http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/313501

Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez says U.S.democracy is under threat

Posted Oct 28, 2011 by JohnThomas Didymus
In a recently published article, head of the Diocese of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, says democracy in the U.S. is under threat with recent government acts of suppression of religious freedom.
The top of the Vatican structure in Rome
The top of the Vatican structure in Rome
MimiK
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who heads the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S., said, in the article published on FirstThings.com:
“There is much evidence to suggest that our society no longer values the public role of religion or recognizes the importance of religious freedom as a basic right...America’s founders understood that our democracy depends on Americans' being moral and virtuous...They knew the best guarantee for this is a civil society in which individuals and religious institutions were free to live, act, and vote according to their values and principles.”
Archbishop Gomez, cites the push to legalize "same-sex" marriage as example of government suppression of religious freedom. He says the move to legalize "same-sex" marriage has caused Church adoption and foster-care ministries to shut down rather than "submit to government demands that they place children of same-sex couples or provide benefits for same-sex employees."
The Archbishop expressed his worries about "an ominous development...[in which]...the U.S. Justice Department went on record this summer as saying that those who defend the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman are motivated by bias and prejudice." He defended Church opposition to legalization of "same-sex" marriage, saying,"Of course, that is our ancient Catholic belief, rooted in the teachings of Jesus and also the Jewish Scriptures. It is a belief held by many Protestants, the Orthodox, and also by Jews and Muslims, among others. But scholars...warn that this belief might now be labeled as a form of bigotry..."
The situation in which defense of traditional marriage is labeled bigotry, the Archbishop said, could lead "to new challenges to our liberties." The Archbishop said, "All of this is troubling and represents a sharp break with our history and American traditions."
The Archbishop, listing examples of assault on Christian religious freedom, cited government's denial of funding to the U.S. Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services agency:
“Recently, the government had been demanding that our agency provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve...We hope our application was not denied because we refused to provide these services that are unnecessary and violate our moral principles and religious mission..."
Archbishop Gomez referred to the Health and Human Service Department's proposal which would require private employers provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception. The Archbishop said, "This not only violates the consciences of Catholic business owners, it also undermines the religious autonomy of Church employers."
The Archbishop, in his article, also alleged that:
"For several years now, it seems that whenever there is a merger or expansion involving a Catholic hospital, some legislator or government agency tries to block it unless our Catholic hospitals and doctors will start providing abortions and sterilizations. So far, these efforts at coercion have failed. What’s troubling is that these efforts continue, without regard to the historic contributions of Catholic health care or to the First Amendment."
The Archbishop said these moves by the government violate "religious liberty [that] has always been the 'first freedom' in our Bill of Rights." He said these assaults on religious liberty have led the U.S. Bishops to establish a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. The Archbishop said:
“My brother bishops and I are deeply concerned that believers’ liberties — and the Church’s freedom to carry out her mission — are threatened today, as they never have been before in our country’s history...We need to help our leaders today rediscover the wisdom of America’s founding...At stake are not just our liberties but also the future character of our democracy.”
Critics have, however, reacted to the Archbishop's statements that, "In our history, religious freedom has always included the rights of churches and religious institutions to establish hospitals, schools, charities, media outlets, and other agencies — and to staff these ministries and run them, free from government intrusion."
A reaction on FirstThings.com, said the Archbishop was confusing his religious rights to maintain discriminatory policies while providing public services, with rights to enjoy government subsidy. Resh Galuta, said:
"It's not persecution not to get a government subsidy. Nobody has a right to government subsidies. If the increasingly-secular majority decides secular agencies should handle migration and refugee services and health care, that is hardly a threat to religious freedom. The Church is free to continue its charitable endeavors with the financial support provided by believers."
Digital Journal recently reported Catholic bishops have formed a committee to address problems of religious freedom in the United States. The Bishops, according to the report, are concerned about President Barack Obama's policy on Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA), the right of religious institutions to choose their ministers and the proposed HHS rule that will require insurers to cover contraception.