Okay, so we won today in the Supreme Court. The Hobby Lobby case went our way; score one for religious liberty.

But here’s a concern: why didn’t the Justices vote 9–0? To be even more clear, if religious liberty, a right given us by God and legally enshrined in the First Amendment, prevailed by only one vote where are we as a country? And how long will that one vote prevail? So, we can celebrate a narrow victory, but why was it narrow?

How have we reached the point in this country that those who hold a sincere religious belief contrary to the contraceptive mindset of the world, and who also sincerely oppose the killing of children through abortion, only narrowly escaped being required to both provide for and even pay for these sorts of things?

Where are all the liberals who march under the banners of tolerance? Where are the First Amendment zealots willing to stand with us? They are nowhere to be found, I suspect because it touches on abortion and contraception, which have become like sacraments for them.

I would like to think that, though I love the Scriptures and want everyone to have them, I would oppose in principle a law requiring every business to provide free bibles to all their employees or customers. I’d like to think that, if a Muslim business owner (or a pagan one for that matter) objected to being required to do this, I would stand with him in principle and oppose this requirement. Thus even if a non-Catholic doesn’t understand or agree with my principled opposition to contraception and abortifacients, is it really so much to ask that most justices (not just 5 out of 9) and most Americans agree that I ought not be required to provide and pay for these things?

Go with me to the Jewish delicatessen example of Bishop Lori some years ago as I adapt it just a bit. What if the current Administration or the Federal Government were to say to all Jewish deli owners, “It is just an outrage and downright un-American that you don’t sell pork sausage and hot dogs. Every American deli MUST provide these by law. And you must comply or face big fines”? Even though most Americans don’t understand or share the Jewish aversion to pork, I would think they would still be outraged by such an action.

Now suppose further that after the outrage the government proposed a compromise: “OK, you don’t have to provide the pork, but you must let us set up a kiosk inside your deli where we will offer it free of charge to your customers and employees, because, by gosh, whether you like it or not, you are going to offer pork in your Jewish deli!” Again, the outrageousness of such a stance would provoke great protests from most Americans regardless of how comfortable they are with eating pork themselves.

It is simply outrageous that four Supreme Court Justices, and many Americans, cannot see the clear and offensive proposition of the Government in this regard. And even if they don’t share our opposition, they ought to stand with us in principle.

But they do not. And this once again underscores the serious condition of our Nation and our Constitution. It is another example of the growing tyranny of relativism wherein reasoned recourse to agreed-upon principles is no longer possible. Thus, they win who are the most powerful, or have the most money, or have the most access. Granted, we won today, but barely, and by one vote; it could easily have gone differently.

Everyone, no matter his political or moral stance, should be very concerned about the growing intrusiveness and raw power of a government that thinks it can force people to act against their faith and to cooperate in what they think is evil. Catholic opposition to abortion and contraception is nothing new. It goes all the way back to Scripture, which condemned the use of “pharmakeia” (e.g., Gal 5:20, Rev 9:21, and 18:23). The Didache and countless documents of the Fathers and the Magisterium have always upheld these views. We have not changed, the culture has. To compel us to provide and even pay for what we consider evil is wrong and un-American. It is shocking that so few Americans understand or appreciate this.

But wake up, fellow Americans. You may even find it amusing for the Catholic Church or conservative Christians to be attacked. But if this can happen to us, it can happen to you. Think twice, and then think a third time too. You have every reason to stand with us, and only bigotry and the desires of the flesh to oppose us. Make no mistake; you will be next. The Government will not cease its encroachment on basic liberties at the exit door of the Catholic Church. The steamroller is heading for you next. Stand with us.

We won today, but barely. It should have been 9–0. Wake up, America; your religious and other liberties are hanging by the thread of one vote.

70 Responses

  1. Peter Wolczuk says:

    “But wake up, fellow Americans. You may even find it amusing for the Catholic Church or conservative Christians to be attacked. But if this can happen to us, it can happen to you.”
    Pastor Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned by the Nazis during World Ward II for opposing them related this to US Congress after his release:
    “The exact text of what Martin Niemoller said,
    and which appears in the Congressional Record,
    October 14, 1968, page 31636 is:

    “When Hitler attacked the Jews
    I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned.
    And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
    I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned.
    And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists,
    I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned.
    Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church —
    and there was nobody left to be concerned.”
    This in spite of the fact that, in 1963 in a West German television interview he acknowledged his own antisemitism. (see Gerlach, 2000, p.47
    This is true tolerance on his behalf, the sort of thing which was allowed in the public forum … back then.

    • Sygurd says:

      Actualyl, this oft-distorted quote begins with the socialists and trade unionists, the Jews are at the third place, see http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392 .

      • Peter Wolczuk says:

        I’ve encountered several versions of the pastor’s quotes and each seems to have been made at different times & circumstances so I used the one given to US Congress as seeming to be the most relevant to this particular post. All appeared, to me, to have the same value; just adjusted to make it clearer to whichever audience was being communicated to.
        Once, at a union meeting where a vote had gone against one aspect of solidarity, I followed up during a part of the meeting called “Good of the Order” with the quote which stresses trade unionists more than this one.
        However, I am grateful to you for having opened toward further information.

        • Thomas Vogler says:

          One notes that homosexuals and Gypsies are not on his list. One also notes that, in a way, it is a selfishly oriented thought: he didn’t stand for those others, (in fact, he stood against them, for a period) and so there was no one to stand for him, when his turn came. The reason for opposing the persecution of the weak Niemoller offers here is not the most spiritual, or principled, of motivations. I don’t doubt that he arrived at other reasons; he was a thoughtful man, inclined towards the good. But still, what does it say, that this is the quote we remember him by?

  2. Rick says:

    Amen, Msgr., Amen.
    Others have observed correctly that the Pill mandate was simply a political contrivance (the “war on women” ) concocted in early 2012, to gin up fears among single women to get them to vote for the Left. The fact that this ploy seemed to work (as suggested by election results in 2012, since married women voted heavily for the right, single women for the left) shows how central the Pill and abortion are to the understanding of right living and the life of the Christian family. The Christian family is at the center of religious freedom because by its fruits people are able to live rightly. As the family collapses, marriage collapses, and the ability to control one’s appetites collapses. The populace then becomes readily manipulated through their sexual (and other) appetites to support the actions of a cynical executive. Paul VI prophesied in Humanae Vitae in broad strokes much of what we are witnessing today. History also suggests that this will get real ugly, real fast; The gays had their closets, the Christians have their catacombs. Welcome to Rome, AD 63.

