Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bishop Schwietz of Anchorage: "People of Faith Cannot Be Made Second Class Citizens"

Archbishop Roger Lawrence Schwietz of Anchorage
January 27, 2012
JANUARY 28-29, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively
impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the
fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal
government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy
blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the
millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week
that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer
their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing
drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those
“services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be
forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. On September 28, 2011, I
signed a letter with the other two Catholic Bishops in Alaska asking the
Department of Health and Human Services that this not take place.
Nevertheless, with this ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our
Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a
result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to
violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer
the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our
institutions one year to comply.
The Church cannot comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be
made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all
faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious
freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build
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January 27, 2012
America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise
and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In
generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand
up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this
generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve
nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith
we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may
prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing;
with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend contacting
Congressman Young and Senators Begich and Murkowski asking them to support
legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision. This can also be done
by visiting . This website is also a place to learn more
about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how we should work together on
this matter. You may also go to the Archdiocese web site. There will be a link to
the USCCB site for your convenience.
All bishops of the country have been asked to have a letter similar to this
read at all the Masses this weekend. I am grateful for your attention to this
important matter of conscience. May the Lord continue to bless us as we seek to
live the Gospel of Life in our society.
Sincerely yours in Christ and Mary,

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