Obama Drives a Bishop to Mention Hell

America’s Catholic bishops are princes of diplomacy, highly educated, erudite, men of tact, propriety. They’re asked to shepherd the flock with a long historical timeframe—like, say, eternity. They tend not to have knee-jerk reactions to issues of the moment.

And so, it’s not often when a paragon of decorum, namely, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, publishes a letter in his diocesan newspaper with a title like, “To hell with you.”

Gee, what could have provoked that? The answer is the Obama administration via its horrendous mandate to Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients—that is, birth-control drugs that induce abortion. The Catholic Church defines these things as “evil.” The Church and its members are now being told they must provide them. By fiat, the Obama administration has issued that decree.

It sort of flies in the face of that old freedom of religion thing we’ve always had in America. And it’s certainly of concern not merely to Catholics but all Americans.

Here’s what happened:

Last August, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as, “Obama-care.” The guidelines mandated that by summer 2012 all health-insurance plans—yes, all of them—must cover any and all FDA-approved contraception, sterilization procedures, and pharmaceuticals, even those that produce or result in abortion. Every employer and employee must pay for these things, even if they violate the dictates of their conscience. The employers include all Catholic institutions, from colleges to hospitals to nursing homes to social-service agencies to charities … to whatever else. “All” means “all.”

How’s that for “social justice”?

When ex-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a lifetime Roman Catholic, said that we’ll learn the details of Obama-care after Congress passes the legislation, this is a perfect illustration. The Devil is truly in the details.

In response to this screaming train-wreck, Catholics sent letters to Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, who happens to be Roman Catholic. When she was governor of Kansas, Sebelius was so terrible on abortion, and so defiant of Church teaching, that her bishop ordered that she be denied Communion. Catholics protested directly to Sebelius.

On January 20, Sebelius and Barack Obama answered Catholics. As Bishop Zubik put it, “On Jan. 20, the Obama administration answered you and me. The response was very simple: ‘To hell with you.’”

Zubik writes: “This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone …. At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom…. It undermines the whole concept and hope for healthcare reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats. The mandate would require the Catholic Church as an employer to violate its fundamental beliefs concerning human life and human dignity…. It is really hard to believe that it happened.”

All of the bishops are frustrated. Bishop Timothy Dolan of New York said that the Obama administration has basically told American Catholics that they have one year “to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

In Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Olmsted appeared to urge civil disobedience. In a letter read to every church in his diocese, Olmsted wrote: “Unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.”

Also vowing non-compliance is Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati. LifeNews.com reports that 86 bishops (thus far) have spoken against the mandate.

The Obama administration has forced the bishops’ hand. President Obama and Secretary Sebelius are not backing down. They are true believers.

Where are liberals on this issue? We know they support the so-called “right to choose,” politically sanctified by Roe v. Wade in January 1973. But the Constitution predates Roe by a good 200 years. The First Amendment that begins the Bill of Rights starts with religious freedom. Are liberals so devoted to “abortion rights” that they will trump the conscience of their fellow Americans?

Apparently so. They’ve already ensured that my tax dollars fund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. It was only a matter of time before they forced me to fund abortifacients. The direct funding of actual abortion procedures is no doubt next. It’s amazing, when it comes to abortion, pro-choice liberals have everything they want, but it isn’t enough. Now they want to force pro-lifers—and our churches—to pay for their choices.

Sadly, all of this was so painfully predictable back in November 2008, when a majority of professing Roman Catholics voted Barack Obama president.

Well, you reap what you sow. 

Paul Kengor


Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of many books including The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage (2015). His new books are A Pope and a President and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism (2017).

  • Francis Wippel

    People should realize what this mandate is all about.  The net effect of this mandate is that Catholic (or other faith based) health institutions will either be forced to disassociate themselves from their Church, or shut their doors.

    The Obama administration is assuming that these hospitals will just choose to separate from the Church.  Once that happens, this administration will have effectively decoupled faith from the delivery of health services.  There will be no more room for moral objections of government mandates by faith-based hospitals because there will be no faith-based hospitals or health facilities.
    This is an attempt on the part of this administration to end all faith-based health care services in this nation.  They want Catholics, and any other religious based group that might object to their agenda, to get out of the health-care business. 
    I hope all those Catholics who believed they could work with Obama (and chose to vote for him) have learned their lesson.

    • j_j_mck

      It seems a tactical win win for this administration.  Either catholic institutions renounce their catholic identity to fall in line with the mandate, or they no longer provide health insurance to their employees thereby forcing those employees into the government run exchanges.  Call me cynical.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Until a Catholic bishop figures out that Nancy Pelosi must be excommunicated and publicly, the bluster against the Obamination will have no effect. Obama knows what all serious Catholics know, that the bishops are all talk and no action.

