A Catholic Response to the Marriage Decisions

Let Freedom Ring! – A Catholic Response to the Marriage Decisions

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Feeling liberated? I am — albeit not in exactly the same spirit people were popping champagne outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

There’s a liberation that comes from transparency. The sun over our nation’s capitol Wednesday may have been blinding, but we can no longer be blind to where we are in American history, as a largely Catholic Supreme Court did its best to change the face of marriage in the United States this week.

Unless — like the coalition working to defeat attempts to protect the lives of 20-week-olds-and-older unborn children (and even ones born alive) — we choose denial.

It’s all quite miserable, of course. Marriage is on the rapid slide toward redefinition. Debates really aren’t debates but deluges of shame, doubling down on confusion about fundamentals, amplifying our lack of a common vocabulary by rendering words all but utterly meaningless in a daze of rhetorical abuse that does no one justice and shows very little mercy. And yet, we’re to feel good about it while banishing questions and objections.

 

FOR the FULL ARTICLE go to http://www.catholicpulse.com/cp/en/columnists/lopez/062713.html

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National Review – Final HHS Mandate, from Mike Kozak

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE          WWW.NATIONALREVIEW.COM           PRINT

JUNE 28, 2013 11:14 PM
The Final HHS Mandate
By  Yuval Levin

Friday morning, the Department of Health and Human Services released the final version of the regulations requiring employers to provide insurance that includes coverage for contraceptive and abortive drugs and sterilization procedures. The rules, which are part of the implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate, have of course been a focus of controversy for quite a while, as they put many religious employers in an impossible situation, and would seem to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and to fly in the face of America’s tradition of religious toleration.

This final version does not involve any meaningful changes to the circumstances in which the rule would put religious employers. The details will, I’m sure, be thoroughly scoured in the coming days, but in my reading of the rule at this point, the only two changes that I can see actually make things marginally worse. They are not, I think, the result of the administration intentionally trying to make things even worse for religious employers (and for the administration’s own attorneys in federal court), but of the fact that two of the ways in which the last version of the rule tried to mask its effects on religious employers have turned out not to be tenable.

First, the last version of this rule, which was released in February in the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, suggested that insurers working on behalf of employers who objected to the contraceptive and abortive coverage would provide employees with a separate insurance policy exclusively for that coverage, which would have no premiums, no co-pays, and no deductibles and would cover those services. That way, they reasoned, people could pretend that this separate insurance policy had nothing to do with the employer-provided coverage (even though, of course, the separate insurance policy would not have been provided if not for the employer-provided coverage). But even that, it seems, cannot be done.

The final rule states that HHS has concluded that this procedure wouldn’t be practical because state laws could not treat such policies as enforceable contracts and because, in places where employees might live in one state but work in another, the insurer would effectively have to provide each employee with individual coverage (governed by the person’s state of residence) in addition to the group coverage (governed by the employer’s state of licensure) that the employer offers them, which is not generally possible. This means that part of the fig leaf that the administration wanted to create will be abandoned. HHS tries to present its alternative to this as unproblematic:

These final regulations achieve the same end by requiring that a health insurance issuer providing group health insurance coverage in connection with a group health plan established or maintained by an eligible organization assume sole responsibility for providing separate payments for contraceptive services directly for plan participants and beneficiaries, without cost sharing, premium, fee, or other charge to plan participants or beneficiaries or to the eligible organization or its plan.

In other words, the insurer is required to cover contraceptive and abortive drugs through the same policy that covers everything else in the employer-provided plan, but just not list that coverage where it lists everything else and draw the money it uses to pay claims for the disputed services from a separate account (for which insurers would be reimbursed by getting discounts on the fees they have to pay to participate in Obamcare’s exchanges).

