Father John Bosco said, ““Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Therefore, according to the Gospel, any citizen can be a good Catholic – that is, side with Jesus Christ and the Pope, and do good to his fellow men – and at the same time side with Caesar, namely, observe the laws of the land, except when the rulers persecute religion or tyrannize the consciences and minds of citizens.”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette and Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh all agreed last Thursday (1/24/2013) that prison time may be in their futures. When interviewed regarding the implementation by the United States federal government of the HHS Mandate later this year, each bishop agreed that, if no agreement can be reached with the current Administration, persecution might ensue. Any Catholic who values freedom of conscience and freedom to practice their beliefs in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ should consider this a startling statement. http://tinyurl.com/ap94bsk
Every year on January 31, the Church celebrates the feast of a remarkable priest, St. John Bosco who died on that date in 1888. Having grown up in poverty himself, Don Bosco devoted his life to teaching, healing and rehabilitating young men who lived in poverty in Turin, Italy. At the time of his death, there were 250 houses of the Salesian Society all over the world. There were 130,000 children which were fed, housed, instructed in Christian living and taught a trade. Each year about 18,000 worldwide finished their apprenticeship courses and, at the time of Don Bosco’s death, over 6,000 priestly vocations had begun in the Salesian households. While the life and ministry of this generous saint was recognized by the Catholic Church at his canonization, like every saint, Bosco’s life was one of heroic virtue because he lived out both
of the two Great Commandments: To love God with all his heart and to love his neighbor without reservation.
The fact that the Italian government, as well as other countries, officially recognized the benefits of the ministry of John Bosco to their citizens testifies to the fact that true followers of Christ have always made it their business to help the needy materially as well as spiritually. For the last two thousand years, it has never been acceptable Catholic teaching to only minister to those Catholics within the walls of the Church building. Yet this is the “accommodation” that the Department of Health and Human Services has offered Christian believers who will legally be bound by its Mandate to supply contraceptives, sterilizations and abortions to the employees who they insure. In order to qualify for this “accommodation” to the Mandate, Christians must only minister to other believers. By this criterion, even Jesus’ ministry would not qualify.
When our Saint of today said, “…except when the rulers persecute religion or tyrannize the consciences and minds of citizens,” he was referring to situations in which Catholics and other believers find themselves today in the country that was founded on religious liberty and conscience protection. While Father Bosco heard the confession of the Italian boy in the picture above, he also provided for that child’s physical and intellectual well being. To mandate that believers must choose between following Jesus’ teaching or be in violation of federal law is evidence of a government that is seeking to “tyrannize the consciences and minds of its citizens.”
Since, as believers, we cannot comply with this Mandate as it is currently written, we need to begin to seriously consider the ramifications of refusal for ourselves, our families and our Church and our country. These ramifications could conceivably include financial, spiritual or professional “disincentives” as well as joining our priests and bishops in prison. As Jesus tells us in today’s reading from Mark, “Let those who have ears, hear.”