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Letter to parishes regarding the mandate issued by the Dept. of Health and Human Services

Friday, January 27, 2012
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami

January 26, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.  The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.  Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write.  And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.  And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so).  The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.  People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.  We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom.  Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.  In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties.  I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.  Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things.  First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored.  Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible.  Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas Wenski
Archbishop of Miami

Comments from readers

DEACON STEVEN M. LEE - 2/1/2012 9:14 AM
Dear Archbishop Wenski:

Great letter! Thank you for your courage in taking a strong stand on this issue. The Obama administration is revealing, to a greater degree, its contempt for religious beliefs and also for the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution to religious freedom.

Also, let us not forget that Kathleen Sebilius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, claims to be Catholic. Secretary Kathleen Sebilius, Vice-President Joseph Biden, and Representative Nancy Pelosi all receive Holy Communion with impunity. The issue of politicians who call themselves Catholic, and then publicly take positions completely contrary to the Catholic faith, such as passing laws facilitating abortion, has not gone away. Allowing these persons to receive the Eucharist causes scandal, confusion among the faithful, and arguably, sacrilege to the Blessed Sacrament. Many Canonists believe such politicians may properly be denied Holy Communion under Canon law. Although this has not affected our diocese directly, I pray for your discernment and leadership on this issue, especially with your brother bishops throughout the country.

In Christ,

Deacon Steven M. Lee
BEATRIZ RODRIGUEZ - 1/31/2012 4:53 PM
Dear Archbishop, Thank you for your letter.

This letter states that ALMOST all employers...ALMOST all health insurers... and ALMOST all individuals... will have to buy this type of coverages. Could you please clarify which ones of these are exempted from this unjust law?
MARY TATE - 1/31/2012 4:09 PM
Thank you Archbishop for your letter detailing the possibility of Catholics having their First Amendment rights taken away from them. I am sorry that this important letter was not read at all of the Masses in the Archdiocese. A bulletin insert is good but it is more meanfully if it could be read at all of the Masses. I am completely in agreement with you and all of the Bishops of the United States. Your are in my prayers. Thank you.
JON SUAREZ - 1/31/2012 12:27 PM
Even Bishopsd don't like being told what to do!
JOHN J. FRAWLEY - 1/31/2012 11:49 AM
Thank you Bishop for taking this strong stand against this assault on all God fearing people of faith throughout the USA. Obamacare is an obaminization and the HHS ruling is a purposeful provacation on religious liberties!
JOYCE WALZ - 1/31/2012 10:52 AM
I am so grateful that the bishops of our country have taken a stand against this grievous breach of separation of church and state which our courts constantly use to remove items of the least religiosity from the public domain. Each one of us needs to stand in the public square in support of our beliefs to declare that we will not waver in the face of this attack on religious principles. If we do voice our objections as a group, it will have a greater impact on the government.

We need to pray, also, for God's grace and strength in our commitment to the unborn, to the elderly, for all life, because we ARE their voice.

May God's grace fall on everyone of us in this enormous challenge.
MICHAEL TUCCITTO - 1/31/2012 2:05 AM
Religious freedom for ALL is at stake. Our leaders in the community of the Catholic Laity, Clergy, Deacons, and our Priests and Bishops must lead us especialy at this time. We need to be visible from our Parishes and outside to our non Catholic neighbors carrying signs and speaking out in numbers that cannot be denied or minimized. Fill the Dolphin Stadium with Catholics singing and praying for the innocent, unborn and aged . Fill the streets to let the whole of South Florida realize that not only are the Catholics joyfully and peacefully active, but they are a politive, productive presence here. Our principles are just and we support others' rights as well. We should invite like minded individuals and leaders from other Faiths to join us at this grave time. As a solid Catholic group, we are a voting force, but together, stronger and woven into the fabric of our wider and diverse community, we can effect the outcome of elections at all levels of government, collectively speaking with a louder, more insistent, consequential voice.
FERNANDO A. FERNANDEZ - 1/31/2012 12:16 AM
Let's spread this letter through whatever means we have access to.
I've already posted it on my facebook wall and forwarded it to my email friends.
ANTONIO LOSADA - 1/30/2012 9:34 PM
WE WILL NOT COMPLY TO THIS TRAVESTY OF FAITH WE ARE WITH YOU ARCHBISHOP
PAX ET BONAM
YOLANDA LOPEZ - 1/30/2012 8:47 PM
I heard about this on the news this Monday morning. The subject was never mentioned during the mass I attended yesterday. I inquired and was told the letter was received too late to be printed in the bulletin. Such an important letter should have been included as an insert.

