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.

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


Guliani/ Dyson Debate: Racism is Sin. Legitimate Social Analysis and Questions are Not Watch

Image of Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Georgetown Sociology Professor and media commentator Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

By Keith A. Fournier

I do not believe that the comments of the former Mayor of New York revealed racism or what the Professor of Sociology called "white supremacy". Rather, he raised matters concerning sociological statistics which need to be considered as we all seek to further the ... continue reading


Binge drinking: Only 10 percent of those who 'drink too much' are alcoholic Watch

Image of Women who have eight or more drinks per week and men who have 15 or more are considered heavy drinkers.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The information would appear to encourage even more irresponsible behavior over the holidays . but a recent study says that only a small percentage of adults who "drink too much" are clinically alcoholic. The other 90 percent just, well, drink too much. LOS ... continue reading


Walmart, priding itself in war against hunger, has employees dependent on food banks Watch

Image of A day of protests against Walmart have been planned for the upcoming Black Friday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Having a job in the United States is a guarantee of food on the table - unless of course, you are a Walmart employee. Cashiers at the world's biggest retailer earn $8.48 an hour, which is above the minimum wage - but not enough to feed the average family. LOS ... continue reading


Another example of Imperialism! Why Obama fired Hagel Watch

Image of Secretary of Defense Chuch Hagel, often voiced frustration with Obama's administration and foreign policies and was never really admitted into the president's inner circle.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has announced that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has resigned from his cabinet post, partially in response to the growing number of military conflicts and global crisis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hagel, the only Republican on ... continue reading


In the fight against liberal revisionism, Texas strikes major blow Watch

Image of The Texas Board of Education has voted to approve textbooks which they claim will fight back against a growing liberal school system.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Texas has approved controversial new history textbooks which have been criticized by academics as more full of politics than true history. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - More than 5 million public school students will use the new textbooks in fall of 2015, after ... continue reading


OUTRAGE - Middle school principal suspended over active shooter drill Watch

Image of Active shooter drills are becoming more common on school campuses, but they're also controversial.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A school district in Florida has acted responsibly in suspending a middle school principal who staged an "active shooter drill" on her school campus which terrified children into believing that their lives were in danger. Similar drills have come into vogue across the ... continue reading


The Marriage Meme of Francis: What Did the Pope Just Say about Marriage and Family? Watch

Image of Pope Francis presiding at a marriage Liturgy at St Peters.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis embraces the unchangeable truth about marriage as solely between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to life and formative of family as the sole Meme - using the word properly.  That is why you will not read much about the crystal ... continue reading


What is 'vape?' The Oxford Dictionary proclaims it the new word for 2014 Watch

Image of Even while media outlets, health organizations and scientific studies continue to debate the benefits and pitfalls of e-cigarettes,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What does the word "vape" mean? Before anyone jumps to negative conclusions and think that it means something untoward - rest assured: vape is both a noun and verb, according to the Oxford Dictionary. They've gone as far as to proclaim vape as their new word of ... continue reading


Meet the doll that's flipping the world upside down! Watch

Image of Lammily, is a new doll that is proportioned just like the average American 19-year old woman.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A simple art project by a graphic designer has become the most coveted toy for the 2014 Christmas season following its November 19 release. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nickolay Lamm made a doll he named Lammily, who is what Barbie would look like if she was ... 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 14:14-19
14 Now in my vision I saw a white cloud and, sitting ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:10, 11-12, 13
10 Say among the nations, 'Yahweh is king.' The world ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:5-11
5 When some were talking about the Temple, remarking ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 25th, 2014 Image

St. Catherine of Alexandria
November 25: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day ... 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