Obama’s war on religion (update #1)

Obama's War on Religion

The Obama administration’s war against religion continues with no sign of backing down. In a nut shell, our President insists that we Catholics fund (buy, pay for) contraceptives, abortifacients (drugs to induce abortions) and sterilization coverage – making these tools of Satan universally available to all in America at our expense.

This post is part of a series covering this very important topic. To see the whole series, click here.

9 days ago, US Catholic bishops around the country denounced President Obama’s action in the strongest terms. The Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in North America (representing 53 Orthodox bishops) has also agreed with the USCCB, as have conservative Protestant groups. Individual US bishops around the country have issued statements, often read aloud at Mass. Below is an interactive map showing which bishops by state:

Hover (move your mouse pointer) over a state for info. Click to enlarge.

The data for the above map was provided by Tom Peters on his excellent CatholicVote.org website. More data and analysis is available there. If you have any updates, please leave him a comment.

Dispatches from the White House

The administration has held press conferences and conference calls to obfuscate the issue, backed by statements lacking “truthiness”. Stephen White wrote for the National Review Online:

One senior administration official did address the matter of coverage for abortifacients, insisting that the mandate did not include coverage for, as they put it, “drugs that cause abortion.” This is false.

Take the example of ella (ulipristal acetate), which the mandate covers. It’s true that since ella has not been adequately studied as a human abortifacient, the FDA hasn’t approved it as an abortifacient. The FDA does point out that since it’s pretty good at causing abortions in rats and monkeys, doctors should apprise their patients of potential fetal hazards: The primary fetal hazard being death. So when the senior administration official said the mandate didn’t cover “drugs that cause abortion,” what she seems to have meant is that it doesn’t cover drugs that are FDA-approved as abortifacients.

Numerous distortions and misrepresentations continue on-line, including this piece on the White House website. The USCCB quickly responded:

The Obama administration, to justify its widely criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1). In what follows, each White House claim is quoted with a response.

Please click here to read the complete, detailed point-by-point response from our bishops.

Catholic Democrats Who Supported Obama

Many Catholics supported Obama in 2008 based upon promises of a new day for non-partisan politics, a post-racial America, an end to constitutional abuses, closing Guantanamo, opportunity for all and much more. So many promises…

Obama’s frontal assault on our faith may be the last straw. Michelle Bauman writing for the Catholic News Agency:

According to Condon, the mandate provoked an “explosion of anger” and has left many Catholics feeling disappointed with President Obama.

Many Catholics who supported Obama in the 2008 election and defended his controversial appearance at Notre Dame in 2009 are also now left disillusioned by the realization that Obama does not understand “Catholic sensitivities,” as they had thought.

Condon said that although not all Catholics follow the Church’s teaching on birth control, the “American Catholic backlash” against the mandate has united the Church in a fight against a government attempt to regulate its ministries and employees

You know things are bad when Catholic, Obama cheer-leader, Obama’s (past) man in Malta – Doug Kmiec – has doubts. Doug was able to rationalize his way through the the termination of life at the beginning, destruction of marriage in the middle and termination of life at the end. With some presidential stroking he will probably relapse in his Obama addiction – BUT when recently asked about his support for Obama in 2012 he wrote:

Until I have an opportunity to speak with the president, I am for now (unhappily) without a candidate.

Obama Catholics
Spotted by Tom Peters

Catholics for Obama, don’t be fooled any longer. Obama is very charismatic and his words sound so good, but his actions have repeatedly spoken much louder. Your Church is calling for your help. Will you finally answer?


So, in light of the “FINAL” decision of HHS for the administration’s mandate, without change, who could possibly be happy with this disaster?

Yes, they really did make this tasteless video in celebration. Like them, it is offensive on so many levels.

Nancy Pelosi, while not yet dancing in the street, applauds the HHS mandate as a “courageous decision”:

Nancy, as you can see, continues to speak as a Catholic. Opposing the entire bishop’s conference is nothing new. Many are growing weary of her schtick.

