Oct 4, 2013

Good News for Catholics in America

Contemplating the life of St. Francis, humble image of Christ and lover of poverty, let us consider how we can be better stewards of the good things God has given us. Let us follow the example of Pope Francis in his financial motu propio, and make sure that whatever resources we have, be they great or small, are being used to do good, not evil. 

As I write this, the United States federal government has "fallen sick" because we cannot agree on a morally acceptable budget.  There is more than just math involved in formulating a budget—there is an intrinsic moral dimension involved whenever someone makes a choice on how he is going to spend his money.

Let us find the courage to say, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Let us be courageous in doing what is right in the sight of the God who loves us, because this is the key to our happiness.  Let us take a stand against the dictatorship of relativism by opening up dialogue and renewing the pursuit of the truth.

For those who feel compelled to finance abortion under the disputed healthcare law, there is good news: A class-action lawsuit has been launched under the Beckett Fund in order to defend a morally acceptable health insurance option with the Christian Brothers. If you do not know who the Christian Brothers are, they are a religious order that has adopted the ministry of providing many different financial services, including health insurance for dioceses, religious organizations, and Catholic employers—an option worth looking into—and good news, indeed—especially if you are a Catholic employer, or are employed by someone who is Catholic, or know of anybody else struggling with issues of conscience under Obama-care. There is also another morally acceptable option, especially for individuals, called health sharing ministries. Brothers, while we have time, let us do good! God bless you!

Sep 5, 2013

"Blessed are You..."

St Gregory wrote a rule calling for heroically virtuous priests. But in our day, when heroic virtue is needed across the whole Church, how many of us are listening to that call in the words and actions of our priests?

To this deafness we say...YES WE CAN...handle the truth! As we consider going to War against Syria, as if to punish someone, when it is we ourselves who are responsible for the bloodshed there, let us repent, let us return to the sacrament of Confession, receive the gifts of forgiveness and peace, and follow the example of Pope Francis in his most recent motu propio: let us stop our financial cooperation in "terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction!"

With the same determination, let's strive to stop financing Abortion: Here is a call to "heroic" virtue: Pay no premium that contributes to this evil. Yes, your health insurance is now paying for abortions, just check the list of benefits. This means it may be time to join one of the 3 health-sharing ministries and drop the insurance. Wait...Do you hear that?...People are complaining about the cost of insurance. No reason to waste time complaining! Save yourself some money as you save your soul!

Sep 4, 2013

"How Can This Be?" Rainbows and Metaphysics

Many are being swayed by the "dictatorship of relativism" because they do not have enough confidence in the human capacity for truth. Looking the other way when our leaders fail to secure the necessary conditions for a just war is only one example of this problem. Acting in accordance with our capacity for truth is not only a right, but a grave duty, precisely because we have the capacity for truth. The way to truth is traveled by means of dialogue, and this way of encounter is the only path to peace. 

How can there be "certainty" of knowledge?—Is any knowledge absolute?

A good scientist knows that what he studies is reality. His quest is to understand "that-which-is." He has an inquisitive and active imagination, and as he experiences a given reality, he approaches that reality with the question, "how can this be?," searching for possible explanations. 

Often, there are many possible explanations, and a persisting sense of wonder and awe before the reality indicates that there are still more not-yet-thought-of explanations regarding the thing's manner of existence, of it's way of being. He does not approach the reality alone, but in dialogue with the rest of humanity. This dialogue will critically examine the many different hypotheses that are put forward, and it will falsify some. But it does not stop there, because that is not sufficient for scientific understanding. Real scientific knowledge comes also from demonstrating an understanding of the thing--an understanding which would provide sufficient cause for that thing's manner of being--an understanding with such clarity and grasp of the reality (i.e. "completeness") that the scope of all possible explanations could be seen, within which all but one explanation is shown to be false or insufficient. 

