Confessions of Cultural Heretics

"When the whole world is running headlong towards the precipice, one who walks in the opposite direction is looked on as being crazy." T.S. Elliot

Archive for the category “Birth Control Mandate”

Toledo Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally- Updated with Video of Speech

On Friday I had the great honor of being one of the speakers for the Toledo Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally.  I was able to join on stage an  Rev. Mark Hodges, pastor of St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lima, Sister Cecilia Mary Sartorius, mother superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Oregon, Monica Martinez of the Diocese of Toledo, and Bishop Leonard Blair in speaking out against this atrocious mandate.  Here is the speech that I gave:

Good Afternoon! I am honored to be speaking before you all.  I am so glad to see so many individuals standing up for religious freedom!  I am a medical student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and will be starting my training as a family physician in June.  My wife and I have also been teaching NFP in Toledo for the past three years.  As a soon to be doctor, the fight against this mandate is extremely important to me.

I wanted to first speak to you in my capacity as a medical professional.  From my perspective and that of many physicians around the country, this mandate does not make medical sense.  Now, I am not talking about the morality of contraception or even the health concerns of side effects of hormonal contraception and sterilization, but rather the fact that the government is mandating that we cover a medication and procedure that destroys a healthy physiologic state and that we are supposed to call this preventative care.   A recent post of the blog Catholic Vote made an excellent point in regards to the Affordable Care Act and subsequent clarifications (under which this Mandate falls): She writes:  You know that old sesame street song: “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” Among the conditions targeted [In this act] are alcoholism, depression, HIV, syphilis, diabetes, breast cancer, and fertility.  Which of these things just doesn’t belong?

This attitude that our government has taken towards fertility simply baffles me.  This just  isn’t good medicine.  But then again, this Mandate is not about medicine.  Rather this Mandate is about the erosion of religious liberty and conscience rights in the United States.   Once the government is able to force us to pay for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacients, then how long before hospitals and physicians will be forced to perform sterilizations or physicians be forced to write the prescriptions?  How long before you all are unable to receive healthcare that respects your beliefs?

The success of this mandate will be measured by how quickly and effectively Catholics and Christians are driven out of healthcare and education completely.  It is about how the government can keep Catholic and Christian businessmen and women from being successful, and it is about restricting which professions and jobs we can pursue. For if we are to be adhere to the teachings of our Faith and follow our conscience, how can we keep our Hospitals, Universities, and businesses open?  And when these close and we are out of work, they win.

We cannot let this happen.  We are the frontline in the defense of religious liberty and conscience protection.  This is not just about protecting institutions, but about protecting the religious liberty of the individual, for that is whom the First Amendment is written.  It is our individual witness, each and every day, that is going to turn this tide.  We must tell our family, friends, and colleagues what is going on and the Truth about this Mandate.  There are many misconceptions about this Mandate and distortions in regards to why we are opposing it.  I have had to face down colleagues and my superiors in defense of our religious liberty in the very hospitals in Toledo.  And there many fellow Catholics and other Christians who have no idea that this fight is even occurring.   And so We must stand up and be willing to be Martyrs in defense of our Faith and religious liberty, to show this country that we will not back down, and I pray that through this all, we will prevail and regain the freedom that is rightfully ours.

We had an excellent turnout with estimates around 1000 people!  There were many priests, religious, families, and business men and women present in the crowd.  I was amazed at the turn out and so happy to see so many concerned with this issue.  We even had media coverage which was for the most part non-biased.  I was interviewed by the local Fox Affiliate, which you can watch here:

We had coverage by the local paper, the ABC affiliate, and the CBS affiliate, as well as the local Catholic paper The Catholic Chronical.

And here is a video of the Bishop’s address to the crowd.

I will try to keep posting pictures and videos as they come available.




NY Times and Pro Aborts Scared by Expanding Catholic Hospitals

I was browsing twitter this morning when I came across this article by the NY Times discussing how the  “financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization.”

This is just another example of why the government is doing what it is with the HHS mandate.  The culture of death knows that Catholics have the capacity to limit the abortions and sterilizations done in this country because it is the Catholic Church that is the most successful in regards to health care.  One would hope this is the case after these many centuries of providing care for people.

At the same time, we must continue to urge Bishops and Catholic health systems to be faithful to Church teaching and continue to provide authentic health care.  It may be a hard battle in the coming days, but the Church has prevailed before, and will continue to do so in the future.

Confronting Scandal from the Pulpit

This past weekend Brian and I taught the second class in our NFP course. Since the class is held on Sunday afternoon we had to go to an earlier Mass than our usual 10:30 time at our parish. Originally we had been planning on attending the 8:30 at our parish, but the two little guys soon made it clear that there was no way that was going to happen. So we found a 9:30 at a nearby parish where we are friends with the pastor.

Now this is your stereotypical suburbanite parish- from the 70s architecture to the unspoken dress code of North Face fleeces and jeans. Like I said, however we know the pastor and he is completely orthodox and we knew we would at least have a reverent Mass and homily that would be spiritually uplifting.

