Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Spirit of Resistance

In America, it's perfectly legal to kill innocent people: as long as a few conditions are met.

Basically, the victim has to be unable to flee or resist the killer. People who may be killed are those who are too:
  • Young
  • Old
  • Weak
  • Sick
The assassins use nice words, like "health of the mother," or "euthanasia," to describe their murders.

I think evil is not nice, even when described with nice words. I also think laws that allow the murder of innocent people are disgusting. And, more to the point, wrong.

I think forcing folks who have a functioning conscience to pay for these killings is also disgusting. And wrong.

To-Do List from the Bishop

First, what the bishop asked us to do.

Excerpt from a message distributed after Mass this morning:

"+ Pray that the Rule be rescinded and conscience protections be reinstated.

"+ Contact Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and your federal Representative. Urge them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act in both houses of Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). Call the Capital switchboard at 202-224-3121; or email through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: This measure will ensure that those who participate in the health care system 'retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.'..."
("HHS Rule Stands - Please Contact Your Lawmakers" bulletin insert, Our Lady of Angels, Sauk Centre, Minnesota)

'Legal' Isn't Always 'Right'

Here's why Catholic Bishops in America want us to pray - and more:
"....the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirm and 'interim Rule' that under the 2010 health care law, virtually all private health care plans must cover access st sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs like RU 486 and 'Ella' as part of the set of 'preventive health services.' As Catholics, we support providing those services which can truly prevent disease or disability for women...

"...On February 10, despite strong and united input from every U.S. bishop, other religious organizations, and legislators from both major parties, the Obama Administration made this Rule final 'without change.' The HHS Rule remains an unprecedented violation of religious liberty and conscience protections that had been the consistent tradition in our nation and allowed faith-based organizations to do so much to those in need...."
("HHS Rule Stands - Please Contact Your Lawmakers" bulletin insert, Our Lady of Angels, Sauk Centre, Minnesota)
From one point of view, I suppose sterilizing women makes sense. Having a little after-hours fun with the secretary, or giving special attention to that sexy coed, can get awkward if the sex machine gets pregnant. Being able to bill the company's health care plan for a 'plan b' approach is also convenient - but still wrong.

Back to that message:
"...ISSUES: In light of the objections raised by so many, the Administration announced a 'compromise' that would require the insurer, rather than the employer, to pay for these objectionable services. This compromise does nothing to address the moral issues at stake.
  1. Requiring the insurer to provide these services 'for free' simply shifts costs on paper, but not in fact. It is still the premiums paid by the employer and employees -- even for those who object in conscience -- that will fund this coverage. This is evident for self-insured religious employers, but in fact true for all employers.
  2. The extremely narrow definition of 'religious employer' was not changed. Thus, since they serve people regardless of their faith or membership, Catholic hospitals, charities, colleges and secular employers all remain subject to the mandate to pay for procedures contrary to their convictions and harmful to others.
Thus, the 'accommodation' offered in the proposed compromise effectively changes nothing. Therefore, a legislative solution is needed to protect the long-standing rights of conscience....

("HHS Rule Stands - Please Contact Your Lawmakers" bulletin insert, Our Lady of Angels, Sauk Centre, Minnesota)

Unjust Laws

I don't expect to change anybody's mind. Folks who think it's okay to sterilize the secretary, or kill what happened after a hot-and-heavy session with a coed, or kill granny, may never change their minds.

The rest of us have quite a few options.

We can sulk, complain that nobody's doing anything - and do nothing ourselves. Offhand, that doesn't seem very productive.

We can follow up on the bishops' suggestions. Prayer is a good place to start. I think there may be some use in contacting the lot that's running America's government at the moment.

In any case, there's an election coming up in November. American voters will have the opportunity to swap out some of the deadwood in Washington, and maybe replace them with politicos who have a passing familiarity with ethics.

This isn't the first time that folks have had to deal with laws which were somewhat less than ideal, and the rulers who imposed them:
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
Thomas Jefferson (3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)). Letter to Abigail Smith Adams from Paris while a Minister to France (22 February 1787), referring to Shay's Rebellion.

"Silence is the virtue of a fool."
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626), The Advancement of Learning, Book VI, xxxi

"An unjust law is no law at all."
St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), On Free Choice Of The Will, Book 1, § 5"

"True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions."
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) De Re Publica, Book 3, Chapter 22

Freedom: Use It or Lose It

I'm a practicing Catholic, so I have to support religious freedom. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109) That's religious freedom for everybody:
" 'Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits.'34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it 'continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.'35"
(Catechism, 2106)
I realize that not forcing people to act against their convictions is contrary to America's current government policy. In a sense, I am advocating opposition to the actions of America's government.

But at the end of all things, I'd rather be on on record as opposing the will of some government official of the 21st century, than acting against what the Almighty wants. But that's just me: you'll have to make up your own mind.

America is being run by folks with what I think is an at-best precarious grip on basic ethical principles. That, in my considered opinion, is a problem.

Happily, most folks in America have the right to vote. We get an opportunity to exercise that right this November. I intend to exercise that right, after dredging through the political morass in an effort to find candidates that are acceptable.

This country has a fairly good record for allowing quite a few folks to experience a degree of freedom. But there's no guarantee that we'll keep those freedoms. Particularly if we don't care enough to vote intelligently.


I'm not a 'political' person: not in the sense that I'll try to convince you that one party is always right, and the other is run by the spawn of Satan. Or that one party is always wrong, and the other will let everybody do whatever they want - as long as it's something that the party approves of.

On the other hand, I've got a responsibility to be a good citizen. You guessed it - that's because I'm a Catholic, and it's in the rules.

What the Church says about government, citizenship, and the like:There's a lot more - but I think that's a pretty good place to start.

I've been over this sort of thing before:
More posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience
Other related posts:


Brigid said...

An extra hyphen: "I think is an at-best-precarious grip on"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


That's the way I intended it: but I see your point. And removed the second hyphen. Thanks!

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