As Catholics we are here to educate and promote respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death.

 
 
 
 
Prayer to End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today
for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life
than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the
Pro-Life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Religious Freedom Begins Within Each of Us
 
Comments made last week (June 20th) at the Catholic Media Conference  in Indianapolis by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia:
 
“The (American) Founders…created a nation designed in advance to depend on the
moral convictions of religious believers, and to welcome their active role in public life.”
“Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith – in other words, how deeply we believe it, and how honestly we live it. Religious liberty is an empty shell if the spiritual core of a people is weak. Or to put it more bluntly, if people don’t believe in God, religious liberty isn’t a value. That’s the heart of the matter. It’s the reason Pope Benedict calls us to a Year of Faith this October. The worst enemies of religious freedom aren’t “out there” among the legion of critics who hate Christ or the Gospel or the Church, or all three. The worst enemies are in here, with us – all of us, clergy, religious
and lay – when we live our faith with tepidness, routine and hypocrisy.  Religious liberty isn’t a privilege granted by the state. It’s our birthright as children of God. And even the worst bigotry can’t kill it in the face of a believing people. But if we value it and want to keep it, then we need to become people worthy of it. Which means we need to change the way we live – radically change, both as individual Catholics and as the Church.”
 
“Scripture says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be
yours as well” (Mt 6:33). We work best for religious freedom by first opening our hearts
to God’s will instead of our own; and loving our country and our Church; and renewing
the witness of the Church with the zeal and purity and obedience of our own lives. That
freedom, that joy, no one can ever take from us.”
 
You can read Archbishop Chaput’s full remarks online at  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/REPAIR-MY-HOUSE_CJCFINAL.pdf .

Kresta: What Justice Roberts Did and Didn't Do
 
 
Friends,
  
Life is full of surprises. On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.  This means that we do not have relief from the HHS Mandate.  Had the Supreme Court struck down the "individual mandate" or the law in its entirety we would, obviously, have been in a much stronger position. SCOTUS didn't. So what did Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, actually do?
 
1)      He ruled that the commerce clause cannot be used to make us purchase a product. This seems to have closed the door on similar efforts in the future.
 
2)      He ruled that since the penalty for refusing to comply with the individual mandate functions like a tax, is collected by the IRS, and was so argued by the Justice Department in the oral arguments, then we should call it a tax.
 
3)      Congress has the authority to tax and so Justice Roberts deferred to Congress and let the law stand with some changes on state Medicaid issues.
 
4)      He did signal to all of us that this health care reform will be decided once again in the general election of 2012.  This is for the people through their representatives to decide. The Supreme Court will only stop Congress if they have chosen some illegitimate means.  At some future time, the boundaries on the taxing powers of Congress will be challenged.
 
5)      We now know that the President and his supporters promised us that this was not a tax. The Supreme Court has now said it is a tax.  We were lied to. 
 
6)      This make our fight against the HHS mandate all the more significant. Our argument against the HHS mandate is different than the argument against the ACA. It is a different fight. The bishops, for instance, did not challenge the constitutionality of the overall health care reform. They are unanimous, however, in challenging the HHS mandate which is just one particular regulation unilaterally decided upon by the Secretary of Health Human Services to implement the new law.
 
7)      Chief Justice Roberts has demonstrated that the Supreme Court is not just a panel of political partisans. He has deferred to Congress which means to us. Let's take the chance to reframe this discussion.  
 
 
  
We have rallied, we have called our representatives, we have filed lawsuits, and we have submitted legislation.  This is what makes America great but it also makes it an adversarial and contentious place where ideas are debated and won.  St. Paul writes and affirms that ours is not a spirit of cowardice but of power, love, and self-control.  And we are surely called to exercise the powers of our citizenry to affect change in pursuit of the common good. 
 
We are not a people who believe that truth exists only in the sanctuary.  We must redouble our efforts to overcome the HHS Mandate.  We have a duty to defend the transcendent dignity of the human person and our religious liberty.
 
History is changed by small coteries of passionate, committed people responding to clearly defined moral objectives and persuasively presenting those objectives to the less committed. Tell your friends and relatives what's at stake here. Don't get distracted by the cynicism and bitterness that surrounds us. You have been called to better duty. You are called to defend your religious liberty and the transcendent dignity of the human person.  We must continue to fight in the courts and the legislature, but even more importantly in this election year, we must fight at the ballot box and in the public square. 
 
 
Al Kresta
 
 
 
 

 

 

WHY CONSCIENCE IS IMPORTANT

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry.
 

The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.
 

In his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, "The goal of America is freedom." As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition: "I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’… 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."
 

Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.
 

The church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.
 

Catholics and many other Americans have strongly criticized the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to fund and facilitate coverage of a drug or procedure contrary to their moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are "religious enough" to merit an exemption.
 

This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences.
 

What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching. This right is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day.
 

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.