It seems that it’s necessary that I continue to note that among the many functions of the Church is ministry to the sick. From last night’s quarrels on Twitter:
There are plenty of people, including some who work for the Church, who believe that its functions must end at the parking lot. But Christ did heal the sick and maimed rather spectacularly, and has enjoined us to do the same, saying that when we minister so we also minister to Him. This is not some convoluted argument that Catholics or other religious (including Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and Jews) have trumped up to declare a war on the government. The first infirmaries and later hospitals in the Occident after those maintained for soldiers in Ancient Rome were established by Christians as part of their mission to comfort the afflicted, and this mission was imposed on them by Christ.
Other institutions were based on such glamorous obligations as to care for lepers, orphans, “fallen women,” widows, to establish schools, to succor paupers and the like. All of these the Church felt were essential to its mission.
Let’s take a look at the very first clauses in that pesky First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
People who have a very impoverished view of what the Church’s mission is will not understand that all of these ulterior functions, as they understand them, are central to the exercise of the religion. And as laity, who are we? Well, we might be involved directly in any of these ministries, or we might be involved in the same way as the Good Samaritan who brings a beaten man to a home where he can get care, and leaves money for his caretaker to oversee his convalescence.
I, for one, am very tired of having to explain all of this to people who are accusing me of creating a wedge issue out of this. Many who agree with Obama’s unconstitutional imposition argue that until such time as the Supreme Court shall rule that this law, created by the HHS rather than the Congress of our little Republic, is unconstitutional, we must set aside our consciences and abide by the letter. On the contrary, this law is quite obviously in conflict with the First Amendment, and as citizens of the United States of America, as much as Catholics or Baptists, Adventists or Jews, it is both our moral and patriotic duty to see that these illegal provisions are never brought into effect, and in doing so to leave such a lasting impression on their perpetrators that the next petty tyrant who attains the office of President will be well advised not to attempt something of this nature.
It’s really very simple. The Church has always treated these functions and the institutions that have grown up around them as central to the exercise of its religion; it is people like Sarah who are now pretending otherwise.