Seven reasons Catholics leave church including our church in Reno Nevada

While reading CNN in Reno Nevada the article “Seven reasons Catholics leave church,” was discovered. Reno, Nevada, of course has the same problems the Catholic Church in general has. The story was also found in Reno Nevada of a Rabbi who claimed that if given any child, he could raise that child in any religious faith, and that child would rather die than leave that faith. His point is that it is not a matter of that faith being in the right God, or worshiping that God in the right way. As a Rabbi, he knows what the Jewish community calls the Shema, “Hear Israel (those who struggle with God) the Personal Name is our Might Judge, the Personal Name is One.” That is from Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Jesus quotes that passage in Mark 12:28-34. There we call it the Great Commandment.

The focus of our Sunday Mass is the Eucharist and Community
The focus of our Sunday Mass is the Eucharist and Community

The essence of the Great Commandment is community. “Hear, Israel,” “Hear you who struggle with God.” The people first hearing that commandment were the Jewish people escaping from bondage in Egypt. A century ago, it was people trying to escape the bondage of poverty in Europe. A half century ago, and today, it is those escaping the bondage of poverty in Appalachia, the reservations in the west, and the suffering of segregation in the Deep South. We struggle as a community. When we look at the top seven reasons for leaving the church, in that article read in Reno, Nevada, we read: “So it was just a place to attend Mass. And because attending Mass was a guilt-ridden obligation, I was always alone in a crowd where I knew no one and no one knew me.”

“Community,” comes from Latin roots, “Com,” “With” and “Mu-,” “To bind.” In community we are bound up, one with another. If we do not know the person sitting to our left or to our right, if we do not know the name of the person sitting to the left or to our right, how can we be a community?

Many of us at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada do not know each other. We may have several hundred attend any given Mass on Sunday morning. The first Sunday of every month, our Cathedral has coffee and doughnuts. Maybe a dozen or so people arrive for the free treat. This is important, not because we need to fill up on high cholesterol doughnuts, or coffee high in caffeine, but because we need to develop community. During Mass, we have the “Peace be with you.” Many want to say exactly that and view it an insult if anything else is said. This is, of course, a translation of “Shalom Aleichem.” The parishioners in the earliest church said this. People in our communities do not say this. We need to introduce ourselves and learn about each other during this time. This is the time to work on community.

“A number of people responded that homilies, weekly Sunday messages from the priest, did not relate or “speak to” them.” When we leave Mass, we need to discuss with Father what we thought of his homily, the good, and the bad. When Father has a class on Gospel and Torah, we need to attend. This is not so we can learn the official version of things, but so we can give our input. Right or wrong, Father will know where we are at, and be able to formulate his homilies so that they do speak to us.

If we start in these simple steps, we will start to bind ourselves to each other. We will become community. Then the rabbi’s statement will be true. The gates of hell will not take us from our community of the Catholic/Universal Church.

Father Francisco, at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada always talks about the importance of the Eucharist as it relates to this issue. St. Paul relates of the Eucharist, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? The loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”

St. Paul also tells us, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. In one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. The body is not a single part, but many.” St. Paul tells us in Romans, “As in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” St. Paul continues with this subject in Ephesians 2:16; and Colossians 3:15.

With this in mind, we read the reasons people are leaving our beloved church: Dissatisfaction with the priest; The sex abuse crisis; Uninspiring homilies on Sundays, (A number of people responded that homilies, weekly Sunday messages from the priest, did not relate or “speak to” them;) Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics; Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics; The status of women; and the church’s stance on homosexuality.”

Two main issues arise: dissatisfaction with the priest, and dissatisfaction with the hierarchy. When we look closer, however, we find that listed with “Dissatisfaction with the priest,” is the view that parishioners do not know each other. We are not one body. As with any organization of human beings, the priest has an inner corps of people who tell him what the parishioners are thinking. If this inner corps is conservative, and it is, the parish priest receives a skewed understanding of where the body is, and responds in kind. When we realize that priests are human beings like everybody else, we watch them like everybody else. When they act like human beings, doing something stupid, we, as a community respond, we plug them into our judicial system, as we do with anybody else.

