California bishops rebuke Obama Administration over contraception mandate, urge Catholics to contact Congress

Two more California bishops have harshly criticized the Obama Administration for mandating that employers offer health insurance that pays for contraception, abortafacients and sterilizations — and they are calling for Catholics to take action.

In separate but very similar letters to the faithful, San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath and Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto denounced the decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Last week, California Catholic Daily reported on similar statements issued by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and archbishop emeritus, Cardinal Roger Mahony. 

“In so ruling, the 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,” wrote Bishop McGrath in a letter dated Jan. 27 and now posted on the diocesan website. “And as a result, unless this rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so), which is also unconscionable. The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.”

“We cannot comply with this unjust law,” continued Bishop McGrath. “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 and this generation’s immigrants 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.”

Bishop Soto struck a nearly identical tone in his letter, dated Jan. 25, and posted on the Sacramento diocese’s website. “This is an alarming matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly,” wrote Bishop Soto. “It 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 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.”

“This unjust law cannot stand,” wrote Bishop Soto.

Both bishops encouraged Catholics to fast and to pray — and to contact their representatives in Congress — in an effort to reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Bishop McGrath and Bishop Soto also asked the faithful to visit a special section of the USCCB website that explains the issue in more detail and provides information on how to contact Congress. To go to the USCCB’s page, Click Here.



Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:32 AM By John F. Maguire
At stake in this controversy is (a) orthopraxy, that is, the freedom to do good and avoid evil, and (b) the apostolic liberty of the Church.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:48 AM By MIKE
The OBAMA administration wants everyone to obey and adhere to his religion only – SECULAR FUNDAMENTALISM.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:04 AM By JLS
No, Maguire, you’re wrong again. What is at stake is not an idea, but souls. Some day hopefully you’ll get off your gnostic wagon and join fully with the Church.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:10 AM By John F. Maguire
It is imperative that we take into account a glaring contradiction. There is, as reported in the present article, the Obama Administration’s unconscionable attack on Catholic institutions. This attack, more than evidently, runs contrary to President Obama’s promise at his commencement addresss at the University of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, President Obama committed himself to the following counsel: “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.” My present point is not whether members of his Notre Dame audience believed what they heard but rather that these words, and just these words, are the words of President Obama. ~ The Catholic voting community is approximately 27% of the total vote. How will this community respond?

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:16 AM By 4unborn
Catholic hospitals need to just say “No!” instead of compromising or rationalizing. If this means closing Catholic hospitals, so be it. “Catholic” hospitals are not Catholic if they violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:36 AM By MIKE
Maguire, OBAMA has always been dishonest and evil. He does not care about the law / US Constitution. The problem is that some people including some in the Church, take what he says at face value rather than reviewing his standing record – even prior to his Presidency. Satan is a liar as well. It is pure EVIL to support the murder of innocent babies at any time. We can not vote for evil.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:36 AM By Gabriel Espinosa 
I will begin to take the Bishops seriously when they change their language from “we cannot comply,” to “we WILL NOT comply!”

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:56 AM By Amy
What did we expect when we saw Sister Carol Keehan standing beside Pres. Obama while he signed into law – the Obamacare Bill. He then handed her one of the pens. What was the worth of that pen? Could I say – thirty pieces of silver. Sister Carol Keehan sold Catholics and Catholic Health Care down the river when she joined forces with President Obama. His record on Respect for Life – from the time he was a Senator in Illinois to now – is crystal clear. It is the one thing he is transparent about. To him, the life of the unborn is worthless. The Catholics who voted for Obama should be hanging their heads in shame. They are getting what they voted for and should not be shocked at what he is doing. And this includes all the clergy and concentrated religious who cast their precious vote for him.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:06 AM By Dan
“”Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”” John, only Obama knew in his heart the meaning of these phrases, the careful inspection of which might have given the listerner some measure of discomfort. For “sound science” and “sound ethics” are a matter of Obama’s particular understanding. Couple these with the “equality of women” (which in his mind incudes artificial means of contraception and abortion) and you have two ideas at war with themselves: the “honoring of consciences” and the Obama commitment to his particular brand of ethics. Time has shown which side has won the war, at least for the present.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:13 AM By JLS
When Catholic hospitals morphed into money making machines, that is when the govt and big business took an interest. Give unto Caesar would be the operating principal here, and if the Church is holding back in this regard, then the govt is only doing what “Caesars” do. If the Church wants to return its hospitals to being Catholic, then the govt likely will back off.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:16 AM By JLS
The govt sees the Church through the bishops and sees these men as hollow; after all they speak against abortion but do nothing about it. The govt sees this as nothing more than business and marketing hype, and thus sees whatever the bishops are running as only one more business that should be under the control of the govt. So you really cannot blame the Obama regime for this move; blame the bishops, for they are the ones who define God’s will to the government. The faithful know it will change for the better, but when remains the mystery.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:56 AM By Amy
To JLS – Yes, the Bishops are to blame! When they could have said something before the 2008 Presidential election about the consequences of having Barack Obama for President would do to the lives of Catholics, they remained silent. His record spoke for him Yet, they said not a word. When they were asked to merely state the facts (not take sides) they refused to do so. How they can be surprised now truly amazes me and so many other faithful Catholics. A few orthodox Bishops did make an attempt but they were made to look as if they were out of the mainstream of Catholic Bishops. Now, look at what we have?

