Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catholics, Conscience, and Catholic Healthcare

1777 Moral conscience, (Rom. 2:14-16) present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.(Rom. 1:32) It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. (CCC Part Three, Life in Christ: Article 6: Moral Conscience: I: The Judgement of Conscience)

I remember when I was younger, becoming aware of my conscience. It told me when I did something wrong, such as lying. My parents brought me up to know what was good and what was bad. (Evil was a concept I would learn about later in life.) However, I realized eventually how important our consciences were in the vast scheme of societal cohesion. When you have a society that understands it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal, and murder (all condemned by God), then you have a society that is rewarded with peace and security.

But things have changed.

Over time, there has been a systematic attack on morality. Everything from featuring more sex and violence in movies to the insidious statements from the "open-minded," who say, "What is true for you is not true for me." All of this has shifted morality into a gray, muddled area where clarity is nothing more than a distant memory, if even that.

When I was younger, it was clear what was right and what was wrong. My parents taught it, the schools enforced it, and the entertainment industry supported it. Today, most of that is gone. Instead we have confused parents, cowardly schools, and corrupt entertainment. Is it any wonder we now have young people who do what they think is right in their own eyes, not realizing they have no standard to guide them?

I am reminded of these verses (emphasis mine):
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Tim. 4: 1,2 NIV)

Our consciences can be "seared" or calloused from a lack of awareness and a devotion to God and His precepts. If we allow the world to dictate our morals (or lack thereof), then we are doomed to a life of emptiness and despair. There is no gray area when it comes to God's directives for our lives. His Word brings truth, light, and life. Straying from Him only leads to darkness.

And that's where we are, right now. Darkness.

To think that our sitting President of the United States would tell the Catholic Church to violate their conscience in order to comply with questionable legislation regarding healthcare is stunning. But his administration has done just that.

I am ashamed that Kathleen Sebelius, the current Secretary of Human and Health Services, is a Catholic from Cincinnati, Ohio. She has brought shame on Cincinnati, Summit Country Day School, Ohio, and the rest of our country for promoting what is truly a violation of conscience for American Catholics. The fact that she identifies herself as a Catholic only adds more pain.

From the Catholic Herald U.K. (emphasis from article):

Obama’s health secretary has now issued a ruling: that under his administration’s Health Care Act not only must any provider of health care be prepared to supply artificial contraception (including drugs which, though labelled contraceptive, are in fact abortifacient) but that that definitely includes Catholics (for the CNS story, see here):

( – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, head of the Catholic archdiocese of Washington, DC, issued a warning last week against the implementation of an Obamacare regulation that would place many Catholic employers in an “untenable position” by requiring all health care plans to cover sterilization and abortion-inducing contraceptives, in violation of religious liberty and particularly Catholic moral teaching.

His warning coincided with a full-page ad by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which said the regulation, set to start on Aug. 1, 2012, could “severely curtail” Catholic health care providers.

Catholic institutions account for 12.7 percent of the nation’s hospitals, according to the 2009 American Hospital Association Annual Survey, with more than 5.6 million patients admitted to Catholic hospitals in a one-year period. An additional 1,400 long-term care and other Catholic health facilities are present in all 50 states, according to the Catholic Health Association of the United States. Also, there are about 70 million Catholics in the United States.

It makes me wonder what the 54% of Catholics who voted for Obama are now thinking.

Do they have a conscience that has not been seared? Is there still a chance the Holy Spirit will revive their consciences and give them a tender heart toward the things of God? Is there any hope that they will turn away from the world, their allegiance to a political party that is clearly (at this point) anti-Catholic and rise together in union with other Catholics who rightfully condemn this act?

It is my deepest hope that yes, they will do this. Now is not the time to quibble about partisan differences. Now is the time not only for Catholics to come together as one, but for all Christians in our great country to rise up and make their voices heard.

As Chuck Colson astutely observed in his profound article, "First It Was the Catholics" (emphasis mine):

Folks, I’ve been warning for more than a year now that the Administration is constricting religious liberty bit by bit. It has abandoned any defense of traditional marriage. It is promoting gay rights abroad at the expense of religious rights. And I’ve documented that the Administration, beginning with Secretary of State Clinton, has intentionally used the phrase “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion,” implying that one’s faith is a private matter — and that exercising that faith in public is not a protected right.

Well, if the Administration’s latest move isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what will be.

Now, to all my evangelical brethren who may be wondering why I’m making so much of this — after all, the vast majority of evangelicals don’t have a problem with contraception — I will say this: Which of our religious convictions will we be forced to abandon one day? Will our religiously affiliated groups be forced to hire people who oppose our faith? Will the government force a curriculum upon our schools and homeschoolers? Just a few years ago these possibilities seemed crazy. Now, they seem very real.

We must stand and fight against such a blatant attack on our freedom of religion in our country. Refusal would not only put our freedom in jeopardy, but prepare society for even more darkness to descend upon it.

Let's be the light and remind our country that yes, conscience still matters, as well as our freedom.


kkollwitz said...

Yes. And contraception and all its handmaids have done much to nullify the many of the natural consequences of immoral behavior.

kkollwitz said...

Hey this post works well with this one:

Great minds, etc.