    • Laura says:

      Well-said Rick. As I see it, the Hobby Lobby win in reality was only a small, peripheral skirmish (massive undertaking that it was, mind you). After all, not to come off cranky, but the brief read that Hobby Lobby already supplies loads of varieties of contraceptives to its employees. The lifestyle choice has been made. We want what we want, the way we want it i.e. the contraceptive lifestyle. I am deeply gratified that the voice of the people was able to prevail at this time and say that abortifacients, sterilization, IUDs are objectively, morally wrong. However, the battle will not stop, and for those of us who are open to prayer, we must invoke the Lord, for He is our only hope in prevailing in this wicked battle! Truly, we must pray always. BTW, I shop at Hobby Lobby as often as I can in support of these good and courageous owners.

  3. Maria says:

    Good point !

    Came across a term recently – ‘ spiritual witchcraft ‘ of manipulative , controlling ways , to use others for selfish reasons ( true, depending on the heart of the believer, that term can be misunderstood and misused against those , such as in The Church , who have the sole intent of leading the flock, in ways of holiness and fidelity to God ) and how such traits can impact , if one is not under Godly protection !

    http://www.spiritdaily.net/subtlewitchcraft.htm

    Hope this case and the issues it has brought to attention would help many, to include a bit more ardently , those with secular power over us , in the prayers of the Rosary and other such prayers – ‘pray for US sinners ‘ !

    Thank God for all who prayed and worked for this case ..and continues to do so , for the deliverance from
    and of those who are in enemy pacts !

    For this month of July atleast , devotion to The Precious Blood, that breaks the unholy pacts and gives protection !

  4. Charlie says:

    Celebrate any victory,however small it may be.Bigger issues will rise.Here in Canada the Opposition party leader,Justin Trudeau,son of former PM Pierre Trudeau has demanded that anyone who stands as a candidate for the Liberal party must always and everywhere vote in favour of women’s right to an abortion.Polls indicate that if an election were held today (it will be held in the fall of 2015) the Liberals would win big.I am suggesting that as a Catholic I cannot support a party that demands its candidates must be pro-abortion.

    • BHG says:

      would that more American Catholics felt that way….

      • yan says:

        Do Democrats in the USA require that their party candidates MUST always and everywhere vote in favor of a woman’s right to an abortion? I haven’t read or heard that they do.

  5. Damon says:

    On one of my previous comments here about how we don’t communicate well to unbelievers, you admonished me heavily as to what -I- was going to do about it.

    Well. Turnabout is fair. What are YOU going to do about the problems you highlight? The problem of 5-4 instead of 9-0 existed already before this ruling.

    The comments sections on the net and twitter feeds are filled with hateful ‘burn down all hobby lobby’s.’ How are we going to reach out to their inner spirit created in the image of God, but stifled in ideological bondage?

    • I’m going to do what I am doing, preach. That is my job. You, O lay person are meant to enter the temporal arena that includes politics and apply the faith and summon the world to conversion. You also ought to reach family and friends who are either misinformed etc and apply some of the teaching here. A little division of labor, you might say. Sorry that you seem to have retained an irritable memory. I have no memory of our conversation.

      • BHG says:

        It is good for us to be reminded of our role as the lay faithful. Deosn’t happen nearly enough. Thanks. Well put. And of course, the process of conversion will be both messy and sometimes painful–for all parties involved!

      • Damon says:

        No irritable memories here! But I try to remember when people misunderstand me so I can try to do a better job next time.

        Communication with those who mock our faith is understandably difficult.

        But sometimes the same is true for people on the same side.

      • Doug Kraeger says:

        Damon asked, “How are we going to reach out to their inner spirit created in the image of God, but stifled in ideological bondage?” Maybe the following idea can be passed around and improved upon.
        This idea has three aspects:
        1. A poster in all churches put up by their minister
        2. Superb questions on slips of paper with web address
        3. all ministers of all faith will be expected to trust in God’s answer to all such questions and each minister will be expected to make available their own sequence of questions or endorse another’s sequence.
        What minister will publicly dispute any part of the following suggested Poster idea that can be improved and/or shortened and is to be put up in the church as a silent reminder to parents and children so each thinks about showing they have accepted the love of all truth so that they may be saved (2Thessallonians 2:10)?

        “All truly good parents are seen wanting to pray ever more perfectly and committing themselves to a lifelong effort at being open to all Truth from God through anyone and eagerly working to know and believe whatever it is that God wants everyone to know and believe and therefore these parents, in order to share them with others but especially with their children, are looking for the best verifiable information and the best sequences of questions from ministers of all faiths who are eager to share such in the sure faith that God’s answers for these questions will lead all to the one Faith God must will all to have and for them to thereby reject all man made additions to this Faith.”

        Obviously people will eventually know everything in the poster no matter how long it is if the minister makes a monthly, strongly worded comment and the parents and children will each know (because the poster and the monthly reminders puts a “spotlight on the parent’s actions”) whether or not the parents are, or are not, doing what they should already be doing but many times today, in this world, are not doing. Is this not a good way for ministers to frequently remind all (without pointing a finger at any one person) of the importance of truly loving and therefore seeking ALL the truth that God wants all to love and therefore eagerly seek so that they may be saved (2Thessallonians 2:10)?