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 8:01 AM By Catherine
JLS, Excellent posts! The Catholic Church sets the standard and the world follows. Let us continue to pray for *exceptional bishops* who will uphold the standard of Christ!

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:05 AM By John F. Maguire
JLS: As if souls were not at stake in relation to the Church’s apostolic liberty…as if souls ere not at stake in relation to orthopraxis, the freedom to do good and avoid evil.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:11 AM By Ron
God bless San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath for making this public statement…or is this just a smoke screen to spruce up his public image? I will believe his sincerity when he recants his public statement that the Four Gospels are “not historical accounts of the historical events that they narrate” and when he apologies for hosting the 12th Annual Conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries where the Bishop gave the opening address and where X-rated gay pornography was sold at exhibits during this conference.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:12 AM By Life Lady
“He (God) is about to punish the world for its sins, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and the Holy Father” (Our Lady to Sister Lucia, June 13, 1929) In no uncertain terms we are seeing the results of the failure of the Church to respond to Our Lady in Her messages at Fatima, and later to Lucia when she was the last of the children and living in the convent at Tuy. More than ever, we are seeing those results in this country as it is being swallowed and annihilated by because of the lack of response to God in sending His Messenger, Our Lady of Fatima, to warn His children and to attempt to bring us back to Him. We are seeing this because we ourselves have not prayed as we were directed, and without those prayers, the pope and the bishops do not have those graces poured out upon them in order to lead us to Heaven, and to true peace. I have said this more times than I can count, but I will continue to say it: PRAY for your bishops. They need the prayers of the laity so that they can do the job they have been given, to be good shepherds of the flock that they were given by Christ Himself. We all have an opportunity to pick up this cross, as First Friday is approaching and First Saturday is following it. First Friday is given to us for the adoration of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and should be first. First Saturday is given to us for the adoration of the Most Immaculate Heart of Mary. Without these two Hearts, so intertwined in their joint sacrifices for us, we should all perish with no hope. But God would not leave us, ever, alone and without consolation. He has given us these Two Hearts, to comfort and keep us. Therefore, it is up to the laity to do the job we were called to do. We can’t stand around, wring our hands and complain. We are to get down on our knees (if possible, but prostrate in any case) in PRAYER FIRST. No amount of complaining will do. Shut the pie hole and open it in prayer. That is the only solution.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:13 AM By Fr. Bob B
Mr. Maguire, re your 6.10 a.m post on 31 Jan: Well and concisely put. Your points are well taken re the irreconcilabilty of what the President promised at Notre Dame and his present support for the HHS department’s proposed regulation, which provides no meaningful “conscience” exception. I agree with you completely.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:21 AM By Harry
My compliments and gratitude to those two bishops for doing their duty. We lay people must do ours too. Our Church must present a UNITED front in this battle. That means bishops, clergy and laity must all be involved. Pro abortionists managed to legalize abortion by dividing the Church, and pitting (liberal) laity against the hierarchy. We must not allow them to do that again. The pro aborts will try to cast this issue as a battle between the ‘enlightened’ Obama administration and the ‘reactionary’ Catholic HIERARCHY. If we let them do that, they will certainly win. We must show our solidarity with our bishops and clergy. We must show that the bishops speak not just for the hierarchy, but for millions of people whose FIRST AMENDMENTS rights are being violated. I hope and pray the bishops will issue some guidelines to us regarding how to deal with this assault on conscience, if it materializes. How does a Faithful Catholic react, if he or she is faced with losing a job if they don’t prescribe contraceptives for a client? What concessions can or cannot be made in specific situations? Let’s hope it won’t come to this, but it is possible we may need something like a Mit brennender Sorge to guide us through the troubled waters ahead.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:27 AM By John F. Maguire
In reply to Mike: Anticipating your post, I wrote: “My present point is not whether members of [President Obama’s] Notre Dame audience believed what they heard but rather that [his] words [at Notre Dame], and just these words, are the words of President Obama” NOW very much worth recalling. Why so? Because they bespeak a promissory invitation (“Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause….) that in the present context straightaway draws our attention to a major contradiction between promise and performance, between words and action.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:28 AM By Bud 
Already, our media are blubbering away with only their version and usually don’t mention the “sterilization” part and the fact that O’bama could add Aborftion at any time in the future. We know better that to trust government to make our moral decisions no matter! Any lawsuit should include the “futture addition of the word “Abortion” and withdrawal by the government of our right to funds for our hospitals based on his demands. The money is our’s not O’bama’s.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:43 AM By John F. Maguire
In reply to Fr. Bob: Thank you very much for your post on the present conflict between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church. ~ On another but not entirely unrelated matter, in prior discussions I do not think I adequately forefended against the possibility that Fr. Taparelli’s concept of social justice as “species equality” –certainly today — runs the risk of bearing the connotation of (purported) cross-species equality.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 9:58 AM By goodcause
Conscience clauses are urgently needed to protect thinking Catholics from federal governmetn intrusion into the lives. Even so, most Catholics already use birth control that the Church frowns on because it is the most effective means (excluding abortion, of course) to regulate family size. This will not change irrespective of what the Church promotes or the federal government allows or disallows.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:23 AM By Abeca Christian
If we can’t control what immoral mandates are imposed by the politicians, then our Bishops need to work in house, they need to preach about the evils of these mandates, they need to be consistent and be of like minded with the church so they can lead their flock to choose well and not be a byproduct of this society!

