As Catholic lay people, we must for the sake of our own conscience engage in the public square and be active members of our local communities and in the nation as a whole. As Catholics, it’s a moral imperative that we exercise our right to vote and participate in the governing of our country. In 2007, the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops adopted with great zeal the document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. This document explains how we as Catholics must form our consciences so we can exercise our rights as citizens of this great nation. We are both Catholic Christians and American citizens – we must participate fully in both arena’s. As Catholic Americans, we must strive to accomplish the common good and reach out to those who are in need. Of course, we must also stand up and resist when religious freedom is being threatened as it is being threatened now with the HHS Mandate declared by the Obama Administration. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said this week when speaking of us Catholics, they must “step up to their responsibilities for the Church’s mission” and “to be leaders in helping to shape the values and moral foundations of America’s future.”
When it comes to these matters, as Catholics, we must also pray! When we do battle, our strength comes from Jesus Christ himself and the Church he founded upon St. Peter. When the Israelites would engage in battle against their enemies in the Old Testament, they would rub oil, which was seen as a sign of strength, on their shields, swords, and upon themselves. Chrism Oil is rubbed on our heads as children when we are Baptized to give us strength as we enter the Church and we receive it again at Confirmation, which is to prepare us to be soldiers for Christ in the world. This is the time when we must remember the oil rubbed on our heads by the Bishop and prepare ourselves for battle.
St. Padre Pio said, the greatest weapon against Satan is the Rosary. Join me in the 18 day Rosary Campaign for Religious Freedom (it’s an event on Facebook) which begins on February 1. Let us pray that this encroaching mandate is lifted from us and we may live as our Founding Fathers had hoped for. On Days 1-9, let us pray for the overturning of the HHS mandate that would require Catholic institutions to provide health insurance plans to their employees, subsidizing contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. And for the conversion of our politicians. On Days 10-18, let us pray in thanksgiving for our prayers being answered. We must storm heaven with our prayers!
I would urge you to read the above document by the US Bishops and to contact your State Senators and Congressmen. The US Bishops are fighting this mandate and we must support them in this very important endeavor. Please follow my example and write to your elected officials. Read more about the Action Alert at National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. The Bill is different in the House and Senate, please make sure you send the correct information. Below is the letter I sent to my elected Senators here in Texas –
On January 20, 2012, I read about the HHS Mandate that the Obama Administration declared for religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, which I am a practicing member. What I saw not only made me angry, but also made me want to fight it at that very moment. It seems the Obama Administration has decided that Religious Liberty and the First Amendment are no longer suitable for US citizens. They are making it mandatory that all healthcare insurance plans cover the costs of sterilization, contraceptives, and abortion inducing pills (I choose not to use the term – “medicine” since medicine should help to heal and not destroy).
For me as a Catholic Christian, this “law”, if you want to call it that, will violate my moral conscience. The forming of our conscience is one of the key factors that separate us from the animals. Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of the conscience and how it should never be violated. George Washington said, “The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness…” and James Madison, the author of the First Amendment said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.” This current administration is seeking to destroy all those who stand against them and will do so at any cost. The First Amendment means nothing to them and if they could shred the Constitution, they would do so!
If our religious freedoms are threatened, we could see those of us who fight against this tyranny (and yes…this is becoming tyrannical) thrown in prison like Alexander Solzhenitsyn and many others who wrote and taught against the same sort of tyranny. I wonder if the brave men and women who fought the Nazi’s, stood toe to toe with the Communists, and who fight against religious extremism today, would have thought that what they were fighting against would find itself in the United States of America.
Please co-sponsor the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (S. 1467). This measure ensures that the rights of conscience of all participants in our nation’s health care system will be respected. It is imperative for the future of our great country!
Thomas J. Perna
May God give us the strength and grace to engage the evils of religious discrimination.