Jesus is very clear on his stance toward marriage. Matthew 19:6 If we see problems between our married brothers and sisters when they first marry, we could end the need and desire for divorce. This is an issue involving the community at large. A chapter earlier Jesus says, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Think of a sixth grader, for most the last year before we become adults. John 10:10 quotes Jesus as saying he came to bring life to its fullest for all people. That includes our sisters. Maybe they cannot be “Father,” but they can lead lives to their fullest, fulfilling similar roles to “Father.” Our goal as Christians and Catholics is to find that role. We need to think, not of what they cannot be, but of what they can be.

Conservative politics focuses upon what people cannot be. We need to focus upon what people can be. Many quote St. Paul in Romans chapter one on the issue of homosexuality. We need to read that passage in its context. Romans 1:17 reads, “In it (The Gospel) is revealed the charitableness of God, faith upon faith; as it is written, “The one who is charitable by faith will live.” Then a list comes of what “They” do. In that list is homosexuality. After this comes the spring of the trap, “You are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.” After this, St. Paul spends the rest of his letter describing what we can do to create community. The emphasis is not on what “They do,” but upon what “We do.”

Following this list is what we need to do to stop the hemorrhaging: taking an active role in developing community, learning the names of the people around us, at Mass and in our communities. It means learning what they do for a living, their hopes, and their joys, their sufferings and their traumas. It means learning about their families. Then it means inviting Father down to coffee and doughnuts and discussing how we see his homilies and the church as we see it in our world. Then the world will beat a path to our door. Fidel Castro recently commented how different the church is from the Jesuit church he grew up in. Let all the departed parishioners soon say the same of our church, as they return.

The true meaning of Palm Sunday and what it means to our weak during the week

This Sunday is Palm Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. That is the Sunday the Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter crowd all come to Mass. It is also the Sunday us churchgoers at St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral complain about the Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter crowd as they take all the good parking spaces and all the good seats in our pews. Luke 2:41-42 tells us, Jesus was part of that crowd, going to temple once a year, according to family custom.

We begin our Palm Sunday procession outside, in Reno Nevada
We begin our Palm Sunday procession outside, in Reno Nevada

We all go to Mass at our churches in Reno Nevada, not to receive the Physical Presence, in the readings and in the Eucharist, but to receive those nifty palm branches we can make those creative little crosses we hang in our cars and at our offices for the coming year. We forget the importance of what is going on in this all-important waving of the palms. The waving of the palms comes from Psalm 118, part of the Hallel Prayer recited by all observant Jews at Passover. Psalm 118 is also the psalm recited upon the coronation of a king in the Jewish tradition. King David came to Jerusalem humble and riding on an ass, for his coronation. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as a sign that he, not us, is king. We receive the palms to greet Jesus as king as he enters Jerusalem.

On Palm Sunday, we do not read the passage of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as the Gospel passage. We read of Jesus death. Matthew 25:31-26:1 is closer to what we read in year one of our liturgical readings at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. The passage reads, “All the nations/ethnic will be assembled before him. He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Shepherds keep goats, peacocks, and dogs with their sheep to protect them. These animals do not like predators coming close so will attack them and drive them off. They are soldiers, and the police, on the ranch. Unlike sheep, which are fussy eaters, goats will eat anything and everything. Finicky eaters leave plenty left over for other sheep.

Goats are like the richest 20%of the population bringing home 71.5% of all income, leaving the poorest 50% of the population, the sheep, to live on 19% of all income. They are not interested in 50.2 million people living in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Nor are they interested in the 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children living in households with very low food security.

Conservatives like to quote Matthew 25:31-Matthew 26:1 as a passage applying only to abortion. There are many excellent and convincing biblical proofs that life begins at conception, this passage is not one of them. It states, “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.” Pre-born people are not hungry, thirsty, strangers to be welcomed, or naked and able to be clothed. Their mother’s are. The heart of the passage as it relates to Palm Sunday is, “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ These will go off to eternal punishment, but the charitable to eternal life.” The next verse, Matthew 26:1 begins our Palm Sunday reading and the Passion. The message is clear, as we do to the least of these, the poorest among us; we participate in Jesus’ Passion.

