According to Thomas Peter’s list the number of American Bishops who have publicly stated their opposition to the HHS mandate is now at least ninety. The current administration has ordered that “non-religious” employers offer “free” (nothing is free, gentlemen) contraception with any health insurance plan. The Catholic leadership is calling the laity to political arms because the definition of the exempted religious employers is sufficiently narrow as to exclude Catholic schools, hospitals, and many other institutions – although monasteries manage to make the cut. Catholic doctrine teaches that contraception denies the procreative half of the unitive and procreative purpose of sex, and is thus wrong. In fact, since no circumstance can justify it (unlike killing in self-defense, you always have the moral option to just not have sex), contraception is consider evil by its object. Enabling or supporting such an act must also be impermissible, so many Catholic institutions find themselves in the unenviable but clear choice to obey God or to obey man. The law is directly opposed to religion.
But how did we get here? We rally to defend the line of religious freedom, of freedom of conscience, because religion and conscious are viewed as core, essential freedoms. The witness of the martyrs show them to be held even dearer than life, in some cases. But how did it come to this, with the battalions of Leviathan drawn up at the gates of our keep, demanding the submission of Church to State? Were there no other lines to defend?
We are forced to hold our line at the desperate ditch of religious liberty because we have abandoned the defense of liberty through subsidiarity, and with it, our fear of Leviathan. Though our written doctrine may accord this federalist idea a lofty seat, our historical behavior as a denomination relegated subsidiarity to the intellectual dungeons of practical Catholic political theory. The command of Christ was to care for the poor. He commanded us to do it, yet we delegated that role to the government. It is hard to give to charity, but easy to ask the government to force everyone to do so. Now, when the government controls funding for Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois, it wields that money like a cudgel to attempt to coerce the aforementioned agencies to place children with same-sex couples – an environment neither ordered nor evolved for child care. We granted the government power to collect funds to help adopted children, and now the government encroaches upon the practice of our charities. We grant the government increasing authority to regulate and direct economic activity, well outside it’s natural role to guarantee “individual freedom, private property, sound money, and efficient public services (CCC 2431),” and now we are faced with an economic mandate by the government to enable and cooperate in evil. The government has expanded time and time again, and always at the expense of the Church.
Should we prevail, and throw back the ever-usurping monster, we would do well to reclaim our old walls. Education is properly the responsibility of the parents and the Church. Charity is the responsibility of the Church – especially when the government claims to be secular and separate. Planning for one’s financial future is the domain of the individual, not the Senator or Treasury officer. Cage Leviathan in his proper domain of restraining the evil of man, and the next time he seeks conquest, the struggle need not be so desperate. We need to remember that while government has a good and proper domain, it cannot expand but by trampling on and usurping the proper spheres of Church and man alike.
In the mean time, we have a war to fight, and a line to defend. Please write your representatives, or sign this petition.