At the end of Sunday mass at the church this writer attends in Washington, D.C., the pastor asked the congregation to remain for a few minutes.
Then, on the instructions of Cardinal Archbishop Donald Wuerl, the pastor proceeded to read a letter.
In the letter, the Church denounced the Obama administration for ordering all Catholic schools, hospitals and social services to provide, in their health insurance coverage for employes, free contraceptives, free sterilizations and free "morning-after" pills.
Parishioners were urged to contact their representatives in Congress to bring about a reversal of President Obama's new policy.
Now, not only is this a battle the Church must fight, it is a battle the Church can win if it has the moral stamina to say the course.
In forcing the Church to violate its own principles, Obama has committed an act of federal aggression, crossing the line between church and state to appease his ACLU and feminist allies, while humiliating the Catholic bishops.
Should the Church submit, its moral authority in America would disappear.
Now, undeniably, the church milquetoast of past decades that refused to discipline pro-abortion Catholics allowed the impression to form that while the hierarchy may protest, eventually it will go along to get along with a Democratic Party that was once home to most Catholics.
Obama's problem today is that not only is he forcing the Church to violate her conscience, he dissed the highest prelate in America.
In November, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, held what he describes as an "extraordinarily friendly" meeting with Obama at the White House.
The president assured the archbishop of his respect for the Church, and the archbishop came away persuaded Obama would never force the Church to adopt any policy that would violate her principles.
Ten days ago, Obama sandbagged the archbishop.
He informed Cardinal-designate Dolan by phone that, with the sole concession of the Church being given an extra year, to August 2013, to comply, the new policy, as set down by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, will be imposed. All social and educational institutions of the Catholic church will offer health insurance covering birth control, or face fines.
"In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," said Archbishop Dolan, who went on:
"To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. ... This represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."
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