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 2:15 PM By Don Guillermo
This is an attempt to alter the balance of power between the Church and the State in the State’s favor. It is a power-play on behalf of the State, and is a test of the Church’s political power. For too long the Church practiced accomodation, which only emboldened the State to usurp more and more of the Church’s rights. Thankfully, an awareness of this seems to be dawning on our bishops.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3:07 PM By Larry
goodcause: My understanding is that bar far the method proven most effective in regulating births is Natural Family Planning, a significant improvement over the old rhythm method.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 4:35 PM By Glum
I have “good” Catholic Friends, who voted for Obama, were fund raisers for his election, and think that those who oppose his policies are ignorant racists. (My friends are so vehement, I’m afraid to discuss politics with them). They are also Lectors and Ministers for our Parish. They continue to have nothing but scorn for Republicans, while viewing the Democratic party as ethical and above criticism. They place their politics above their religion, ignore the Bishops, and avoid the abortion issue altogether. So far, even with these new Obama anti-Catholic measures, there is no change at all in their opinions or behavior – they believe that opposition to the President is evil and obstructionist. It appears that this perception of “good” political behavior will persist in the Catholic community for many years – that is, many Catholics will continue to ignore the problem of abortion.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:16 PM By JLS
Glum, the condition is well expressed throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament; it is called Hardened Heart. Hypocrisy at its zenith, proclaim they’re Catholic by outward signs, but filled with dead men’s bones … the whited wall syndrome spoken of by St Paul and by Jesus. Extremely rare for such souls to chill out and humble themselves before God … because they have made their own gods.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:18 PM By JLS
An even more approved method of family planning, mentioned by the Apostle to the Gentiles, and is an either / or solution: either allow children / or pray. Anything else is a liberal loophole proposition.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 5:31 PM By Anne T.
Glum, some people are as the Bible calls them “stiffnecked”. They are so stubborn that they refuse to see what is right in front of them. The Children of Israel were often that way, and they suffered the consequences. Pray for them.There are many people I avoid talking politics and religion with because we just do not see eye to eye, but then Christ said that he came not to bring peace but a sword — the Sword of the Spirit.

Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:56 PM By JLS
Glum, don’t jettison your pagan or hypocrite friends … you may be their only link to truth and reality.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 5:21 AM By Abeca Christian
I think that today many people are labeled as good because we are in denial that they could be bad. Just because someone smiles nicely, speaks well and does good charitable work, does not mean we know who they really are in the inside. Only God knows them well and by what they knowingly do against purity and the innocence, will they be judged!

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:22 AM By Dave N.
Once you accept government money, you consent to play by government rules. “No man can serve two masters.”