Obama’s war on religion

Obama's War on Religion

It is not hyperbole. I wish it was.

We Catholics are not generally confrontational. We prefer working with people to working against them. We know God is in each of us. Despite the efforts of some to rewrite history, we know our country was founded on religious freedom and cherish that. As Catholics, we are proud of our contributions to building this nation – the universities, hospitals, adoption services, services to the poor, advancement of science and so much more.

What would it take to make our most liberal bishops and the USCCB, to publicly and loudly protest against a president they want to support? Why did so many bishops write letters to their flocks, often directed to be read aloud (an extraordinary act), at Mass last weekend? Effectively an open declaration of war against us.

This has been building for some time. We saw in administration speeches the redefinition of “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship” – you can believe what you want, but not live it if it conflicts with their godless secular “values.” We have seen the administration withhold funds as a club against our own states and sovereign nations who do not accept abortion or unnatural unions. We have seen funding removed from critically needed, immensely effective Catholic social services, in favor of acknowledged inferior providers.

Notable skirmishes have been the lack of legally binding conscience provisions in Obamacare. We lost that. More recently the administration turned their heavy artillery against our “personnel.” The Obama administration’s position was that we can not “discriminate” in our hiring and firing of ministers based on all the leading-edge secular criteria. If you are not following, that means women priests, homosexual priests, etc. Incredibly (I was shocked), the Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY REJECTED that.

So what is the fuss all about now? Obamacare has come home to roost. Those promises and conscience protections guaranteed by his executive order and in numerous speeches – non-existent. In fact, quite the opposite. By the administration’s decree – health plans must include (1) contraceptives, (2) abortifacients, (3) sterilization. A view that pregnancy is a disease that must be treated. An anti-life position we find repugnant. No plan without such immoral coverage shall be legally available whether you like it or not. MOREOVER, the Church itself must offer such abhorrent plans to her employees. Of course, that is impossible for us so this would force us to drop healthcare coverage and pay huge fines for doing so.

The message Mr. Obama is sending, says Mr. Winters, is “that there is no room in this great country of ours for the institutions our Church has built over the years to be Catholic in ways that are important to us.”

Mr. Winters is not alone. The liberal Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, blogged that he “cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience” – and he urged people to fight it. Another liberal favorite, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., has raised the specter of “civil disobedience” and vowed that he will drop coverage for diocesan workers rather than comply. They are joined in their expressions of discontent by the leaders of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities, which alone employs 70,000 people.

William McGurn
Wall Street Journal

OK. With all the political noise out there you may not have been following this. Maybe you think that your bishop has over-reacted. Besides your bishop, who does this upset? Our Holy Father. Cardinal-designate and president of the USCCB Timothy Dolan. Our most liberal bishops.

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have 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. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Pope Benedict XVI

Scarcely two weeks ago, in its Hosanna-Tabor decision upholding the right of churches to make ministerial hiring decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically reaffirmed these longstanding and foundational principles of religious freedom. The court made clear that they include the right of religious institutions to control their internal affairs.

Yet the Obama administration has veered in the opposite direction. It has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good – including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals – from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.

Last August, when the administration first proposed this nationwide mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage, it also proposed a “religious employer” exemption. But this was so narrow that it would apply only to religious organizations engaged primarily in serving people of the same religion. As Catholic Charities USA’s president, the Rev. Larry Snyder, notes, even Jesus and His disciples would not qualify for the exemption in that case, because they were committed to serve those of other faiths.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President of USCCB

This decision from the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] is from the highest level of Federal government, and I cannot imagine that this decision was released without the explicit knowledge and approval of President Barack Obama.

And I cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience than this ruling today. This decision must be fought against with all the energies the Catholic Community can muster.

For me there is no other fundamental issue as important as this one as we enter into the Presidential and Congressional campaigns. Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person’s own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines.

