Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

6/11/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This right is not exclusive to Catholics. But neither does it exclude Catholics

The Health and Human Services mandate puts us in a fiendish dilemma: it tells us that for us to serve Our Lord in the sick, the poor, the orphan, the stranger, the disenfranchised and unvoiced, we must rebel against the same Lord in supporting acts that are intrinsically vicious. "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar and to God the things that are God." The HHS mandate is clearly and without question an unjust law.  It is a law against the common good.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/11/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: HHS mandate, religious freedom, religious liberty, Rally for Religious Liberty, Duty, Andrew Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The right to religious liberty is the inheritance of all Americans.  We drink in with our mother's milk an awareness that we have a right to religious freedom.  The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]."   And, as Thomas Jefferson stated, "[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.  It has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries."

This right is not exclusive to Catholics.  But neither does it exclude Catholics.

Yet in January of this year, in an unprecedented move,  Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a federal mandate which requires all employers-including Catholic hospitals, colleges, schools, adoption agencies, and other of the Catholic Church's charitable institutions -to provide and fund practices that go against the Catholic Church's moral teachings, and not only against her teachings but against the natural moral law that binds all men.

In effect, the federal mandate requires that the Church-if she is to continue her ministry to all peoples-to fund, support, and facilitate access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to the employees employed in her charitable institutions. 

The move by HHS is fiendish.  It seems calculated to put the Church on the horns of a dilemma, to force it into a moral quandary.

It is a fundamental principle of the natural law that one is never to do evil so that good may come.   This is particularly true for intrinsic evils.  Nothing justifies an act of murder, of rape, of genocide.  These are intrinsic evils. 

The Church, of course, whether you agree with her or not, sees the things it is being compelled to support, to fund, to promote by the HHS mandate in the same category.  We may never, never, never do an intrinsic evil-something against the natural moral law-no matter what the good we may think may come of it. 

This is not a matter of prudential judgment.  We are not utilitarians where everything is up for compromise.  This is an absolute, exceptionless norm.

So the HHS mandate as currently written compels, under the force of law, Church-affiliated organizations to do something intrinsically evil, something not only against The Church's religious doctrine, but something against the natural moral law, something universally wrong, something clearly against the common good, something inhuman.

It puts us in a fiendish dilemma: it tells us that for us to serve Our Lord in the sick, the poor, the orphan, the stranger, the disenfranchised and unvoiced, we must rebel against the same Lord in supporting acts that are intrinsically vicious.

Confronted with such a dilemma.  What are we to do?

Now the New Testament does not have a lot specifically to say about politics.  But it does provide us two principles that stand in constant tension.  There are two "poles" between which we must sail.

The first: St. Paul states that Christians should be subject to the governing authorities, "for there is no authority except that which has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God."   (Rom. 13:1)  We are a lawful people.

The second principle we find in St. Peter:  "We must obey God rather than men."   (Acts 5:29)  We are a Godly people

When do we obey man?  When do we obey God and not man?

Scripture gives us an intermediating principle: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar and to God the things that are God."   (Matt. 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26)

So we have to figure whether the HHS mandate, is clearly and without question a usurpation by Caesar. 

And it is.  It is an unjust law.  It is a law against the common good.

How do we know?

We might here invoke Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famed Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which in a nutshell states what persons of conscience should do when confronting an unjust law:

"I would agree with Saint Augustine that 'An unjust law is no law at all.' Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."

Following Reverend King who enunciates perennial principles, the HHS mandate is no law.  It is not binding on the conscience. 

Indeed, it is an anti-law, an act of raw usurpation by a Leviathan state.  It must be resisted. 
We have a duty, on behalf not only of the Church, but on behalf of all Americans to resist it.

Now, this is a fight the Church did not seek.  HHS drew first blood.  It is a fight that has been foisted upon her and through the Church upon all Americans.

How are we to resist this anti-law?

In his play on St. Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons," the playwright Robert Bolt has St. Thomas More say the following:

"God made angels to show him splendor-as he made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity.  But man he made to serve him wittily, in the tangle of his mind!  If he suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and yes, . . . then we may clamor like champions . . . if we have the spittle for it. . . . . But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to that extremity!  Our natural business lies in escaping-."

The Church has made substantial efforts to serve God "wittily," in the "tangle" of the law, to "escape" the confrontation that the Obama administration thrust upon her.

Compromise was sought from the Obama administration, but ultimately that proved fruitless.   The Obama administration said, "No, this is our plan."  

So the Church decided to say "no" to the Obama administration's "no," and to resist through the Rule of Law.

The Church turned to the legislative process.  The Church supported the Blunt Amendment, which would have essentially undercut the mandate.  Unfortunately, largely along party lines, the Senate voted 51 to 48  against the Blunt Amendment.

So the problem went unsolved through the legislative process.

The Church then sought recourse from the Courts.  In May, a number of groups sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alleging that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
 
That is where the matter now rests.  Until the various courts decide, or until the whole thing becomes moot if the Supreme Court finds the ObamaCare unconstitutional.
 