The mechanism is based on the administration’s apparent assumption that religious people approach their religious obligations the way HHS lawyers approach the law. So the idea is to create a financial chain of custody so that employers inclined to dance on the head of a pin could imagine their money was not being used to pay for contraception and abortion-drug coverage. But of course, even for them the problem would go far beyond money. The employer’s decision to provide health coverage would be the only reason the employee would get the abortive and contraceptive coverage—so the employer would face a choice between expressly facilitating that coverage or denying workers health insurance (and paying a large fine). The various fig leaves covering assorted financial transactions cannot mask that simple fact, and this final rule has even fewer of those fig leaves than the last version. Even for those people desperately searching for a technicality to avoid a conflict between religious opposition to contraception or abortion and this mandate, this just offers nothing.

The second change has to do with self-insured employers who object to contraceptive or abortive coverage (like the University of Notre Dame, and many other religious institutions). In the prior version of this rule, HHS proposed to require the third-party administrators who manage such plans to manage the provision of the disputed abortive and contraceptive coverage without involving the employer. Obviously this would be meaningless, since the only reason these administrators would do so would be because they have have an insurance contract with the employer, but perhaps HHS hoped it might offer, again, some way to pretend that the employer was not facilitating that coverage. In this final rule, HHS acknowledges that the federal law governing self-insured plans (known as ERISA) requires the employer to explicitly authorize everything that the third-party administrator does, so the only way to have the administrator offer contraceptive and abortive coverage is to have the employer authorize it. Amazingly, they actually propose having the very document by which the employer informs the plan administrator of an objection to abortive or contraceptive coverage (the so-called “self-certification” document) serve as the means by which exactly that coverage is authorized:

The self-certification will afford the third party administrator notice of obligations set forth in these final regulations, and will be treated as a designation of the third party administrator(s) as plan administrator and claims administrator for contraceptive benefits.

So how is the employer not thereby expressly designating someone to provide his employees with coverage of contraception and abortion drugs? Again, even the pretense of a fig leaf seems to be gone.

But the fact is that the pretense was always nonsense. This is a rule that requires some employers to face a choice between violating their religious convictions or paying a huge fine. It is a brazen and intolerant abuse of power. It willfully creates a conflict between people’s religious obligations and their legal obligations, and it does so without a good reason. Even if you accept the notion that this mandate serves a worthwhile or important public purpose, that purpose could be (and is) served by other means and there is just no excuse for the infringement of religious liberty that this rule involves.

Religious believers and our government both have a responsibility to avoid needless conflicts between religion and the state, and in this case the government is failing to uphold that responsibility. It is also failing to uphold the law, and it now looks reasonably likely that the federal courts will therefore throw out this mandate. I think this final rule makes that all the more likely by making the pretense of a religious exemption even harder to sustain.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

One of the more thought provoking articles I’ve read in a long time.  Can people tell we believe?  Mike K. 

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/

 

Re-Posted from “The Atlantic”

When a Christian foundation interviewed college nonbelievers about how and why they left religion, surprising themes emerged. 
By Larry Alex Taunton

“Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya,” Phil said with a look of disgust. “I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.”

I have known a lot of atheists. The late Christopher Hitchens was a friend with whom I debated, road tripped, and even had a lengthy private Bible study. I have moderated Richard Dawkins and, on occasion, clashed with him. And I have listened for hours to the (often unsettling) arguments of Peter Singer and a whole host of others like him. These men are some of the public faces of the so-called “New Atheism,” and when Christians think about the subject — if they think about it at all — it is this sort of atheist who comes to mind: men whose unbelief is, as Dawkins once proudly put it, “militant.” But Phil, the atheist college student who had come to my office to share his story, was of an altogether different sort.

Phil was in my office as part of a project that began last year. Over the course of my career, I have met many students like Phil. It has been my privilege to address college students all over the world, usually as one defending the Christian worldview. These events typically attract large numbers of atheists. I like that. I find talking to people who disagree with me much more stimulating than those gatherings that feel a bit too much like a political party convention, and the exchanges with these students are mostly thoughtful and respectful. At some point, I like to ask them a sincere question:

What led you to become an atheist?

For the rest of this article, Please click the link at the top of this page!

