(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama--who according to a unanimous declaration of all the Catholic bishops of the United States is violating the civil rights of American Catholics by forcing them to act against their faith in a matter involving the life and death of innocent human beings--will speak Thursday morning at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
The Washington Daybook, a service that sends out emails every afternoon providing news editors and reporters with information about the next day's activities by national political figures, reported on Wednesday that Obama would be speaking "at an interfaith service" at the Catholic cathedral honoring those killed and injured in the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
The Daybook entry for the president's schedule says: "11 a.m.: Speaks at the 'Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service' dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in Monday's bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Mrs. Obama attends. Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, Mass."
Step by step, since the summer of 2011, Catholics have been moving deeper and deeper into the most dramatic confrontation in the history of the United States between the members of a religious denomination and the federal government.
The question is: Can a Catholic be simultaneously faithful to the moral teachings of his church and the regulatory mandates of Obamacare?
The bishops' unequivocal answer: No.
In August 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius--a Catholic whose hometown bishop has instructed her to abstain from communion--issued an Obamacare regulation saying that virtually all health-care plans must provide cost-free sterilizations, artificial contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
It is the inalterable teaching of the Catholic church that all three of these things are intrinsically immoral--and that the latter (abortion-inducing drugs) involve the deliberate taking of innocent human life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Obama administration to rescind this regulation because it is one that no Catholic can follow and still follow his or her faith.
President Obama's personal attitude toward those who opposed his regulatory command was evident at an Oct. 4, 2011 fundraiser he did in St. Louis for the Democratic National Committee.
As Obama spoke at that event, someone yelled out: "Birth control!"
"Absolutely. You’re stealing my line," said Obama.
"No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth," Obama said.
Someone in the audience then shouted: "Darn right!"
"Darn tooting," Obama called back. "They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs."
In early 2012, when the Obama administration finalized the regulation despite the objections of the Catholic Church, many of the nation's Catholic bishops had their priests read letters from the pulpit at Sunday Mass denouncing the regulation as an unjust law that they would not and could not obey.
“We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law,” he declared.
When the Obama administration had not rescinded the regulation by June 2012, the Catholic bishops unanimously approved a "Statement of Religious Freedom and HHS Mandate."
In this unanimous declaration they stated their "vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate."
To the degree that the establishment media followed the controversy, they painted it as a conflict solely over the regulation of Catholic institutions such as schools, charities and hospitals. But in their unanimous statement in June 2012, the bishops made clear that the regulation forced individual Catholic laypersons to act against their consciences--and was therefore an unjust law targeting the faith of every Catholic in the country.
The Obama sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation, the bishops unanimously stated, was a "violation of the person civil rights" of all Catholics and all other Americans who shared the Catholic moral vision on these things.
"The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values," the bishops said.
"They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing 'services' contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption," the bishops said.
Dozens of Catholic dioceses, schools, charities, and private business owners filed suit in federal court, arguing that the Obamacare regulation violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
Eventually, some of those cases will reach the Supreme Court.
Boehner has done this even though he himself declared on the floor of the House that the regulation violates the First Amendment.
Last summer, the National Catholic Bioethics Center issued an analysis of the regulation that reinforced the bishops unanimous declaration that it is an unjust law that Catholics cannot obey.
The center argued that the morally right thing for a Catholic business owner to do is to drop all health insurance coverage of his or her employees as of Jan. 1, 2014 rather than comply with the regulation. “Dropping all coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach,” they concluded.
Catholics must resist this law, the ethicists said.
"Most importantly," they wrote, "we are impelled to recall the distinct moral obligation of all persons of conscience, and especially Catholics, to resist unjust laws.
We are now seven months away from the moment when American Catholics must begin deciding whether to obey Obama or moral laws taught by their church for 2,000 years.
The Obama who will speak at Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral on Thursday has not relented.
Further, Obama is now also advocating same-sex marriage and his administration argued in a brief recently presented to the Supreme Court that the position that Catholics and other Christians hold on marriage--that it is exclusively between one man and one woman--is a form of discrimination that ought to be deemed legally equivalent to racial discrimination.
Were the Obama administration's position on marriage to prevail, a Catholic parish that refused to hire a "married" homosexual to teach in its elementary school could be held guilty of illegal discrimination.
"At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children," then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote. "At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
“Let us not be naive: This is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan," said the future pope. "It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
The issue of the Obamacare regulation is now so acute for American Catholics that Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston and the chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee, wrote a letter to members of the House of Representatives last month asking them to attach a bill (H.R. 940) that would provide conscience exemptions to the Obamacare regulation to some upcoming piece of "must-pass" legislation.
"Therefore," said the cardinal, "I urge you to support H.R. 940, and to help incorporate its policy into upcoming ‘must-pass’ legislation."
Were the Republicans to follow the cardinal's request and attach the bill to a piece of "must-pass legislation"--i.e. a bill to increase the federal debt-limit or authorize federal spending when the current continuing resolution expires--they would be precipitating a government-closing, national-attention-riveting battle with Obama over the issue of religious freedom.
Having asked Congress to force such a battle with Obama, Cardinal O'Malley is now welcoming Obama to speak in his church.
Under normal circumstances, Holy Cross Cathedral also houses the bodily presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.