That is why we wave the Palm branches as we read about that passion. We participate in the Mass, reading the role of the crowd that was so eager to wave the palm branches the week before the Passion, but who choose, Jesus Barabbas the violent one, the goat, over Jesus Bar Abba, Jesus, Son of the Father. As we read our role in the Palm Sunday reading at our Cathedral in Reno, God calls us to realize we are also a fickle people that can and do wave the palms on Sunday, then step outside and call for the heads of the poor, Jesus among us, the rest of the weak during the week. As we read the Palm Sunday reading God/Abba calls us to realize that he, not the market, is the Great Provider and we are the stewards called, as a nation, to feed, cloth, house, and visit the least among us. Call it Socialism if you like, but if so, our Blessed Virgin Mary, (Luke 1:51-53) Jesus and God, are Socialists.

Other great reading by the author

Are we Lazarus or Mary and Martha? Are we a romantic couple or old prudes?

The Stories and Curtis and Salvador

The sunrises of Reno Nevada and how they remind us of Easter Sunday

The Transfiguration, the Binding of Isaac, the Hallel, and the Passion of Jesus

Ash Wednesday, the four freedoms, MLK’s Dream and repentance

Having our steak medium rare and how it reflects how we see the world around us



Are we Lazarus or Mary and Martha? Are we a romantic couple or old prudes?

This past Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, Father Francisco delivered his homily on the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the resurrection of Lazarus. Father discussed the grieving process we all go through upon the death of a close relative. At our Cathedral, one of the prominent and most active members of our parish lost her mother within the past two weeks. Part of the resurrection of Lazarus discusses Mary and Martha.

St. Peter and St. Paul at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada
St. Peter and St. Paul at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada

Jesus comes to Bethany, in Hebrew, the “House of Poverty,” on the way to Jerusalem, “City of Peace.” Martha and then Mary, confronts Jesus with the bargaining stage of the grief process, “”Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. I know whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

This is very self centered and selfish. She thinks only about herself and her grief at the loss of her brother. Martha plays the Jewish mother. “If only you, the Messiah of God, God Incarnate, had cared enough to be here, my brother would still be alive… but he is not, so he died.” The statement implies, “You can redeem yourself by bringing my brother back to life.”

Bethany resides in our town of Reno Nevada
Bethany resides in our town of Reno Nevada

Being incarnate compassion, Jesus responds, “”Your brother will rise.” Martha thinks Jesus discusses last day. Jesus refers to his conversation with his followers earlier in the week, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” The disciples told him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” Lazarus is not dead, dead, but asleep, dead. He is no longer with Martha, but he is very much alive. In Hebrew, Mary and Martha are the same word. The root word is “Mar,” meaning bitterness. They are bitter at the loss of their brother.

Our loved ones are not our possessions. They do belong to us. “Belong” relates to the German word, “Belangen,” meaning, “To be a concern of.” We are concerned with each others welfare.

Father Francisco made the very strong point that God is incarnate in the Gospel and the Eucharist. From Deuteronomy 5:1-7 the Jewish community derives the concept of the Physical Presence of the Exodus from Egypt for the first time, each time the celebrate Passover. In a couple of weeks, our parish in Reno will celebrate Easter, the culmination of Passover. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we celebrate the Easter morning resurrection. In the Eucharist, and in the readings each Sunday, God is physically present in the same way the Exodus is physically present for the Jewish community each Passover.

We must grieve the loss of our loved ones. We must also move the stages of grief and come to acceptance. We see the same problem as we discuss the Healthcare Mandate as it relates to contraception. Yes, it is a problem. In the reading of the Gospel, the Jewish community comes and helps Mary and Martha to grieve the loss of their brother. We grieve as a community. We are concerned about each other. We belong to each other. Many conservative Catholics want to isolate their concerns from the concerns of the larger community. They are Martha, having no desire to listen to the concerns of the grander community. If they did, they might find common ground without compromising their values. They are not interested.