As Bishops we do not recommend candidates for any elected office. My vote on November 6 will be for the candidate for President of the United States and members of Congress who intend to recognize the full spectrum of rights under the many conscience clauses of morality and public policy. If any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote.

Cardinal Roger Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles

In previous generations, Catholics were protected against individual and organized prejudice by an exemplary legal system. In a society that is pluralistic in its moral standards, the law always provided religious exemptions and conscience clauses that protected both individuals and religious institutions. These traditional safeguards of liberty can no longer be taken for granted. Now it is the law itself that has become, in some instances, our adversary. This is a new development for Catholics in America: the legal system is being changed to remove protections for our faith and our religious liberty. Catholics risk being once again excluded from the American consensus. That is my fear.

Francis Cardinal George
Archbishop of Chicago

I Met Our Archbishop

I am writing to you on a matter of grave moral concern – freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. 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).

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
(my bishop)

It is really hard to believe that it happened. It comes like a slap in the face. The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!? There is no other way to put it.


Let’s be blunt. This whole process of mandating these guidelines undermines the democratic process itself. In this instance, the mandate declares pregnancy a disease, forces a culture of contraception and abortion on society, all while completely bypassing the legislative process.

This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens. It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.


Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.

  • To Hell with your religious beliefs,
  • To Hell with your religious liberty,
  • To Hell with your freedom of conscience.
Most Reverend David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh

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.


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.

Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

In every area touching the sanctity of human life and issues of sexual morality, the Obama administration is aggressively prosecuting the agenda its critics predicted and its most ardent left-wing supporters hoped for. Those who are driving the train, including key administration officials who self-identify as members of the Catholic Church, have no regard for the ethical beliefs of Catholics and others when they are in conflict with left-liberal orthodoxy. Their task, as they perceive it, is to fortify and expand the “right to abortion” and “sexual freedom” wherever they can.


Pro-life citizens, including many Catholics, who in 2008 allowed themselves to be persuaded that Obama wouldn’t, as his critics warned, push abortion hard and run roughshod over the religious liberty and rights of conscience of Catholics and other pro-life citizens and their institutions, have now gotten a rude awakening. His administration revealed its contempt for religious freedom and the rights of people and communities of faith when it embraced an extreme and utterly untenable position on the ministerial exemption in the Hosanna-Tabor case. In case anyone thought that was some sort of isolated mistake, the President’s abortifacient and contraception mandate leaves the matter in no doubt.

Professor Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
Director, James Madison Program

The language is Orwellian. With stunning magnanimity, Sebelius tells Catholic non-profits that they can take advantage of their one-year reprieve as long as they seek the blessings of the federal government. If they pass muster with the bureaucrats, then they have time to figure out how they can prostitute their religiously ground convictions, or prepare for bankruptcy. To top things off, after shoving the radical secular agenda down the throat of Catholics – and other people of faith who share their concerns – Sebelius congratulates the Obama administration for striking a “balance” between religious liberty and Obamacare. But, of course, no balance was struck: the edict grants nothing to those who believe in religious liberty, and she knows it.

Bill Donohue
Catholic League President

Some months ago HHS refused to award an anti-trafficking grant to the U.S. Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). It did so despite MRS’s scoring higher on an objective scale (according to the government’s independent advisors evaluating grant applications) than two of the three organizations that were awarded grants. (And two of those scored so low that they were deemed unqualified.) I suggested then that HHS had an ABC rule, “Anybody But Catholics.” Now I wonder if ABC isn’t also the answer to who gets freedom of religion.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh
USCCB Communications

The present secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a bitter fallen-away Catholic, now requires that all insurance, even when issued privately, must carry coverage for evil and grave sin. Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln

I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance. Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria

A dangerous line has been crossed. Most Reverend Paul Loverde, Bishop of Arlington

The HHS mandate tramples religious freedom. Most Reverend Allen Vigneron, Bishop of Detroit