    • j_j_mck

      Precisely, Dr.  Only you are not quite right on the last sentence.  The bishops were both talk and action when it came to ensuring the passage of the Obamacare monstrosity.  I remember being appalled at being asked to pray for “health care for all” in petitions at mass (as if it didn’t already exist).  Catholic leadership is wedded to to the European, socialist, big central state model.  Until they reject that model, and help to repeal Obomacare lock, stock and barrel, they will continue to be in cahoots with Nancy Pelosi and the entire leftist machine in this country.  Mr. Kengor’s final two sentiments are exactly on point.  The bishops need to get off the socialist bandwagon for the good of all.

  • MAT

    The fact that our tax dollars are used to pay for all kind of abominations shows a complete disregard for religious freedom and values. Now that this is becoming blatantly obvious, Catholics will have to choose between their religion and their political love of Obama. Let’s hope and pray they make the right choice. 

    • John Mark Agosta

      “The fact that our tax dollars are used to pay for all kind of abominations shows a complete disregard for religious freedom and values. ”

      No it doesn’t — its shows that in a democratic society there are honest and moral people who utterly disagree with you on religious values.  One can hope that folks with irreconcilable beliefs can find a way to work together in civil society.

      • 1crappie2

        The wanton slaughter of innocent life is neither negotiable nor can it be reduced to silly comments such as religious disagreement. It is an inarguable moral abomination made possible by folks who have no idea what moral anarchy against God is, nor can they possibly have a conscience formed by anything other than -“I want!”

  • Ernie

    I am a cuban american practicing Catholic whose parents left Cuba escaping persecution which included religious. What is going on is not surprising to me. Maybe this IS what we needed to wake Catholics and freedom loving people to act before it is to late. We cannot forget what has gone on this week with the Susan B. Komen foundation. The forces against life disguise themselves as groups claiming to do good while at the same time driving their antilife agenda.


  • Make no mistake about the direction this administration is heading; we only need to look to how USAID Teams operate around the world, coercing abortions and sterilizations on women and men in exchange for medicine.

    It may be easy to see, in the very near future, how much ill will has been visited on other countries by American “foreign aid” teams; the death panels were over there, and they can come home with a mandate to fundamentally transform America, as they have the world, for more than 50 years.

    If the Bishops want to get ahead of this juggernaut, I humbly suggest they get wise to the ways of this world….fast!!!  

    Hell, indeed.

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  • mark

        I never liked Obama.  But I had a sort of hope that things would turn out the way catholics who voted for him saw it.  Those who support Obama in this issue do not believe in liberty or a right to privacy.  They believe in crushing our church and those who sympathize with us.  They at last show us who they really are!

    • j_j_mck

      Mark, you are as naive as our bishops.  It was not hard to see who these people are.  they have been the same for decades now.  Anyone who could have thought Obama would be any different is a fool or ignorant.

  • 1crappie2

    86 bishops? As Christ asked the returning leper, “Where are the others?” Aren’t there about 350 including archbishops?

    This entire mess is due in no small part to that large contingent (About 2/3s) that said nothing about the Notre Dame scandal,. How many of them have been jousting with Rome for many decades now? How many had supported Marxist liberation theology, that “rewrote” the many catechisms from Rome, that funded ACORN to help elect Obama, that failed over and over with “being as clever as serpents” as directed by Jesus? How many supported the morally corrupt Obamacare  cause of this conscience crisis, the dupe job (or was it) by Stupak why we screamed, “Don’t do it?” How many of the silent shepherds, in their hearts, think the state (Caesar) and social justice is the mission of the Church, and not the salvation of souls -rich and poor alike.

    How many former sheep have now become the worst of wolves against the Church, because of timed or unfit shepherd?

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Well,they don’t call the boy “Hitler’s nigga” for nothing

  • Alecto

    I realize this is a Catholic site, but I wonder how many Catholics and others up in arms about this latest machete hack at the Constitution have wondered about the loss of other equally important rights and freedoms in our society?  It wasn’t that long ago that Suzette Kelo was stripped of her 5th Amendment rights by a misguided Supreme Court.  I wonder, where was the “social justice” crowd clamoring for her rights?  Or, where were the bishops when Americans were being stripped searched at airports?  I certainly do support the Catholic position here, not because I am Catholic but ultimately because this is a secular issue concerning the limits, real limits of federal power as they are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  I’d be much less cynical about the Catholic bishops if they fought as hard to preserve my other rights.   And no, universal healthcare, and related social rights are nowhere to be found in the Constitution or its penumbras.