        Second aspect of Idea:

        The second aspect requires the minister or a moderator (or team of moderators) who will find and post suggested questions on a particular part of the church webpage for people to be able to read and print out the questions on slips of paper and carry them in their wallet or purse. Then, when a person has an opportunity to dialogue with someone, they have these carefully worded, superbly well thought out questions, that they can hand to the other person and ask them if God might want to give them HIS ANSWER to this question and if they should therefore seek and find God’s answer to that question. Hopefully, many people will include related questions listed by numbers at the bottom to be found on the web page also listed and therefore they will not have to personally have all the answers, they have several superb questions written by experts such that there are only two possible answers A or B where B is all that is not A and therefore there is no middle ground and when combined with the verifiable evidence which can also be on the slip of paper, all sincere, humble seekers of truth will be lead by God’s answer.
        This idea does not negate everyone’s responsibility to know their faith and be eager to share it. It merely helps them be better armed, gives them a sense of confidence, so that even if they do not have all the answers at any given time (fear of which keeps many from engaging in dialogue) they know that they are armed with several well worded, simple questions that the other would know they should seek God’s answer to, and which we can be hopeful will lead them to the One Faith God wants all to have when they find His answer to all questions.
        What minister would want to be seen not enthusiastically supporting these two ideas once others publicly endorse them?
        Obviously, if a person is talking to someone and hands them a slip of paper for them to keep, the verifiable information and question can be superbly written and quite detailed and unassailable. A little ink could go a long way with the correct facts and question on a piece of paper folded once in a wallet or purse. Think of all the incredible arguments that could be put on a slip of paper (by Scott Hahns and such) and handed to someone to read in the security of their home with the only goal of hearing God’s answer and not worrying about arguing with or having to convince the person who handed them the slip of paper. Thank you. Douglas Kraeger

        I could offer a long list of questions as examples, but I will offer only one:
        2Thessalonians says that “He will give them a deceiving spirit because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved” Question: Does your behaviour give evidence to God that you are open and working eagerly to believe whatever God wants everyone to know and believe and to understand it the way God wants it understood?”

        What reason can you give for not passing this on to others (maybe without endorsing it) who may be interested in helping make it better?
        Can you imagine all the superb questions that can be printed out, and how people who are today scared to dialogue about matters of faith might be empowered with the knowledge that they do not have to have any answers, they have the superb questions and God’s answer will lead others to the Truth?
        Thank you. Douglas Kraeger 104 Aubrey Lane, Liberty, SC 29657 eternalvisionfarmer@blogspot.com 315 534 4103

      • Jeff says:

        “You, O lay person are meant to enter the temporal arena that includes politics and apply the faith and summon the world to conversion.”

        Thank you

  6. Bert says:

    The sad thing is how many Christians, not to mention Catholics, rationalized and continue to rationalize voting for this administration.

    • Repent and Believe the Gospel! says:

      True, true. This is an evil administration. Obama is disgrace to the office of the presidency. He expect us to bow down to his HHS mandate with millions of dollars in penalty for those who won’t bow down. Forcing employers to pay for EVIL SERVICES IS PURE SATANIC. THIS MAN IS SATANIC! He should be impeached!
      Way to go Notre Dame! Inviting a satanic clown to give his FAKE SPEECH on religious liberty to divide the Catholic Church, good job clown school!

      Again, the clown is a disgrace to the office of the presidency. I know you want me to call him the “president” and be civil but I can’t, because enough is enough!

      I’m sorry Msgr., I am blunt. I’m not that nice. A wicked man like Obama will not get my respect, because enough is enough.

      People have to waste their energy and money to take this to court to fight against this EVIL MANDATE is un-American. Making people pay millions of dollars in penalty if they won’t go along with the evil mandate is to destroy their lively hood. If the supreme court didn’t vote for religious liberty yesterday, HOBBY LOBBY would have shut down. And people will be out of jobs. This man is pure evil!

      • oops…I need to throw a penalty flag ….

        On a Catholic Blog we cannot speak of the President or other authorities as “clowns” and as “wicked” It is right that we speak of our vigorous disagreement with the President and his policies. However St. Paul commanded respect for the emperor, and prayers for same. The emperor at that time was likely Nero. Disagree with the President we must, but we should avoid personal characterizations and stick to the issue. I understand your concern Repent… believe me I do. But I need to throw the flag. :-)

  7. Fred says:

    Msgr Pope:
    Please read the Court’s opinion before you comment.
    It was not based on the 1st amendment, but on application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the opinion explicitly says so.
    Although you may have wished it was based on the constitution, it was not.

    • Scott W. says:

      While Msgr. Pope did invoke the First Amendment and religious liberty, he did so in broad terms and didn’t really hang his hat on the ruling being directly based on the 1st Ammendment. It seems to imply that, but to harp on it seems like petty caviling.

      The problems I have is Catholics overusing the language of liberty and Constitutionalism which can fog up the message. It gives the impression that Catholics are saying, “We have these kooky beliefs about contraception with no rational basis, but guess what? The Constitution forces you to accommodate these kooky beliefs, so there! Nyahhh!”

      Rather, the message that should be crystal clear above all others is that contraception is evil. It desecrates the marital bond, offends against Chastity, and is a menace to public morals. This is the Truth and not just an arbitrary sectarian belief to be accepted because of a Constitution technicality.

      • scott w. says:

        I agree with you 100%. The contraception mandate is evil because contraception is evil, and not necessarily because it infringes on religious liberty, and to resist the mandate behind the shield of religious liberty does make it seem that our resistance is due to a sectarian belief.

        I also think that this so called victory on principle is a defeat in practice since, as I understand it, the Court found that when companies don’t want to pay for contraception for their employees the Government can pick up the tab. The point being, taxpayers will still pay for contraception, albeit in a more indirect way. Additionally the rates of these plans will have to increase to account for the cost to administrate this “solution”. The company will pay more for their policies so that there employees can get their contraception from the employees back wallet-pocket rather than from the hand…

    • yan says:

      And your point is what? The RFRA is merely a restatement of prior Supreme Court interpretation of the first amendment, which was altered by that same Court to be more deferential toward the state in the case Employment Division v Smith. The RFRA is a restatement of Supreme Court 1st amendment religion jurisprudence which was about 70 years old at the time of Smith. Msgr is not a lawyer. His ‘layman’ statement that the case is based on the 1st amendment is substantially correct, even if it is not technically correct.

      Yes, I am ready to out-pedant you on this…: )

      • Chris Travers says:

        That’s the question though. The statutory text does way more than merely restore that jurisprudence. Rather it purports to tell the court to apply the same level of protection afforded to free speech. The congressional record provides some reason to think Congress made an error here or at least was either misinformed or mistaken as to how they applied it. But they used very strong language in what they told the court.