This is all new, in the sense that never before in our history has any government simply issued a decree emptying the religious convictions and conscience protections of all the institutions that serve the poor. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

…deep disappointment at this unprecedented infringement on religious liberty in our country. Most Reverend Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston

This is the logical result of a seismic change in this administration’s approach to religious groups involved in providing social services to, among others, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant. Most Reverend John Nienstedt, Archbishop of Minneapolis – St. Paul

First of all, it’s much broader than just contraceptives, the Order also includes pills that can act as abortifacients. So it is a very serious threat to our Catholic moral tradition and belief; and, The Right of Conscience, or Freedom of Conscience, is supreme in our Catholic tradition. Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo

When you attack the Church, you attack Christ. Christ and His Church are inseparable. Saul of Taurus learned this the hard way.

On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? He said, “Who are you, sir?? The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Pray for the conversion of hard hearts like St. Paul’s. Write to your representatives. I believe we will win this particular skirmish, but the war will only be ended by you at the ballot box.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

See also:

UPDATE: This post is part of a series covering this very important topic. To see the whole series, click here.

Civil vs. divine law

Civil Vs Divine Law

The Irish Prime Minister, Minister for Justice and Minister for Children are backing legislation to require priests to report confessions of child abuse to the authorities. Failure to report these confessions would land priests in prison for up to 5 years. Emboldened by this, an Australian senator is proposing much the same.

Such efforts have only one purpose and it is not the protection of children. It is quite simply an attack on the Church. These politicians grab headlines, get to appear tough on crime, get to appear protective of children, keep alive the sexual abuse scandal and put the Church into a losing position.

No faithful priest would ever break the seal of the confessional. Doing so would lead to sanctions and excommunication. Priests have been martyred again and again for refusing civil authorities in the past and, if worse comes to worse, will suffer again to protect this sacrament.

Were these politicians actually interested in protecting children, they might take an interest in all the other institutions and organizations which so far have not had anything like the attention directed at the Catholic Church. That is NOT in any way to excuse the actions of those in our numbers who committed such deplorable crimes. Yet, for all the focus and attention on the Catholic Church, studies show it involved in only a small part (less than 0.03% of the perpetrators in the US) of this tragedy. Where is the attention on the home, schools, youth sports and non-Catholic communities?

The liberal media can be counted on to assist such political efforts. They are never a fan of the Church, unless it fits their agenda – such as to support our social justice teaching (which they often distort) or position on capital punishment. Usually, we make headlines today for our failures decades ago, made to sound quite new while such crimes actually being committed right now elsewhere are ignored. I have never seen any coverage of the extensive steps we take today to protect children. In the US, those are quite effective (at a significant cost and sometimes draconian measures). Others could learn a lot from us.

Politicians capable of rational thought and who actually cared about children realize that the confessional seal is helpful. First, this is probably the only place the penitent will face his crimes and the terrible harm done. Second, the priest will probably be the only voice they hear telling them to make amends by turning themselves in. Third, were the Church to agree to cooperate with such laws (it never will), does anyone really think that child abusers would confess their crimes before they are caught? They are disordered but not stupid.

So far, such nonsense has not been proposed in the US. We have had cases of the authorities bugging the confessional but such evidence has been ultimately found to be non-admissible. Ultimately found to be non-admissible because it usually has to go through multiple appeals until that point is reached. In other words, lower courts alarmingly saw it as legal.

While this particular attack is aimed (1) only at the Catholic Church, (2) only at the confessional seal and (3) only for child abuse crimes – do not think for a moment that it would stop there. Were this highly flawed attack to actually work, in relatively little time other crimes would be added…   murder, rape, everything else. New attacks would spring from this success on all of Christianity.

Political attacks on the Church are not limited to the confessional. When the world ignored the need for organized adoptions, the Catholic Church stepped-in . Now, Catholic adoption agencies have had to close because we can not morally place children into unnatural and disordered environments. Likewise, Catholic hospitals are at risk because they can not kill innocent, unborn children.

