Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

President Joe Biden and his administration are continuing their aggressive assault on the religious liberty rights protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, thus threatening the ability of the Catholic Church to continue her essential work in education and health care. The Catholic News Agency reported on Aug. 10 that “Catholic school leaders need to be aware that their schools could be cut off from the federal government’s free and subsidized lunch program if their policies don’t comply with the Biden administration’s revised rules against LGBTQ discrimination.”

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.

Earlier this year the Biden administration announced that their interpretation of Title IX’s federal ban on sex discrimination would be expanded to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Religious freedom and free speech advocates warn that the proposed rule change could be used to enforce mandates on hiring, access to bathrooms according to the student’s gender of choice, using preferred pronouns, and dress codes.

Fifty-two percent of U.S. Catholic schools participate in the federal lunch program, according to Sister Dale McDonald, vice president of public policy at the National Catholic Educational Association, which represents nearly 150,000 educators serving 1.6 million students in Catholic schools, universities, and religious education programs.

Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa, Fla., was able to obtain a religious exemption earlier this month from the state’s agriculture department, but the school first had to file a lawsuit in order to get it. Thankfully, the school was represented in court by the nonprofit public interest law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom. Other schools may well have to go to court to preserve their religious freedom.

With regard to health care, the Biden administration earlier this year promised new regulations that are contrary to Catholic values and will be a disaster for Catholic employers, physicians, and hospitals. These regulations will require employers and health care providers to cover or perform abortions, gender transition services, and unethical fertility treatments. Other regulations will affect insurance and exchange plan coverages, education discrimination rules, eligibility for HHS grants, religious student groups’ ability to select like-minded leaders, and contractors’ freedom to make employment decisions consistent with their religious beliefs. Then, on June 15, President Biden issued an executive order that seeks to dramatically advance his administration’s radical LGBTQ+ agenda. These regulations will violate the God-given dignity of men, women, and children. They will attack the science that we are made male and female, promote the destruction of innocent human life, and undermine protection of religious liberty and the ethical ordered liberty enshrined in our Constitution.

Thankfully, there are organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Catholic Benefits Association, Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative, and the Thomas More Society Public Interest Law Firm who are fighting to protect the religious freedom rights of Catholic dioceses, hospitals, schools, ministries, religious orders, and businesses guided by our Catholic values.

It is a shame that religious freedom is under attack these days right here in the United States of America, but we must continue to be vigilant and vindicate our God-give rights, even if this means fighting for our rights in court. May God give us this grace. Amen.