A Catholic Knight

A Catholic Knight

05 November, 2013

Some Thoughts On Serving The Altar

Far too many Catholics allow the issue of altar servers to be discussed as if it were an issue of secular civil rights. There is no more of a right to serve at the altar than there is to become a priest (or a monk or a nun for that matter). While I don't believe it is the only cause, the practice of allowing altar girls has been shown over and over to have a negative impact on the participation of boys.

Since the participation of boys has always been known to be a factor in discerning a potential call to the priesthood, the practice of having girls serve at the altar, while not against any doctrine, is simply imprudent. Even if most of the boys who serve won't become priests, serving at the altar gives them a look at the most important aspect of priestly life - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which gives those who do have a calling the important introduction to that.

http://liturgyguy.com/2013/10/06/altar-boys-and-the-priesthood/

Here is a great video where boys discuss what serving the altar means to them.

http://vimeo.com/74684667

To return to the topic of the "right" to do something in the Church, far too many Catholics forget that even being a member is not some sort of right we can claim. This is the whole point of the RCIA program. We don't have "altar calls" where people can just claim membership by voluntarily reciting a prayer. We have specific beliefs which must be accepted. There is a point in the RCIA program where a discernment meeting is held. At this meeting, it is not only the candidate who discerns if he wants to become a Catholic, the priest and sponsors are also supposed to discern if the candidate is truly ready - and say no if he is not.

30 September, 2013

The Doctrine of the Celibate Priesthood


Yes, I deliberately said the doctrine.

As I have frequently pointed out to those who have questioned whether or not the Catholic Church should allow married priests, it already does allow them. Not only have the Eastern Catholic Rites always ordain married men (as well as celibate men), but there have also been exceptions in the history of the Latin Rite. The tradition of exclusively ordaining celibate men in the Latin Rite is just that – a tradition with a lower-case “t.”

It is a custom and, as evidenced by the examples I gave above, it can be changed. However, the people with whom I've communicated on this issue seem to remain confused about the status of the existence of a celibate priesthood. There will always be a celibate priesthood in the Catholic Church, and that is doctrine. Even if the Latin Rite made the decision ordain more married men within its ranks – which I believe would be a terrible mistake – it will never eliminate them. There has always been a celibate priesthood in all of the Rites of the Church. Its existence goes back to Scripture itself – Saint Paul was a celibate priest. Christ Himself, the preeminent and eternal High Priest of the Church was celibate. In other words, while the practice of exclusively ordaining celibate men in the Latin Rite is not a doctrine, the existence of celibate priests is. While the Latin Rite could change its exclusive discipline, it will not – cannot – eliminate celibate priests or, for example, decide to only ordain married men.

I've noticed two other important areas of confusion in regard to the celibate priesthood.

First: Many of those with whom I've communicated think that a change in this rule will allow priests to get married. This is not correct. While the Church has always taught that marriage is a holy calling, it has always taught that being called to serve God by serving the Church while living a celibate life as a higher calling. Again, we have the testimony of Saint Paul to back this up. You see, marriage imposes holy obligations on the spouses. These are so serious, that Saint Paul affirms that a married priest must divide his obligation. The celibate man, on the other hand, can devote himself exclusively to serving God through His Church. He can be moved where ever the Church needs, even remote or dangerous places, without having to be concerned about how it will affect his wife and children. 

Because the priesthood is a higher calling to a greater good, it is permissible to impose the higher obligation on top of the lower one (marriage). Even then, the obligations of marriage are so holy that this is not to be done lightly and requires the consent of the wife. However, because the priesthood is a higher calling, it is not permissible to impose the obligations of the lower obligation on top of the higher one.

In other words, while a married man may become a priest, a priest may not get married. In fact, if a married man becomes a priest and his wife dies, he may not remarry. Additionally, the Tradition (note the capital “T” indicating that this is not a custom, but a doctrine that cannot ever be changed) of the Church is that while a married man may be ordained to the priesthood, only celibate men may be elevated to the rank of bishop.

Second: The reason given for pushing the idea of allowing married priests is that it will solve so many of the Church's problems – especially that of the shortage of priests. However, the only available evidence contradicts this assertion. If a man is not called to the celibate life before entering the priesthood, how will he handle being required to be celibate for the rest of his life if his wife dies? For this reason, at some points in the Church's history, the Latin Rite still required a commitment of celibacy for spouses when married men sought ordination. The man would become a priest and the wife would become a nun. The Eastern Rite never had this requirement, according to my studies, but they have been the first to defend the Latin Rite's practice of the celibate priesthood when the issue has come up. Additionally, if you look at the other religions that allow the equivalent to married clergy, they have many of the same problems. Clearly celibacy is not the real problem and does not cause the problems that are there.