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:47 AM By MD
Good point Abeca. We can strive to be good, but have to recognize evil before we can reach for the good. Glum, I would say, don’t be afraid of speaking the truth to your friends. At the same time, don’t go picking a fight, but stand firm and share the Gospel in a kind and loving way. It is sad that in order not to offend people, we will sacrifice our rights and the rights of the unborn. If we as Catholics don’t speak out against what President Obama is doing, we are not only participating by inaction, but are falling into the traps of the devil who strives to destroy souls under the guise of “freedom.” We cannot let Obama use the racist card as a license to perform injustices any longer. Christians have to take a stand in the next election and get him the heck out of office. God Love You.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 11:59 AM By Brian S.
Dave N., you don’t need to accept government money to be required to follow the law. A simple example are those “We Retain the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” signs that are simply incorrect, as anyone attempting to seriously do so would face prosecution. It appears to me that you are attempting to shift blame for a bad law, happily strongly opposed by our bishops, to the bishops. I don’t understand why – perhaps you are opposed to treating sick people whose care is paid for by the government.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 12:04 PM By Abeca Christian
Thanks MD for your support and encouraging words. God bless you!

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 5:05 PM By Anne T.
Bishop Mc Grath is of course right about this. God bless him for speaking out.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 5:30 PM By Dave N.
The point is that once you accept money from the Federal Government, you are essentially in league with them and have to kowtow to their rules or risk losing your funding and status. Catholic organizations such as universities and hospitals have happily cashed their government checks all along, but now the chickens are coming home to roost in this unholy alliance. Further, the bishops basically haven’t said much of anything for decades about 80% of Catholics supporting and using birth control, but NOW because it potentially affects funding and status, they scream. Thousands, maybe millions, of Catholics pay into health plans at work that directly pay for contraceptives and abortions, and I have NEVER EVER heard any bishop or priest say a single, solitary word in opposition to this evil practice–simply because it wouldn’t be popular with the masses. Overall, the hypocritical witness presented to non-Catholics is that morals only matter when money is at stake. Like on so many other issues, the problem is not that the bishops are speaking out now, it’s the fact that they have stood silent for decades.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 7:15 PM By Bob One
This is issue is not about abortion or contraceptives. If the Bishops try to fight that fight they will lose. I would bet that 80+% of Americans believe that women should have the right to make the decision to have a baby or not. Nearly 95+% of women of child bearing age use contraceptives. We can’t win that fight, no matter our interpretation of the morality of it. This issue is even bigger! This is about the government’s assult on religious freedom. This is about the government trying to define who has religious exemptions and what can claim to be religious. This is about doing away with religious pluralism in this country. We can win that battle, because the Constitution is on our side and we can muster all of the religious groups to march against the government. We can marshall the Evangelicals, the Fundamentalist, the Mormons, the main-line Protestants and all of the Catholic voters in the country. But, we must frame the argument properly. This is about the redefinition of the First Amendment. We must win this battle first.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:11 PM By JLS
If you accept govt money, you do not need to follow their law; in fact, you might get more govt money if you don’t follow their laws.

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 8:20 PM By Don Guillermo
Dave N.’s second post on 2/1 is brilliant. Charity is not the domain of government, but of religion. Stop taxing us. Let us tithe. Let religious institutions care for the sick with the tithes of their adherents. The State usurped charity like it has usurped almost everything else. Why have a revolution over taxes, then tax us much more than the King of England ever did?

Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2012 11:46 PM By Brian S.
Pope Benedict has made the government responsibility to provide charity to those in need extremely clear, as did his predecessors, Don. You are simply at odds with the long teaching of the Church on this matter. As for the notion that accepting payment for services puts one in league with the payer, where does this theory arise? Is Catholic Health Care West in league with me because I purchased service from them? Don’t think so.

Posted Friday, February 03, 2012 8:31 PM By JLS
The reason the Church involves Herself in the affairs of government is to provide its members with the Voice of God. In other words the Church is harvesting souls in all corners of the world, including government.

Posted Friday, February 03, 2012 8:33 PM By JLS
Bob One, you speculate that the bishops would lose a fight with the government over abortion or contraception; however, if they do not fight, then they’ve already in fact lost. I guess that your motto is comfort at all costs.

Posted Monday, February 06, 2012 10:35 PM By Don Guillermo
Thank you, Brian S., for the civil tone of your remarks. Yet, because you have not cited specific texts, I cannot respond to you. As head of the CDF, then-Cardinal Ratzinger condemned Liberation Theology’s Marxist interpretation of “the preferential option for the poor.” When communists invaded Blessed John Paul II’s native Poland, they took over all charitable services from the Church. As a matter of public policy, governments should instead delegate charity to the churches rather than cripple believers with odious taxation. The poverty rate now is the same as before “the Great Society.” The only difference is seemingly countless fatherless children.