Daily Archives: July 23, 2012

Notre Dame Grad Students Petition in Favor of HHS Mandate

A group of philosophy graduate students at the University of Notre Dame recently created a petition opposing the university’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate. They even go so far as to say that by accepting the mandate – i.e., giving up Notre Dame’s right to act according to its Catholic mission – the university could better fulfill its Catholic mission.

We the undersigned members of the Notre Dame community wish to express our disagreement with the university’s decision to file a lawsuit contesting the Health and Human Services mandate that requires employee health insurance plans to provide no cost birth control coverage to employees. We understand that the university administration believes this lawsuit will advance its Catholic mission and promote freedom of conscience. We too are fully committed to freedom of conscience. However, we believe the philosophical and legal arguments strongly favor compliance with the law. Further we believe Notre Dame would better serve its Catholic mission by focusing on improving campus services for families rather than embroiling itself in a legal challenge.

Although we recognize concerns regarding religious freedom ought to be taken seriously, it remains unclear whether providing access to artificial contraceptives actually would conflict with Catholic belief.

The students argue that the mandate might not conflict with Catholic teachings at all because of what they call “double effect” which posits that in some cases it is permissible to cause harm in the process of achieving something good under certain conditions. Their argument is that it falls under this umbrella of “double effect” in three ways:

1) The foreseen evil is not intended. (Surely those Catholics who believe artificial contraception use is wrong will not intend that any insured procure it for illicit purposes.)

2) The good effects of the action must not be produced or caused by the foreseen harmful effects. (Complying with the law and providing healthcare to the community would not be caused by any individual’s use of contraceptives for illicit purposes.)

3) The good effects must be sufficiently desirable. (Avoiding a costly lawsuit, avoiding fines, complying with the law, and providing healthcare to the community are certainly desirable.)

The students further argue that religious freedom is not an absolute right but is one that must yield to a “compelling state interest.” And, according to the petition, the HHS mandate “does that by promoting the health of women and children.”

“By requiring its employees to purchase additional insurance or to pay out of pocket, thereby placing a not insignificant financial burden on them, Notre Dame is effectively utilizing indirect coercion and imposing its religious beliefs and practices on its employees,” the petition’s authors write.

In his letter announcing the lawsuit, Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins made clear that the university’s position had nothing to do with coercion.  “We believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents. We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings.”

At the time of publication, the petition had about 90 signatures.

Law Prof at Catholic College Says Bishops Crossing the Line Separating Church and State, Suggests Penalties

A law professor at Duquesne university is accusing the bishops of crossing the line separating church and state and even suggests an appalling interesting array of punishments and penalties in America Magazine.

Nicholas P. Cafardi, dean emeritus and professor of law at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pa. accused some bishops of vexing and oppressing people, electioneering and lobbying, and attempting to take away people’s constitutional rights. Cafardi suggested that as a penalty the IRS could remove the Church’s tax exempt status or simply fine those bishops their per diem salaries every day they open their mouths against the HHS mandate or gay “marriage.”

Cafardi accused Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, of “electioneering” for his forceful words about the “extreme secularist agenda” of the Obama administration in light of the HHS mandate. Cafardi also points to Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, Wash., launching a signature drive in parishes to put Referendum 74 on the statewide ballot to repeal Washington’s new same-sex marriage law as an example of “lobbying.”

“Churches cannot electioneer at all. The prohibition is absolute. They may not intervene in any way in a campaign for political office either in favor of a candidate or in opposition to one,” writes Cafardi. “With lobbying, an attempt to influence legislation, there is some wiggle room. There the law allows churches to lobby, but only to an ‘insubstantial’ degree.”

Cafardi explains that he believes the Church’s tax exemption is akin to a tax subsidy and then adds, “Our tax dollars should not be used to subsidize partisan political activities of tax exempt organizations.” So in Cafardi’s view, donations you might make to the Church are “tax dollars.” But isn’t the entire point that they’re not taxed dollars?

Cafardi quotes James Madison who wrote in the Federalist Papers, No. 10, that “a zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government and many other points…have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to cooperate for their common good.”

Cafardi adds,

“Bishop Jenky’s odious comparison and Archbishop Sartain’s support for an initiative to repeal the civil rights of a significant sector of our fellow citizens do seem disposed ‘to vex and oppress,’ to use Madison’s words.”

So to be clear, President Obama attempts to force religious individuals and institutions to provide coverage for sinful things like abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, and just by talking about what the president is doing, the bishops are guilty of “electioneering” and putting the tax exempt status of the Church at risk?

What if the White House is guilty of vexing and oppressing? Shouldn’t the Church speak out on behalf of the vexed and oppressed? Or would Cafardi prefer the bishops speak of less vexing and oppressive things?