This kind of true, certain knowledge of reality is possible, and actually exists when the attitude of Aristotle, the attitude of "Metaphysics" is utilized as the most fundamental philosophical approach to reality. The closing of the modern mind to the horizons of truth is due to the fact that Epistemology and Logic has replaced Metaphysics as being the most fundamental, and this causes us to first ask the question, "how can I know this?," a question that seeks only certainty, but not understanding of being, leaving us stuck in our own minds, seeking to know ideas rather than the reality itself, and these ideas are dogmatically imposed as scientific conclusions, without, along the way, making any differentiation between theories and demonstrably certain truths, because we often do not have the prudence or the courage to enter into the kind of dialogue that is oriented toward demonstratiive, scientific knowledge. For a more complete explanation of the role of Metaphysics in the areas of Philosophy and human knowledge, I intend to read "Being and Truth," by Martin Heidegger. 

One example of real scientific knowledge is with the way a rainbow is formed. Here is a video where someone demonstrates both scientific and unscientific knowledge. http://goo.gl/HWk0Fn He demonstrates scientific understanding of the way in which a simple rainbow is formed, but not when he attempts to explain the formation of the second rainbow. [Also, isn't the refraction of light still kind of "mysterious"?] Perhaps a few more diagrams would have been helpful to demonstrate the reality:http://goo.gl/MH2J5L http://goo.gl/glhJBu Those pictures are worth a thousand words.

Here is another person whose demonstration (and excitement) comes more from a sense of understanding (understanding not just the ideas that he has been taught but the reality itself) and an attitude of wonder and awe at the depth of the reality, recognizing the element of mystery involved for the learner, and what it is like to be "surprised" by truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k85eD_tQZo . 

Here's the Bottom Line:  Let's question authority the way Mary did, "How can this be?," rather than the way Zechariah did, "How can I know this?"

Aug 11, 2013

The Disputed Question Regarding Compliance with the HHS Mandate

["You are the Salt of the earth...You are the Light of the World."]*

Whether or not we, as Catholics, "cannot, will not comply" with the HHS-mandated cooperation in abortion and sterilization? [—Is that a loaded question, or what?]*

1.  It seems that the principle of "double-effect" can be invoked in order to justify compliance with the HHS Mandate.

ON THE CONTRARY: The principle of double-effect can only apply to a single act, which must be good in itself. It cannot be applied to two separate acts, one of which is good and the other of which is bad, because an objectively evil act cannot be justified (We cannot choose to do something evil so that something good might come from it). Caring for the health of a person is a good act, and we must do this. But choosing a means to pay for healthcare services is a different act, and must be regarded as a separate act. Consider that the dignity of the human person demands that the person be cared for regardless of their own ability to pay.

Furthermore: The choice to buy an insurance product (which is designed to use the collected funds to make payments for healthcare services on behalf of those who have bought the product) is, in a sense, a choice to help others to pay for the healthcare services that they receive.

One problem: Abortion, contraception, and sterilization are not healthcare services. They are objectively unhealthy, contrary to the natural functioning of the body and to the very lives, health, or eternal salvation of each person involved in these acts. The choice to buy an insurance product that covers abortion, contraception or sterilization is a choice to help other people pay for these "services" and it is a choice to cooperate in these objectively evil acts. We have, not only the right, but the duty to refuse to cooperate. Consider that our freedom depends entirely on our moral adherence to the truth.

2.  It seems that the concept of "duress" can be invoked in order to justify compliance with the HHS Mandate.

ON THE CONTRARY: The circumstances of duress can indeed lessen moral culpability, but they cannot make an evil act good. Even when people seem to be "forced" to act against their conscience, such a situation is a very great evil, and in a certain sense, it is even "worse than killing them." (YOUCAT, 296) It follows that it would be better to die a martyr than to comply with the HHS mandate, even under "duress." Consider that the early Christians refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols, even to the point of martyrdom—Nor would they agree to burn a single grain of incense to an image of the emperor as if he were God.