        I don’t think that the Yoder court would have decided O Centro v. Gonzales the way it came out on First Amendment grounds, and O Centro was a unanimous decision (like Yoder was). O Centro *also* clearly articulated strict scrutiny as the standard the RFRA imposes and nobody on the court objected then. The analysis in Yoder was actually closer to what the court decided in Hobby Lobby, namely that religious liberty extended to how one lives one’s life.

        So I don’t know. It is quite possible that Congress was misinformed, ignorant, and incompetent when they passed the RFRA, but whose fault is that? At any rate the text cannot be used to merely erase Smith from the caselaw books even just regarding federal law.

  8. Daniel O'Connor says:

    Another huge problem is that this was a ruling pertaining to the application of legislation, not a Constitutional ruling. All congress has to do is amend or overturn RFRA and we are back in the same situation.

    • Anne says:

      This point was made on NPR on the Diane Rehm show this morning, which I listened to while driving. I like to hear the opposition in its native habitat. Using the “solution” of repealing the RFRA was brought up as one easy way to get rid of this troublesome decision.

      • Brian English says:

        The Court always avoids deciding issues on a constitutional basis if any other avenue is open to it, so don’t read anything into the Court not deciding this on constitutional grounds.

        As far as legislatively overturning RFRA goes, such a law would never make it through the House.

        The real danger here is the one raised by Monsignor–a change in one vote on the Court will be all it takes to invalidate this victory.

        • Daniel O'Connor says:

          I must disagree that this is the biggest danger: Courts don’t just “re-vote” on cases, but the House changes every two years.

          • Brian English says:

            The House isn’t going to change hands this year, and the Republicans may get the Senate.

            On the other hand, if Scalia or Thomas goes off the Court in the next two years and is replaced by a progressive justice, you watch how fast a case gets manufactured to revisit this or a similar issue.

        • Chris Travers says:

          > As far as legislatively overturning RFRA goes, such a law would never make it through the House.

          It probably wouldn’t even make it through the house if Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority. Nobody wants to go down on record opposing religious liberty in such broad terms.

          Now, amending the RFRA might be doable if you can get a solution everyone can live with, and that requirement is not a bad thing, if you ask me. Congress is supposed to pass laws that help everyone, not pass laws to win culture wars (not that either party is remotely on the right side of that line).

  9. TJ says:

    Msgr. Pope, here’s one liberal who thought the decision was the right one: http://theweek.com/article/index/264029/why-liberals-should-cheer-the-hobby-lobby-decision

    Well worth the read.

  10. John Harden says:

    Msgr,

    I’m delighted in the outcome, but share your concern about the narrow victory. However; I also am concerned that I’ve not seen anyone correctly identify the consciences being violated by this law, the consciences of insurance providers.

    The only company that would be directly paying for these immoral practices are insurance companies. To say an employer is “forced” to pay for contraceptive/abortive medicine isn’t quite accurate. An employer isn’t “forced” to pay for illicit drugs simply by giving employees money. And yet, employees can use that money to obtain illicit materials. The employer is therefore off the hook. So too, an employer is not forced to pay for immoral medicine by providing insurance. An employee can choose to use it immorally, or not.

    In this case, the only person who isn’t off the hook is the insurance provider, because they HAVE to pay for contraceptives/abortive medicine. They have no choice. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen a case of a single insurance provider objecting to what they must provide their customers. Religious Freedom has therefore not been restored. In fact, it’s been ignored.

    • C Beltz says:

      “The only company that would be directly paying for these immoral practices are insurance companies. To say an employer is “forced” to pay for contraceptive/abortive medicine isn’t quite accurate. An employer isn’t “forced” to pay for illicit drugs simply by giving employees money. And yet, employees can use that money to obtain illicit materials. The employer is therefore off the hook. So too, an employer is not forced to pay for immoral medicine by providing insurance. An employee can choose to use it immorally, or not”

      Actually, John, the insurance company is simply a risk transfer agent. In an employer sponsored plan, the money is not usually held on a per employee basis, but is part of a pool. Every employee who buys insurance pays into this fund, so in purchasing cover for oneself in a pro-contraceptive plan, whether you choose to partake or not, you are still supporting an immoral act because your money pays for those services. This is the sad reality of the situation. Every good conscience is violated by this mandate, not just the people who hit “pay” on a claim.

    • yan says:

      Well, why don’t the insurance providers file a petition then? Maybe their consciences are not so sensitive as the Greens, hm? God bless the Hobby Lobby plaintiffs.

  11. Paul B Rimmer says:

    It’s narrow because it’s not just about religious liberty. It’s about weighing religious liberty against the public good. More, it’s about what guidance prior legiislation provides for making this decision. After all, some religious groups may not want to cover blood transfusions, but they would not be allowed to opt out because the public good outweighs religious liberty. The case of Hobby Lobby was dicey. Does contraceptive coverage sufficiently align with the common good? Four thought “yes”, five thought “no”. And the ruling also dealt with the complex question of how to determine the religious identity of a corporation. As was admitted by the advoate for Hobby Lobby and other private parties, Paul D. Clement, if Exxon were to refuse covering contraceptives, their attempt should be rejected by the court, because Exxon is publicly traded and owned by too many different individuals with different interests and different religious beliefs to receive religious protection. You can only be protected for a religion that you have.

    Further, the case wasn’t even decided on the question of the First Amendment directly, but on RFRA. If it weren’t for RFRA, the case should have been an easy 9-0 AGAINST Hobby Lobby, because of Employment Division v. Smith (1990), where Scalia wrote the majority opinion. That case set up the precedent that although the government has the power to accommodate religious acts that are contrary to current policy, it is not required to do so. RFRA was passed in order to require the federal government to accommodate religious acts, unless it is clearly demonstrated that a compelling public interest is on the line.

    I think that the court was right in its decision, but I don’t think that the decision was as obvious as you think it was.

