Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Letters to the Editor
(From the , 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
The Inland Register welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be no longer than 500 words. Letters must be signed, with address and phone number for contact, but names will be withheld upon request. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Remember to be charitable.
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Fax: (509) 358-7302
The Obama administration’s recent confrontation with the Catholic Church over religious liberty is emblematic of an administration that is callous towards the religious freedoms afforded by the First Amendment.
Although often misrepresented by the mainstream media, this conflict has been brewing for over a year and has become heated since August 2011 when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held public hearings on their interpretation and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Catholic hierarchy, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, clearly and strongly voiced opposition to the mandate, proposed by unelected bureaucrat HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The mandate directs that all private health plans throughout the country provide preventive services, such as screenings and mammo-grams to everyone to prevent disease. HHS construes pregnancy to also be a disease and therefore, all private health plans must provide insurance coverage for prevention of pregnancy, including sterilization procedures, oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices, and abortifacients. Religious employers have always been exempt from offering such services under the protection of federal conscience laws.
With the new mandate, Secretary Sebelius excludes religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities from the federal conscience clause and they are now subject to the mandate.
The mainstream media has often presented this controversy as an infringement on the reproductive rights of women and their access to contraception. Regardless of one’s stance on contraception, this has little to do with the controversy. At a time when abortifacient drugs (the morning after pill) are dispensed from vending machines on our college campuses, one can hardly claim that women do not have access to contraceptives. Rather, the media has missed the real news. The important issue relates to how it happened that religious institutions lost their religious exemptions under this present administration. Exactly how can a department of the government, directed by an unelected official, change federal protections afforded by the First Amendment? Under what legal structure does the administration have the authority to force religious institutions to offer services that are clearly and categorically opposed to their core teachings?
Ironically, it is the Catholic hospital’s own mission statement that has rendered it undeserving of the conscience clause exemption under the new ruling. Catholic hospitals were established to provide health care to all, regardless of religious affiliation or ability to pay. If Catholic hospitals hired only Catholic staff and treated only Catholic patients, then they would receive the religious exemption to the mandate. The law is intentionally so narrowly crafted that religious institutions are purposefully stripped of their federal protection. As written, even Jesus Christ and his disciples would not qualify for the religious exemption. Likewise, Catholic hospitals and universities, because they serve everyone, from atheists to believers of all faiths, do not qualify for the religious exemption. One can be certain that the encroachment on religious freedom from this mandate will cause even further judicial challenges to the already beleaguered Obamacare legislation.
Alfonso Oliva MD, Spokane
I recently read two very admirable letters in the February issue of the Inland Register. The two letters were written by Lucia M.M.S. Wilson and Richard Breed-love, and both addressed the new missal translations.
Reluctantly, I must confess that at first I was leery of these new translations. The reason for my fear and trepidation was suffering through all of the changes of the 1990s. Thankfully though, and with God’s help, I did my homework and dug into researching the reasoning behind the new translations. I was pleased to discover that the changes were not off the cuff, but actually very reverent and beautiful.
Thank you so much, Lucia and Richard, for your outstanding letters, and thank you, Mr. Editor, for printing them.
Rebecca Smith, Colville, Wash.
Contraception is the elephant in the room in every Catholic parish. The effects it has had on our society are devastating.
It has been providential to have Rick Santorum in the limelight at just the time when the national discussion was taking place on contraception. There can be no more contentious forum then the current media – but Santorum has done his part.
Hopefully, our bishops will as well.
This topic is rarely if ever explained from the pulpit. The time is ripe. The time is now.
The prophet Ezekiel gives us the following warning:
If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die. He shall die for his sin, and his virtuous deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him. (Ezekiel 3:18).
Greg Fazzari, Walla Walla, Wash.
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