Archbishop Gomez of L.A.--in Spanish-Language Column--Says Attacks on Religious Liberty in U.S. Driven by 'Anti-Christian' Forces

By Edwin Mora | June 28, 2012 | 1:48 PM EDT

Jose H. Gomez, Catholic archbishop for the archdiocese of Los Angeles. (AP Photo)

( -- Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said that “anti-Christian and secular pressures are playing a role” in the Catholic Church’s conflict with the Obama administration over its mandate that says health insurers must offer contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients free of charge – services that are contrary to the Catholic faith.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 1, and the Catholic bishops have denounced the rule as “an unjust law” that “cannot be obeyed.”

In his June 22 commentary on the issue, Archbishop Gomez said, “In recent years, this sense of religious freedom, conscience protection, and the public role of religion, has been damaged under constant pressure from anti-Christian and secular elements in American society.” (En años recientes, este sentido de libertad religiosa, protección de conciencia y la función público de la religión, han sido deteriorados bajo constante presión de elementos anti-cristianos y secularizados en la sociedad norteamericana.)

“These same anti-Christian and secular pressures are playing a role in our current conflicts,” he said. “No one can credibly claim that this conflict with the government is over access to abortion and birth control. Because, unfortunately, both are widely available and affordable to anyone wanting to get them in this country and are often subsidized by state and federal governments.” (Esas mismas presiones secularizadas y anticristianas están trabajando en nuestros conflictos actuales. Nadie puede reclamar creíblemente que este conflicto con el gobierno es sobre el acceso al aborto y el control de la natalidad. Porque, desafortunadamente, ambos están ampliamente disponibles y asequibles a cualquiera que quiera obtenerlos en este país, a menudo subsidiados por gobiernos estatales y federales.)

Archbishop Gomez further said, “I have had good intentioned people ask me: Why is this important? Why can’t the Church just compromise and provide birth control insurance for our employees? They tell me that would achieve a greater good if the Church could continue to serve the poor in their hospitals, schools and charities.” (Yo he tenido gente de muy buena intención, que me pregunta: ¿Por qué esto es tan importante? ¿Por qué la Iglesia no puede solamente comprometerse y proporcionar seguro de control de la natalidad para nuestros empleados? Ellos me dicen que se lograría un mayor bien si la Iglesia pudiera continuar sirviendo a los pobres en sus hospitales, escuelas y caridades.)

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (AP Photo)

“But Catholics do not serve the poor to please our government,” he said. “We serve the poor because we are compelled by the love of Christ. This same love of Christ compels us to bear witness to that life, marriage and family that are sacred and that it is immoral to prevent the birth of children.”  (Pero los católicos no sirven a los pobres para complacer a nuestro gobierno. Nosotros servimos a los pobres porque estamos obligados por el amor de Cristo. Este mismo amor por Cristo nos obliga a dar testimonio de que la vida, el matrimonio y la familia son sagrados y que es inmoral prevenir el nacimiento de niños.)

“The ‘compromise’ that is being offered to us, is to stop loving Christ and being Christians,” he added. “This is the temptation to serve the government and not God.” (El “compromiso” que se nos está ofreciendo, es detenernos de amar a Cristo y de ser cristianos. Esta es la tentación de servir al gobierno y no a Dios.)

In a bulletin insert from early June, the Catholic bishops unequivocally state that the administration’s sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate would force people to act against their consciences.

“This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences,” say the bishops.

“What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching,” they say.

Archbishop Gomez’ column, which is written in Spanish, can also be read on the Catholic bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom Web site