Archbishop Robert Carlson: “Mr. President, We Cannot Comply With This Mandate”
“Mr President: restore our religious freedom!”
“Brothers and sisters: we must be prepared to suffer for our convictions.”
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Will You Stand With Me?
Archbishop Robert Carlson –(edited for length) Missouri Life News: My brothers and sisters, we stand here today because of an alarming and serious matter that strikes at our fundamental right to religious freedom. The federal government – which was formed to be ‚of the people, by the people, and for the people‛ – has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith, but we will be required to deny it in practice. We are here to let the government know that we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!
In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers — including Catholic employers – would be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic faith.
Recognizing this as a grave threat to religious liberty, many people spoke out against the Mandate.
In response to this reaction, President Obama’s Administration announced a so-called ‚compromise‛ in early February. Now, instead of the Catholic Church being required to pay for contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs, the insurance companies will be required to provide those services free of charge.
We need to say loud and clear: Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. If the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another – that’s how the economy works!
In other words, the so-called ‚compromise‛ didn’t change anything. Catholic employers – and the Catholic Church itself – will still be forced to pay for things that directly contradict our faith. Apparently we are free to believe, but not free to put our beliefs into practice. In other words, we have freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion.
Our ecumenical brothers and sisters are standing with us today as co- sponsors of this event, and I welcome them – the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God USA. Their witness today says loud and clear: this is not about contraception. This is about religious liberty. Today, the government is telling the Catholic Church how to define its mission; the government is telling us which of our ministries are or are not ‚religious;‛ the government is telling us what teachings we can and cannot act on. Our ecumenical brothers and sisters know that if the government can tell the Catholic Church those things today, then it might be their heads on the chopping block tomorrow. They are here so that we can say together as one body: we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!
Most often the sacrifice required of us has been the ‘white martyrdom’ of a life that is faithful to the Gospel rather than faithful to the culture. But the time has come when we must be prepared for extraordinary sacrifices as well. And that’s precisely what Jesus himself promised us and told us to expect:
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them:, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mk 8:34; Mt 16:24; Lk 9: 23)
I am convinced that taking up the cross is the way to life. I am convinced that ‘before the cross there is no defense.’ I am convinced that Jesus won victory on the cross, and that he will win victory in us if we take up our cross and follow him.
Will you stand with me and say ‚Jesus, I will take up my cross and follow You‛?
Will you stand with me and say: Mr. President, we cannot comply with this Mandate. We WILL render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar; but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God. Mr President: restore our religious freedom!
Brothers and sisters: we must be prepared to suffer for our convictions.
But our faith tells us – and history shows us – that suffering will make our witness grow stronger. With that conviction, let us recall the words of EITHER Saint Paul to the Romans OR St. Peter:
I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you… whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. (1 Peter 4: 12-16)