3.  It still seems that we are not responsible for the abortions funded by our insurance product.

ON THE CONTRARY: suppose that there is a girl considering abortion, who is covered by an insurance product which we have bought. If she ultimately makes her decision based on whether or not the abortion would be covered by the insurance, and if she therefore chooses to have an abortion, then the insurance product would be "necessary" with regard to the procurement of the abortion, and we [would all be, as a whole, responsible for that abortion, in a "network of complicity" (please see Evangelium vitae, 58-59). Furthermore, those of us]* who knowingly chose this insurance product that pays for abortions, would be formally cooperating in that abortion. This is so serious that we would be automatically excommunicated [if we are aware of this specific penalty]*, so as to bring us, without delay, to repentance, and to the peace of reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession. (please see Evangelium Vitae, 62)

4.  It seems that we have no other options than to buy insurance that violates our conscience.

ON THE CONTRARY: I, personally, was not happy with my insurance before the Affordable Care Act was signed into Law. In fact, it [literally]* made me sick to find out that my plan was paying for abortion and contraception. But when I sat down to read the new law, I discovered that there are alternatives to health insurance called "health sharing ministries," and that members of those ministries will be exempt from the individual insurance mandate. Thanks to this provision in the law, I, as a Catholic and as an individual, have been able to avoid cooperating in what I clearly understand to be a grave evil. Please promote this option to other Catholics and people of good will who object to the insurance mandate on grounds of conscience, and it would go a long way to restoring peace in our nation.

Furthermore: If we, as a nation governed by law, can show respect for the conscience rights of individuals, it wouldn't seem to be too difficult to make provisions that respect the conscience rights of various groups of people as well. With groups of people, there is more than just immoral cooperation to consider. These groups, whether they be religious organizations or family-run businesses, have the right (and the duty) to prevent harmful things from falling into the hands of their children, and this duty is so profound and such an intrinsic aspect of society that society itself cannot survive without it.

In Conclusion:

Some things will never be in our control (or under the control of the government, for that matter). One of those things is the conscience of the people, which is free insofar as it is informed by the Truth, which is not something that we can create on our own, but something which we receive from God and through the natural order of Creation. Let us then be willing, even to the point of laying down our lives, to defend this authentic freedom for every human being, which is the crown of glory given to us by God.

PLEASE, SAY SOMETHING:  A good place to engage in the nation-wide dialogue about this question is on the USCCB Facebook Event Page which was launched for the Fortnight for Freedom. You could also write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

May 20, 2013

"For Freedom Christ Has Set us Free."

Dear Friend,

I want to share with you some Good News:

Christ loved us so much that He found the human courage to lay down His life for us. Let us also find the courage, with His help, to do what is right and just, and not submit to the HHS Mandate.

A few years ago, I had health insurance with Anthem. Then one day, I had the opportunity to go online and find out that we were paying for Mifepristone, an abortion-inducing drug. 

I was outraged, and then I was sickened (literally) when I could not find a single health insurance company that did not cover contraception or abortion (this was before the HHS Mandate!) 
I thought that I could run away from the responsibility by embracing a life of absolute poverty, but even there I was stuck with using my insurance with Anthem!

Finally, I found some hope in an unexpected place: buried in the 2,000-page Obamacare legislation is a clause exempting members of a "health-sharing ministry" from the individual insurance mandate.  This means that we now have three moral, legal choices:  "Medishare," "Samaritain," and “Christian Healthcare Ministries" (CHM).  [Comparison ChartI chose to join CHM because it has the least expensive membership option.

This kind of ministry is not foreign to the Church—in fact, the "ministry of charity" is precisely the reason why deacons were instituted in the early years.  But today, we have the welcome opportunity to cooperate with our separated brethren in one of the three legally recognized "health-sharing ministries," because it is no longer legal for us to initiate such a ministry on our own.  Pope Benedict XVI recently put it into Canon Law that a bishop "is to promote charitable initiatives in cooperation with" our separated brethren in Christ, "where appropriate."  Considering the gravity of the HHS Mandate, it is definitely appropriate in this situation. Please encourage your bishop to promote these charitable initiatives. 

Pope Benedict XVI also wrote into Canon Law that we must now seek to form our own parish-based ministries of Charity. Your bishop may already have given subtle directives for this to happen.  

What hope this means for the Church!  If we do not have  to comply with the HHS Mandate,  let us choose  not to!  Let us be martyrs—martyrs of Charity!

