Meeting with U.S. bishops in Rome on January 19, 2012, Pope Benedict urged them to mobilize “every level of ecclesial life” against cultural and political trends that threaten “humanity itself.” He called on all Catholics “to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time: respect for God’s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights.”
The pope emphasized:
Our tradition does not speak from blind faith, but from a rational perspective…. The Church’s defense of a moral reasoning based on the natural law …is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a “language” which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world. She thus proposes her moral teaching as a message not of constraint but of liberation, and as the basis for building a secure future.
The American bishops “pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices.” In response, the pope stated that “here once more we see the need for an engaged…Catholic laity…with the courage to counter a reductive secularism.”
In striking reconfirmation of Pope Benedict’s warning, on January 20 the U.S. government announced that next year even religious employees and institutions will have to contribute to health insurance plans that will provide free sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing contraception (such as the drug “ella”).
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan responded: “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare [insurance] is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom.” Sister Jane Marie Klein, Board Chair of the Franciscan Healthcare Alliance, called it “a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights.”
Noted attorney and activist John Jakubczyk will provide details of this major church-state conflict on February 19 at the St. Paul Church Social Hall at 1855 Harrison Blvd. in Valparaiso, Indiana, from 1:15pm to 3:15 pm. Attorney Jakubczyk, a dynamic and engaging speaker, is a former president of Arizona Right to Life and has long been active in defense of freedoms of speech and assembly throughout our nation. Following his presentation, there will be open discussion on how we can best responded to the challenges ahead. Joe and Ann Scheidler plan to attend. A light lunch and child care will be provided. All are invited, without charge.