Wednesday, February 29, 2012


This is from a blog on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by their Director of Media Relations, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Sister of Mercy
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

President Obama: Render Unto God the Things that Are God’s

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

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

An Obama regulation that compels virtually all employers to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, to employees without co-pay, has a religious exemption. But the exemption is so narrow that Jesus himself wouldn’t qualify. Religious ministries qualify for the exemption only if the people providing the service are Catholic, the ones being served are Catholic, and the service itself comes packaged with religious instruction.

So much for hospital ministry. Will “Where does it hurt?” have to be replaced with “Where were you baptized?” At the soup kitchen will “Are you hungry?” be replaced with “Are you Catholic?” Will we have to teach the hungry the Apostle’s Creed before we feed them?

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

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

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

Days before President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to the miserly religious exemption in his Administration’s regulation; the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision pertinent to religious freedom. In the Hosanna-Tabor case, the Court upheld 9-0 the right of a Lutheran Church to decide who its ministers are. The Obama Administration had taken the opposite, and losing, side, arguing that the church had no more right of religious liberty than a secular organization. One would have expected the Court’s resounding rejection of that argument to bring the Administration’s eyes into focus on the religious liberty question. Clearly it did not.

The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution makes freedom of religion the “First Freedom.” The Founding Fathers stressed that this freedom was sacred. George Washington in 1789 wrote to an annual meeting of Quakers that “The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be extremely accommodated to them.”

Certainly our government, wise as it is, can’t be expected (and shouldn’t purport) to know everything. It might well ease its burdens by leaving some things to the Almighty and rendering unto God the things that are God’s.

Posted by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square." Francis Cardinal George of Chicago 2010


pinanv525 said...

All very nice, but does she realize that the way she is dressed and calling herself a nun is a part of the reason we are where we are?

William Meyer said...

Pin, I have to agree with you. But on the other hand, it's pretty amazing, in my view, that a sister in secular garb would take such a position at all.

Anonymous 5 said...

I concur with both pin and William. But on this occasion I choose to see the glass as half full: what she said is actually quite good. I'm just sorry that it has taken this long and this brash an attack to get people like her to take a stand.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of the Prodigal sister. Maybe after this war slows down a bit we can have some contemplation of our role in creating this problem for ourselves. Sr Walsh could probably lead that discussion.


Henry said...

This is not just "any old nun". Don't know personally whether this is literally true, but I've heard it alleged by seemingly well-informed folks that Sr. Mary Ann Walsh is far far far more powerful in the U.S. Church and has far far far more influence on USCCB policy than the typical bishop. Indeed, that the typical bishop starts to shake when his secretary says "Sister Mary Ann Walsh is on the phone."

Anonymous said...

Of course.... which is more important - rank or authority? Millions of Catholics know Mother Angelica but don't know the name of the bishop of Alabama. Hundreds of millions of people knew Mother Theresa but never knew who the cardinal of India was... these holy women had moral authority, not ecclesiastical power - and they didn't want it! Foolish feminists think that having the official 'title' and rank will give them POWER when all along it's moral authority that matters and that is something earned. The pastors and Popes who suffer for their people are called 'great'.

pinanv525 said...

Henry, She does not impress me, and Bishops should not be cajoled or manipulated by some "demi-nun." Besides, it is ok and fashionable for her to be all outraged and righteous now. I'll bet you a gold guinea she voted for Obama. We have got to stop cutting these quasi-Catholics so much slack.

Henry said...

pin, of course I don't know whether she was there or not, but I recall someone claiming he saw the USCCB parking lot during the 2008 campaign, and that every single car there had an Obama bumper sticker.

Of course, most if not all of these would have been staff cars not bishops cars. The problem there is that an entrenched staff essentially controls USCCB policy--mainly by the device of writing policy statements which, in accordance with the machinery set up originally by Bernardine, almost always is approved by the bishops without essential modification. Or--like the document which resulted in the wreckovation of thousands of churches--is simply released as a "USCCB document" without any bishops formal approval. Even now, after a faithful bishop like Cardinal George ostensibly being in charge for a couple of years, the USCCB is still firmly under the control of their staff, which is doctrinally far left and politically further.

Although this has now changed, someone who worked there in those days said that nowhere could so many liturgical abuses been at once as at the daily Mass of the USCCB liturgy office in Washington.