After the deacon finished proclaiming the Gospel, he did not sit down, instead he began to preach. This was unexpected, as we had never seen a deacon deliver the sermon before (which we later learned only happens about once a month).

At first, we thought the Deacon was giving a good homily in regards to the constancy of truth and absoluteness of God’s teaching and its root in love for us. His discussion of “the grey” and how it resides in us and not in God was good, however, then he began to discuss contraception and moral teachings of the Church, and what he said was wrong. Dead wrong.

What he said next basically was that it is fine for Catholics to use contraception as long as they have “struggled with the Church’s teaching and attempted to form their conscience, but still conscientiously object” and will “be silent about it”. Here he mentioned the recent polls of Catholics that have been reported so much lately and the only issue he had with the numbers was that those who were using contraception were only wrong in making that information public.

The irony of hearing this lies in the fact that we were coming to mass to prepare our hearts and our minds to go and teach the Church’s Truth about contraception, family planning, and the generosity of the Lord. It was heartbreaking to basically hear from the pulpit permission for couples to continue to use contraception. It is this type of message and preaching that continues to undermine our ability to reach couples and inform their consciences. And to compound matters, the Deacon did not attempt at all to clarify why the Church teaches against contraception, for in doing so, he may have been able to help form and guide those who were struggling in the pew. Rather, by leaving this out, he basically gave everyone the ability to continue to use contraception and disagree with the Church on other teachings with a clear conscience as long as they kept quiet about it.

I have never walked out of Mass before, but I was horrified and mad. The only thing that kept me in my seat was the fact that we had to go to this Mass in order to make it in time to set up for our class. It is because of incidents like these, that we find ourselves in the pickle that we do regarding the HHS mandate. Maybe it would be a little easier to make headway with those who don’t understand our objections if there wasn’t so much dissension being justified from the pulpits.

Although we were certain Fr. was just as shocked as we were by what was said, we knew we had to do something and felt that maybe God had led us to Mass there for a reason that morning. As soon as we arrived home, we composed an email to the pastor, explaining the reason we came to his parish that day and expressed our tremendous concern for his flock which had all been given a false teaching on contraception and conscience formation. We also implored him to remedy the scandal that had just occurred by clarifying to this deacon and the whole congregation the actual church teachings on these subjects.

I am happy to say that we received this response that evening:

“You are right in that I too was surprised at the sermon. I think the deacon must have been going on an erroneous notion of “dissent” that was popularized years ago.  I will be clarifying things with him and with the parish. I also agree with you that now is not the time to be making things more grey, which is what the homily did. Thank you very much for the email, as it helps me to address the issue more forcefully.”

Knowing this holy priest, we have every confidence that he will indeed follow through with these intentions. Please pray for him as he faces this challenge as it is likely to cause quite a stir.

So as we begin Lent, we challenge all of you to find a way in your own parish or community to do your part to see that the Church’s teachings are being relayed faithfully and adequately. You never know the difference you could make.


We Need to Clean Up Our Own House First

I commend the many Bishops around the country who are calling on the faithful to defend religious liberty.  How blessed we are to have leaders who will stand up in the face of adversity and shepherd their flocks in this time of need.  Thomas Peters at CatholicVote has an excellent roundup of the various statements from around the country. The message is similar from the various bishops: Our religious liberty is under attack and we must fight back.  I completely agree and I will be on the front lines fighting for my rights as a physician, a father, a husband, and as a Catholic.

There have also been good commentary here and here pointing out that Catholics have basically put themselves into this position by rejecting the Church’s teaching on contraception.  President Obama is a genius in his choice of issues upon which to attack Catholics.  There is no other issue in the Church where more American Catholics have broken with the Church.  This is fairly obvious when 98% of Catholic women are using or have used birth control at some point.  Michael Voris (who occasionally has some good points) made an excellent point that the Bishops, in the fight against the Birth Control Mandate, turn around and find that there is no army behind them.

The bishops have a monumental task ahead of them.  Not only are they fighting against the current administration, but they are basically going to fight against Catholics who have rejected Church teaching on contraception and probably view this mandate as a good thing.  Moreover, the bishops have very little credibility when it comes to defending Church teaching on contraception, and this, in my opinion, is because they have not upheld Church teaching within their own dioceses.  This may be in the preaching from the pulpits, the marriage prep courses, or the counseling couples receive.  There are also many hospitals around the country who purport to be Catholic and yet daily violate Church teaching and the Ethical and Religious Directives, particularly on contraception.

It is high time that these bishops calling for the fight against the Birth Control Mandate also turn an eye to their own dioceses and examine just how this part of Church teaching is being lived out.  In my own diocese of Toledo (and Bishop Blair has issued a call to the fight) I know that a majority of the Catholics do not accept the Church’s teaching on contraception and that the Catholic hospital system does not appear to be upholding Church teaching either.  These bishops need to take steps to ensure that the hospitals in their dioceses are compliant with the ERDs and that these same hospitals aren’t already handing out contraception.  Otherwise, what is the point? If all the Catholic institutions in a diocese are already supporting/paying for contraception, then this mandate doesn’t really change anything.

We need to make sure that our own house is cleaned up before we will have any leg to stand on against outside forces.  It is high time to take action.

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