Sunday, January 29, 2012

First, Do No Harm

Disclaimer: Habitually Speaking, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, and the Roman Catholic Church do not support any particular political party. The following entry is about a human rights violation that happens to be undertaken by the current administration of the United States. The political party is irrelevant,  because this issue is beyond party lines. Both Republicans and Democrats are upset about what has happened.

One of my favorite things about our Community is our commitment to social justice.
  • We stay informed on the status of human trafficking, and on January 11th, we had a special evening prayer for all human trafficking victims.
  • Some of the Sisters at our Motherhouse and surrounding convents volunteer regularly at Hope House, which provides housing and services to help homeless people get back on their feet.
  • Our Community also provides our lay employees, no matter what their jobs are, with a living wage and health benefits.
These are some of the issues that we are committed to. Very recently, we found another thing to be concerned about: one that affects us in a significant way, because we sponsor some Catholic hospitals.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan explains:
"all but a few employers will be forced to purchase coverage for contraception, abortion drugs and sterilization services even when they seriously object to them. All who share the cost of health plans that include such services will be forced to pay for them as well. Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle.
The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are "free"—but it is na├»ve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.

Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.

The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease." (
In order to be exempted from this new law, Catholic hospitals can only treat Catholic patients, and can only hire Catholic employees. Really, is that possible? Even if it was, would we want to be so exclusive? Never.

Doctors should be able to live out the Hippocratic Oath according to their consciences.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are not backing down. We are joining the efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association of the United States to stop this law from taking effect. Our administration has asked us to participate through our prayers.

Please also pray for the protection of the freedom of conscience.

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