June 26, 2015

Religious Freedom is Being Trampled in Favor of Freedom of Sexual Expression

Image a World Were Catholic Social Services Do Not Exist. It is Perilously Close to Reality.

In 2012, Cardinal Francis George predicted that faithful Catholics would close down nonprofits rather than violate Church teaching under the HHS contraceptive mandate. That prediction is closer to reality after the Supreme Court's decision upholding federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Court observers acknowledge the King v. Burwell case gave opponents of Obamacare the best chance to derail it. Among the remaining challenges to the law is a class action lawsuit brought by The Becket Fund on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, seeking to uphold their right to carry out their vows of obedience in their service to the poor. The suit seeks protection not only for the Little Sisters, but for other Catholic organizations that provide health benefits consistent with their religious faith.
What has happened to our vaunted American liberties? Except for property rights, they are all being traded off in favor of freedom of sexual expression...
— the late Cardinal Francis George
The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international Catholic Congregation of Religious Sisters, founded by St. Jeanne Jugan to minister to the poor. They have thirty homes in the United States where they care for the elderly and dying. The Little Sisters serve over 13,000 elderly poor in thirty-one countries worldwide.

In accordance with their faith, the Little Sisters uphold the unique, inviolable dignity of all human life, especially those society deems weak or “worthless”. The federal government’s contraception and abortion mandate forces the Sisters to provide services that contradict these beliefs.

Just last year, Cardinal George openly warned about an America where religious freedom is being traded off for freedom of sexual expression. The Cardinal wrote:
The issue has clustered around the [contraceptive] mandate that insists that any institution serving the public must treat women’s fertility as an enemy to be suppressed for the sake of women’s freedom,” said the cardinal. “In fact, the government has made many exceptions to this rule, but has steadfastly refused to exempt Catholic institutions.
We are afraid that the institutions that perform the works of mercy that have been integral to the church’s mission for centuries will be forced to become, effectively, government institutions, given permission to exist only if they do not act as Catholic.
At stake are Catholic hospitals, Catholic universities and Catholic social services, precisely as Catholic. At stake also is a society that once permitted many different voices and faiths to contribute to the common good without compromising their collective conscience.
The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate forces Catholic organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for birth control through their health insurance. The only exceptions are for houses of worship and religious organizations that provide for contraception through third-parties.

The Catholic Church forbids artificial birth control (see Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae) and Catholic nonprofits are suing to get relief from the law.

Cardinal George coupled the decline of American society with the lack of respect for traditional sexual norms, urging citizens to protect their freedom by defending the natural family:
The imposition of a definition of marriage that destroys the natural meaning of marital union is becoming another test case for religious liberty.
The law now holds that men and women are interchangeable in marriage, as if children did not need both a mother and a father to be born and raised with some security. These are laws that mark societies in decline, demographically as well as morally.
The quest for sexual liberation at any cost has undermined society's most basic institution — the family.  As a consequence, we are spiritually, morally, and demographically headed for a failure of historic proportions.

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