They take the Imminently defensible case, the injustice of having to fund programs we as Catholics disagree with, and turn it into something indefensible, the selfish desire to have things their way.

As Father Francisco related after Mass, “Lazarus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, “Eleazar,” meaning Helper of God.” We must move beyond ourselves, beyond being Mary and Martha, the bitter ones interested only in our own loss. We must become the helpers of God Incarnate. Lazarus will live in us.

The Mass is like a romantic dinner. Candles are everywhere. The Bride of Christ is present, through the presence of the parishioners at our Cathedral in Reno. Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Dinner is present, and it includes cake, the host, and wine. The lighting is dim. All speak softly, as at a romantic dinner. Why is it that all love lovers, but nobody likes churchgoers? It can only be that we are not moving beyond ourselves. We are not yet Lazarus. Let us today begin our travel to the City of Peace.

Other interesting articles by Charlie

Of Caesar and his legion and how to remove big government from our lives

Of Thesis statements, Fish City, and the meaning of the Gospels

The Transfiguration, the Binding of Isaac, the Hallel, and the Passion of Jesus

The sunrises of Reno Nevada and how they remind us of Easter Sunday

We distinguish Reno Nevada for several things. Among these are the casinos, which look up at the valleys and which people from all over the cosmos flock to. The other are the beautiful sunrises, which people look up to when they are not working the punch presses in the casinos, punching their precious coins into profits for those casinos. Sunrises are important. Before the sun rises we are not able to distinguish items in the dark as well as we do at night. At night, when we are dressed in dark clothes, we are invisible to traffic as it rushes down the road.

Sun Rise over Reno NevadaThe reading at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada for the Fifth Sunday of Lent focuses upon the morning twilight, when we start being able to distinguish things. Some asked what color the light was when God created the light and the darkness. Light itself has no color, but only reflects the color of the object it comes from. Light allows us to distinguish things. Jesus, as the light of the world, is the light allowing us to distinguish the humanity in each other, as people equal to ourselves before God.

Our Gospel reading reads:

Father, distinguish your name…” “I have distinguished it and will distinguish it again.” The crowd heard it and said it was thunder; others said, “A messenger spoke to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is crisis on this cosmos. Now the first of this cosmos will be driven out. When I am lifted up, I will draw all (people and planet) to myself.”  (Own translation.)

The Greek word, “crisis,” means time of distinguishing. A time of crisis is when we distinguish ourselves as either heroes or cowards.

When God speaks of distinguishing the word is δόξα, from, doxology. It means to think, imagine, suppose, or to fancy. The root idea is “expectation.” It means one we distinguish as apart from everyone else.

The Hebrew for “The first” is “Russia.” It means those who think themselves first. “ἄρχον” has the root idea of being first and meaning those who are made to be the first, therefore the leaders. In God’s cosmos there is room for one first; He chooses not to delegate the position.

The Hebrew word the Greeks translated as δόξα was “Calve Ode,” meaning weighty or important. The first think they are the weighty or the important people. As we come upon Easter and with it the Last Supper, Jesus argues, Luke 22:26-27, “Let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.” Greek does not have punctuation and therefore no way to distinguish statements from questions. The weighty person is the one who serves.

How do we distinguish ourselves? Jesus answers. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.” Matthew, Mark, and Luke also give us the story of Jesus Bar Abbas, Jesus Son of the Father, the villain the crowd chooses instead of Jesus. He would rise up in rebellion against Rome. Jesus rises up in death. Jesus Bar Abbas is a cold-hearted terrorist who would sacrifice his own for his cause. Jesus Bar Abba, Jesus Son of the Father, sacrifices himself.