Would allowing married men to become priest solve the problem of the priest shortage? No. As I stated above, if a man was not called to the celibate life when he entered the priesthood, will he accept the prospect of living the rest of his life as a celibate if his wife dies after he is ordained? I'm sure there are those who would, but the priesthood is a permanent thing. A man cannot simply change his mind about being a priest in the future.

If we look at the Latin Rite Catholic seminaries today, there is a striking observation that can be made. The seminaries that are full, that have waiting lists, that have been steadily growing, are typically those that adhere to what is today called “Traditional Catholicism.” Communities and orders that require the traditional disciplines, the traditional habits (clothes), and use the traditional Latin rites, still have a great appeal. Despite the world's assurances that the traditional structure and discipline of these communities will drive away young Catholics – that they are only for the older Catholics who pine for the “good old days” - these communities are being filled with young Catholic men and women who express joy over being able to serve God through His Church within these very traditional communities.

As Saint Paul says, not everyone is called to the celibate life, but God provides for the needs of His Church, so there will always be celibate priests, and monks, and nuns. The world will rail against their presence because it cannot believe that anyone can accept such a life, let alone be happy with it. The Church cannot dispense with them, ever. They have been part of the Church since her foundation, and God will always provide for her needs.

So, don't be fooled by the headlines taking the pope's words out of context. Yes, the discipline of an exclusively celibate priesthood in the Latin Rite of the Church can be relaxed. There are already exceptions to that discipline, but that does not mean there is going to be any wide-sweeping change in the practice. However, the existence of a celibate priesthood has always been part of the Church, it has always been taught and defended throughout the Church's history, it is part of her doctrine, and doctrine – by definition – can never change.

25 July, 2013

The Christian Husband

A lot of focus is given in Christian teaching to the roles of husband and wife in marriage. In my experience, presentations on these roles tend to focus mainly on the role of the wife, and how she is to be subject to her husband who is head of the family. Unfortunately, not much time seems to be given to exactly how a husband is to act as head of the family. This gives the unfortunate impression that the Christian ideal for family life is that the relationship between husband and wife is like that between master and servant rather than what Scripture reveals it should be.

In Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he instructs wives to be
subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being himself savior of the body. But just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.
This short passage seems to get the lion’s share of attention in discussing this issue.What is often not read or considered is what Saint Paul instructed to both husbands and wives immediately before this passage,
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
They also ignore Paul's instructions to husbands immediately after his instruction to wives.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, cleansing her in the bath of water by means of the word; in order that he might present to himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish. Even thus ought husbands also to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife, loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh; on the contrary he nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ also does the Church (because we are members of his body, made from his flesh and from his bones). ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery – I mean in reference to Christ and to the Church. However, let each one of you also love his wife just as he loves himself; and let the wife respect her husband.
Is it not ironic that Saint Paul wrote more than twice as much instruction to husbands here than to wives, but Christians seem to spend much more time instructing wives than husbands?

The key theme of Saint Paul in this passage is that the relationship of husband and wife is like that of Christ and the Church. Indeed, the relationship of Christ to the Church is often referenced with spousal terms in the Bible. Christ demonstrates the Christian ideal for marriage relationships by his relationship to the Church he founded. Since Saint Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, we must examine how Christ demonstrated his love for the Church to learn how husbands must love their wives.

Christ Loves the Church

Christ loves his Church completely. Everything he did was for the Church. Husbands should likewise love their wives and keep them second only to God in everything they do.

Christ declares that in marriage a husband and wife become one flesh. Part of the meaning of this is that husband and wife should view each other as an integral part of themselves. While there still exists a distinctiveness of roles, they are complementary to each other and all are oriented toward the same goal, the sanctification of the family. When one spouse is degraded, the other is as well. If a husband is disrespectful toward his wife, he is also to himself. He can not gain honor by belittling his wife or allowing her to be belittled. If he would defend himself, he must also defend his wife for she is now part of him. What happens to her also happens to him. Christian marriage is truly a union.

Christ respects the Church and husbands should respect their wives. This respect manifests itself in a different way because, unlike the relationship between Christ and the Church, husband and wife are equals in the eyes of God. Christ established the Church and bestowed upon her his own holiness, but the husband did not establish the wife. Her virtues and graces come not from the husband but from God, and he should therefore reverence her as a sacred and holy person. She is not something to be possessed, but someone to be honored. Although they are united to each other in marriage, they remain unique to themselves. Both possess their own strengths and weaknesses. They should aid each other with their weaknesses and allow their strengths come forth for the benefit of the family.

