Thursday, February 23, 2012

EWTN President Speaks

Michael Warsaw, President of EWTN, has written an article for the New York Times, outlining the Network's objections to Barack Obama's HHS Mandate.  I'm quoting it in full:
Michael Warsaw

THIRTY years ago, a cloistered nun named Mother Angelica Rizzo started a small television station in her garage to spread the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then the station, EWTN, has grown into one of the largest Catholic media networks in the world, but we haven’t strayed from our values. And we won’t — even though our commitment has landed us in the cross hairs of the Obama administration.

EWTN cannot comply with the recent mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring the insurance plans of all employers, with the exception of some houses of worship, to cover the contraceptives and sterilization procedures approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These include emergency contraceptives like Plan B and Ella that can destroy human embryos — an act that we consider a violation of church teaching that all life is a sacred gift that begins at conception.

Earlier this month, in response to widespread opposition to the mandate, the president announced an “accommodation” for some religious organizations — like, potentially, EWTN — that would shift the responsibility for the coverage from the employer to the employer’s insurance carrier. But this would do nothing to solve the problem. First, EWTN self-insures, so we are the insurer. Second, even if we had an outside insurer, we would still be in the untenable position of facilitating access to drugs that go against our beliefs. And if we refused to comply with the directive, we could be hit with annual fines starting at around $600,000.

The administration’s supporters say that by opposing the rule, religious employers like EWTN are guilty of trying to coerce our employees and impose our values on them. But we are simply choosing not to participate in the use of these drugs. Our 350 employees, many of whom are not Catholic, freely choose to work here and can purchase and use contraception if they want to. They are aware of the values we practice, and I hear regularly from Catholic and non-Catholic employees alike how much they love working for an organization that is defined by its Catholic beliefs — beliefs that we think result in a better workplace and more expansive benefits over all.

Instead, it is the government — which does not accept EWTN’s religious choice and can punish that choice by imposing fines — that is coercing us. But under the Constitution and federal religious liberties law, we cannot be forced to give up our beliefs as the price of participation in the public square. That is why the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit on our behalf seeking to overturn this illegal mandate.

But religious liberty isn’t even the only thing at risk; the mandate also threatens the financial viability of any organization that disagrees with the administration’s politics. They could be forced to stop offering health insurance and be saddled with fines, which are immense competitive disadvantages. They’ll have to take money away from their core missions to pay fines. They’ll lose employees who can’t afford to work for employers who offer no health insurance. They’ll lose donors who are scared off by the penalties.

The end result: organizations that agree with the administration or are willing to compromise their beliefs will thrive. Organizations that don’t will shrink or die.

Businesses will suffer, too. The mandate’s effect will be most visible on not-for-profits like EWTN. But small businesses owned by men and women of faith, which have been given no protection whatsoever in the administration’s accommodation, will also take a hit. While some charities might be able to weather the storm thanks to donations or strong endowments, these small businesses almost certainly won’t.

Mother Angelica didn’t create EWTN to be a weak Catholic voice. Our donors send us money to spread Catholic teachings, not to subvert them. The mandate makes it impossible for us to live up to that core mission, giving us the choice of either compromising our beliefs or being crushed by fines. That ultimatum is unfair, unconstitutional and repugnant — which is why we have no choice but to fight it in court.
The fines to be imposed by the Obama administration remind me of the fines the English monarch imposed on Catholics who refused to attend Protestant services following the Reformation.  The idea was to either force them into the Protestant ecclesial community or impoverish them.  Because of this many English Catholics capitulated in order not to starve to death.  Seems to me that this mandate seeks to do the same thing. 

Another piece of news: it seems the Holy Father will make his final decision with regard to the Society of St Pius X before the summer.  I see from Traditionalist websites that they are expecting him to bring them back into the full life of the Church.  To be honest I cannot see that happening.  Despite their claims of being obedient to the Pope and faithful, they have not budged one inch and still reject Vatican II.  In their eyes, it seems to be, all of us are Modernists.  We will leave it to the Holy Father, but I think there are few options open, one of them being the declaration of a formal schism.

A priest who has been in prison since 1994 for abuse may soon be a free man after new revelations appear to expose his accuser.  Fr Gordan McRae, who blogs from his prison cell, was convicted of abusing Thomas Grover.  However, Mr Grover's history is far from pristine, and it seems new witnesses have come forward to say that he admitted to them he was never abused by Fr MacRae, among other evidence being presented by the priest's lawyers.  It is being claimed that Mr Grover fabricated the accusations to get money out of the Church - it wouldn't be the first time.

If Fr MacRae is innocent, it will be one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in American history.  After twenty years in prison, he will be due a huge settlement in compensation - which he should get.  Mr Grover should also face charges: while we as Christians must forgive, we must also ensure that we do not lead people into sin - to let accusers off scott free gives them the idea that people can make false accusations against innocent Catholics and get away with it even if they are found out: there is no charity in that.  Anyway, we shall watch this one with interest.

And finally, some good news.  At the Mass to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the death of their founder, the leaders of Communion and Liberation have formally petitioned the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola, to open a Diocesan Informative Enquiry into the life, virtues and reputation of sanctity of Mgr Luigi Guissani with a view to opening the Cause for his beatification and canonisation.   

Mgr Giussani has left the Church an enormous legacy not only through founding and guiding one of the most influential new movements in the Church, but also through his writings and personal holiness.  We pray that the Cause, once opened, will proceed quickly to a successful conclusion.  In spite of all the difficulties the Church is facing in these times, God has given us magnificent holy men and women who serve as bright and inspiring lights to console and guide us.  Deo gratias!

Mgr Giussani with Blessed John Paul II, and his tomb in Milan

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Father John, for spreading the word about Fr Gordon MacRae, a truly inspiring priest, who has embraced his Cross. Fr MacRae's is a tragic case, when looked at from a worldly perspective but it appears that the spiritual benefits of his humble suffering have been immeasurable. Fr MacRae has continued to minister as a priest within the walls of the prison, while his flock has grown exponentially since his blog, These Stone Walls, began a couple of years ago. Fr MacRae does not have access to a computer - he types on an old typewriter that it took him many years to be allowed to buy. He posts his typed material to a friend who puts it online for him. I'd recommend people to go there and read not only his inspiring posts but also the documents relating to his sham of a trial and especially, a detailed affidavit prepared by Fr MacRae for an appeal many years ago, that gives a detailed account of his story from his becoming a priest through his being thrown into awful situations as a new priest, to his terrible betrayal not only by the false accusers (brothers of a family he had done so much to help) to the callous administrators of his Diocese, and the hate-filled zeal of an unscrupulous police detective. I dare you to read it and not weep in pity and righteous anger. I have prayed for Fr MacRae since first becoming aware of his case about a year or so ago; he even replied (through another) to an email I sent him and I was amazed at how he was able to concern himself with others as a spiritual father, while he, himself, was suffering a terrible injustice. I ask everyone to spread his story and pray for him. His case is treated in David F Pierre's new book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused which can be purchased online. As Cardinal Avery Dulles SJ (the great theologian and priest) wrote to Fr MacRae (and I paraphrase), his ministry is to suffer for the good of the Church. We are indebted to you, Fr MacRae!