There are many things I admire about Roman Catholicism. Top of the list are its present day condemnations of both war and the death penalty. However, these fine principles somewhat emphasise the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic church. As far as I know members of this denomination are not called upon to refuse to pay their taxes even when part of their contributions will be spent on war and implementing the death penalty. In this they are no different to the vast majority of Christian denominations who take a "give unto Caesar" attitude. Where they do differ is in their willingness to ignore their "give unto Caesar" policy when it suits them.

I cannot see any reason why paying for healthcare that must include subsidised contraception, sterilisation and coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, when you oppose such things, is any different to paying taxes that include paying for war and executions which you similarly oppose. Yet, the Vatican's agents in the United Staes were forced to read the following letter out in all their parishes on Sunday.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers,
including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

It's one thing (using a very recent example) for an archbishop in England to publicly argue against a government policy but a completely different thing to organise mass opposition to it which is, in essence, just electoral blackmail. If the English government called on all Episcopalians in the United States to try and bring down a US administration there would, quite rightly, be one almighty stink about it with the offence being brought up at the United Nations (and possibly the US navy heading towards the UK at a great rate of knots). Why such a jealously independent nation would allow a tiny European princedom to corrupt their political process without even uttering a tiny whimper of protest is beyond me. I shall file it under the heading "Things I just don't get about Americans." It's a very big file.



  1. Ah, yes, Alex. I hate to admit that despite this letter, I think he is cute in a celibate, geeky Catholic priest kind of way…

  2. MP, I am American and I do not understand it. But then I could say the same thing, substituting, “Texas loonies” for “tiny European princedom” and still not get it. The idea that a consortium of dominionist “clergy” can endorse Mr. Santorum without any outcry about, “separation of church and state” is beyond my understanding.


  3. I think you have to accept the Texan looney thing, Jim. You can’t choose your family. However, letting a foreign state hold you to ransom is a different kettle of fish. But I live in a country that threw the Roman Catholics out at one point for trying to do exactly the same thing. So perhaps I am more sensitive about papal aggression than your average American (not that you are average, Jim, you’re well above average).

  4. RE: “…we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees…”

    This concerns me in two ways.

    First – as of 2014, the part about Obama’s health care law that I don’t like kicks in: the mandate to have health insurance OR pay a portion of tax/a fine if you don’t (call it what you will). If I understand this correctly, employers who do not provide health insurance for their employees will be fined (although there is no mandate stating that employers must provide health insurance). So, if the RCC drops health insurance for their employees, will they be fined, or does the separation of church and state kick in here and they are the exception to the rule?

    Second – I do know someone here in Orlando who works for Catholic Charities who is NOT Catholic. For her to lose her health insurance would be a tremendous blow. I think she may want to prepare her resume and start hunting down a new job. 😉

  5. RE: “coverage for abortion-inducing drugs”

    Bear in mind that when a lot of these people use this term, “abortion inducing drugs,” what they mean is simply the Pill, something a lot of women use for reasons other than contraception (like controlling the pain of endometriosis, for example). A lot of people use the inflammatory term “abortion inducing drugs” when it is not really appropriate but it gets people worked into a froth about “killing babies” and gets even pro-life non-Catholics on their side.

  6. Wow, and all this time I thought you tossed off the Roman church so your randy king, Henry, could have a go at Ms. Boleyn.

  7. My boyfriend said that the priest who read this screed in his parish basically mumbled his way through it, and had my boyfriend not read the paper, he wouldn’t have known what it was about. He said it reminded him of what happened at another parish in another state, where the priest got up and said that they had a letter from the bishop that needed to be read, and then proceeded to read it at triple speed.

    Sorry, Catholic bishops, you’ll have to get over your butthurt that women will be getting complete healthcare, not the half-assed measures you want. Pffffth.

  8. OCICBW, but don’t all the “Catholic employers” they’re whining about receive govt funding? [It’s not the Church itself, it’s hospitals and educational institutions, who get their cut from Uncle Sam]


    If I understand this correctly, employers who do not provide health insurance for their employees will be fined (although there is no mandate stating that employers must provide health insurance).

    Employers don’t have to provide insurance, and I don’t think that will change (there may be more incentives for them to do so however).

    I’m ambivalent re the individual mandate, but as long as those who can’t afford health insurance are ACTUALLY given insurance/means-to-pay-for-it, then I think it’s probably OK. Proof will be in pudding.

    I have very little sympathy for the “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna!” krazy @rse libertarian crowd though. If you choose to keep breathing (aka “pre-illness”), you can damn well get insured!

  9. Well, that gives Obama the Catholic vote. 65% of all US Catholics will do the exact opposite of anything they’re ordered to do by that Italian head of State…

    Here in Maine, our Bishop (Who earned his funny hat by helping Cardinal Law cover up the “indiscretions” in his Archdiocese) sent a letter on gay marriage to be read at each Mass. The better RC Priests did just that. They sat down and silently read the letter, then preached a proper Homily unrelated to the Bishops nonsense…

    It’s not like gay men are still busting down to doors to be celibates anymore! What could the Bishop do about it? Fire them and then close even more Churches?

  10. The whole thing seems like a politcal bid by the US bishops (and Vatican?) to get all Catholics to votee republican in the upcoming election. Given that someting like 98% of Catholics in the US use contraception and that many states have for some time required Catholic hospitals and colleges to pay for contraception in health care plans, the “conscience” issue seems bogus. Hopefully most Catholics will just ignore the church’s ranting on this subject.