Saint Vincent de Paul and the “Mandate to Disobey”

September 27, 2012

“Behold, now, how little is needed to become a saint! Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing on every occasion, what God wills.”  St. Vincent de Paul Saint Vincent de Paul is a rightful patron of “charitable societies,” and this is masterfully captured in the film “Monsieur Vincent.” There is one particularly moving scene where he discovers an unwanted newborn left on the steps outside the massive doors of the church.  This was common practice in those days, especially for unwed mothers. Saint Vincent brought the baby “in from the cold,” and asked his volunteers to care for the child.  They refused.   They even remained un-swayed after an impassioned appeal by the Saint.  He begged them to see that the child, assumed to be born out of wedlock, was innocent. These volunteers believed God’s grace was not a gift for everyone, only those chosen by God. This Calvinist thought, cleverly disguised in Catholic clothing was the pernicious heresy of Jansenism.  It was beginning to take root within the Church, and  Saint Vincent made every effort to combat it. In our own society, like Saint Vincent’s, the most vulnerable among us are being denied the right to life.  In the First Things article, “A Mandate to Disobey” Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., gives a sobering assessment of the recent healthcare legislation and its implications. He writes: “The Affordable Care Act mandates that employers offer and individuals buy insurance that provides free contraceptives, abortion inducing drugs, and sterilization.  It seems we have passed from a society that allows legal access to these drugs and services to one that insists that they must be free, subsidized by everyone’s premiums.” Fr. White goes on to state: “This presents difficulties of conscience. Because providing and paying for the coverage is required, in one way or another the contraceptive mandate involves what moral theologians call “material cooperation with evil.” The full version of the article is available here: On Saint Vincent de Paul’s Feast, let us follow his heroic example of protecting the most vulnerable, especially in a hostile culture that orders us to do otherwise.  

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