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USCCB spokeswoman laments Obama’s ‘deafness to the Constitution’

Catholic World News - March 01, 2012

Commenting on the HHS contraceptive mandate, the director of media relations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging President Barack Obama and his administration to “render unto God the things that are God’s.”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh writes:

Jesus is often quoted for his saying to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” The rest of the quote could be a message to the Obama Administration: “Render unto God the things that are God’s.”

The current tensions over religious freedom come down to a simple fact: the First Amendment guarantees free exercise of religion. That includes the right of Catholic and other religious institutions to define and carry out their ministry …

It is the Church, not Caesar, that defines ministry. We Catholics are called to serve others because we’re Catholic, not because they are. We help others because of their need, not their creed. For the government to hold fast to its new definition of ministry, one crafted by the American Civil Liberties Union, reflects deafness to the Constitution that is unbecoming to the man sworn to defend it.

Sister Walsh adds:

There has been some talk of accommodation, whereby (it is claimed) some Catholic institutions would not have to pay for services that violate their religious beliefs. Apparently, their insurance companies would pay for the services instead. One doesn’t have to be a cynic to question where the money to pay for those services will come from, as the only pool of available funds seems to be the premiums subsidized by the objecting religious institutions. And the government’s problematic definition of religious ministry still remains. There also is the question of what self-insured Catholic organizations are supposed to do. What good does it do to say the dirty work will be done by the insurer rather than the employer, if they are one and the same?

The Administration’s intrusive decision about what does and does not constitute religious ministry should make every American pause. What falls after freedom of religion? Freedom of the press? Will Caesar tell you what you have to print or air?

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