Are You Willing To Risk Jail to Defend Religious Liberty?

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

At a time when too many defeats have dampened the spirits of the faithful, several bishops are inspiring thousands by declaring their willingness to go to jail rather than to surrender to those who wish to rob us of our religious liberty.

In an inspiring article written by Patrick B. Craine for LifeSiteNews, we learn that several bishops have spoken out about the controversial HHS mandate and how they intend to fight this encroachment on religious freedom to the end, even if that means doing jail time.

“I would be willing to go to jail in defense of religious liberty,” said Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Michigan, who was appointed Archbishop of Portland, Oregon on Jan. 29th.

Speaking to LifeSite after the Vigil Mass in Washington on Jan. 24, Bishop Sample said that the bishops are exploring their options with the assistance of “sound moral theologians” to “see what is the most practical but effective way to oppose the mandate.”

“We will not simply roll over and accept the mandate,” he said. “We have to fight for our religious liberty and we’ll take it as far as we can.”

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh was of the same mind. “We can’t compromise on the principles,” he said. If it gets rough “all we have to do is look back at our history. Take a look at the saints who defended our faith and that’s what it’s about.”

Bishop Zubik said he has been praying for President Barack Obama’s conversion, but “if that doesn’t happen then I think it’s imperative that I accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

“We have to be strong, we can’t compromise, we have to stay firm on our values because I believe that this is a slippery slope,” he continued. “This is a point where we have to be ready to maintain a stand. I’ve taken a very strong stand on this position ever since all of this began over a year ago, and I don’t intend to back down.”

While not all bishops are willing to say how they’ll respond if forced to comply with the mandate, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said that he and many other bishops are planning to simply refuse to cooperate.

“Certainly we as bishops are still considering what the options will be if it does go through,” Bishop Aquila told LifeSite. “Many of us have already stated that we will not and cannot cooperate with the mandate.”

He added: “There will be implications on it, whether it means narrowing some of what we do, or continue what we do and not cooperate with the mandate. But it’s a very real concern and grave concern in terms of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.”

He went on to encourage lay Catholics who feel threatened by the mandate to follow the bishops’ lead.

“I just really try to encourage Catholics: stay strong, stay firm, and continue to do what you’re doing,” he said. “Continue to fight, because we as bishops can only do so much and it’s going to be important for the laity to follow and to respond.”

As LifeSite points out, the question of the faithful going to jail over the mandate was raised earlier this month by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who said he advised his bishop to “go to jail” if need be. Cuccinelli said if citizens were jailed it would “provide an example of what tyranny means when it’s played to its logical conclusion.”

It might take the witnessing of the faithful being tossed into jail to open the eyes of the public to just how much damage can be done to the basic liberties of Americans by allowing secular ideologies such as “reproductive rights” and same-sex marriage to advance unchecked.

Without this balance, America will cease to be the only nation on earth that promises  “liberty and justice for all”.

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