Pope Asks Catholic Bishops to Mobilize Against New Attacks

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.   

See full papal text at  


Richard Stith

Richard Stith is a research professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Having received both his law degree and a doctorate in ethics from Yale University, he taught legal philosophy and comparative law at Valpo Law for 41 years. From Harvard and from the University of California, Berkeley, he holds degrees in political theory. He was for a year director of the Program in Biomedical Ethics at St. Louis University School of Medicine. He served for many years on the Advisory Council of the National Lawyers Association and on the Board of Editors of the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW and has taught and published on comparative law and legal philosophy in Spain, India, China, Ukraine, Chile and Mexico. In 2001, he became the first U.S. professor to be designated by the European Commission as teacher of a Jean Monnet Module (on the law of the European Union) and shortly thereafter was named the first Swygert Research Fellow in recognition of his scholarship. He is a consultant on the Academic Council for the doctoral program in law at the Universidad de Los Andes in Chile, where he has directed doctoral seminars. Professor Stith has served as a member of the national boards of University Faculty for Life and of the Consistent Life Network. He has been a speaker at national, state, and international right-to-life gatherings and has presented pro-life testimony by invitation before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution and to state and foreign legislative committees. Among his significant publications: “The Priority of Respect: How Our Common Humanity Can Ground Our Individual Dignity,” International Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2004): 165. Other works can be found at Email: [email protected]