As the White House prepares for a meeting with the Vatican next month, the archbishop of Philadelphia is warning that Obamacare’s assault on religious beliefs is pushing American Catholics into civil disobedience.
In an interview posted Friday on CNS News Service, Archbishop Charles Chaput said the government’s insistence that religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor engage insurance companies to provide contraception and abortion-inducing drugs is helping make Obama’s administration “the most tone deaf to religious liberty issues in recent memory.”
“The more that government mandates evil actions, the more likely civil disobedience becomes,” he said.
Chaput saw bitter irony in President Obama’s remarks at the Feb. 6 National Prayer Breakfast that “around the world, freedom of religion is under threat.”
“There’s a very odd disconnect in praising religious freedom while the Justice Department goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Chaput said.
Chaput’s words shouldn’t be taken lightly. Besides being the archbishop of one of the church’s largest archdioceses in the country, he’s been named by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which is aimed at revitalizing the role of lay Catholics in rejuvenating the church.
Obama is scheduled to meet with the pope in March, and Obamacare and its contraception and abortion mandates are sure to be on the agenda, so Chaput’s thoughts on the subject carry some weight.
Asked by CNS if he thought Christians are being “persecuted” by the Obama administration, Chaput declined to get into hyperbole.
The United States is “not Pakistan or North Korea,” he said (thank heaven for small favors), but nothing in human affairs is guaranteed.
“The United States has no magic immunity attached to its liberties,” Chaput said. “The Constitution, as great as it is, is still just a piece of paper unless people vigorously protect their rights.
“For religious believers, that means defending their faith in the courts and legislatures. It also means living their faith with joy and conviction, publicly as well as privately.”
CNS asked what that means in the context of a government that’s trying to force religious groups to violate their beliefs.
“Catholics have a duty to respect legitimate authority and pray for our political leaders, whether we personally care for them or not,” Chaput said.
“But there are limits, and the more that government mandates evil actions, the more likely civil disobedience becomes.”