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Donnie Schenck (Trenton, OH)

Apr 25, 2013

"There is no Authority except from God..."

Is it Illegal to give Legal Advice?

Well, here goes--Let's let God be the Judge--In the end, His opinion is the only one that matters. All authority comes from God, but just as the Lord gives, the Lord can take away.

So, here is my legal advice for anyone seeking peace:  Obey God, Who created you, loves you, and wants to give you the fullness of life.  Obey the divine Law, which is present in Nature, governing the created order of the universe, an order which is understandable by human reason and sheds light on the moral quality of human choices--obey the divine Law, which was gradually revealed to our Fathers in Faith, and made crystal clear in Jesus Christ and His Love for the Church.

Obey the Law, first and foremost, at its most fundamental level--as a reality that we receive, not as a reality that we would create--Consider that only God can create something from nothing, and while He does share with us the capacity to create things, we are limited in the use of this creative power--we can only create something from something else, respecting the nature of the things we started with, the things God gave us--Whether we are building something out of wood, or endeavoring to build a just and peaceful society, we must respect the integrity of the wood itself in such a way that it does not splinter or shatter, just as we must respect the Family, given to us by God, as the fundamental building-block of society.

Now, here is some more legal advice:  Obey all human laws out of respect for the divine Law, and heed, insofar as you are able, all reasonable requests from human authorities (Parents, Teachers, community Leaders at every level and branch of government and free association, and yes, your Spouse). But do not neglect to listen to God when He vindicates his Truth and Love through the Church and even whispers to you through your conscience--At the right moment, He will speak to your heart, prompting you to do for your neighbor what you would want him to do for you, what is good or necessary for his well-being, even (and especially) if he would be ashamed to ask you for it. This "Golden Rule" is at the heart of the Natural Law.

That said, here is my last bit of legal advice for those who truly seek peace:  Do not be afraid!  Obey God's Law at all costs, whether it is the Law of Moses and the Law of the Gospel, or the more subtle expression of the same divine Law inherent in Creation. Here is a summary, but please examine it for yourself with the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
  1. Seek the Truth ...............................................................(CCC 2104)
  2. Confess the Faith without Fear .......................................(CCC 2145)
  3. Sunday is a Day of Protest..............................................(CCC 2172)
  4. Family is the Foundation of Freedom ..............................(CCC 2207)
  5. Do not provide abortifacent drugs to women ...................(CCC 2272)
    Do not look the other way, and do not be silent, when the innocent sick or elderly receive a death sentence. Do not fail to give them nutrition and hydration, even by artificial means, if it is possible and safe for the patient. (CCC 2277) (Clarification)
    Yea--human life is sacred ...............................................(CCC 2258)
  6. ...and so is human sexuality .............................................(CCC 2361)
  7. Do your part to take care of Creation and the Poor...........(CCC 2443) 
  8. Bear witness to the Truth .................................................(CCC 2471)
    Do not allow the truth to be silenced by the powerful........ (CCC 2499)
  9. Modesty is decency......................................................... (CCC 2522)
  10. The Poor will see God......................................................(CCC 2547)
Keep in mind that any human law that does not respect the divine Law is actually an act of violence, and is therefore no law at all, and that any unjust request by human authority must not be obeyed, insofar as doing so would [clearly and] objectively violate God's Law [and not just be perceived as a "lesser good"].  In such a situation, God permits those in authority to abdicate their own authority by the very act of issuing an unjust law or command, but only with respect to that particular law or command.  However, they abdicate their authority entirely [their authority "breaks down completely" and is regarded as "null"] when there is a certain, grave, and prolonged abuse of their power. We must be very careful here--The HHS abortion mandate has now been clearly identified, both by the bishops and by the faithful, as such a "grave" and "sustained" abuse...What's next?  I don't know--It is like [riding with poor Dorthy] in a house that has been ripped off its foundation.  [But let us be patient. When the house finally lands on its proper foundation, Jesus Christ, the wicked ways of the West will lie squashed under His feet!]

Now is the time to Pray--and to pray earnestly for an increase in Faith.
Now is the time to Examine our Consciences--accept the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus Christ, and with the grace of the Sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation, make concrete amends.