Faith-based Summer Programs

Faith-based Summer Programs for our Children and Teens; this information was provided by one of the members of my Catholic Business Networking Group – St. Expeditus: 

For High School Age Kids – Discipleship week: July 28-Aug1, 2013, University of Richmond

  • An opportunity for high school youth (rising 10th-12th grade students) from across the diocese to grow in their ability to be a Catholic leader among their peers.
  • A typical day includes keynote addresses, breakout sessions, small group discussions, hands-on activities, free time and daily Mass.
  • Held at the University of Richmond, campers will stay overnight in dorms on campus.
  • For more information contact: Nick Stein at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart: nstein@richmondcathedral.org (Registration due by June 17th).

Middle School Day Camp: July 15-19, 2013 St. Mary Catholic Church

Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm, Friday, 9am-3pm

  • A week long day camp experience for youth entering grades 6-8.
  • The goal of the camp is to bring youth together to grow in community, understanding of faith, and relationship with Christ.
  • Activities include: games, water sports, service, prayer, and community building and to foster a deeper spiritual understanding on specific topics.
  • High school students serve as counselors throughout the week and help with the activities.
  • For more information contact: Nick Stein at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart: nstein@richmondcathedral.org (Registration due by June 15th).

St Expeditus Catholic Business Networking Group –

Catholic Professionals of Greater Richmond” Via Linked IN

Meeting Wednesdays 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Nick’s Roman Terrace, 8051 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23294

Come Visit Soon!

 LinkedIn: Catholic Professionals of Greater Richmond

Facebook: Saint-Expeditus-Business-Group

www.saintexpeditusgroup.org

FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP: SOMETIMES DIFFICULT, ALWAYS NECESSARY

How should Catholics participate in public life? With so many competing voices out there, who should Catholics listen to? See our latest post at from the tiber to the james, where we also address the two temptations many of us face when trying to live our faith in the public square.

 

Each week from the tiber to the james addresses topics of interest to Catholics. Be sure to also Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Jeff Caruso <office@vacatholic.org>
To: Carol Kozak <ckoz654@aol.com>
Sent: Wed, Jun 5, 2013 4:05 pm
Subject: Faithful Citizenship: sometimes difficult, always necessary

 

 

Supreme Knight to speak June 11 at National Shrine

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will deliver the next presentation in a series of Year of Faith lectures at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., next Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
He will speak on “Father Michael McGivney and the New Evangelization,” at approximately 5:45 p.m., following the 5:15 p.m. Mass in the National Shrine’s Crypt Church.

You are welcome to attend the Mass and lecture and encouraged to extend this invitation to brother Knights and their families in your area.

The event and parking are free.

“Father Michael McGivney and the New Evangelization,” a lecture by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, following the 5:15 p.m. Mass
Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20017

Metro (Red Line): Brookland-CUA station
202-526-8300
www.nationalshrine.com

 

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St. Thomas More Feast Day Mass/Breakfast – June 21st

St Thomas More Ceremony

The SAINT Thomas More Society

Cordially invites you to

 

THE ST. THOMAS MORE FEAST DAY MASS/Breakfast  

Friday, June 21, 2013

 

What: Annual St. Thomas More Feast Day Mass and Breakfast, Mass to be celebrated by Rev. Msgr. Mark Richard Lane

When: Friday, June 21st at 7:45 AM

Where: Diocesan Pastoral Center Chapel and Bishop McGill Room, 7800 Carousel Lane Richmond, VA 23294

The St. Thomas More Society is pleased to announce and invite all to attend the Annual St. Thomas More Feast Day Mass and Breakfast at the Richmond Diocesan Pastoral Center. Diocesan Vicar for Clergy, the Rev. Msgr. Mark Richard Lane will celebrate the mass and homilize our patron saint. Mass will begin at 7:45 a.m. and breakfast will follow immediately thereafter in the Bishop McGill Room at the Pastoral Center.

 

RSVP:  Please RSVP with Alicia Brittle so we can get an accurate head count:

Alicia Brittle

 Email: abrittle@verizon.net

 Eric A. Gregory, President, St. Thomas More Society, (804) 306-2072 (cell)

e-mail: egregory2072@gmail.com