A number of people have been interested to hear more about the mandate excluding a conscience clause for health care provided by religious institutions.
Last week’s Sunday lessons presented Jesus in the synagogue healing a possessed man. To be possessed is to have one’s freedom utterly constricted; it is to be bound by an oppressive force. Despite Our Lord’s miraculous exorcism, the people are astonished more so by the authority with which such a one teaches — no mere scribe, he is the Word of God. He is the one about whom Moses prophesied: God will raise up (read: resurrect) one from amongst our kinsmen, one like Moses, to whom the people would listen. The way in which we hear the authoritative voice of the Good Shepherd — who has been resurrected — is by hearing those to whom he has imparted his authority in a particular way. “Authority” literally (in Greek) means out of one’s being; God alone is the perfect, self-subsistent authority. But by virtue of His Son’s incarnate mission, he is able to impart a particular, ministerial share in his authority to continue audibly and visibly after his resurrection and until he comes again. This he does through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, most particularly according to the rank of bishop. When bishops speak in unison, there is an especially charismatic resonance of the Good Shepherd’s teaching voice — not simply an opinion or commentary, but the Word of Life Himself.
Here is a link to a site where the author, Thomas Peters, collects all the bishops who have formally spoken about the HHS mandate. He has 126 letters. Many of them were required to be read at all Sunday Masses. That is really astounding.