Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Call to Action by our Nation's Bishops

This was published in the Umatuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hagatna, Guam, On 10/02/11
A few weeks ago, I opined that the Obama administration’s decision to force us to fund elective sterilizations and the distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients through our health care premiums had placed Catholics in a morally compromising situation.
The USCCB called the mandate a violation of the First Amendment, an “attack on religious liberty” and “an “unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into the precincts of religion....”
That such a crushing mandate could be imposed on the whole of the nation without legislation and prior public knowledge is symptomatic of the mechanisms hidden within the 3000 page PPACA (Health Care Act) that will allow for future attacks on life just like this one.
Previously, and to no avail, the USCCB had inveighed against the forced funding of abortion built into the PPACA through another hidden mechanism despite President Obama’s promise before a Joint Session of Congress that abortion funding would not be included, and his last minute executive order to supposedly insure it.
Up till now there was little we could do about the contraceptive mandate which Americans United for Life called “the greatest attack on conscience rights in American history.” However, with the introduction of The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, there is something we can do: contact our Congresswoman and urge her to support  it!
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act “amends the PPACA to protect individual rights of conscience, including the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health care coverage that is consistent with one’s religious beliefs and moral convictions.” 
I am copying here a letter suggested by AUL Action and modified to be addressed to our Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Madeline Z. Bordallo
120 Father Duenas Ave., Suite 120
Hagatna, GU 96910
Dear Congresswoman Bordallo,

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by the 111th Congress in March 2010 marked unprecedented threats to the conscience rights of millions of Americans. To protect our conscience rights from attack, I ask that you support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. 

The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) in the House and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) in the Senate, amends the PPACA to protect individual rights of conscience, including the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health care coverage that is consistent with one's religious beliefs and moral convictions. It also ensures that no requirement in the PPACA creates new pressures to exclude those exercising such conscientious objection from health plans.  

Given the recent regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandating that all insurance plans provide coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives, including the abortion-inducing drug ella, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is particularly necessary. This mandate forces Americans to subsidize abortion-inducing drugs and devices with our insurance premiums, thereby violating our conscience rights. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act addresses the HHS regulations to ensure that health plan issuers or health care providers are not coerced to provide insurance coverage for items and services contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions. The Act also prohibits the PPACA from mandating that health plans offer coverage for specific items or services contrary to the sponsor, issuer, or other entity's conscience. 
Importantly, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act also safeguards health care providers from being coerced to participate in, provide, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider's religious beliefs or moral convictions.  Passage of this bill is essential to preserve the conscience rights that form the bedrock of American freedom. 
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority." I urge you to preserve this essential component of American freedom and to protect our conscience rights by supporting the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. 
Please show your support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act and encourage your colleagues to do the same. 

[Your Name] 
[Your Address] 
[City, State ZIP]
This letter can also be submitted through the Congresswoman’s website or through the AUL Action website. And let us pray that God will give her the wisdom, the courage, and the words to speak up for our rights of conscience and against the mandate that our Nation’s Bishops have called an “unprecedented attack on religious liberty”.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guardian Angels, you say?

My brother, Chris, was born September 29,  40 something years ago. When he was 2, he was run over by a van, twice. Chris had crawled underneath the family van in our driveway. My dad had been working underneath the van and didn't notice that Chris had crawled in after him.
Chris is the one with the halo! 

Dad had finished fixing whatever he was fixing and was cleaning his hands when Mom got in the van to go somewhere. I still remember my Dad's scream when he saw Mom back the van over Chris. Mom didn't know what she had run over. She had felt the bump. Perhaps she thought it was a tool or something. So she went forward to get off of the "bump" and ran over Chris again.

Again Dad screamed and Mom, paralyzed with fear, stopped the van on top of Chris. I can remember Dad tearing open the back of the van to get the jack. He jacked the van up off of Chris, pulled him out, and of course drove like a mad man to the nearest emergency room.

Somethings you never forget, like the look on my parents' face when they came home with Chris, complete with tire marks embedded in his two year old back, but not a single broken bone, and quite alive. A miracle, yes. Needless to say, Chris was ever thereafter, my mother's favorite son. And I never begrudged her a bit.

Adventures were not over for Chris. As a teenager, he rolled his jeep down a mountain. The jeep was totaled, Chris manged to crawl out with a few cuts and bruises. About a week before his wedding a few years later, Chris and his fiance lay upside down in his pickup truck cab. Someone had run a red light and Chris had plowed into the side of the other vehicle so hard that his truck flipped over the other car and landed upside down in the intersection.

Chris and his wife were married a few days later - his wife in a cast and both of them with severe cuts and bruises.  Guardian angels you say? Perhaps that's why God gave us Chris on September 29, the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels. You might say that "Happy Birthday", has a special meaning for Chris...and for those of us who remember seeing his 2 year old body under the wheel of the van that day. What we didn't see was St. Michael and his fellow Archangels holding it up till Dad got the jack under it. 

Happy Birthday, brother.
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