Sunday, February 26, 2012

Urgent: Letter of Cardinal Dolan to his brother bishops in the U.S.

The letter below exhibits powerful words from Cardinal Dolan. But he also had a very urgent request. He called upon every Catholic in America to immediately contact their legislators to support the Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act.

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday or Wednesday of next week on this legislation, which would repeal the HHS mandate – and provide conscience protections for ALL Americans.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and it would protect the rights of conscience for religious organizations and for businesses so they wouldn't be forced by the federal government to pay for medical procedures which violate their moral beliefs.

Please contact your senators again to ensure they vote for the
Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act.

A pdf version is available here.

Pax et Bonum to all!

Tom, S.F.O.

February 22, 2012
Letter of Cardinal Dolan to his brother bishops in the U.S.

Dear Brother Bishops,

Since we last wrote to you concerning the critical efforts we are undertaking together to protect religious freedom in our beloved country, many of you have requested that we write once more to update you on the situation and to again request the assistance of all the faithful in this important work. We are happy to do so now.

First, we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to you, and to all our sisters and brothers in Christ, for the remarkable witness of our unity in faith and strength of conviction during this past month. We have made our voices heard, and we will not cease from doing so until religious freedom is restored.

As we know, on January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a decision to issue final regulations that would force practically all employers, including many religious institutions, to pay for abortion inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraception. The regulations would provide no protections for our great institutions—such as Catholic charities, hospitals, and universities—or for the individual faithful in the marketplace. The regulations struck at the heart of our fundamental right to religious liberty, which affects our ability to serve those outside our faith community.

Since January 20, the reaction was immediate and sustained. We came together, joined by people of every creed and political persuasion, to make one thing resoundingly clear: we stand united against any attempt to deny or weaken the right to religious liberty upon which our country was founded.

On Friday, February 10, the Administration issued the final rules. By their very terms, the rules were reaffirmed “without change.” The mandate to provide the illicit services remains. The exceedingly narrow exemption for churches remains. Despite the outcry, all the threats to religious liberty posed by the initial rules remain.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government’s decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations.

Recent actions by the Administration have attempted to reduce this free exercise to a “privilege” arbitrarily granted by the government as a mere exemption from an all encompassing, extreme form of secularism. The exemption is too narrowly defined, because it does not exempt most non-profit religious employers, the religiously affiliated insurer, the self-insured employer, the for-profit religious employer, or other private businesses owned and operated by people who rightly object to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. And because it is instituted only by executive whim, even this unduly narrow exemption can be taken away easily.

In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our “first freedom” and respect for it must be broad and inclusive—not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is “religious enough” to warrant religious freedom protection.

This is not just about contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization—although all should recognize the injustices involved in making them part of a universal mandated health care program. It is not about Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. It is about people of faith. This is first and foremost a matter of religious liberty for all. If the government can, for example, tell Catholics that they cannot be in the insurance business today without violating their religious convictions, where does it end? This violates the constitutional limits on our government, and the basic rights upon which our country was founded.

Much remains to be done. We cannot rest when faced with so grave a threat to the religious liberty for which our parents and grandparents fought. In this moment in history we must work diligently to preserve religious liberty and to remove all threats to the practice of our faith in the public square. This is our heritage as Americans. President Obama should rescind the mandate, or at the very least, provide full and effective measures to protect religious liberty and conscience.

Above all, dear brothers, we rely on the help of the Lord in this important struggle. We all need to act now by contacting our legislators in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which can be done through our action alert on

We invite you to share the contents of this letter with the faithful of your diocese in whatever form, or by whatever means, you consider most suitable. Let us continue to pray for a quick and complete resolution to this and all threats to religious liberty and the exercise of our faith in our great country.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Bishop of Bridgeport
Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cardinal George - "... his successor will die a martyr..."

Later in 2010, [Francis Cardinal George] further outlined the degree to which he believed religious freedoms (in the United States and other Western societies) was endangered. After the passage of legislation that enabled Civil Unions in Illinois, his eminence stated, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square".

From Wikipedia article on Cardinal George

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Archbishop Chaput Blasts Obama Administration’s ‘Insulting’ Mandate Revision

Archbishop Chaput Blasts Obama Administration’s ‘Insulting’ Mandate Revision
Written by: CNA

February 12, 2012

By Benjamin Mann

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput rejected the Obama administration’s attempt to revise its contraception mandate, saying the rule remained “insulting” and “dangerous” to believers’ rights.

“The HHS mandate, including its latest variant, are belligerent, unnecessary and deeply offensive to the content of Catholic belief,” he wrote in a Feb. 12 Philadelphia Inquirer column.

“Any such mandate would make it morally compromising for us to provide health care benefits to the staffing of our public service ministries.”

“We cannot afford to be fooled – yet again – by evasive and misleading allusions to the administration’s alleged ‘flexibility’ on such issues. The HHS mandate needs to be rescinded.”

Archbishop Chaput published his thoughts following a Feb. 10 announcement by the administration regarding religious institutions and what the government calls “preventive services” – a category including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs.

