Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fighting a Juggernaut

A few days ago, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, stayed the implementation of the HHS mandate requiring all employers to provide insurance to provide oral contraceptive, sterilization, and abortifacient coverage for a religious organization of Catholic nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Little Sisters of the Poor's mission is to provide service and care to the elderly.  They have been a presence in Denver, Colorado, since 1917 providing care and concern to the elderly of that community.  It makes no difference to the sisters what those who come to them believe.  They accept anyone and everyone who comes to them for care.  However, the Sisters are inspired by their Catholic faith.  Simply put, because of their beliefs, there are certain things that they cannot and will not morally do.  One of these things is to provide contraceptive coverage through the health insurance they provide their employees.

In her order, Justice Sotomayor ordered the government to show cause why the mandate should be applied to the Sisters since doing so would violate their religious beliefs and convictions.  The Sisters have the option of refusing coverage, however, that would incur an enormous expense on their part.  The fine for refusing to provide this coverage is $100 per day per employee.  The cost to the order thus far has been enormous given the high cost of employing legal counsel these days.

The Obama administration has come up with a "compromise" of sorts.  The administration says that all the sisters have to do is to sign a form that essentially "absolves them" of providing the coverage, shifting the responsibility of this provision to a third party who has no qualms about administering such coverage.  It seems that the government in offering this "solution" is saying that being on step removed from the sin makes the sin not sinful.  In a rather acerbic response, the administration offered, "With a stroke of their own pen...(the Sisters can) secure for themselves the relief they seek..."

This so-called solution brings to mind the "solution" offered to Saint Thomas More by Henry VIII in 1534 when the King demanded that all loyal subjects sign an Oath of Supremacy acknowledging Henry as head of the Church of England as well as the Act of Succession that recognized Anne Boleyn as Queen of England and the child she bore (Henry's out of wedlock) as the rightful heir to the throne. This heir would be Elizabeth I.

The oath began:

I (state your name) do utterly testifie (sic) and declare in my Conscience, that the King's Highnesse (sic) is the only Supreame (sic) Governour (sic) of this Realme (sic) , and all other his Highnesse (sic) Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall (sic) or Ecclesiasticall (sic) things or causes..."

Through the Oath, the Church of England defiantly separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church paving the way for the real reason that Henry wanted this action taken.  He had appealed to Rome to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled, allowing for his marriage to Anne Boleyn.  Thomas More, then Chancellor of England and a devout Catholic, refused to sign.  This event is the central turning point in the 1966 film "A Man For All Seasons."

In one scene, Thomas More and his best friend the Duke of Norfolk discussed the signing of the oath.  The following dialogue reminds one of what the administration has offered as a "solution" to the problem of the Little Sisters.

Duke of Norfolk: "Oh confound all this.  I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but--dammit, Thomas, look at these names!  Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!"

Thomas More:  "And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience and, I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?"

Through the offer of their so-called solution, the administration has proven that it doesn't have a clue to the real issue in this matter, nor does it most likely really want to reach a true understanding of the Sisters objections to this provision. Catholic teaching clearly speaks out against contraception, sterilization and anything that leads to or aids in abortion.  These acts are sinful acts.  Period.  Yet, Obama and his HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, are determined to ignore the convictions of the order and force them to participate in something that is against their very existence.  

We live in a world that has now taken upon itself the forgiveness of sins of all sorts even though it has no power to forgive sins.  This forgiveness comes about not out of mercy or compassion, but pure, unadulterated egotism.  Through this secular forgiveness, we are allowed to do whatever it is that we like, regardless of whether or not is is against the will of God.  Through this forgiveness, many are made to feel good and, in the modern way of thinking, feeling good is what life is all about.  As long as we can satisfy all of our appetites, then all is well, paying no attention to whether an act is right or wrong.  In this way, Conscience becomes rudderless and the Truth becomes completely relative and, in effect, irrelevant.  In today's thinking this secular forgiveness translates into freedom.  

It is important to remember the words of John Paul II who once said that "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."

For the Sisters to sign off on the responsibility of providing contraceptive services to their employees would not eliminate the sin.  A sin is a sin regardless of what piece of paper may be signed signifying the shifting of responsibility from one party to another.  They would still be directly involved in the provision of services that is clearly against their religious beliefs.  

On the surface, this may seem like a "Catholic" thing.  However, the Catholic Church is only a bellwether of things to come.    Our secular society seems to be bent on eliminating anything Christian be it Christian philosophy or ethics from life.

Thomas More would eventually be isolated, libeled, slandered, tried and convicted of treason, and then beheaded for his refusal to "come with us, for fellowship."  The Little Sisters are now being made victims in a similar way,through the juggernaut known as the federal government.  Although the likelihood of any beheadings taking place in this matter is not to be expected, given the track record of this administration for destroying its opponents through defamation, it is not impossible to think that they might be persecuted in the court of public opinion.