God Bless You.

P.S.--As a reference in support of what has been said here, You may also want to read:

In the Bible, the Book of Acts and the Book of Revelation
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 1897-1904, but especially para. 1903)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 2238-2243, but especially para. 2242)
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (paragraphs 393-399, but especially para. 399)
The Gospel of Life (paragraphs 68-74, but especially paragraph 74)
Peace on Earth (paragraphs 48-52, but especially paragraph 51)
The Long-Continued and Most Bitter War (Paragraph 15)
The Service of Authority and Obedience (paragraph 5, etc.)

Mar 15, 2013

"Come, Let us Walk Together in the Light of the Lord"

Pope Francis approaching the altar of the Sistine Chapel.

I was struck by how slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully Pope Francis delivered his first homily, at the Mass with the Cardinals to close the conclave. He reminds me of a mystic, who is not afraid of the kind of silence which allows the Word of God to resonate in the heart, even to become "incarnate" in one's life. These are some of my reflections on his homily. Referring to the readings (Is. 2:2-5, 1 Pt. 2: 4-9, and Mt.16: 13-19) he highlights the theme of action, or "movement:" "In the first reading it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading it is the movement [of] building the Church; in the third, the Gospel, it is the movement of confession [the profession of faith]." He explains, leaving time for the hearer to ponder the meaning:

"Journeying.  'House of Jacob, come, let us walk together in the light of the Lord' (Isaiah 2:5). This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and you will be blameless. Journey: our life is a journey and when we stop it does not go on. Journey always in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.
 "Building. Building the Church. Stones are spoken of: the stones have a consistency, but they are the living stones, stones anointed by the Spirit. Building the Church, the Bride of Christ, upon that cornerstone that is the Lord himself. Building is another form of movement in our life.
 "Third, confessing. We can journey as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing does not work. We will become a welfare NGO but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When we do not journey, we stop. When we do not build upon the stones, what happens? Everything collapses, loses its consistency, like the sandcastles that children build on the beach. When we do not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the words of Léon Bloy: 'Whoever does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.' When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon."

The "way" of the Church, then, includes "Journeying, building-constructing, [and] confessing." Pope Francis warns us that these actions, these "movements," are not easy, because "there are movements antithetical to the journey: there are movements that take us backward." This statement should come as no surprise to the faithful endeavoring to read the Catechism during this Year of Faith, since these "antithetical movements" were summed up in paragraphs 675-677. Because the Church herself "will follow her Lord in his death and resurrection," we, as Christians, must have the courage to embrace the Cross in every aspect of our lives:

"This Gospel continues with an important moment. The same Peter who had confessed Jesus Christ said to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let’s not talk about the cross. This is not a part of it. I will follow you in other directions, but not to the cross. When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord."

Let us ask for the grace to set our hearts on the "New Heavens and the New Earth," "of which the pilgrim Church has been [a sign,] 'in the nature of a sacrament.'" (CCC 1045) It is this Hope that gives us courage:

"I would like for us all, after these days of grace, to have courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the Lord’s presence, with the cross of the Lord; to build the Church upon the blood of the Lord, which was poured out on the cross; and to confess the only glory there is: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will go forward."

Let us remember that this hope, this courage, is truly a gracea gift from God. Let us ask for it, with Pope Francis:

"It is my wish for all of us that the Holy Spirit – through the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother – bestow upon us the grace of journeying, building, confessing Jesus Christ crucified. Amen."

Feb 28, 2013

"I Thirst!"--A Case Against Euthanasia

This is my great-grandmother, Evelyn. She has since gone to Jesus, but look how beautiful she was for my cousin’s wedding, ten years ago.  It was quite an event: at the reception, she was choking on some roast beef, and I happened to be there to perform the Heimlich maneuver and save her life. Anyone else could have done it, but God put me there at that particular place and time.

People called me a hero, but that wasn't heroic virtue. Heroic virtue is what was called for a year later, when Evelyn was in hospice. Perhaps you have a parent or grandparent who needs more and more help. You may soon be called upon by God to practice heroic virtue. As any good Boy Scout would tell you, "Be prepared."