Even our ability to conduct legal weddings is at risk. In states where the myth of “gay marriage” is legally recognized, (temporary, weak protections notwithstanding) we may eventually loose legal marriages for “discriminating” against those wishing to enter into these unnatural unions. This has happened before in communist Poland where people were routinely married for real in the Church and by civil authorities for legal reasons.

Eventually, the Church may be persecuted for “hate speech” and alleged “civil rights” violations for our “intolerance” of sinful homosexual acts, the “rights” of mothers to kill their unborn children or the “rights” of adult children to kill (euthanize) their parents.

This is not just a problem for the Catholic Church either. Other Christian communities and other religions will face similar pressure to conform – or else. Communist China is very aggressive in this way. The visible Catholic churches are under control of the Patriotic Catholic Association which is controlled by the government. They do not recognize the primacy of the Pope and use all means necessary to FORCE bishops to (illicitly) ordain others of the state’s choosing which do not result in valid holy orders. There is an underground Catholic Church which is estimated to be twice as large as the visible one in which the faithful must take serious risks. Hopefully it will not come to that in Ireland, Australia or here for “upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

UPDATE: Father Finigan also discusses this topic in a few posts:

Hijacking CST

Hijacking Cst

It is contemptible and sad when people (particularly Catholics) “hijack” Catholic Social Teaching for their own ends, typically political. Sometimes this is done in a cold and calculating way. Other times it is because they confuse the ideology of their political party with true Catholic teaching (or worse, place it above the teaching of Christ’s true Church). Sometimes it is just ignorance.

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence” is often attributed to Napoleon. Heinlein’s Razor updates that to “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.” It is unclear which quote fits better in this case, but I note that the parties involved are a hodgepodge of professors.

Recently a group of Catholic university professors wrote an “open letter” to Speaker (US House of Representatives) John Boehner, a (Republican) Catholic. The thrust of their letter was to enlighten him that any reductions in federal government programs that aid the poor would be contrary to Catholic Social Teaching. Of course, the “open” letter was not for him at all but to American Catholics with the subtext that Republicans act contrary to Catholic values – a very partisan agenda promoted at the expense of true Catholic teaching.

Yes, Republicans sometimes act in opposition to CST. Their support of the death penalty immediately comes to mind (an unjust death about once per week). On the other hand, Democrats give unwavering support to the murder of innocent unborn children (which we hold to be an intrinsic evil, resulting in an unjust death every 20 to 30 seconds). Neither political party lines up perfectly with Catholic teaching.

The issue at hand is – can a self-appointed “liberal magisterium” convince Catholics, for their own partisan purposes, that any reduction in federal programs is contrary to Catholic teaching? I sure hope not and that we see this for the corruption of Church teaching that it is.

The real Magisterium, the one instituted by Jesus and protected by the Holy Spirit, reminds us of our obligation to love each other. In that, we each have a PERSONAL obligation to the poor and vulnerable in what we call the “preferential option for the poor.” We are to share the gifts of time, talent and treasure loaned to us by God with others in need. Catholic charities have always had this focus and do more in this regard than any other charity on the planet.

The “liberal magisterium” views a large, central government (and through it the forced redistribution of wealth as determined by others – particularly them) as the solution. We could split hairs all day on semantics, but that is socialism and it is condemned by the true Magisterium. In the very least, it is liberation theology which our Holy Father and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have also condemned (see this, for example) for the same reasons. Not only is it outside of CST, it is contrary to it – raising issues of free will, worker rights to their wages, subsidiarity and more.

John Kennedy noted that “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” Ronald Reagan was more direct – “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Let’s consider the credibility of the letter organizers. They presumably have done this out of deep concern for the reflection of Catholic values in governmental policy. How many in this group wrote letters to Nancy Pelosi (Democrat Catholic) when she led the House? Did they ever take issue with her rock-solid support, expansion and promotion of abortion? Did they raise a peep at any point in the continual attack on the family posed by supporters of immoral unions? Unlike the bogus issue the professors are raising that will mislead Catholics ahead of the next election, these serious issues are very real (supported by one political party in particular).

