About a month ago, I wrote about a Catholic Bishop in Illinois who warned his parishioners that their souls might be in danger if they vote for Obama. It’s happened again – this time in the neighboring state of Wisconsin.
Bishop David L. Ricken of the Green Bay Diocese sent this email to his congregation (emphasis added):
October 24, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
AN IMPORTANT MOMENT
It is almost time to vote and to make our choices for president and other political offices both local and national.
You have often heard it said that this is a turning point in our country’s history and I could not agree more.
The Church is not a political organism, but as you hopefully have learned in the US Bishops Faithful
Citizenship material (which we have made widely available to you in the parishes, in the Compass and on-line),
the Church has the responsibility to speak out regarding moral issues, especially on those issues that impact the “common good” and the “dignity of the human person.”
I would like to review some of the principles to keep in mind as you approach the voting booth to complete your ballot. The first is the set of non-negotiables. These are areas that are “intrinsically evil” and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.
3. embryonic stem cell research
4. human cloning
5. homosexual “marriage”
These are intrinsically evil. “A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.
But what does this have to do with the election? Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform. To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally “complicit” with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.
The other position to keep in mind is the protection of religious liberty. The recent aggressive moves by the government to impose the HHS mandate, especially the move to redefine religion so that religion is confined more and more to the four walls of the Church, is a dangerous precedent. This will certainly hurt the many health care services to the poor given by our Catholic hospitals. Our Catholic hospitals in the Diocese give millions of dollars per year in donated services to the poor. In the new plan, only Catholic people can be treated by Catholic institutions.
It has never been our mission to be exclusive of those who are not of our faith. This mandate also places Catholic business owners in a very precarious position in that they, too, will have to pay for those medical “services” which violate Catholic teaching. This has never been the American way and now these moves and others by the present government, will significantly alter and marginalize the role of religious institutions in our society.
These positions are indicators of a broader societal disposition to remove God from the public square and from any relation to society whatever. It is precisely religion and the free exercise thereof which has made this country great in the past.
Many people in our Diocese are presently without work. Our Catholic Charities is serving more and more people who are unemployed or under employed and can barely keep up with the demands. Work is so critical to the family and to the sense of human dignity. An economy which does the most for the common good is an economy that works and provides people gainful employment for the country’s citizens. A government that works pays its bills and models for citizens what it means to be responsible and contributive.
Let us pray for the electorate and let’s take action, that we may vote for good and moral leaders for this great country which will only remain great, if she continues to be and to do the good.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend David L. Ricken, DD, JCL
Bishop of Green Bay
Not only is the Bishop threatening his congregation’s souls, he’s threatening the community, by saying that the Church will withhold healthcare services.
This isn’t the first time the Church has taken that stance either. Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George threatened to close down the 600 Catholic hospitals across the country if the Affordable Care Act continued. Nearly one in six people, Catholic or not, visit Catholic hospitals in any given year.
People will argue that because the Catholic Church is tax exempt, they are required by law to stay out of politics. Please note, in Bishop Ricken’s email, there are no mentions of candidates’ names or of parties. Obviously, the meaning is clear, but I’m sure that those omissions give some plausible deniability. Even if he had mentioned President Obama’s name or the name of the Democratic party, it’s unlikely the IRS would have anything to say in the matter.
Wisconsin is considered a key battleground state. The Bishop knows that threats like this could help sway the election.