    You are overreacting, and your analysis is too simplistic.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hello Monsignor,

    Did you notice that the majority and minority opinion were in agreement about at least one thing: all nine justices seem to have agreed that the government does have a “compelling interest” in ensuring that females at Hobby Lobby and other business have access contraception. As I read it, this implies that, if the government had no alternative to requiring for-profit to provide contraception to its employees (which in this case it did. See the majority opinion), then it could legally force such businesses to provide contraception coverage through it’s insurance plan, overriding the religious liberty of the employers. The majority and minority opinions were in complete agreement on this point. They differed only on whether the government had a reasonable alternative.

    • Peter Rival says:

      Actually the majority opinion explicitly states that the Government asserts a compelling interest – it does not conclude one way or the other whether that assertion holds because they found that the “least restrictive” portion of RFRA was not met and thus needed no other grounds for their finding. The Roberts court is very consistent in finding the absolutely narrowest possible answers to sometimes expansive questions and leaving the rest for the future.

      • Brian says:

        I don’t think Alito, Roberts, Scalia or Thomas accepted that the government had a compelling interest in requiring employers to provide the drugs to which Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods objected. But I think Kennedy and the dissenters – and hence a majority of the Justices – did.

  13. Mike says:

    For a century the American Church has promoted the outsourcing of the Corporal Works of Mercy via socialized medicine and similar arms of the State. Worse, for at least half that time it has been internally squishy (whatever its publicly declared stance) regarding abortion, contraception, and the formation of the family.

    None of this is a secret, which is why to rely on courts packed with poorly formed Catholic judges to uphold conscience rights would seem grossly imprudent, if not objectively evil.

    Whatever the short-term impacts of this decision and its sequelae, it is indeed the laity — hard-identity Catholics praying, speaking and acting in truth and charity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit — who will be the vanguard of the reclamation of souls, and of this nation and world. That might sound bleak but it is not, thanks to honest preachers of the truth like Msgr. Pope for whose courageous witness we all should be very thankful.

  14. [...] OK, We Won. But the Hobby Lobby Vote should have been 9 – 0. Wake up, America. Your liberty is on the line! OK, We Won. But the Hobby Lobby Vote should have been 9 – 0. Wake up, America. Your liberty is on …. [...]

  15. Jan says:

    The really sad thing about all of this is how the ignorant-either honestly or by design- are being led about by the nose by the Left. The drugs and abortifacients are still available – yet those who have the most to lose are the ones proclaiming that there is a war on women simply because they must pay for their contraceptives. So much hypocrisy and deceit.

    This falls squarely on the head of Chief Justice Roberts- he is responsible for this mess by his asinine decision legalizing that disastrous “health care plan.”

  16. Terry Carlino says:

    Yes there are many troubling aspects to this decision.
    As mentioned all of the justices seem to agree that the government has a “compelling interest” in ensuring that woman have access to contraception. One might ask why this is so. Contraception is not health care. Pregnancy is not a disease. The interest the government should have in contraception is that drugs used for the purpose are not health risks (which we know they are.)
    Second this was based on the RFRA instead of the First Amendment. That is wrong headed. he protections of the First Amendment should never allow the practice of religious belief to be relegated to private worship or require an individual to act against their conscience on a moral belief.
    Third it is especially disturbing that this went down along party lines. Earlier attempts by this administration to violate the First Amendment were rightly 9-0. The very fact that this was not framed as a Constitutional issue is disturbing. The Employment Division v. Smith is flawed, because based on it any amendment is basically violable whenever the government has an “overriding interest.” So if the government interest is compelling enough they have the right to ignore the whole bill of rights. This whole line of reasoning ignores the salient fact that rights do not come form the government, and therefore cannot be granted or rescinded by them. Even the Bill of Rights only records rights that are held by individuals from their creator, independent of government authority.

    • yan says:

      Thomas Jefferson wrote that we hold these truths to be self-evident. Cicero wrote that if truth were self-evident, eloquence would be unnecessary.

      I agree with Cicero. Rights are from God only in the a priori sense: that is, they MUST, in reality, be from God, since He is the author of all, and the author of man in particular, and of man’s dignity, which defines the scope and limits of man’s rights. That means that the idea that rights are of God is a conviction largely OF FAITH, not of reason alone.

      But God does not tell us what our rights are. He has left it to us to discover them, using our reason and our experience, guided by His revelation in Jesus Christ.

      I often see the criticism alleged against our courts and gov’t that they cannot either take away or grant rights because rights are from God; and that therefore, courts and the government can only recognize rights. This is, in my opinion, a lazy criticism, that does not take into account the serious thinking that goes into the opinions of judges–above all, the justices on the Supreme Court. It ignores the very obvious truth that what some people consider to be rights, others deny to be rights, and vice-versa. It also ignores the truth that our Catholic catechism teaches: that although the natural law [and thus, natural rights] is written on every human heart, that does not make it visible to every human eye. The nature of sin and the weakness of intellect prevent our easily and readily recognizing it and adhering to it. Finding the true law requires, in every case, moral fortitude as well as penetrating intelligence. Judges and politicians being flesh and blood, like the rest of us, will often therefore be imperfect expositors of it. That does not mean that we can rashly dismiss their rulings when they have arrived at a conclusion as to what the law requires in a particular case on the basis that their rule disagrees with what we think the natural law requires.

      That all being said, it is perfectly fine with me for anyone to question whether or not contraception is healthcare; or why the government should have a compelling interest in ensuring that women have access to it.

  17. Doug Pearson says:

    Dear Monsignor Pope,

    A little push back from a lay person. I remember a couple of years ago being very motivated to the civil activism called for by our bishops to protect our liberties. Shortly thereafter, I remember Cardinal Dolan inviting the primary antagonist to a party to hang out and have some laughs. You could not have orchestrated a better undercutting of the Fort Night for Freedom if you planned to undercut it.

    I appreciate your blog and your preaching, but the division of labor point cuts both ways.

    We need to pray for our bishops to have the courage to say enough is enough and be willing to make sacrifices. If they are only willing to lead from the rear, we have no hope of rebuilding a culture of life and liberty in this country.

    Keep up the good work sir!

