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.


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