line is being drawn in the sand to tell all that on this issue, we cannot back down.
Let us continue to pray for the Bishops and all people of good will who stand with them, to fight for religious liberty in this country, before it is lost altogether. God help us if we close our eyes and try to appease this government that wants to strip away the right to practice one’s faith freely. What we give in to today, will pave the road we will walk tomorrow. I pray that we will not have to go the route of Mexico in 1917:
UPDATE: The sleeping church is waking up? via Catholic Lane