To what extent is a husband required to love his wife? To the same extent that Christ loves his Church. Christ gave all for the Church and a husband should be willing to give all for his wife. Christ’s was a sacrificial love and he endured much for the benefit of the Church. Christ prayed three times to be spared from the Crucifixion, but willingly endured it so the grace of salvation would be made available to the world through the Church. A husband’s love for his wife (and family) must also be sacrificial. He must never allow pride to interfere with this. Consideration for the overall good of the family must take precedence over anything that may be of real advantage only to the husband. If there is a chance to advance himself, he should be willing to reject it if accepting will cause some harm to his wife and family; for he cannot truly advance without also advancing his wife. If the family is deprived of husband and father for the sake of career advancement, there is no true gain because the family has suffered a greater loss.

Christ voluntarily endured many hardships and even crucifixion in order that the Church would be sanctified. He respects the Church and commands others to do likewise. Christ's example shows that husbands are to do likewise for their wives.

A Christian husband is one who models his relationship with his wife according to Christ's relationship with his Church. Christ does not belittle the Church, but glorifies and respects her. Christ's love of the Church is a sacrificial love that puts what's good for her above other considerations. It is by following Christ's example that husbands fulfill their role as head of the family. Wives can then love and respect their husbands, as Scripture instructs, and work in union with their husbands' authority for the good of their families, just as the Church works in union with Christ for the good of the world.

Christ is Head of the Church

In examining how the husband is to be head of the family, we must look at how Christ acts as head of the Church. To begin with, although Christ is Lord, He always acts with humility and compassion toward the Church. He is not quick to anger but quick to forgiveness. He does not exalt himself, but always acts to exalt the Church. His actions were done to establish and benefit the Church, so that she would be glorious in the eyes of others. Therefore, a husband should exalt his wife. His words and actions should always reveal a true respect for her and serve to honor her.

In Christ, authority is a service, so the authority bestowed to the husband as head of the family also gives him the responsibility, the obligation, to serve its needs. Christ bestows his own authority on the Church and she exercises that authority in union with him in a very real way to fulfill her own responsibility to teach the Faith as a mother teaches her children. In this, both Christ and the Church serve each other, using their authority for each other and for the Church family.

In bestowing authority as head of the family on the husband, Christ intends that the husband will bestow that authority to his wife. Just as Christ gave his own authority to the Church so that she could raise children to God, a husband must bestow his authority to his wife so that she can raise their children to God. Likewise, both husband and wife are to recognize, respect, and utilize each other's strengths appropriately for the good of each other and their children.

Past and Present

Some may try to argue that I am presenting a modernized view of the Christian call to husbands, that this is different than the teaching of the Church in the past. It is true that societal views of the relationship and appropriate roles of husbands and wives have changed, but the fundamental teaching of the Church has not. The Church has always taught that the husband is the head of the family and that the wife is subject to him, but did not teach that this relationship was one of total subjugation where the wife was little more than a servant in her own home. The Church has always acknowledged that this differentiation of roles does not imply that one is lesser than the other, but has insisted that the dignity inherent in each must be respected by both.

The Catechism of 1566 (known as the "Roman Catechism") states the following.
Matrimonial fidelity also demands that they love one another with a special, holy and pure love; not as adulterers love one another but as Christ loves His Church. This is the rule laid down by the Apostle when he says: Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the church. And surely (Christ's) love for His Church was immense; it was a love inspired not by His own, but only by the advantage of His spouse. ...

It is the duty of the husband to treat his wife generously and honorably. It should not be forgotten that Eve was called by Adam his companion. The woman, he says, whom thou gavest me as a companion. ...

On the other hand, the duties of a wife are thus summed up by the Prince of the Apostles: Let wives be subject to their husbands: that if any believe not they word, they may be won without the word by the conversation of the wives, considering your chaste conversation with fear. ... Again, and in this the conjugal union chiefly consists, let wives never forget that next to God they are to love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience.
Here we can see that even in the 16th Century the obedience of wives was not absolute. It was conditioned on consistency with Christian piety and second to God. Therefore, if a husband were to act in a way inconsistent with Christian piety, or to instruct his wife to do so, she was not to obey him. Additionally, husbands are to show a genuine respect for their wives, treating them generously and honorably, not as an object to be possessed or a servant to be ordered about and mistreated.

