The gauntlet has been tossed...

Letter from Cardinal Wuerl, re: Lawsuit against HHS Mandate

May 21, 2012

Dear Friends,

This morning, the Archdiocese of Washington filed a lawsuit to challenge the mandate, recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, that fundamentally redefines the nation’s longstanding definition of religious ministry and requires our religious organizations to provide their employees with coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Just as our faith compels us to uphold the liberty and dignity of others, so too, we must defend our own.

Joining the archdiocese in this local lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, are three of our related corporations: Archbishop Carroll High School, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Consortium of Catholic Academies. We are joined by the Catholic University of America in this action as well. Ours is one of twelve lawsuits filed today on behalf of 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations nationwide. The lawsuit in no way challenges either women's established legal right to obtain and use contraception or the right of employers to provide coverage for it if they so choose. This lawsuit is about religious freedom.

The First Amendment enshrines in our nation’s Constitution the principle that religious organizations must be able to practice their faith free from government interference. As is generally the case with laws that may burden religious exercise, the mandate includes an exemption for religious organizations. And if the religious exemption in the mandate were reasonable, there would have been no need for this lawsuit—after all, we are indeed “religious” under any sensible definition. However, the mandate’s exemption is the narrowest ever adopted in federal law. Crucially, it does not include any organization that serves the general public. So under this mandate, our Catholic hospitals, schools, and social service programs, which serve all people, are not “religious enough” to be allowed to follow our Catholic beliefs.

For Catholics, the practice of faith has always required not just acts of worship, but also – necessarily – loving, charitable service to others. The understanding of charity as an essential religious activity goes back to the foundation of Christianity. Jesus Christ taught that obeying the first great commandment -- loving God -- must impel us to fulfill the second great commandment -- loving our neighbor as ourselves. As put by the Apostle St. James: “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:14-26). When asked what “love of neighbor” requires, Jesus commanded his followers to act like the Good Samaritan, explaining that Christian love must impel us to concrete action and must be universal – extending not just to those of our own kind, but also to outsiders and even enemies (Luke 10:25-36). And Jesus describes the Last Judgment, where he will say to those he has placed at his right hand:

“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. … Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 31-46).

Thus, for two millennia, Roman Catholic entities have been engaged in charitable works – serving not just Catholics, but non-Catholics as well, with the understanding that these works are an essential part of Christian love and the practice of the Christian faith. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has recently put it, “love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to [the Catholic Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.”

Considering the dedicated efforts put into these good works, it is understandable to feel somewhat disheartened to see our government attempt to force the Church out of the public square. To be clear, that is the message that the HHS mandate conveys: our beliefs are not welcome. Those who have the temerity to hold onto their convictions will be fined.

The First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, however, was not meant to protect merely the right to worship, but also the right to contribute the fruits of our faith to the common good. And until now, our government had chosen to honor that guarantee. Never before has the government contested that institutions like Archbishop Carroll High School or Catholic University are religious. Who would? But HHS’s conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that even Mother Teresa would not have qualified. We know that such a law cannot stand. So above all we find cheer in the worthiness of our cause and in the love of our Creator, who imbued us with the very dignity and freedom that this lawsuit seeks to protect.

The Church did not choose this fight. It is HHS that has departed from long-standing practice and precedent to change the law; our response merely aims to preserve our existing rights. Although the Church would naturally remain open to good faith negotiations with the Administration, previous discussions yielded no reasonable compromise, and the Church has been given little reason to think further attempts would be fruitful. Bringing this claim to the courts ensures a fair and impartial hearing—one that we believe we will win. For up-to-date information on this matter, please visit http://www.blogger.com/www.preservereligiousfreedom.org.

To further advance our support for religious liberty, I invite you to a special event to publicly witness to our faith and our freedom in the nation’s capital. On June 24, 2012, the Archdiocese of Washington will host a “Celebration of Freedom.” The rally will be held at the Smith Center of The George Washington University. Together with prayer and inspirational music, this rally will feature a video that highlights our heritage of religious freedom and the vital contributions of Catholics to building this nation. I hope you will join us for this wonderful event to celebrate our faith and, most importantly, to pray for our liberty. Your presence at this archdiocesan event will be testimony to how important it is to celebrate our faith and, most importantly, to pray for our liberty. This headline event is part of the Archdiocese of Washington’s response to the “Fortnight for Freedom” called for by the bishops of the United States. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.blogger.com/www.sacredproperty.org.

