Mr. Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bishop David D. Kagan, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck in North Dakota, and more recently a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois.
What I write to you I write as a life-long Roman Catholic citizen who is bound in conscience to try to convince you of the great error committed by your Administration in the matter of the recent HHS mandate concerning the inclusion of morally evil practices in all insurance benefits for employees. Your more recent "accommodation" has changed nothing.
I know you are a busy man so I will be brief. While some in your Administration have tried to make this a matter of "fairness" and divert attention from what, in fact, this action is, a deliberate interference with our First Amendment right to the free exercise of our religion, you alone have the opportunity to correct this mistake and restore some confidence that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights remain in effect for every citizen.
In the event, that you are not familiar with the Roman Catholic Church's basis for its consistent definitive moral and social teachings, I will explain. These teachings are grounded in and developed from an objective and absolute truth. That truth is: each person from the first moment of conception to the last moment of earthly life possesses to the full an inherent God-given dignity that cannot be altered or nullified by any person, group or ideological movement. This being the case, all human institutions exist to respect, protect and foster the innate human dignity which every person possesses by the very fact of being human. Society and its institutions exist and possess legitimate authority only insofar as they seek and serve the common good.
Accordingly, since the respect for the inherent dignity of every person is the foundation of a just society and the first reason for its existence, the common good of all persons is defined only in reference to their inherent dignity as persons. The fostering of the common good calls for prudence especially from you who exercise the office of authority.
In all candor, Mr. President, your present actions have left an unmistakable perception that you and your Administration view authority as the right to rule over us rather than to serve us by serving the common good. The Catholic Church's moral and social teachings clearly differ from the premise on which your present course of action is based. Roman Catholic conscientious religious belief in the inviolable dignity of every human person from conception to natural death in no way conflicts with the real purpose for the existence of society but, in fact, strengthens society's purpose and gives greater legitimacy to its exercise of authority.
I assure you, the present actions of your Administration have not undermined Roman Catholic conscientious belief nor will they in any way diminish or weaken the resolve of Catholics to exercise their right to practice their belief, even, under your threat of penalties or punishment. The right to the free exercise of our conscientious religious beliefs flows from our God-given human dignity, not from you or the Government.
You have taken a public oath to defend and protect this right which our Government has committed itself to guaranteeing, Mr. President, I ask you to do your duty and do not permit this present action to undermine further our Government's own moral authority to protect the common good of all.
I continue to pray for you each day.
Respectfully yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend David D. Kagan
Bishop of Bismarck