In the traditional Catholic rite of marriage (as in the modern), the vows are identical for the husband and wife.
I, (name), take thee, (name) for my wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, till death do us part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
There is no additional vow the wife is required to make. Although their roles are different, their dignity is not. However, the husband is required to make a further vow in the traditional rite. In addition to the ring, the groom is also to present his bride with gold and silver, saying,
With this ring, I thee wed; this gold and silver I thee give; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.
The ring represents the union of the marriage and the wife's exclusive claim to her husband. Interestingly, while it may have been done, there was no requirement for the bride to present the groom with a ring. The pieces of gold and silver represented the man bestowing all of his worldly goods to his bride. By taking possession of these tokens, she had claim to everything that was his.

In 1930, Pope Pius XI wrote Casti Connubii, an encyclical on marriage.
The love, then, of which We are speaking is not that based on the passing lust of the moment nor does it consist in pleasing words only, but in the deep attachment of the heart which is expressed in action, since love is proved by deeds. This outward expression of love in the home demands not only mutual help but must go further; must have as its primary purpose that the man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life, so that through their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love toward God and their neighbor, on which indeed "dependeth the whole Law and the Prophets." ...

This mutual molding of husband and wife, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof. ...

Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that "order of love," as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: "Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church."

This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to the wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.

Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the fundamental structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact.
We can see that the Christian idea of being a husband I have presented here is not new. It was taught by the Church decades before the recent trend advocating more respect for wives in the marital relationship, which was a reaction to the Victorian era's misconception of what it should be. That teaching was merely a restatement of what the Church had taught nearly four hundred years earlier, which was, at the time, a restatement of what the Church had taught for centuries.

23 July, 2013

The Difference Between Being "In Love" and Love

You've all seen it in the movies, read it in books, and heard it from friends. There are many attempts to define love, but too many of them fall far too short of the mark. Why? Because they focus on emotion rather than will. In other words, they tend to talk about being "in love" rather than what it means to love someone.

Now, I do not mean to disregard the emotional aspects of being in love. They are a very important part of a truly loving relationship. However, as is the case with all emotional responses, the intensity of the feeling can vary greatly, and can even disappear, at least for a while. The problem with focusing so much on the emotional aspect, is that it has resulted in people disregarding the willful aspect.

People choose to get into relationships, even to get married, based on a fleeting emotion rather than on a steadfast decision of the will. The break-up and divorce rate shows the results of having relationships founded primarily on emotion rather than will.

Part of the problem is that we phrase the question wrong. We usually ask, "What is love?" This question assumes that love is simply one thing. However, I would maintain that we are really talking about two things. One is the emotion of "being in love" and the other is the willful act to "love" someone. I also think that, when people ask what love is, they mean (even if unknowingly so) the willful act, but the answer they receive is almost all about the emotion.

So, what is the difference between love and being "in love?"

Being in love is the emotional state of attachment to another. It can range from a passionate euphoria to a nice comfort and feeling of belonging together. Like all emotional states, it can fluctuate for many reasons, including time, tiredness, hormones, and circumstances. I have been married for 24 years. There have been many times where I have not felt "in love" with my wife (but not nearly as many as when I have felt in love with her).

The problem with basing a relationship primarily (or solely) on being "in love" is that there is not sufficient support for that relationship when those feelings aren't around. When you become annoyed over some trivial habit, or when you have a strong disagreement, being "in love" won't help you weather through the situation because, in those circumstances, you don't feel very much in love. This leads to the trite comments, "Well, I thought I loved you," and "I fell out of love."

To love someone, on the other hand, is a willful act. It is not simply riding the tide of emotion; it is making a deliberate choice. There are actually many choices involved in this. Ultimately, they all come down to one very specific choice - to desire the best for the other. This love is truly self-sacrificing. This is not a negative thing, but is very positive even when it means inconvenience or even hardship to some of your own hopes and desires.

It is this choice that weathers the difficulties that can occur in any relationship. It is this choice that helps to hold your tongue from saying something truly hurtful in an argument. It is this choice that carries your relationship through those times when you do not feel particularly "in love," and having withstood all of these challenges, it elevates the emotion of feeling "in love" to greater heights than it could ever reach on its own.

Consequences

Consequences

28 February, 2013

Senator Maria Cantwell Responds

Senator Maria Cantwell, from Washington State finally responded to my letter from January 2012. 

My response follows her message.

Dear Mr. Cooney,
 
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Institutes of Medicine's rules for women's preventative services.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. 
 
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) requires new health plans to cover women's preventive services.  In July 2011 the non-partisan Institute of Medicine recommended that well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and Food and Drug Administration-approved birth control be included without cost-sharing in insurances plans as women's preventive health services.  New health plans would be required to include these services with plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012. 
 
On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an interim final rule adopting the Institute of Medicine's recommendations regarding which women's preventive health services would be covered by new health plans without cost sharing.  HHS included a provision in the rule permitting certain religious employers to opt out of the requirement to cover contraception without cost-sharing. 
 
