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If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 33
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New York Bishop Understands the Constitution Better Than the Constitutional Law Professor in Chief
On Good Friday, I wanted to share with you a letter from the Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (my diocese). The point Bishop Murphy makes about government “accommodation” of religious freedoms is spot on. The government cannot “accommodate” what is already an inalienable right derived from our Maker. Happy Easter everyone and God Bless.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
August 1, 2013 is the deadline for certain organizations in the Diocese such as Catholic Charities and Catholic Health Services of Long Island to comply with the HHS mandate that they provide free artificial contraception and abortifacient medications as part of their compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Without being specific, indications from the Obama Administration are that they will no longer listen to our claims or those who share our religious and conscience convictions.
The latest Administration pronouncements were a disappointment. After a week of analyzing this latest proposal from the Administration, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed our willingness to continue to try to convince the government that the objectively inadequate “accommodation” from the HHS continues to fall far short of the mark.
To me, the major problem is in the very word the Administration uses: accommodation. The state is not the giver of rights, especially religious freedom. We as citizens possess the right to religious freedom without government pronouncement and, in truth, the Administration cannot “accommodate” what is already ours. We should not be treated as if we are second class citizens because we disagree with the government’s new and arbitrary insistence that all of us have to follow their prescriptions despite our religious beliefs and our right to freedom of conscience. Those rights are God-given, not state-granted. Every person and every religious institution already has from God what is guaranteed in our Constitution and Bill of Rights: freedom of religion and of conscience.
Now in the middle of Lent I write to you to ask you first of all to pray that God will protect us and our God- given rights as persons and as a Church. Second, I invite you to stay informed and be ready to respond to our calls for help as needed.
Keep your eye on the website of the US Bishops www.usccb.org as well as our news website www.licatholic.org to keep up-to-date and find concrete ways for concerted action. To get involved, please consider joining grass roots advocacy groups forming in parishes across the Diocese, such as Catholics for Freedom of Religion www.catholicsforfreedomofreligion.com. I encourage you to consider participation in such a group. Let our Senators and your Congressperson know that you and I have not lost interest. Tell them we are resolute in insisting on this most basic freedom, the freedom of religious belief and the protection of conscience. To contact your US Senators and Representatives, go to the website of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment www.nchla.org. Send an email to your Representatives to demand the overturning of the HHS mandate. Plans are also being made for the Second Fortnight for Freedom that will take place this summer. More details about the Fortnight will be forthcoming.
Continue to pray that what is ours by right will be recognized and honored for the good of all. And continue to stand together. Your witness is needed now more than ever.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Bishop William Murphy
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