A rule announced Jan. 20 required many faith-based organizations to provide insurance coverage of these drugs and devices despite their moral objections. After three weeks of protest led by the U.S. Catholic bishops, the administration announced a change to the rule on Friday.

Under the revised rule, insurance companies would be forced to offer the “preventive services,” without a co-pay, to employees of religious ministries. The administration maintained that under the new policy, “religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception.”

Several critics of the move, including Princeton Professor Robert George and Catholic University of America President John Garvey, responded by pointing out that the new rule accomplishes the same goal – forcing employers to underwrite policies covering the offensive services – by a different means.

In his column, Archbishop Chaput highlighted this “withering criticism” of the new requirement, and said the “’accommodation’ offered by the White House did not solve the problem” of the original mandate.

“Quite a few Catholics supported President Obama in the last election, so the ironies here are bitter,” he noted. “Many feel betrayed. They’re baffled that the Obama administration would seek to coerce Catholic employers, private and corporate, to violate their religious convictions.”

For Philadelphia’s archbishop, however, the administration’s move comes as no surprise.

He cited its “early shift toward the anemic language of ‘freedom of worship’ instead of the more historically-grounded and robust concept of ‘freedom of religion,’” and noted its “troubling effort to regulate religious ministers, recently rejected 9-0 by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna-Tabor case.”

These steps, together with the 2011 termination of the U.S. bishops’ human trafficking grant over a refusal to make abortion referrals, have convinced Archbishop Chaput that the Obama White House “is – to put it generously – tone deaf to people of faith.”

“It’s clear that such actions are developing into a pattern,” he observed.

In this context, the archbishop indicated, Health and Human Services’ mandate did not seem like a “gaffe” or “mistake.”

“The current administration prides itself on being measured and deliberate. The current HHS mandate needs to be understood as exactly that.”

“It’s impossible to see this regulation as some happenstance policy. It has been too long in the making. Despite all of its public apprehension about ‘culture warriors’ on the political right in the past, the current administration has created an HHS mandate that is the embodiment of culture war.”

“At its heart is a seemingly deep distrust of the formative role religious faith has on personal and social conduct, and a deep distaste for religion’s moral influence on public affairs. To say that this view is contrary to the Founders’ thinking and the record of American history would be an understatement.”

“Critics may characterize my words here as partisan or political,” the archbishop acknowledged. “But it is this administration – not Catholic ministries or institutions or bishops – that chose the timing and nature of the fight.”

The burden, he said, was on the White House, which “has the power to remove the issue from public conflict.”

Catholics, meanwhile, “should not be misled into accepting feeble compromises on issues of principle.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Important information regarding the name of our Order

February 6, 2012

As some of you are aware, the Secular Franciscan Order holds its Chapter at the International level every three years (every other time, or every six years, is an elective chapter). The International Chapter in 2011 was at the same time as our National Chapter. One of the items that came out of that chapter is a directive from our Minister General, Encarnación del Pozo, regarding the letters we use after our names to indicate our membership in the Order. That letter from Encarnita is included below.

Following some discussion with the National Executive Council and my fellow Regional Ministers, I can summarize the effect of this letter in one sentence:

Effective immediately, we are to use “OFS” rather than “SFO” after our names.

Please note that the name of the Order does not change — English is one of the four official languages, and “Secular Franciscan Order” continues to be our name in English. This, in turn, means that other places where we use “SFO” as an abbreviation for “Secular Franciscan Order” — where it is not the three letters after our names — can stay the way they are. So, our national website will continue to be, and our regional website will continue to be, to name two examples.

If we consider the efforts of CIOFS to encourage a common sense of identity within the Secular Franciscan Order (something which is probably very clear to those of you who have been using the ongoing formation dossiers), it makes sense that all Secular Franciscans throughout the world, regardless of language, will henceforth use the same set of letters after our names to indicate our status as professed members of the Order. Yes, it will take some getting used to, but please accept that small sacrifice as part of your Lenten journey this year.

Above all, as our National Minister, Tom Bello, said to us when communicating this change, “… I am absolutely certain that OFS or SFO does not make me or you … any more or less Franciscan. We are still permanently professed. Our Order is still, in English, the Secular Franciscan Order.”

Peace and blessings to you all,

Vickie Klick, OFS
Regional Minister
{Mother Cabrini Region)

- – - – -

Allegato n. 9

Saõ Paulo, 2011. October 22-29



1. The official name of the Order is Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis.

2. Translations of the name of the Order
2. 1 The translation of the name of the Order is already made in the four official languages, and these are the ones to be used in these languages, namely in Italian, in English, in Spanish and in French.
2.2 The name can be translated into local languages only when the literal translation from Latin is easily understandable even by the civil society and does not change its meaning or substance.
2.3 When the translation into the national language distorts the meaning of the name, or is linguistically impossible to transfer the genuine meaning, Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis must always be used, which can be followed by expressions to clarify and make more understandable the nature of the Secular Franciscan Order to everyone in the local language.

3. The acronym
The acronym which refers to the name Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis is OFS and is always to be used regardless of the language. For example, when Secular Franciscans use the acronym after their name, they must use “OFS”.

Encarnación del Pozo, OFS
General Minister