  18. Dysdjs says:

    “But here’s a concern: why didn’t the Justices vote 9–0?”
    Becasue half the Supreme Court are open Marxists and the other half is questionable. If the court actually cared about the US constitution then they would over turn ALL federal gun laws, ALL entitlement programs and prohibit 90% of what the fed gov does. The easiest way to start a revolution in this country is to insitute a government that actually adhere’s to the US constitution. The Republic for which the flag stands is dead and has been for 70 years.

  19. J. W. Cox says:

    First, you are mistaken, from what I can tell, on several of the facts of the Supreme Court decision, which was NOT based on a constitutional reading, but on a legislative reading. That is, the Court majority did not appeal to the First Amendment’s free exercise clause but much more narrowly — to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Act sets up several tests: that HHS failed — regarding a compelling government interest, and regarding the least restrictive means of ensuring that interest.

    At least in this case, it is manifestly clear that “our liberty” does not hang by a single thread.

    It is hardly surprising that the Court, and the country at large, do not share the Church’s understanding of contraception or abortion. I have been a Catholic for about a decade, and our 1th and 16th priests have just arrived in our parish. In all that time, I’ve heard almost nothing in public — in homilies, or teaching or in any kind of catechesis — about abortion or contraception. Especially with regard to contraception, the Church’s opposition to it may be well known, but the reasons for that opposition are not understood at all, including by a majority of Catholics.

  20. robert carr says:

    Let me state from the beginning, abortion is a disgusting crime against the Almighty and screams to Heaven for vindication for all the murdered unborn. And I cannot even wrap my limited intellect around the concept. I can only imagine the Agony in the Garden???

    How can a contraception “benefit” be forced upon me as an employer if that “benefit” was never offered by my insurance provider that I provide as an employer. When are the rights of the employer ever taken into consideration? If one wishes to seek employment, how and why are the wants of an employee or a potential employee more important than those of the employer? If contraception is the overriding desire of the the potential employee then why does not the employee seek employment where those “benefits” are offered? This is insane to me. It appears that all are to compromise the beliefs and convictions in deference to the ALMIGHTY STATE, their ignorant minions and to any and all abberant behaviors.

    If “one” or an “entity” applies to the STATE (CONGRESS/STATE LEGISLATURE) for a CORPORATE CHARTER (BIRTH CERTIFICATE created from Mom’s “unintended gift” of the Record of Live Birth to the STATE) then that entity or CORPORATION /PERSON/INDIVIDUAL/TRUST/ESTATE/WARD JOHN Q PUBLIC / JANE Q PUBLIC will adhere to the rules and regulations of the granted charter! What is so hard to understand? WE ARE ALL IN THE DISTRICT! WE ARE ALL BEING CONTROLLED BY OUR OWN VOLUNTARY ACTIONS. The entire nation is being probated “in rem”. The STATE has nothing to do with flesh and blood, soul filled man(woman)! And, “we” are all being charged with committing “CRIMES AGAINST THE STATE”. [ Nuremburg come to mind.(?) Both the military and more importantly, the civilian trials. ]

    If one were to actually READ the majority opinion of the ACA 2009, it states that the Act applies to “WITHIN THE DISTRICT [ (THE DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA.(the case that ROBERT'S referred to in the opinion) Where is this DISTRICT? THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA? THE UNITED STATES (DISTRICTS)? Not States?] Oh, it is contained WITHIN the Virginia Commonwealth. It is the land owned by the U.S. which can be found in county land record office/ Recorder of Deeds Office and which the two customs houses are/were erected upon). Why has not the opinion been disected and made understandable to all? I guess thats the goal. To keep as many as possible in the dark and ignorant.

    So, lets see, “your” a corporation, for profit or non profit “you” are not what you appear on the surface to be or, that is not how “you” will be dealt with/treated by the STATE. Because the STATE can only deal with its own corporations/creations.

    BTW, the minority opinion by Ruth “Buzzy” Ginsberg is even more “off the wall” than usual. Well she was and advocate for murder for years and thats why she was put on the bench in the first instance.

    I hope everyone is prepared for the hell on earth that is rearing its ugly head. Lucifer is in charge and as it appears, it is quite evident.

    But all is well,. Go back to sheep………………………………………………………………………….
    sorry, “sleep”.

    robert carr

    May the Blessed Trinity have Mercy,

  21. Pete says:

    Read this (sarcastic but true) tweet today: “I’m kind of hungry for lunch, but my employer doesn’t buy my lunch for me. It gives me cash to buy food. Which means I’m going to starve.” That’s their argument. No one is denying women “access” to artificial birth control. The admin. says so, as do most liberals- there are some honest ones, but not many- why do they lie over and over? Also, O’Care never covered vasectomies or condoms, but Hobby covers female b.c. By the way, libs would have to pretend shock if they knew Lobby does cover vasectomies, female sterilization, and other birth control for women, just not abortifacients.

  22. Deacon Tony says:

    Wouldn’t you be missing an opportunity to show this child what it means to be a Roman Catholic and to impart to it what the Church teaches about homosexuality?

    • Robertlifelongcatholic says:

      You have totally avoided the issue Deacon Tony. If thy right arm be a thing of sin to thee then cut it off. The shepherd has placed the members of the flock in a compromising position. Who is at sin. Beware of wolves in sheep”s clothing.

    • Joseph says:

      Come on, be the godfather. Pray for the child. Trust God Who IS NOT MOCKED.

      • Robertlifelongcatholic says:

        This is a probable scenario Joe, not happening. Your response is as evasive as Deacon Tony’s in addressing the reality of the situations created by the so called discrete priest. I can pray for the child, you, Deacon Tony and the priests who commit these acts as much as Christ prayed for those who betrayed Him. It’s not only the child here who becomes the victim, it’s those who follow the faith and are classified as bigots for not accepting and playing along with the collusion of our faith with sin and unnatural law. Welcome back o Sodom and Gomorrah.

      • Anne says:

        Robert I understand your concern here. We are living in a sick culture where the line between charity and enabling wrong doing are very blurred. There are decisions to be made at every turn and it is very hard to feel one is doing the right thing.

  23. Brian English says:

    “If it weren’t for RFRA, the case should have been an easy 9-0 AGAINST Hobby Lobby, because of Employment Division v. Smith (1990), where Scalia wrote the majority opinion.”