In any event, I am heartened the Church is taking a stand.

God bless and protect the Church
RAMIRO FERNANDEZ - 1/30/2012 1:39 PM
It is certainly God's Blessing to have Bishop Wenski as the Shepherd of the flock of Miami. He has shown to be courageous on preaching his beliefs and those of the Catholic Church.

I only wonder, why such an important message that impacts our faith was not read in some churches this past weekend?

Bishop Wenski, you have my total support - God Bless.
ROBERTA IN THE KEYS - 1/30/2012 12:56 PM
Thank you Archbishop Wenski, but I wish as far back as Obama speaking at Notre Dame, what kind of message did that send ?? Why was he asked ?? I think the Catholic Bishops have the right to refuse to go along with this policy for their employees.
JEFF CARR - 1/30/2012 10:49 AM
Bishop Wenski: Thanks for you important message. I would ask, howecver, that the church might consider a third option, which would be a simple refusal, in good conscience, to comply with requirements of the new law. This would include a refusal to modify the insurance coverage of diocesan employees. Our nation has a mechanism to resolve consititutional conflicts of this nature and I believe that many catholics would personally support the cost of taking this matter to the courts.
LAWRENCE GOODALL - 1/30/2012 6:34 AM
Thank you, Your Excellency, for publishing this letter. I pray that all Catholics will take visible and public stands in defense of religious liberty, both through prayer and contacting our elected officials. Thank you for your leadership!
JULIAN L. SEVILLANO - 1/29/2012 6:26 PM
Dear Archbishop Wenski:
My wife and I are in complete agreement with the sentiments express in you letter. As people of faith we will pray and fast. But as citizens of this great country we will call our representatives and we will vote. Oh yes we will vote. Thank you for your courage and guidance. God bless you.
Respecfully yours in Christ
Julian L. Seviilano and Elvira M. Erbiti
MARILYN FERNANDEZ - 1/28/2012 9:43 PM
I don't agree with "offer employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs...". Father Alberto Rodriguez (a Cuban Republican) accused "Neron" president Obama (his own words) convinced ignorants who go to church that our president is a criminal. However, I invite all of you to read again the Constitution of the USA. The House designs the laws, the Senate can make a new law or modify the law. Passes it to Congress. Then the President decides if he signs or not. This law of giving abortion drugs is an invention of the Republicans to help pharmaceutical companies sell more drugs. And last but not least, I don't go to church to hear of political campaigns, specially Cuban Republicans who think their thoughts are the only ones correct. Does the Catholic church want me to vote for Gingrich? Gingrich has been married three times, and he has been accused of having a multitude of extramarital affairs, although he has only admitted to one -- with the woman who would eventually become his third and present wife. After having two daughters with his first wife, they were divorced in 1980. She accused him of discussing divorce terms during her recuperation from cancer. Six months later, he married his second wife, Marianne Ginther, whom he divorced in 2000. During their marriage, he was having an affair with Callista Bisek around the time Kenneth Starr was investigating President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Many of us who go to church are not ignorants, we are professionals who study, read a lot, and work hard to earn our money. Stop this non-sense comments and concentrate on God.
This is a typical example why so many Catholics go to other churches.
I hope you ask for excuses at our next mass on Saturday at 7 pm. And please, stop talking so much about Cuba. Cuba is not the world. Respect parishioners from other nationalities please.
RB - 1/28/2012 6:42 PM
I just returned from the 5 PM mass after having heard the priest read your letter, and adding at the end that "it was due to Obama Care". This is the same church where they have not said one single word about the trip being organize to Cuba during the Pope visit which you are not disapproving.

Now regarding the health insurance coverage requirement for almost all employers, it seems to me that if the employees could opt out of all or some of those "services" it would solve the problem of having to paid for some thing that is against their religion. How?, well very simple: a majority of the congress can pass and amendment to that requirement and the President either will sign it or veto. Is Congress going to do it?, I don't think so, because it eliminates anti-Obama propaganda, just like the today's Priest. Respectfully, RB
MARIA T. VILLARAUS - 1/27/2012 8:05 PM
Archbishop Wenski, we are very blessed to have a courageous Christlike shepherd like you. My family are commiting ourselves to intense prayer and fasting begging the Lord for the reversal of this injustice. We believe in miracles through the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother and like you said with God nothing is impossible. We are praying for the conversion of the hearts of those in authority who are responsible for stripping away our religious rights. Merciful Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy on us and the whole world. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us,St. Michael,defend us from evil.

Archbishop Wenski, God bless you for all you do for our church and your faithfulness to our Lord. We are praying for your intentions.

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Maria T. Villaraus
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