Do not forget that a moderate amount of nutrition and hydration will keep a person comfortable, and it should be considered ordinary, "everyday" care. The nursing staff will refer to this as "activities of daily living," or "ADLs." To deprive someone of nutrition and hydration when they are nearing the end of their life could actually become the cause of their death, and if it is done deliberately, it would be  "euthanasia." (CCC 2277)

We should be quick to forgive, and slow to judge mistakes in this area, even if this means forgiving ourselves for past mistakes when our conscience becomes better informed. But let us be honest and open to dialogue, because the Truth will set us freeIf the Truth convicts us, let us remember that Jesus Christ is Himself the Truth, and He will show us mercy when we seek Him and acknowledge that we have done wrong.

I am ashamed to say that Evelyn was deprived of nutrition and hydration for the last 6 days of her life. [Up to that point, there were many things going wrong in her body. Drinking was difficult for her, because she would easily inhale it into her lungs. This fluid build-up in her lungs, made worse by her congestive heart failure, resulted in a few bouts of pneumonia. Eventually, she became septic, meaning that the infection had spread to her bloodstream. The septic shock caused vital organs to began to "shut down:" the digestive system was not working properly, the liver was removing less toxin from the bloodstream, and the kidneys were reduced in functioning, although there was still urine output until the last day. However, despite the septic shock and the danger of dehydration, no I-V was given. Perhaps the technology for regulating hydration just wasn't as readily available then as it is today.]  I knew that withholding nutrition and hydration was wrong, but I did not know how to give it to her at the time, and neither, it seems, did anyone else in my family. However, I still wish that I would have pressed the doctor further to address the question of just how much hydration (even if it were just a few drops) that her body would have been able to assimilate, because a week without water is long enough to kill a person.

As we fast during Lent, we are painfully reminded that being dehydrated and malnourished is not a comfortable feeling. As one continues in such a state, the impulses of hunger and thirst may disappear, but they were only the first indications that the body is in need of water and energy. These needs will naturally arise as time progresses, but of course we must honestly address the question, “Is the body capable of assimilating that nutrition/hydration?”

Hydration can be easily given by an I-V, and the flow rate can be monitored very precisely, so that it does not cause fluid build-up in a way that could be harmful or uncomfortable. Also, methods of dialysis can easily remove excess hydration from the bloodstream. We are morally obligated to provide hydration, in whatever small amounts that can be safely assimilated by the body. This issue has caused a lot of people a lot of grief, including myself. But think of the rich man Jesus tells us about who had died, and as he was suffering from the heat of the flames, asked for Lazarus to be sent to dip just the tip of his finger in water, and bring him relief.

Nutrition, also, can technically be delivered directly into the bloodstream. But the last I heard, the current technology for regulating the blood-sugar levels of such a situation is not precise enough for this to be considered safe in all circumstances. If it is true that this is a risky procedure, you are not morally obligated to do it. However, as long as the intestines are functioning well, a feeding tube would be an easy way to provide nutrition, and would be morally obligatory if the person cannot eat for a long period of time.

Also, beware of the DNR and the Living Will, because they can be used to deny care to a person in the case of an emergency. It is best not to sign them at all, or to find some other advance directive forms that are morally acceptable. It is best to set something down in writing to designate friends and family who have good moral judgment, who could be there to help take care of you in an emergency.

Please pray for the people making these decisions:  It is not easyThat's why the struggle to care for our grandparents with an informed conscience should be called "heroic."

When God places you in the position to be present to human suffering, it is best to focus on the positive—consider that it is Jesus Himself who is crying out in thirst, mystically present in the person who suffers. For example, Mother Teresa became a saint because she recognized Christ's voice in that cry of thirst, and she followed after Him:

Feb 17, 2013

"I Will Not Leave You Orphans."--Why God's Plan Will Triumph Over the HHS Mandate

"Christian love leads to denunciation, proposals
 and a commitment to cultural and social projects; 
it prompts positive activity that inspires all who sincerely 
have the good of man at heart to make their contribution..."
--CSDC 6

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori officially sounded the alarm--faithful Catholics in the United States are being asked to drop their health insurance,  "if they want to preserve their religious and moral integrity " and be true to their "morally well-informed consciences." No longer can we just "keep the status quo." We must discern the real meaning of "keep the status quo," which would present us with a fundamental choice: "keep paying for abortions through your monthly insurance premiums," or "keep [yourself rooted in Jesus Christ, by keeping] the faith, and everything that Holy Church has taught you."