Our first reading tells how to distinguish ourselves, “This is the Social Contract I make
with the Beth Israel, says the Personal Name. I will place my Torah within them. I will write it upon their hearts; I will be their God; they will be my people.” The thunder in our Gospel reading reminds us of the thunder of Mt. Horeb, where God gave the Ten Commandments. This is how to be Israel, one community brought together by prior suffering, much as we have our New Colossus on the Statue of Liberty, reminding us of our suffering over there, wherever we came from.

Torah is soft. Torah is all of us, animal, mineral, vegetable, human, together, one community, caring for each other, using our skills for the common good. In the parable of the sower, what separates the beautiful ground from the rotten ground the seeds fall upon? The hard ground is path, trampled upon and therefore hard, rock, hard, weeds, hard from their roots. The beautiful ground is soft, caring aerated, nurturing.

As we look up at the Nevada sunrises and sunsets let them remind us to distinguish properly.

TCBY and Our road to the Promised Land

This Fourth Sunday of Lent Father Kim began his homily by giving the example of five children: two teens, two grade school students, and one new born. In his story, the father took his children out for ice cream. Upon arrival, the two teen children, a boy, and a girl found their friends, left their father, and joined their friends. One of the grade school students ordered ice cream, her favorite flavor. The other ordered as the first, even though he did not like that flavor. The father last asked for a sample of ice cream and fed his baby. The baby was excited having the flavor of any ice cream in her mouth.

The Seraph in the desert points to death which leads to life and the crucifix points to death which leads to life.
The Seraph in the desert points to death which leads to life and the crucifix points to death which leads to life.

Father Kim related how our faith works in much the same way. Those new in the faith are happy just to take in the flavors, the sites, and the sounds of their new faith. As we become older, some follow peer pressure and want new flavors, not because we like them, but because others do. The grade school child does this when he asks for ice cream. We need to learn to be ourselves. Not everyone can be a business manager, or owner, or carpenter, or plumber. We need to follow our own vocations.

The teen children are extreme examples of the grade school child. As the article, “Are you Samuel, Israel, or Benjamin?” points out, we trail off to the right or to the left and leave the road leading to The Promised Land. In the pursuit of our new promised land, we become ashamed of our faith, our family, and our father who is in heaven.

When we read our first reading, from II Chronicles, Chapter 36 and our Psalm, Psalms Chapter 137, we see examples of this. The complaint in II Chronicles is that the Chaldeans destroyed the temple. The temple and the temple service were central to the Jewish people. When in Babylon, the love of the Jewish temple is what united the Jewish people as a people, as it does to this day. In Father Kim’s story, God still loves us and still offers us the fruit of his ice cream, the bounties of the world to come through the Eucharist. He also cares for us in this world.

The oldest child is the extreme example of the wayward children. He becomes so involved with the world of high school friends, when her father asks what flavor of ice cream she wants, she refuses to respond. Some no longer go to church and remove all signs of their Catholic faith from their lives. God still loves us when we drop all signs of our faith. God still feeds us and is our great provider.

Father Kim noted from the Gospel reading, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must Ben Adam be lifted up, so everyone believing in him may have eternal life.” The Gospel refers to the incident in Torah where God sent Seraphim to torment the Jewish people in the desert. Our Seraph is the cross of Jesus Christ, representing death, our death to the world.

We are no longer babies in the faith. We need to be ourselves, following our own vocations. We must resist the temptation to follow the baby, our older sister, or our friends at school or at work. We must be Catholics, always looking to the cross of our past faults, and the cross, leading us to the Promised Land.

Our Lenten Gospel last tells us, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned; whoever does not believe has already been condemned.” We must not condemn each other, or ourselves. We must be ourselves, one Catholic Community, one family, under God and Our Blessed Virgin. Those not believing have already been condemned, not by God, but by themselves. They separate themselves from the family. God keeps calling them to return. Do we condemn others and in the process ourselves, or do strive to be community, family with God.

Psalm 19 and just what is the law, the Torah of God?

The Torah of the Personal Name is תְּמִימָה Tammy, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Personal Name is sure, making wise the simple פֶּתִי/those easily persuaded, open to new ideas.” Thus begins the Psalm for the Third Sunday of Lent. “Tammy” is one of the key words of the passage and comes from a root meaning, “Full of astonishment/wonder.”