There also remains the election in November.  We can-to quote the Texas politician Bob Gammage-"throw the rascals out" that are responsible for this.  That will send a message to Washington that this sort of governance will not be tolerated.

But what if these efforts are successful?  What if ObamaCare passes Constitutional muster?  What if the HHS mandates are sustained by the federal courts?  What if legislative relief is not available?  What if the current administration wins another term so that the mandate cannot be changed through the election process?

It is then that we must "stand to our tackle as best we can, and yes, . . . then we may clamor like champions."  We take heart in the words of George Washington, who said that it was "the establishing of . . . Religious Liberty [that] was the Motive that induced me to the Field [of battle]."

But this is a contest not to be prayed for. 

Let us rather stand with our bishops, put confidence in our Courts, and in our electorate to side-step the problem. 

Let us also make all Americans aware, in peaceful demonstrations, that Catholics, that Christians of all stripes, that believers of all colors were not born with "saddles on their backs" so that they could be ridden where they will not go, where they ought not go, where conscience forbids them to go, by "a favored few booted and spurred," bureaucrats in Washington, "ready to ride them legitimately,"  by the genius of a godless Caesar.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More U.S.

Three men sentenced for participation in Internet child pornography ring Watch

Image of The 13 defendants, who range in age from 23 to 66, are from Indiana, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Missouri, Montana, Kentucky, Arizona and Massachusetts.

By Stella Dawson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

The United States this week sentenced to prison three men involved in an international child pornography ring that exchanged online pictures and videos of children engaged in sexual acts, the government said on Wednesday. WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


How could he let it happen? 92% of Afghan war Marine KIA under Obama Watch

Image of During the entire, 12 years war in Afghanistan, 92% of U.S. Marine casualties took place under the six years of President Obama's term.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this week the U.S. Marine Corps withdrew its forces from Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province in Afghanistan, effectively ending their 13 year involvement in the Afghan war. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "U.S. Marines and service members from the ... continue reading


Why Christians Should Celebrate Halloween - and Transform the Culture Watch

Image of Noah dressed up as the Incredible Hulk

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The International Association of Exorcists sponsored a gathering in Vatican City on the last weekend of October in 2014. The organization was formally approved by the Holy See in June. The global Press was enamored with the notion that the Church even recognizes ... continue reading


VIDEO: Antares rocket launch fails with fire and smoke Watch

Image of The Antares rocket was set to launch on October 27, but was postponed a day because a ship was in its expected trajectory.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A private contracted, unmanned NASA rocket exploded just after launch along coastal Virginia early on the evening of October 28 . LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft, products of Orbital Sciences Corp., were set to ... continue reading


Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian Leaders Stand in Solidarity to Defend Marriage Watch

Image of Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by the Christian Church. It precedes Christianity. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by Christian teaching, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Moral Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Marriage Solidarity Statement was drafted by Deacon Keith Fournier, Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Alliance, and Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action. It was vetted among other Christian pastors and leaders ... continue reading


Bill Clinton Panders to Homosexual Activist Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. We Will Resist Them Watch

Image of Pictured: Bill Clinton

This is the same President who, one year after he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, told the Homosexual and lesbian magazine The Advocate - I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or considered. So, what has changed? Certainly not the truth about marriage. It cannot and will not change. Rather, this politician has changed. And, his wife wants to be President of the United States.

By Keith A. Fournier

All people of good will who recognize the vital role that marriage and the family play in serving the common good must get ready for what lies ahead. All people of good will who respect free speech, free association and the free exercise of religion must not be ... continue reading


A 'Living legend': Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, last of the Crow war chiefs, turns 101 Watch

Image of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, a living legend at 101, and a renown historian and scholar of the Crow people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last Crow war chief, turned 101 on October 27, and spent the day at the Bighorn Battlefield, with his son. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I was fortunate when I was growing up," he said. "The Crow Indians were still retaining the ... continue reading


Former TV reporter says computer was bugged by Obama administration Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former President Richard M. Nixon was notorious for the surveillance he used on who he perceived as being enemies - but it appears that current U.S. president, Barack Obama could have taught "Tricky Dick" a thing or two. According to former CBS reporter Sharyl ... continue reading


School shooting in Washington state leaves 2 dead, five injured Watch

Image of Kids and parents react to news of the shooting.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A shooting has occurred at a school in Washington, in which authorities believe a bullied student shot and killed another. The shooter is also believed to be dead. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A school shooting has taken place at Marysville-Pilchuck High School ... continue reading


Guns Do Not Have Rights, People Do. Legitimate Self Defense is One of Them

Image of Guns have no rights, only people do.Yes, one of them is the Right to Self Defense - and the Right to defend your neighbor. You may ask,

By Keith A. Fournier

We live in a precarious time in the United States of America. Many of us are deeply concerned about the effort to infringe upon the fundamental rights which were delineated in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. I have written extensively about ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6
1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 31st, 2014 Image

St. Wolfgang
October 31: Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter