The US Bishops on April 12 issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urge the laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights – religious freedom.
In the USCCB’s press release, the first concern listed that prompted their call is the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them.
The Bishops don’t want the Church to be forced to pay for services or provide services to their employees that the Church knows are immoral. But sadly, the U.S. Bishops have been silent when tens of thousands of Catholic parents have been forced to pay for services and provide ‘care’ for their own children when the parents knew the services were immoral.
Every time a Catholic parent is the defendant in a no-fault divorce, and the civil court orders that parent to forcibly stop having daily access to his or her children, that parent is being forced to give ‘care’ to their own children that the parent knows is immoral. Every time the government forces that parent to pay financial support for a second separate household in which that parent is not even allowed to live, the government is ordering the parent to follow unjust laws.
By natural law, canon law (and one could even argue that by constitutional law), anyone with a Catholic marriage has the rights and obligations that both spouses agreed to accept when they married. When anyone marries in the Rite of Catholic marriage, they agree to follow the laws of Christ and His Church. Both spouses have the right and obligation to maintain a common household with their spouse and children unless there is a fault-based reason for separation of spouses (canon 1151-1155).
Neither can file for a divorce without the permission of their bishop and they cannot seek divorce orders contrary to divine law (canon 1692). But unjust laws inflict immoral separations on Catholic families every day whenever one of the spouses, for any reasons whatsoever, feels like reneging on their marital promises and files for no-fault divorce. The government’s divorce courts will coerce and force separation and divorce decrees, contrary to divine law, on the innocent spouse and children.
If the USCCB is going to be consistent with their call to action to defend our religious liberty, they will raise a unified voice against no-fault divorce practices, which are blatantly unjust. After all, the Bishops said, “It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed.”
Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.