    So basically it is your position that regulations promulgated pursuant to an act of Congress automatically override the First Amendment? Not really worth the paper it is printed on, is it?

    In any event, Smith involved someone attempting to excuse their breach of a criminal statute through reliance on the First Amendment. The government attempting to compel people to act in contravention of their religious beliefs is a very different situation.

    • yan says:

      His position is that if not for RFRA, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1st amendment in the Smith case would have required that the court rule against Hobby Lobby.

      Although many people here are saying this, Scalia, who wrote the Smith decision, disputed the applicability of the Smith case to the Hobby Lobby case at oral argument. Thus, it is far from clear what a 1st amendment decision would have looked like. Apparently [though I haven't looked at the pleadings], the plaintiffs in any event sued on RFRA, not on the 1st amendment, so we don’t know what a 1st amendment decision would have been.

      Let’s also be clear about RFRA: you don’t seem to understand that RFRA is a congressional act requiring courts to give MORE deference to religious conduct–not LESS–than present 1st amendment jurisprudence purportedly permits under Smith.

  24. Concerned says:

    I read through all these comments with great concern over the lack of civility in this debate. I’m not a judicial scholar and it is clear from some of the comments that people know a lot more about what sounds like a complex issue than I do. I am glad Msgr. did call the flag once. I do know that to win people over to your side, equating them with Nazis and being Godless isn’t going to work. It is best we start from within. Polls show how many Catholics use birth control. Catholic judges on the court voted both ways. If the flock is not unified, than how can you expect others to join the flock?

  25. Joseph says:

    Notice, the majority of POTUS looked at the decision from the template of religious freedom–the Constitution’s 1st Amendment. The minority looked at it from the template of feminism–not mentioned in the Constitution. It was a victory of intellect over emotion. P.S. I am pro-women.

    • TeaPot562 says:

      @Josepn at 7:56 p.m.: The acronym “POTUS” refers to “President of the United States”, not the Supreme Court.
      TeaPot562

  26. yan says:

    Dear Msgr.,

    If I may be permitted a constructive criticism:

    The problem with your Jews/pork analogy is that PIG EATERS DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS. This past Saturday, I was reminded once again that, by stark contrast with the cognizable class of pig-eaters, women have ‘rights’: while approaching our local abortion clinic to offer up my prayers with the like-minded, I encountered, for the first time that I can remember–having aspired to be doing this weekly for over ten years now–a small coterie of people objecting to the presence of such as myself. A large sign, held up smilingly, proudly, and boldly, stated, ‘STOP THE WAR ON WOMEN.’

    That is how the people opposed to the Hobby Lobby decision view the decision. It is not just a question of the rights of the plaintiffs, Hobby Lobby, which hang in the balance here. It is the question of the ‘rights of women.’

    I think that we must admit that the successful framing of this issue as being one pertaining to the ‘rights of women’ is a masterful stroke of propaganda. Pig eaters, by contrast, do not comprise a sympathetic class of persons, much less a legally protected one [as women, in fact, do, under our constitutional jurisprudence.] ‘My body, my choice,’ resonates far more profoundly than ‘my tastebuds, my choice…’

    The media waged, in my opinion, a vicious war against politicians, particularly Republicans, that expressed certain obvious truths about women in a manner painted as being, at best, indelicate, and at most, worthy of an Islamic state. For instance, consider Mr. Romney’s ‘binderfuls of women’–a phrase I still hear quoted regularly as being exemplary of Republicans’ alleged tin ear in regard to women’s issues. I have no idea what is wrong with that phrase, in all honesty. I don’t see how it insults women in any way. His whole point was to say that his company was open to hiring women. Somehow, this was painted as being a bad thing. The result of these attacks was to make Republicans, and people generally, fearful of stating the truth clearly. One result: being opposed to state mandated contraception is part of a ‘war on women.’ I think we need to push back, hard, though of course, with love, against the use of that phrase. Kudos to those out there already doing so.

  27. Jeff B says:

    Just goes to show you how real of a grip Satan has on our “governmental” leaders.

    Sad.

    Grateful religious liberty means something one single solitary vote.

    Mother Mary pray for us. Please we need prayers badly.

  28. esiul says:

    Dear Msgr. Pope,
    You said it all in your headline, Wake up America!. I don’t have time today to read all the wonderful comments,
    nothing more I could add. It should have been 9-0.
    Keep up your good work, you make my day every day. Thank you.

  29. Xopher says:

    Oh that the Justices would rule on the law and not be swayed by their politics.

  30. Catherine P. says:

    Well, actually there are SIX Catholic Supreme Court Justices, 5 of whom agreed on the Hobby Lobby decision: Chief Justice Roberts, Alito (author of the main opinion that decided the case) Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy. Sotomayor, the 6th Catholic Justice, dissented, along with the 3 Jewish Justices: Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kagan. I find the religious-background split here to be VERY interesting. Sotomayor is an excellent Justice (brilliant, very hard-working, creative, sharp as a tack) but she is quite liberal, generally.

  31. Julia says:

    Dear Msgr,
    The faithful in states like California did NOT win. CA state law still requires this mandate (has for sometime – and is currently considering legislation to ensure mandated contraception coverage under the ACA):
    http://www.capradio.org/articles/2014/06/30/contraception-coverage-still-required-in-california-despite-scotus-ruling

    I read that other states also have their own contraception mandates. Why aren’t we talking about this ruling as it directly affects the faithful in each state?!

  32. . . . all for Jesus says:

    +The Hand of God . . .

    We keep several open Bibles strewn all about the house . . . and shortly after hearing the marvelous news announcement of the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood Supreme Court victory . . . my eyes fell upon the below wonderful . . . extraordinarily rejoicing . . . little portion of . . . Sacred Scripture . . .

    Quote:
    Daniel 6:22 drv
    “My GOD hath sent HIS angel, and hath SHUT UP THE MOUTHS OF THE LIONS, and they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him justice hath been found in me: yea and before thee, O king, I have done no offence.”