Using even one tax-exempt church dollar, though, to stir up opposition to what Cafardi calls “the legally recognized civil rights of others is objectionable, no matter what the tax code says about it.”

Ah. So this isn’t really about the tax code then, is it? It’s about what Cafardi thinks is right and wrong. But that doesn’t stop him from suggesting a few options for the IRS to penalize the Church:

The I.R.S. can either use the nuclear option and revoke the archdiocese’s tax exemption, which is so drastic as to be unthinkable, or it can use the fly-swatter option and fine the diocese for the amount it spent on the prohibited political activity under Section 4955 of the tax code. For example, what was the cost to the Diocese of Peoria of Bishop Jenky’s political homily? The cost of opening up the cathedral that day? The utility costs? A prorated portion of the bishop’s salary? We are talking about a small amount, hardly the kind of fine that hurts.

Cafardi frets that this probably wouldn’t do enough to dissuade the bishops so he asserts that, according to polling, nobody’s listening to the bishops anyway. But if that were true, that would beg the question if a bishop electioneers and there’s nobody around to hear it, did he actually electioneer?

Cafardi cites surveys that say young people think the Catholic Church is “anti-gay.” One must wonder why young people might believe that when you have professors at Catholic colleges accusing bishops of interfering with “the legally recognized civil rights of others” and vexing and oppressing people?

Prayers Requested for Thomas Aquinas College Student Killed in Accident

On Friday, July 20, Thomas Aquinas College urgently requested prayers for student Andrew Moore who died in an accident earlier that day.  Moore was stuck and killed by a passing vehicle while participating in the Crossroads Walk Across America.

According to the College, Moore was very active in the pro-life cause.  For instance, he prayed the Rosary daily in front on an abortion clinic in his home town last summer and he participated with the rest of the Thomas Aquinas community in the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

From the College press release:

Explaining why he joined the Crossroads Walk, Kent wrote on the organization’s website, “I had already been involved in the pro-life movement for several years … Crossroads sounded like a good way to serve God and help His children.” He was also using the experience to discern God’s call for his life. “I have been considering a vocation to the priesthood for some time, and Crossroads is a great way to work on my discernment: prayer, sacrifice, and separation from the distractions of the world.” He and a fellow walker were praying the rosary when he was struck this morning. The other walker was unharmed.

“Kent gave his life in service of God and in defense of the unborn,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “As saddened as we are by his loss, we are inspired by and grateful for his witness. Please join us in praying for the repose of his soul and the comfort of his family, his classmates, and his many friends here at the College.”

The Cardinal Newman Society joins with the Thomas Aquinas community in offering prayers for the repose of the soul of Andrew Moore and asks that its members do the same.

Thomas Aquinas College is promoted by The Cardinal Newman Society in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College for its strong Catholic identity.

Vatican’s Official Statement on University Stripped of “Catholic” Status

As The Cardinal Newman Society reported over the weekend, the Holy See stripped the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru of its status as a “Pontifical” and “Catholic” university. This does not, however, mean that the Vatican has abandoned the prospect of reunification or removed the University’s obligation to comply with canon law and, by extension, Ex corde Ecclesiae.

The Holy See Press Office today issued the following statement and we bring it to you in its entirety:

“The Holy See, by Decree of the secretary of State acting on a specific pontifical mandate, has decided, in conformity with canonical legislation, to withdraw the right of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru to use the titles of ‘Pontifical’ and ‘Catholic’.

“Since 1967 the University – which was founded in 1917 and canonically erected by Decree of the Holy See in 1942 – has on various occasions unilaterally modified its Statues, seriously prejudicing the interests of the Church.

“Beginning in 1990, the University has been repeatedly requested by the Holy See to bring its Statutes into line with the Apostolic Constitution ‘Ex Corde Ecclesiae’ (15 August 1990), but has failed to respond to this legal requirement.

“Following the canonical visit of December 2011 and the meeting of the rector with the cardinal secretary of State in February this year, a further attempt at dialogue was made, with a view to adapting the Statutes to Church law.

“Recently, via two letters addressed to the secretary of State, the rector stated that it was impossible to carry out the requirements imposed upon him, and he made the modification of the Statutes conditional on the archdiocese of Lima renouncing its administration of the University’s property.

“The participation of the archdiocese of Lima in administering the patrimony of the University has been confirmed on various occasions by the civil courts of Peru.

“In the face of this position taken by the University, which has been confirmed by other initiatives, the Holy See has been obliged to adopt the aforementioned measures. At the same time it reiterates the fact that the University still has a duty to continue to observe canonical legislation.

“The Holy See will carefully follow the evolution of the situation of the University, hoping that in the near future the competent academic authorities may reconsider their position, making it possible to revise the present measures. The renewal requested by the Holy See will make the University better able to respond to its mission of carrying the message of Christ to mankind, society and different cultures, in keeping with the mission of the Church in the world”.


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