The Pastoral Mandate, Politicians and Religious Liberty | Joe Tremblay | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Is this threat to religious liberty a political problem, or is it a pastoral problem?
On January 19th, 2011, EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo aired an interview with New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan. To his credit, Raymond Arroyo represented the concerns of many Catholics by asking the Archbishop about his pastoral position on discipline as it pertained to New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo. As most viewers know, Cuomo had long been an unapologetic advocate of abortion rights. In June of 2011, however, he took his public dissent from Catholic teaching to yet another level. The governor signed a bill making same-sex marriage legal in the state of New York. Cuomo, mind you, is a highly visible public figure who calls himself a “Catholic” and one who attends Mass from time to time. Accordingly, Raymond Arroyo asked where the governor of New York stood in relation to the Church to which he professed allegiance. Archbishop Dolan answered by saying that the talks between him and Cuomo are on-going, maintaining: “Our job is to invite people in and try to patiently change hearts—and not be throwing people out” (New York Daily News June 17th 2011). I think it is fair to say that many U.S. bishops, especially in several of the archdioceses in the United States, concur with Archbishop Dolan on this form of dialogue.
The next day, January 20th, the Catholic News Agency reported that “the Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the administration would not expand a religious exemption for employers who object to its ‘preventative services’ mandate.” In other words, the Obama administration made it known that they would mandate that, against their will, Catholic agencies must provide abortifacients, contraception, sterilization, etc., in their health care coverage. In fact, these Catholic agencies have until August of 2013 to comply with the federal health care mandate. Archbishop Dolan did not mince words when he told the press what he thought of it. He said: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.” In fact, a day earlier the Holy Father weighed in with these sobering words: “No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment.” Indeed, Pope Benedict’s “Dictatorship of Relativism” is on the march in America.
Asking Important Questions
The question then becomes: Is this threat to religious liberty a political problem, or is it a pastoral problem?