The HHS Mandate and fighting the good fight in Reno Nevada

Don’t fight losing battles. Move with wisdom, not emotion. Let strategy guide your actions, not pride or anger. Always focus on your ultimate goal. Sun Tsu

In all of our fights we must show concern for the Sheep because they belong to God and not to us.

That is sage advice for Catholics in our Diocese of Reno Nevada as we battle the HHS Mandate. Pick your battles wisely. It is possible to win the battle and lose the war. Japan won decisively at Pearl Harbor, and in the process lost the war. America won almost every battle, if not every battle in the Vietnam War, but lost the war.

The point, as conservative Catholics discuss the HHS Mandate at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, before Mass, after Mass, at socials after Mass, and at other places, is not that Catholics, our church leaders, or the President is right or wrong. The point is that we must pick our battles well or we could win the battle and lose the war.

In Luke 14 Jesus tells us, “What king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?”

Put aside the strict merits of the case. We do not want to pay for contraception, as we are pro-life. In 1969, the poorest 50% of the population received 27% of all income. Today they receive 19% of all income and that figure is dropping. In terms of net worth, the top 20% controls 85.1% of all net worth, while the bottom 80% controls 14.9% of all net worth.

Some 50.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Some 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.

Catholics in Reno Nevada upset about the HHS Mandate ask what this has to do with their subject. Many perceive our Church to be a conservative institution promoting the welfare of the establishment. Secular people look at our beloved church, including the Diocese in Reno and see a parish priest, who runs a building we call a church, with a staff, which is a franchise of a larger organization controlling many churches, hospitals, kitchens, retail stores, and more. They perceive our bishop, not as a shepherd and apostle in the lineage going back to Christ, but as a corporate CEO.

These people look and see how, as a corporate CEO, he argues with other corporate CEOs. They have the right to control what benefits their employees receive. That includes how much income their employees receive, and the result is the dropping incomes of the poorest. Instead of secular people seeing the Church as their champion, as Jesus calls us to be, they see the Church as being the champion of the wealthy.

Our Bishop is not a corporate CEO; he is a representative of the Good Shepherd. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of St. Luke:

The Basilicos (Greek for Ruler) of the Goim (Hebrew for not Jew) lord it over them. Those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors.’ Among you it will not be so. 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. You have stood by me in my trials. I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me,so you may eat and drink at my table in my Basilica; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.(Own translation.)

Our own sages tell us:

– the damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, and certain;

– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

– there must be serious prospects of success;

We are not looking for solutions that would find a common ground with our opponents without sacrificing our principles. In the longer fight our current approach has no chance of success.

With the help of a very conservative SCOTUS, we may win this battle. At least 50.2 million people will turn against us, and we will lose the greater war of winning human hearts to Christ, and lose big. Already, the CNN article, “Seven reasons Catholics leave church,” as discussed in the Examiner article, “Seven reasons Catholics leave including our Cathedral and Diocese in Reno,” tells us how Catholics are leaving our church and listing the conservative politics of the church as a reason.

God will call us before his court to answer for this. Let us choose our battles, and let us choose them wisely. Let us choose to promote life and promote it in all of its forms, from conception until natural death. Let us fight the good fight, but let us fight wisely.


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