    Like a good doctor would in a critical medical situation . . . Monsignor has kept us attuned to the fact that the . . . “patient” . . . in this case . . “our country” . . . is still very sick . . . and that we must stay alert to this dangerous reality . . . however . . . WONDER of WONDERS . . . the . . . “patient” . . . has taken a HEALTHY turn for . . . THE BETTER . . . Evil has indeed been summarily restrained . . . this very week . . . here in our wonderful country . . . and by the very instrument . . . the Supreme Court of the United States . . . which opened up the door to the horrific unholy disease of sin that has so infected the heart of our beloved country . . . the murderous slaughter of what now has mounted up into millions of innocent . . . very much alive . . . unborn children . . . through abortion . . . through others of their Court rulings . . .

    Quote:
    Mark:10:13-16 drv
    “And they brought to Him young children, that He might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them. Whom when JESUS saw, He was much displeased, and saith to them: Suffer the LITTLE CHILDREN to come unto me, and forbid them not; for OF SUCH is the kingdom of GOD. Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of GOD as a little child, shall not enter into it. And EMBRACING them, and laying His hands upon them, He blessed them.”

    We have a large Mennonite Christian Commune who are very close neighbors of our community here . . . and I’m sure they are all joyfully rejoicing at the astoundingly good news that GOD has blessed some of . . . their very own! . . . there at Conestoga Wood Specialties . . . for the . . . steadfast FAITH and courage . . . they have exhibited in . . . STANDING UP . . . for their religious beliefs and rights . . . and for the far reaching ripple affect that this . . . VICTORIOUS! . . . case will have for many of GOD’s beloved children . . . of all denominations . . . including our own Apostolic Holy Roman Catholic Church . . . throughout the country . . .

    Quote:
    Isaiah 59:1 drv
    “Behold the HAND of the LORD is NOT shortened that it cannot save, neither is HIS ear heavy that it cannot hear.”

    Praise GOD from Whom ALL blessings flow!

    . . . all for Jesus+

  33. Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz says:

    While the Jewish deli analogy is helpful, it limps. Jews base their opposition to pork on purely religious grounds. They do it because God told them, however many thousands of years ago, not to eat pork.

    Our objection to the use of contraceptives, and especially abortifacients, is not based on divine revelation but on human reason. Human reason shows that at the time when sperm meets egg or when monozygotic twinning takes place, the full complement of human DNA is present and that zygote is nothing other than a human person at the very beginning stages of his human life. The moral or religious component comes in, not on the “belief” that human life begins at conception, but on the belief that, because it is a human life it is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore it is “endowed by [its] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That’s the distinction that Justice Alito failed to make in his opinion and it’s something that should be made clear in future discussions of the matter.

    • OK, but my example is not theological, it is cultural. What you describe is true but the analogy is meant to contrast the outrage that would be made in deli example to the no-rage that this even more important issue.

      • . . . all for Jesus says:

        +Hi Thomas . . . in all gentleness . . . re your statement: “Our objection to the use of contraceptives, and especially abortifacients, is not based on divine revelation but on human reason.” . . . I don’t believe this supposition is soundly based re the Catholic Church’s Magesterial doctrinal revelations.

        I have so much love and respect for the . . . much beleaguered during his papacy . . . and now completely vindicated . . . Holy Father . . . Pope Paul VI . . . and our Holy Mother Catholic Church completely upholds . . . and champions his . . . Divinely Inspired . . . incredibly profound Papal Encyclical Letter . . . “HUMANE VITAE” . . . which is subtitled . . . “On Regulation of Birth” . . .

        This Encyclical has proven . . . over time . . . to be profoundly prophetic to such a depth . . . that understanding that it is clearly of . . . Divine Inspiration . . . certainly doesn’t require a gigantic leap of faith in this day and age . . . Below is a succinct quote from Wikipedia . . . the free encyclopedia . . . which explains this document very much better than I can . . .
        ——————————-
        HUMANAE VITAE (Latin Of Human Life) is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and issued on 25 July 1968. Subtitled On the Regulation of Birth, it re-affirms the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the continued rejection of most forms of birth control. Mainly because of its prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception, the encyclical was politically controversial, but affirms Church moral teaching from time immemorial on the sanctity of life and the procreative and unitive nature of conjugal relations. Pope Paul VI continued his teaching through 122 Apostolic Constitutions, 8 Apostolic Exhortations, 121 Apostolic Letters, innumerable homilies, letters and reflections, although he saw no need to issue any more encyclicals in the remaining ten years of his pontificate. He rejected the majority opinion of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control established by his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, presumably on the grounds that he could not change what has been revealed about the subject in the OLD and NEW TESTAMENTS.

        Between 1980 and 1984, Pope John Paul II delivered 129 addresses relating to the nature of marital love dubbed Catholic Theology of the Body, WHICH FULLY VINDICATES Humanae Vitae.[1]

        Pope Benedict XVI called this topic “controversial, yet so crucial for humanity’s future”. Humanae Vitae became “a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition… What was true yesterday is true also today.”[2] — Wikipedia

        Wikipedia on-line link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanae_Vitae
        ——————————-
        Re . . . Divine Inspiration of Catholic Magesterial doctrines . . . the following clarity is supplied by EWTN Catholic Theologian, Colin B. Donovan, STL . . .
        ——————————-
        DOCTRINE. The word doctrine comes, by way of the Latin doctrina, from the Greek word doxa, meaning belief. The doctrine(s) of the Church, therefore, are those teachings which MUST BE BELIEVED by the faithful. These include 1) dogmas, teachings which the Church has solemnly defined as formally revealed by GOD, and, 2) other teachings definitively proposed by the Church because they are connected to solemnly defined teachings. The first (dogmas) can be called doctrines of DIVINE FAITH, the second doctrines of CATHOLIC FAITH. Together they are said to be “of divine and catholic faith.” Both kinds of doctrine require the assent of faith. BOTH are INFALLIBLY taught by the Church. Dogmas require it because they are formally revealed by God. Doctrines definitively proposed by the Church require it, BECAUSE THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH in matters of faith and morals is itself DIVINELY revealed. A side note, doctrine shares the same root as orthodox, meaning correct belief. Those who hold the Church’s doctrines faithfully are thus orthodox.

        EWTN on-line link: http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=564105
        ——————————-
        . . . all for Jesus+

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