March 16, 2012

Church on right side of fight to protect life, religious freedom, priest says

Our Lady of the Greenwood parishioners Sylvan Ebert, left, and Linda Ebert of Greenwood were among four recipients of 2012 Sanctity of Life Awards presented by Servants of the Gospel of Life Sister Diane Carollo, director of the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry, during the office’s third annual Sanctity of Life awards dinner and fundraiser on March 8 in Indianapolis. The Eberts are dedicated Birthline volunteers. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber)

Our Lady of the Greenwood parishioners Sylvan Ebert, left, and Linda Ebert of Greenwood were among four recipients of 2012 Sanctity of Life Awards presented by Servants of the Gospel of Life Sister Diane Carollo, director of the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry, during the office’s third annual Sanctity of Life awards dinner and fundraiser on March 8 in Indianapolis. The Eberts are dedicated Birthline volunteers. (Photo by Mary Ann Garber) Click for a larger version.

By Mary Ann Garber

God helps those who work to protect human life and religious freedom, Msgr. Joseph Schaedel assured nearly 500 people at the third annual archdiocesan Sanctity of Life dinner on March 8 in Indianapolis.

“For years, the Catholic Church, along with others, has fought the battle for the sanctity of life,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “Our teaching on right-to-life issues hasn’t changed, and it won’t. We march on Washington every year to protest the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court making abortion—murdering innocent [unborn] life—legal and we will continue to fight. Since God is on the side of human life, we will win.”

The pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis and director of the archdiocesan Mission Office was the keynote speaker for the fundraising dinner and awards program that benefits the lifesaving work of the archdiocesan Office for Pro-Life Ministry.

“It’s just a matter of time—God’s time,” Msgr. Schaedel said about ending abortion. “But now we have moved beyond just defending human life. We have moved into the realm of defending spiritual life. Our battle today is about our spiritual life. We are trying to defend our own souls. Our cause today defends the right of every human person to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, to make decisions according to a well-informed conscience, [and] to save our souls from the powers of arrogance, selfishness, pride and evil.”

Just as Catholics and other Christians will not tolerate attacks on the defenseless unborn, he said, they will not allow government restrictions on the legal rights of religious freedom and protection of conscience.

“The Catholic Church has no intention of backing down,” Msgr. Schaedel said, on the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ new mandate requiring employers or their insurers to provide insurance coverage for sterilization procedures, contraception and abortifacient drugs to their employees.

“The truth is on our side and we will not back down,” he said. “The Church can often compromise on certain issues, but not on this one.

“One week ago, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a letter to all of the bishops of our country,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “In that letter, Cardinal Dolan said that the bishops’ conference is exploring legal remedies to address the First Amendment threat posed by the contraception mandate approved by the Obama administration. He went on to say that top-notch law firms are lining up to represent the Church against the government pro bono. These attorneys so strongly agree with the Church’s position that they will take the case for nothing.

“Our bishops have made it quite clear that we will close our schools, hospitals, orphanages, social service agencies and so forth,” he said, “rather than comply with any so-called legislation that would force us to violate our consciences.”

The Catholic Church in the U.S. educates well over 2.5 million students every school day, Msgr. Schaedel explained, and if the Church closed our schools it would cost American taxpayers more than $18 billion a year to educate those students in public schools.

The Church also operates more than 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with enrollments approaching the 1 million mark, he said. “There is no way that other institutions of higher learning could quickly absorb those students if Catholic colleges and universities all closed.”

Catholic religious orders also operate a nonprofit hospital system of about 650 hospitals in the U.S., Msgr. Schaedel said, and some of these hospitals are the only health care provider in various regions of the country.

“Close those [Catholic] hospitals,” he said, “and the remaining health care institutions could not begin to handle the load.

“So think again, Washington, before you consider pushing United States Catholics into a corner on issues of religious freedom, conscience and sanctity of life,” Msgr. Schaedel emphasized. “… The Catholic Church in the United States is speaking out with a loud voice, and we are being heard. … The Church is getting the citizens of this great country to wake up to see what’s really going on. … While the sanctity of life issues are in the forefront, it is more than just about human life issues. All of this is about religious freedom, the primacy of conscience, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, … the freedom on which our country was founded.”

The new Health and Human Services mandate has awakened “a sleeping giant,” he said. “The good news is that this lunacy, this attempt to destroy our religious freedom, has backfired. The Church that is being attacked will be a Church all the stronger for these attacks.

“The Church, being harassed from several sides, is rising to the occasion to defend the principles upon which this nation was founded,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “And others, outside the Church, will thank us for doing it. … Without a doubt, we will prevail. We have a promise on which we can count—the words of Christ himself, ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ ” (Mt 16:18).

Office of Pro-Life Ministry volunteers honored by the archdiocese with Sanctity of Life Awards during the dinner were Dr. Hans Geisler, a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis; St. Lawrence parishioner Holly Blagburn of Indianapolis; and Our Lady of the Greenwood parishioners Sylvan and Linda Ebert of Greenwood.

“The Office for Pro-Life Ministry is committed to providing material assistance to women and their babies living in poverty,” Servants of the Gospel of Life Sister Diane Carollo, director, explained. “This dinner is an opportunity to thank the network of volunteers who make the Pro-Life Office what it is—a lifesaving ministry.” †

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