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Bp. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, July 11, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – Hailed by free speech and religious liberty advocates alike, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that public sector employees can no longer be required to pay mandatory fees to support unions which promote causes and political activities – including abortion – to which they are opposed.  

The ruling has also exposed a significant rift among the nation’s Catholic bishops.

Despite public sector unions’ unabashed political and financial support for abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and transgenderism, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) sided with the union and against the free speech rights of the complainant.

After the case was decided against the union, Bishop Frank Dewane, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, expressed the USCCB’s disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision, citing “the long-held view of so many bishops” in support of unions.

The case, known as Janus v. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), was initiated by Mark Janus of Springfield, Illinois, the seat of Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s diocese.  

Bishop Paprocki, frequently outspoken regarding his orthodox views, disagreed with his brother bishops at the USCCB.  

Here is a portion of his remarks, delivered via video:  

I respectfully disagree. Let me explain why.

The long-held view of so many bishops in support of unions is generally understood to go back to the time of Pope Leo XIII, who issued an encyclical letter in 1891 on the rights and duties of capital and labor, entitled, Rerum Novarum.

While this encyclical voiced strong support for the workers, particularly the right to form unions, this support was never unconditional.  Rather, Pope Leo wrote in paragraph 57 that unions:

must pay special and chief attention to the duties of religion and morality, and that social betterment should have this chiefly in view; otherwise they would lose wholly their special character, and end by becoming little better than those societies which take no account whatever of religion.  What advantage can it be to a working man to obtain by means of a society material well-being, if he endangers his soul for lack of spiritual food?  ‘What doeth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?’ (Matthew 16:26).

In this regard then, unions should not expect the unquestioning support of the Church, when their objectives are contrary to the duties of religion and morality.

Today a number of unions actively promote abortion rights.  Three of the nation’s biggest unions, including AFSCME, contributed $435,000 to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, in 2014.  

As a matter of policy, the delegates to the AFSCME national convention meeting in Chicago in 2014 complained that, “healthcare laws have restricted the places where abortions can be performed,” and voted to “oppose legislation that restricts a woman’s basic right to health care and reproductive rights,” by which they mean, of course, abortion.

Forcing public employees to subsidize unions that promote such immoral policies and activities is just not right.  

It is encouraging  that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME upholds the right to be free from coercion in speech.  As Pope St. John Paul II said, “God’s law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, it protects and promotes that freedom,” (Veritas Splendor, n. 35).

No longer will public sector employees be required to pay mandatory dues to support unions that promote abortion and other political issues with which they disagree.

May God give us this grace. Amen.