The sign from heaven is not up there, but down here. The entire passage begins, “The heavens declare the weight of God, the firmament meditates upon the work of his hands. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge/ the assemblage of facts; there is no speech, there are no words, neither is their voice heard. Their words go to the end of the earth, “εἰς τὰ πέρατα τῆς οἰκουμένης τὰ ῥήματα αὐτῶν.” “τῆς οἰκουμένης,” from “οἰκοs,” house. We derive from this word, “Economy,” the financial affairs of our national house.

“The heavens declare the weight of God… Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge/the assemblage of facts; there is no speech, there are no words, neither is their voice heard.” If we meditate upon what we see every day, we will hear the word of God speaking to us, without words, without speech, without voice. Torah refers to the First Five Books of Moses, to the Entire Jewish Bible, to the Entirety of Jewish religious thinking, and it is the Formal Cause of the world/that which holds the world together. In this latter sense, Psalm 19 speaks of Torah, being Tammy/a sign of wonder, restoring the animate being, and making those easily persuaded, wise.

“The Jews look for signs.” From the nativity we all remember the angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Before this is, “This will be a sign for you: an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” The sign is the baby in the manger. The sign is not up there; the sign is down here.

“God delivered these Mitzvoth: “I, the Personal Name, am your Mighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Oppression, that place of menial labor.” Our first sign comes from the Statue of Liberty:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I am the Personal Name who rescued you from Europe, with its poverty, its sham princes, its pomp and ceremony, its wars, civil wars and wars between nations, and I brought you here. Remember what it was like to be there. Remember what all the princes, lords and other high-powered people told you about how you deserve all the suffering you receive. Remember your rescue. Remember what happened to Pharaoh along with all of those like him throughout history. Remember your rescue. When you see others suffer, take action to end that suffering. If we do that, we can forget the rest of the Ten Commandments. We will be too busy helping others and remembering your rescue to violate any command of God.

The signs we seek are not ink blotches in some book. The signs/the wonders of God are all in his world, all around us.

In Hebrew, things are either “To me,” “To him,” “To her…” If they are “To me,” it is from whom, and for a purpose.” Our Gospel ends, “Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all…” In the end we are too busy worrying about the economy to worry about the “οἰκοs,” the house, and our brothers and sisters in it.

Jesus asks, do we want to see the wonders of the world as coming from God, belonging to God, and the concern of God? Are this world and the people in it for our benefit, or for us to see the wonders of God? Does everything we own come from rugged individualism, and the protestant work ethic, or from God? Are they things we own or wonders from God?

The HHS Mandate and the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, including Our Cathedral in Reno, there is much discussion about the HHS Mandate. Our bishop and many bishops are asking their parishioners to write the representatives about the subject.

The Obama Administration has a compromise. The government would not require religiously affiliated hospitals to offer contraception coverage to their employees. The government requires insurers to offer free coverage to women working at such institutions, without compensation. This is like the Taft/Hartley Fair Representation provision, which requires unions to provide free representation to employees not union members, without compensation.

Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin asks us, “Are we one community or 300 million individuals, each with our own goals?

The Fifth Amendment, states, no person may be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The Obama compromise requires insurance companies to give their profits, their property to the public use, providing contraception without compensation. Unions are required to give the cost of their union dues for the use of services to non-union members. Both laws are unconstitutional.

The Obama Administration is less than politically astute. Catholics think of the case in terms of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s statement, “Government has no business forcing religious institutions and individuals to violate their sincerely held beliefs,” and “This lawsuit is about protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience…”

Catholics, who might otherwise vote for the re-election of the President, will find themselves with second thoughts. Secular people, supporting the mandate, do not view the issue as important and will vote on more pressing issues: unemployment, the economy, and the budget deficit. The president politically gains nothing, but loses millions of votes by pressing this issue.