STOP, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and say a prayer...

Why should any member of the Body of Christ have to worry?--Our Father in heaven knows our every need, and by His Loving Providence, He has given us a couple of options for legitimate health coverage, through the prudent additions to Canon Law made by Pope Benedict XVI, in his motu propio, "On the Service of Charity."

But before we explain the solutions, we must understand the scope of the problem:  It has been made clear by every bishop in charge of dioceses in the United States that "We cannot, will not comply" with the HHS mandate. And the sense of the faithful has indicated that, for the faithful themselves, to comply with the mandate would be, in a very real sense, "apostasy from the truth"--It seems that the act of funding an abortion, with at least $1 automatically from each monthly premium, is "by its very nature" [with a necessary connection between the funds and the act] a kind of proximate material cooperation in abortion, and therefore, "formal" cooperation in a sin of grave matter (see Evangelium Vitae, 74).  In this case, it also seems to be an excommunicable offense.  [Let us repent!]  Furthermore, if we fail to withhold the funds levied by this unjust law, it would be a very serious act of omission, by failing to fulfill the grave duty of Conscientious Objection. [Let us take action!]

Basically, Obamacare presents the faithful with a kind of moral dillema:  On the one hand, we all have the moral obligation to provide healthcare for those who are in great need, especially those closest to us, but on the other hand, we cannot do evil so that a good effect may come from it. We cannot buy "a product that violates our conscience"--we cannot buy Obamacare-compliant health insurance, just as we cannot buy a [self-automated robot] pre-programmed to attack babies and the elderly, or a vending machine that will dispense condoms, abortion pills, and vouchers for surgical sterilization, to which one's own children would have easy and free access, without any further parental consent or even notification.


(1)--Join one of the three existing Health-Sharing Networks: "Medishare," "Samaritain," or "Christian Healthcare Ministries." Although these are largely run by Protestants, it may be appropriate to cooperate with our separated brethren in these ministries of Charity, according to article 14 of the Pope's recent motu propio "On the Service of Charity." This would be a good short-term approach.

(2)--The best long-term approach is to form a Catholic version of these charitable ministries in each and every parish across the United States. This kind of thing is what the Pope is specifically asking for in article 9 of the same motu propio. The Holy Father even goes on further to describe how there could be cooperation between neighboring parishes, and even suggests that there could be coordination between neighboring bishops, in article 12, paragraph 2. [Even though Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has retired, this motu propio remains effective because each article was incorporated into Canon Law.] To help get parish-based healthcare ministries started, there is a group membership option under CHM.  According to article 1 of the motu propio, such a parish-based association of the faithful for the purposes of healthcare would need to submit statutes concerning the governing of funds, to be approved by the pastor. The Knights of Columbus already have a good model in place for this, because they were originally instituted for this very purpose, with each council having a Treasurer to assist members in the case of "accident, illness, or need," and a Financial Secretary to collect money and to keep track of the Treasurer.


Pope Benedict cautions against an impersonal endeavor that is limited only to "collecting and distributing funds" (Introduction), noting that the parish-based ministries must "also promote in the whole community educational activities aimed at fostering a spirit of sharing and authentic charity." (article 9) In practice, this means, when we see someone in need, we should first consider if it is possible to help them ourselves, under our own initiatives, before getting the parish-based ministry involved in the matter. [This is our own opportunity to touch Christ in the poor!] This would be a perfect example of the principles of Solidarity and Subsidiarity, after the model of Christ, [the King of the Universe, who does not feel it beneath His dignity to wash us clean, if only we would let him!]

N.B.--There is also a third course of action, which must not be overlooked:
Small Christian Communities. There is a good example of this with Presentation Ministries.