On February 10, 2012, the President announced that his Administration would publish final rules in the Federal Register that exempt churches and houses of worship from covering contraception.  These rules also allow other religious organizations, including those that employ people of different faiths, to qualify for a one-year transition period while this new policy is being implemented.
 
During this transition year, the Administration will finalize a new rule that ensures that women who work for employers with religious objections can get contraception free of additional cost directly through insurance plans.  According to the Obama Administration, the new rule will require insurance companies to cover contraception if the non-exempted religious organization chooses not to. Under this policy religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.  Free contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception. 
 
In an effort to overturn this rule, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced an amendment to the Transportation Authorization Bill (S. 1813) on February 9, 2012.  If enacted, the proposed amendment would exempt any employer from providing any preventative health service, including but not limited to contraceptive, based on religious beliefs. On March 1, 2012, the U.S. Senate voted to table the amendment by a vote of 51 to 48.
 
Ensuring coverage of certain preventative services without cost-sharing is critical for women's health.  It is important to me that this benefit remains available to all women.  In addition to being used for family planning, birth control also helps many women manage a range of other health problems such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, bone loss, breast disease, and anemia.  Under Washington state law, insurance carriers are already required to provide coverage for contraceptives if they offer prescription drug coverage. 
 
Please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind and will continue to work to ensure that women have full access to preventive health services. 
 
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

 =========================================
Here is my response.

Senator Cantwell,

Thank you for responding to my message from January of last year.

What amazes me about your response is that you, and those who continue to support this mandate, keep acting as though pregnancy is some sort of medical illness that makes contraception fall under "preventive care." This is absolute nonsense. You also completely ignore the fact that the most popular forms of birth control, including "the pill and "the morning after pill / emergency contraceptive / Plan B" are abortifacients. There is no excuse for pretending that this is not the case, just read the medical information included with these products and you will see it in black and white. Therefore, this rule not only violates the beliefs of Catholics, whose faith prohibits contraceptives, but also of pro-life Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others. Even Mother Teresa's religious order would not qualify as an exempt religious organization!

Sadly, you also continue to promote the lie that these costs will be born by the insurance companies. This is not only a lie, because everyone knows that those costs will be passed on to the religious employers who are being forced to provide this coverage, but it completely ignores the real point of the objection, that religious employers are forced to PROVIDE coverage of procedures that violate their religous beliefs. This is an absurd trampling on religious freedom. The fact is that, as I stated previously, religious employers - whether they run a charity or a book store - try to run their businesses in compliance with their religious beliefs because that is part of how they exercise their religion. Religion applies to all aspects of ours lives, not the one hour out of 168 we spend in church for the week.  Another lie is that the employer will not, in fact, have to provide the insurance coverate. The truth is that ALL insurance policies will have to provide such coverage. Even if all religious employers decided not to provide coverage for their employees, self-insured organizations and health insurance providers that operate according to religious beliefs will be forced to violate those beliefs. Additionally, this "new rule" you say the Obama administration is promising has yet to see the light of day. Just how incompetent are they, that they cannot come up with a proposal for the public concerned to see in a whole year? Quite frankly, those of us who are currently being threatened by the Obama administration see no evidence that we can trust what he says. No, I'm not impressed or assured by his assurances.

I ask you, just how hard is it for women who want contraceptives to get them? The government already subsidizes them, and there are many organizations out there who willingly provide them to poor women. There is no need to force employers who want to run their businesses in conformity with their religious beliefs to provide coverage that violate those beliefs. The Obama administration, and all of the legislators who back this ruling, have created a false crisis. To what end? The only one I can see is that, like the ancient emperors of Rome, the Obama administration is moving rapidly to a point where people will be forced to choose between the State, and God. I feel sorry for those who would put the State over God, but those of us who actually believe in God, who know our faith and make our decisions with eternity in mind, have already chosen. None of your lies about "preventative" health care services will change our minds.

In the end, your actions will make those truly needed services you listed, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and domestic violence screening, less available to women in need. Catholic hospitals and clinics, which provide these services at little to no cost for poor women all across this country, will either cease to be charitable religious institutions, or be forced to shut down by the fines you will impose on them for now bowing to the supreme will of the State. Other businesses, whether run by Catholics or persons of other faiths who try to conduct their businesses in accordance with their faith, will face the same fate. All because of your ideological, totalitarian, dictatorial insistence of trying to force religious employers to violate the tenets of their faiths. If you really cared for these women, you would oppose this mandate instead of trying to defend it based on weak lies.
Sincerely,
David W. Cooney