On the other hand, St. Augustine says it well in the City of God, “It is greater blessing to have a good neighbor at peace, than to conquer a bad one by making war. Your wishes are bad, when you desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you can conquer him… We see that this has cooperated much in extending the empire, by making foreigners so unjust that they became people with whom just wars might be carried on, and the empire increased.”

In essence he says that if we have a gripe against our neighbor, he also has one with us, and this is what causes wars. Likewise, there are no Simon Le Greeds in our society. We should see in the liberal a person made in the image of God, like ourselves, with honorable intentions. If our neighbor fights us, we made him that way, and we need to ask what our role in the fight is. What is making the president and the liberals continue their fight with the church after we voiced our grievance?

The President’s concern is understandable. A pro-life issue is at stake, the right of our daughters to lead their lives to their fullest. John 10:10. The liberals view contraception rights as part of promoting life to its fullest for our daughters. What we debate is the right of our daughters to live life to its fullest, with autonomy, verses the right of our daughters, and ourselves, not to pay for morally abhorrent programs, such as Capital Punishment, along with the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. There is the strongly held view that we are sacrificing our post born children for our pre-born children. We need to confront this issue.

As Catholics, we believe there are better ways, Social Justice, as related in St. Augustine’s City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21 with its call for social harmony, and as Social Justice relates to a living wage, and promoting dignity and self-discipline that prevents the contraception need. At one time, during the days of the Baltimore Catechism, we taught that all human beings, Anglo and non-Anglo, male and female, did not do some things, not because we were Catholic, but because we are human. We no longer teach this and we bear the consequences. We learned this teaching, not just from the Bible, but from Thomistic teaching which came from St. Augustine, which came from the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, a non-Christian writing. This can be taught in our public and private schools.

Who pays for the HHS Mandate? As we force employers to pay a living minimum wage with benefits, like healthcare, who pays for the healthcare? If we view the benefit as part of the minimum wage, in theory, the employee pays for the benefit as part of his salary.

The employer acts as a merchant, as in Nevada’s sales tax, who only administers the program. Business collects the tax/premium and passes it on to the government, who passes it on to pay its bills, such as insurance bills, the Social Security Administration, or other insurance Companies. In Nevada, employers pay Unemployment Compensation Taxes to Employer’s Insurance Company, a private insurance company. Private companies build our roads, Q and D Construction in Reno, for example.

The Supreme Court has ruled, taxes for insurance such as Social Security and Unemployment Compensation are constitutional: Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619,  Hampton & Co. v. United States, 276 U.S. 394 (1928), Magnano Co. v. Hamilton, 292 U.S. 40 (1934) and other cases.

In theory, the premium is a tax the government pays to the insurer who provides the service. In the case of healthcare insurance the only part missing is the government. The employer pays the funds directly to the insurance company. Religious institutions do not pay for services they find morally repugnant, but only pay a tax, which pays for those services. In theory, the program is similar to sales taxes.

The President and the democrats in Congress need to realize, this is only “In theory.”

In practice, employers are paying a tax for a service they find morally abhorrent. We must sit down, conservative and liberal, republican and democrat, and find a solution that promotes the general welfare for all people. Are we one community, striving to protect the dignity of our daughters, or 300 million individuals, each trying to pursue happiness under our own terms?

We are mindful of St. Augustine who quoted Cicero who quoted Scipio about peace, in the City of God, Book 19, Chapter 12. “Whoever gives even moderate attention to human affairs and to our common nature, will recognize that if there is no man who does not wish to be joyful, neither is there anyone who does not wish to have peace… They who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better. They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their own mind.” Are we no better than the Romans? Is it every man for himself?

St. Augustine also discusses the meaning of a true republic in Book 2 Chapter 21, and Book 19, Chapter 21. This harmony is surely that to which we strive. Can we not be better than the wicked Romans? Surely, we as Christians can do better than this. Surely, we, liberal and conservative, as a community can find common ground to protect our daughters, without compromising our principles, while promoting their need for human life; life lived to its fullest. They are our daughters!


For more information please read Defense of Religious Liberty Northern Nevada’s post.