Archbishop Wenski: “The President Should Honor His Pledge”

Archbishop Wenski: Reveals Long List of How President
Obama’s “Promises Are Not Being Kept”

This is a “frontal assault”

“This is Unacceptable”

BY Archbishop Thomas Wenski

Archbishop Thomas Wenski: Miami

CNA Picture

In May 2009, President Obama gave the commencement address at Notre Dame University and received an honorary degree. That Notre Dame would confer an honorary degree on an elected official who advances abortion rights in contradiction to Catholic teaching caused no small controversy among many Catholics throughout the United States.

Those who supported Notre Dame felt vindicated, however, when in his speech the president promised to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion,” stating that his administration would provide “sensible” protections for those who wanted no involvement in the procedure. This would presumably include healthcare providers, social-service providers, and consumers who might otherwise have to pay through their healthcare plans for other people’s abortions.

Obama later reiterated this position to Catholic newspaper editors, stating that he would make such protections “robust.”

Fast forward to late 2011, and the record shows that the president’s promises are not being kept. In fact, it seems that pro-life Catholics such as Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and the Catholic Health Association’s Sister Carol Keenan — who trusted the administration’s position that abortion was not part of the healthcare bill — along with Notre Dame’s leadership have been played by the president.

His administration is running roughshod over conscience protection provisions long part of the law that find their justification in the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion, a foundational human right. It is one thing for an administration to support and promote an agenda; it is quite another to force those who disagree with it to violate their moral and religious principles.

The long line of evidence is disturbing. As a first step, the administration reversed earlier regulations enforcing federal conscience laws, stating instead that it would pursue the same goals by educational outreach on rights of conscience.

In the final healthcare bill passed in March 2010, traditional protections for conscience rights were omitted; instead, a provision was included that would subjugate conscience rights to federal and state “emergency” service laws. In other words, any abortion declared an “emergency” (broadly defined) by a government requires a health-care provider’s full cooperation, regardless of his or her views on the matter.

Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a rule which will require almost all health plans to include coverage for sterilization and contraception — including abortifacient drugs. This will force almost all employers — including Catholic organizations — to pay for such procedures, regardless of any moral objections. HHS seemingly wants to regard fertility as a disease — and elective abortion subsidized by the taxpayer as healthcare.

The most recent frontal assault on conscience rights has come in the form of federal contracts and grant announcements, which have begun to require grantees to help provide all legally permissible family planning and obstetric/gynecological services, regardless of the provider. A large number of grants under the State Department’s AIDS program, for example, now require “integration” with family planning and “reproductive health” services, ignoring the conscience clause the program’s authorizing statute passed by Congress.

When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently said it could not meet a similar requirement inserted into an HHS grant announcement for services to human trafficking victims, and pointed out that the requirement violates existing federal conscience laws, its funding was discontinued — hurting victims of human trafficking since few if any other entities have the track record and nationwide capacity to serve them.

Catholic social and healthcare providers — the largest private network in the nation — are at risk of being left out of all federal programs, despite their well-earned reputation for providing superlative service to the American public. In effect, the Obama administration is telling these Catholic providers to surrender their conscience rights and their Catholic ethos or shut their doors.

Regardless of one’s position on the morality of abortion, we — and elected officials on both sides of the aisle — should be concerned with these developments. If religious and conscience rights of some Americans can be violated by the government, everyone else’s rights are also in jeopardy.

This is unacceptable, for it undermines our nation’s promise of “freedom and justice for all.” The president should honor his pledges to U.S. Catholics — and other Americans — and instruct his agencies to reverse course and protect conscience rights.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Miami Archdiocese.

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5 comments to Archbishop Wenski: “The President Should Honor His Pledge”

  • Teresa

    I am sending this information to all my friends so that they think twice when voting next time. We Catholics need to know the candidates before voting.

  • P

    This article belongs on a different website, one of a different name.

  • Patricia Walsh

    Totally agree with Kathy. To those priests, bishops, and members of the laity who believed in Obama and moreover voted for him, I implore you: please get your heads out of the sand!!! Not only are we Catholics suffering him but the entire country is for one reason or another. If Catholics had not voted for him, he would not have won (not that McCain would have been a whole lot better on many issues). Sadly, the USCCB appears to be not much more than a political organization too often bound by political correctness. Many Catholics have lost faith in that organization. Time to get back to prayer and sacrifice…we are in a situation regarding which we might say: “…man cannot but with God all things are possible.

  • Susan

    Kathy, it was a known fact that Obama was pro abortion. (Remember he did want his girls “punished with a baby”.) The Church was very clear on the non negotiable, abortion being a non negotiable. Sadly, Catholics chose not to follow Church teaching and voted for Obama anyway. For those who didn’t know, hopefully it is a a tough lesson to learn that everyone has the responsibility to do his and her own homework on the candidates. Don’t leave it to anyone. And Catholic institutions like Notre Dame will be held accountable for all those they confused and led astray by having Obama on campus.
    I pray for Obama every day, for his conversion. He’s Mary’s little one too. We need more courageous priests to speak out and lead. The people are looking to be led.

  • kathy

    This is no surprise that he is not keeping his promises. President Obama is not a friend of the pro-life movement and never was as a senator. It is a shame that in 2008 that the USCCB didn’t come out with a more forceful stand on his record so that Catholics would have made a more informed choice at the polls. The main stream media did its best at not properly vetting him as a candidate. Hopefully this Bishop and others will continue to speak out so that in 2012 more will be aware.

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