Beginning now, with the opening of government-run health-insurance exchanges, President Barack Obama will be prohibiting American Catholics from practicing their faith in the way they live their daily lives.
This is an act of tyranny. Yet, many Americans in positions of public authority and influence have greeted it with silence and inaction.
I do not use the word tyranny lightly here. Obama is abusing his power as president to unilaterally impose on Catholics — and millions of other Americans who share the Catholic moral view on certain matters — a regulation that forces them to act against their moral convictions and the teachings of their faith.
He has declared war on their souls.
The Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are intrinsically immoral and Catholics cannot be involved in them.
Last year, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation, under Obamacare, requiring that almost all health care plans in the United States must provide coverage, without any fees or co-pay, for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Obama was boasting about this regulation last week.
At no time has he offered to exempt from it those individual Americans whom he has put in the position of needing to choose between obeying his bureaucratic mandate and the teachings of their faith.
Since Obama's administration first issued this regulation, America's Catholic bishops have forcefully and unambiguously declared it an "unjust law."
"A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law," says the Catholic Catechism, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas. "Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence."
Yes, Obama's sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate is "a kind of violence."
"If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience," says the Catholic Catechism. "In such a case, 'authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.'"
Yes, Obama's sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate is a "shameful abuse."
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, succinctly explained the evil of Obama's regulation in a letter he asked Catholic chaplains to read to U.S. troops attending Mass in January 2012.
Obama's regulation, Archbishop Broglio said, "strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith."
"It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle," the archbishop told the troops.
"We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law," he said.
Many other bishops said these exact words in letters to their own dioceses: "We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law."
In June 2012, the U.S. Catholic bishops unanimously endorsed a statement declaring the regulation an "unjust and illegal mandate" and "a violation of personal civil rights."
This year, when the Obama administration released a draft of the final version of the regulation, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent formal comments to HHS.
"In short," said the bishops, "the administration continues to propose: (a) an unjust and unlawful mandate," that offers "(b) no exemption or 'accommodation' at all for most stakeholders in the health insurance process, such as individual employees and for profit employers."
Last week, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore wrote a letter to all members of Congress.
"We are writing once again, as chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, on an increasingly grave concern to our Church and many others: Preserving religious freedom and the right of conscience for all who take part in our health care system," the bishops said.
"A particular threat is the administration's mandate for covering contraception, sterilization and related education and counseling as 'preventive services for enrollees and their minor daughters," said the bishops. "The mandate includes drugs and devices that can act against human life after fertilization, implicating our moral teaching on abortion as well as contraception."
"Nor should individual Catholics or others be told they cannot legally purchase or provide health coverage unless they violate their conscience," said the bishops.
The bishops have endorsed legislation — the Health Care Conscience Rights Act — that says no Obamacare regulation can force an employer, insurer or individual to buy or provide coverage for an item to which they have a moral or religious objection.
"As Congress considers a continuing resolution and debt ceiling bill in the days to come," the bishops said, "we reaffirm the vital importance of incorporating the policy of this bill into such 'must-pass' legislation."
The CR the House passed on Sunday did include language that would have created the conscience protection the bishops sought — at least through Jan. 1, 2015. But when the Senate rejected that CR, the Republican leadership stripped the conscience-protection language from the version of the CR the House passed Monday.
Now neither party in either the House or Senate is seeking to protect the freedom of conscience from Obama's tyrannical regulation.
Starting now, on Obama's presumed unilateral authority, American Catholics will be prohibited from practicing their faith in the way they live their daily lives.