In the coming weeks and months, may God remind us that the freedom of religion is only meaningful when we exercise it. And may God look with favor on our prayers for the success of this endeavor we have undertaken in His name.

With prayerful best wishes, I am

Faithfully in Christ,

Donald Cardinal Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington

St Rita of Cascia

Today is the feast of St Rita of Cascia.

Catholic Fire relates...

...St. Rita was born at Rocca Porena in the Diocese of Spoleto in 1386 to Antonio and Amata Lotti, who were quite advanced in years. Rita’s birth was an answer to their prayers. The family was well-known for their charity, which merited them the surname of "Peacemakers of Jesus Christ.".. More

Some interesting things about St Rita.

There is a 1st Class Relic of St Rita in the Catholic book store on the north-west side of Chicago called The House of Hansen located at 4223 W. Irving Park Road. This is two blocks from my parents house. Although I had lived in the neighbourhood for years and had passed this store almost everyday before I left home in "73" I never knew St Rita's relic was there until 5 years ago. There is a life sized statue of St Rita in the window.

In order to teach her humility,"...Mother Superior commanded Sister Rita to pick up a stick, to plant it and water it every day. Sister Rita never challenged this daily task of obedience although many of the nuns in the convent laughed and made fun of her. After a year of care, the stick blossomed into a beautiful grape vine. The grapes were used to make the sacramental wine used in daily liturgy. The vine is still growing in her convent today, it is over 600 years old and to this day the grapes are harvested, sent to Vatican and are given as a gift to world dignitaries..." Four years ago I cut brush from the wood behind my house to make a wattle to surround my wife Suzanne's garden.

One of those sticks I cut was totally devoid of roots and branches, about 2 1/2 feet long and flat at both ends. I used a sledge hammer to pound it into the ground. It remained thus for 2 years. One day I saw that the stick had sprouted a branch about an inch long with three leaves. I was a bit shocked because I knew there were no roots and how brutal I was in pounding it into the ground. I dug it up but it was difficult as the stick was embedded in the NC clay which is so prevalent in our area. I gave way eventually. Still it was flat at both ends, and there were no roots, except one about an inch long. I planted it in a flower pot, watered it irregularly, yet it grew. It grew to the point that this spring it flowered and my wife transplanted it to a special part of her yard. It was root bound. We call it St Rita's stick in honour of this Saint.



Freedom of religion does not apply

Dispute this.


More on St Hildegarde

Elena Maria has a post on St Hildegarde von Bingen it is found here...

Thanks to Elena Maria.


Fr. Norman Weslin, Champion of the Unborn

...Back in April I blogged about one of my heroes, Fr. Norman Weslin. Father went home to Jesus and his beloved "Twelve Star General," Mary Immaculate, on Wednesday. No one who ever met Father could forget him. He had an infectious enthusiasm and a single-hearted commitment to the unborn babies. He defended them throughout his entire priesthood, spending (God only knows how much) time in jail following numerous arrests. His last arrest was praying at Our Lady's university in reparation for the abomination of their honoring the most pro-abortion politician in U.S. history. Seeing this holy, elderly priest handcuffed and carted away by police while Fr. Jenkins tickled the ears of the political elite gave a stark picture contrasting those who follow Jesus with the modern day pharisees.

I'm confident we have a prayer warrior in heaven pleading with Mary for all those in her pro-life army who continue to fight not only for the unborn, but for the Catholic faith.

Our Lady help of Christians, pray for us...

In other news it is reported today that the University of Notre Dame suing the US Government in particular the Obama Administration for violating our freedom of religion, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

It is my hope that Notre Dame has learned a hard lesson, being, that when one deals with a machiavel, deals are worthless. In a way, we might say Notre Dame's chickens have come home to roost.

It is time for Fr Jenkins to do what God placed him on earth to do, Proclaim the Gospel. Time will only tell if Notre Dame will change it's mind.

Isn't it remarkable that Fr Weslin, died and Notre Dame decided to sue within a week?


An Australian Anglican Ordinariate

...At last the establishment of the Australian Anglican Ordinariate has been announced. Earlier this week I was pleased to read in the "Record" that the Pope will announce the establishment of the Ordinariate on June 15 2012. It has been so quiet some of us wondered if it would ever happen. It did hit me as interesting that at a time when all the Catholic structures are collasping and under attack that we are now setting up a new structure. Often the church of the structure has unfortunately seemed distant from the Church of the Spirit so lets pray and hope that this structure will be a holy vessel for the church of the Spirit and truth... more...