Boston Archdiocese Punts on Religious Freedom Lawsuit

May 22, 2012

On Monday, May 21, Cardinal Dolan, President of the USCCB, applauded 43 dioceses, hospitals, schools and church agencies for filing 12 lawsuits around the nation saying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraception coverage mandate violates religious freedom.

The Boston Archdiocese was not one of those dioceses.

St. Anthony of Padua said, “Actions speak louder than words” and the actions of Cardinal O’Malley make it  increasingly obvious that our Cardinal is lacking in courage.

Here is an excerpt from the AP report on the news:

NEW YORK – Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, and other groups sued the Obama administration Monday in eight states and the District of Columbia over a federal mandate that most employers provide workers free birth control as part of their health insurance.

The 12 federal lawsuits represent the largest push against the mandate since President Obama announced the policy in January. Among the 43 groups suing are the University of Notre Dame, the Archdioceses of Washington and New York, the Michigan Catholic Conference, and the Catholic University of America.

“We have tried negotiation with the administration and legislation with the Congress, and we’ll keep at it, but there’s still no fix,’’ said New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.’’

The suits bring the total number of cases now pending over the mandate to more than 30.

The Archdiocese of Boston did not join the effort, although it supports the legal challenges. “There is no need for every single diocese or other Catholic organization to sue,’’ Terrence Donilon, archdiocese spokesman, said in a statement. “The various plaintiffs reflect a broad cross-section of Catholic institutions, and together they represent the wide variety of issues, impacts, economic consequences, and divergent facts that exist among Catholic organizations nationwide.’’

In other words, while the Archdioceses of New York, Washington and St. Louis; the Dioceses of Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Rockville Centre, Springfield, Ill., Erie (PA), Jackson and Biloxi (Miss.) and others, along with the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America; and Our Sunday Visitor dig in and fight the battle (see here for list), the Boston Archdiocese will sit back and do nothing.  All the plaintiffs are being represented pro bono by the law firm Jones Day, so the out-of-pocket cost to Boston would be zero.

BCI literally is almost speechless upon hearing that Boston is bailing. Several times in recent months Cardinal O’Malley has called publicly for courage. Now he fails to demonstrate it via his actions.

September 2011 at diocesan Red Mass for lawyers and jurists: “We are called upon to defend the gospel of life with courage and resolve…Your very profession invests in all of you a great responsibility to ensure that all laws are just.”

November 2011 at the “ad limina” visit to Rome: Here is most of the CNS story reporting on this:

Bishops from northeastern US begin ‘ad limina’ visits with prayer

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Praying together at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and meeting Pope Benedict XVI should be a moment for bishops to reconfirm and strengthen their faith, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

In his homily, the cardinal told his fellow bishops that after Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, “Peter flees. He’s trying to follow the Lord at a safe distance, something we all try to do at one time or another. But Peter discovers it’s impossible; you can only follow the Lord up close.”

“Jesus doesn’t ask Peter if he’s excelled in his intellectual prowess or his organization skills or his fundraising capacity or his Myers-Briggs score. Jesus only asks, ‘Do you love me?’” he said.

Peter’s love for the Lord brought him to Rome, the cardinal said, but — according to legend — as persecution grew Peter decided to flee again. Leaving the city, he saw the risen Lord and asked him, “Quo vadis?” (“Where are you going?”), and Jesus replied he was going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter renewed his faith and returned to the city where he met a martyr’s death.

“Each of us has gone through a ‘quo vadis’ moment or two in our vocation as bishops,” the cardinal said. “Hopefully, our being together at the tomb of Peter and close to Benedict will renew us in our generosity, courage and faith in following Jesus up close so that we can say with all our hearts what Peter said, ‘Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.’”

The comment by Terry Donilon suggests that Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese are, like Peter, fleeing and trying to keep a safe distance from this crucial issue. Apparently, the hope for renewal of courage nearby the tomb of Peter from last November has already worn off.  More and more, when the Cardinal calls upon the Catholic faithful to have courage, the words ring hollow because he fails to match his actions with his words.

We close today with a quote sent by a reader from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  That is what is happening in Boston on this issue. We hope and pray that those who have the courage to fight will prevail, and those currently lacking the courage to fight will realize they are allowing evil to triumph and will change their ways.

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