Maybe, we should just expect this once again in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. Last time, a half-dozen fake Catholic groups suddenly appeared (with websites and promotion) to give cover to politicians and mislead Catholics. Immediately after the election they disappeared but were very effective. Would it surprise you to learn that this deception was all tied to one party? This could just be more of the same – and as offensive and immoral as the last round.

Some excellent analysis of this issue has been published. In particular, I recommend that you take a look at the the following:

Public sinners

Public Sinners

There is something deeply disturbing about public figures and their very public sins. Not long ago, the reaction would have been shock. Their popularity would tank. Their deeds only whispered and then not in the presence of children. Today their free-spirited (that is, free of the Holy Spirit) thinking is celebrated. They become a model for others to emulate or are another instance of immoral behavior, proudly and boldly following in the footsteps of others.

Hollywood is a rich source of examples. Professional athletics is another. Popular music performers still another. As upsetting as so many of these individuals often are, theirs is a context that at least numbs our reaction. They are usually acting as individuals, representing only their own moral depravity and directly affecting only their own sad lives. They generally do not claim to be followers of Christ.

There is another group of public figures who share the attributes of the others noted above, but unlike them have a special trust with the public. They are elected, public servants. We have selected them, above all others, to represent us. We look to them for leadership and guidance. Some are elected partially on their professed Christian or even Catholic faith.

It is exceedingly disappointing then, when our elected officials turnout to be notorious and non-repentant sinners. To my mind, there are 3 areas of concern.

First, concern for their souls. They are listening to Satan’s lies. They have separated themselves from God. Whatever benefit they think that they are gaining in this life is at a forfeit of life in the next. Maybe they are simply placing the idol of their political party above God. Maybe they are looking for the approval of their friends. Perhaps they do not really believe the faith they profess. Maybe despite what their faith has taught them, they believe they can do these things, plead their case before God (most are attorneys) and then be saved by God’s mercy. Maybe, but that is a very risky assumption. God knows their hearts. This seems suicidal to me. Pray for these people, that their hearts soften, that the Holy Spirit fill their hearts, that they truly repent and work to mitigate the damage they have done.

Second, concern for that damage. The damage upon society for the policy actions they have taken may be great. This damage is real and inflicted at their hands regardless of how they try to have it both ways (“while I am personally against…”). The most clear-cut example is abortion. Babies are killed. Lives lost. Facilitated quite directly by the policy actions of these public servants. There is no way to dance around this one.

Third, for the scandal. This is really two parts. Part 1 is the reassurance to the public that these actions are not really sinful but even good. That they should be embraced and celebrated. This “leadership” is misleading and at the service of Satan, not God. Part 2 is for those who profess a Catholic identity. Some of our brothers and sisters may believe that through these examples, it is acceptable to be Catholic and yet embrace this or that sin as a “personal matter and choice, guided by their own (ill-formed) conscience.” It is NOT. Through the scandal, other souls may be “dragged down” with these very public sinners.

Support for abortion is the largest issue, above all others. Significant too is support for capital punishment, attacks on the family (gay marriage, divorce), unjust wars, promotion of contraception and even criminal acts such as accepting bribes.

Public servants are a special case of sinners for another reason. We can join them in their sins! Through our votes, we become complicit if their record is one which supports immorality. In some areas, there can be mitigating reasons for supporting them. This is absolutely not valid in the case of abortion which is recognized by the Church as an intrinsic evil. Voting for a pro-abortion candidate over a pro-life one is sinful as numerous bishops have repeatedly pointed out. We are not in an election cycle now. We are in Lent. This is a good time to reflect upon past choices, to examine our conscience and to repent.