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 November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Following Ferguson shooting, police departments rush to adopt body cameras Watch

Image of The purchasing of body cameras by police departments nationwide has increased dramatically following the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Whether you believe the story told by Ferguson police officer Daren Wilson, or by the family of Michael Brown, it is certain that the case has changed the face of law enforcement in America. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The use of body cameras by police ... continue reading


Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... 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, Revelation 15:1-4
1 And I saw in heaven another sign, great and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2014 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He ... 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