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Abp. Chaput Warns Bishops About an Excess of Prudence

Archbishop Chaput published a rallying cry of sorts to Catholics concerning religious freedom and the HHS mandate that would force many Catholics to purchase insurance for abortifacients, sterilization procedures, and contraception.

He writes that the bishops should remain prudent but not use prudence as an excuse to avoid action.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that prudence is the auriga virtutum, the “charioteer of virtues.” It’s “right reason in action,” the guide to correctly applying all other virtues. Rash action, no matter how well intended, violates prudence and usually does more harm than good. God gave us brains. He expects us to use them to judiciously pursue the highest moral good for others and for ourselves.

At the same time, the Catechism warns that prudence should never be used as an alibi for “timidity or fear, duplicity or dissimulation.” Real prudence has a spine called fortitude, the virtue we more commonly know as courage. And courage, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”
He asks for prayers that God may guide their discussions and decision making.

He quotes Notre Dame Law Professor concerning the ins and outs of the latest "accommodation:"
“Gauging the net effect of the new administration proposal [is] hazardous. But one can say with confidence the following: (1) religious hospitals are, as before, not exempt ‘religious employers’; (2) religious charities are very likely not exempt either, unless they are run out of a church or are very tightly integrated with a church. So, a parish or even a diocese’s Saint Vincent De Paul operations would probably be an exempt ‘religious employer,’ whereas Catholic Charities would not be; (3) the new proposal may (or may not) make it more likely that parish grade schools are exempt ‘religious employers.’ But Catholic high schools are a different matter. Some might qualify as ‘religious employers.’ Most probably will not.

“It is certain that Catholic colleges and universities do not qualify as exempt ‘religious employers.’ The new proposal includes, however, a revised ‘accommodation’ for at least some of these institutions, as well as some hospitals and charities. The proposal refines the administration’s earlier efforts to somehow insulate the colleges and universities from immoral complicity in contraception, mainly by shifting — at least nominally – the cost and administration of the immoral services to either the health insurance issuer (think Blue Cross) or to the plan administrator (for self-insured entities, such as Notre Dame). This proposal adds some additional layering to the earlier attempts to insulate the schools, but nothing of decisive moral significance is included.”...
As the lawyers figure out who will be forced to do evil and who will not, it really doesn't matter in the end. If the government removes rights from some, we are all in danger of losing our rights.

We all must continue to act against this injustice.


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ProudHillbilly said...

"If the government removes rights from some, we are all in danger of losing our rights."

Exactly. Now is not the time for the bishops to accept some convoluted legal scheme that they feel lets the Church slide out but leaves others vulnerable to the same loss of religious liberty. The true issue is not the HHS mandate. The issue is religious liberty in the United States.

Principium Unitatis said...


Regarding your title, there is no such thing as an "excess of prudence." Prudence is a virtue, and there can be no excess of a virtue. The thing that Archbishop Chaput is criticizing is not prudence, but that which is only called prudence, but is in actuality imprudence. That's why he contrasts it with "real prudence."

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

aquinasadmirer said...


I agree. Matthew, perhaps an alternate title would be "Expedience Masquerading as Prudence" instead.


Sophia's Favorite said...

Pricipum, aquinasadmirer, the virtue of prudence consists of the correct balance of caution and action. However, the term prudence is often used solely to describe caution, and it is possible to be excessively cautious. That vice is known as cowardice.

Any writing in modern English should be assumed to be using "conversational usage" unless it is in an explicitly technical publication, and a pastoral letter is not a technical discourse. Conversationally, "prudence" means caution. Yes it's stupid; I blame thesauruses. But one communicates in the language one's got.

Mary De Voe said...

Should Obama remove all immorality from the HHS Mandate, there is still the matter of tyranny, the coercion he is imposing, the force Obama is implementing to bring all citizens into the health plan. While exempting his friends and cohorts and demanding others to be participants as though we are subjects of the state rather than free men. The HHS Mandate was added after Congress passed the Affordable Healthcare Act, without informed consent of the people, by an unelected official. The immoral issues deny the human being's immortal soul. The moral issues deny the free will of the human being's immortal soul, making of the citizens, beasts of burden to the state, to be disposed of as the state sees fit. The HHS Mandate in its moral form violates FREEDOM.

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