| By The Most Reverend Robert D. Gruss

Put Your Faith Into Action

“Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Ephesians 6:10-17]

These words of St. Paul to the people of Ephesus should also encourage us to battle evil in our current times. I believe that we are in a battle between life and death in the State of Michigan. Why do I say this? 

Think back to last November when Proposal 3 passed so that abortion without limits and without parental consent would be enshrined in the state constitution. Was not the Evil One at play here? Hear me out! I am not saying that everyone who voted for this is evil. Because in reality, people are not the enemy. The Enemy is the enemy.  All people are created in God’s image and likeness, out of God’s love for them. Therefore, they are intrinsically good. But we must all admit that the Evil One, the Enemy, uses people to do his work. And his work is to deceive, divide, destroy. Proposal 3, in the way it was marketed, was quite deceptive. The whole abortion agenda is grounded in deception. 

As has been said, “Elections have consequences.” The consequences of the election in Michigan last November put a largely pro-abortion political party in majority in all branches of government. We are now beginning to see the impact on our State. Whether their agenda gets to a vote and the governor’s desk, I think it is important for you to be aware of some of the proposals that are being discussed or have been discussed before this edition of Great Lakes Bay Catholic makes it to your mailbox. They reveal the aggressive agenda on the abortion issue, religious freedom issue and school issues that, if passed, will impact us for years to come.

Some of the issues taken up by the House of Representatives and state Senate include a package of bills operating under the name, “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA). These bills would repeal numerous protections currently in place related to abortion limitations, including: legalizing third trimester partial-birth abortions in Michigan; deregulating abortion clinics by ending state-required inspection and licensure standards; and removing a Right to Know informed consent for women prior to an abortion, among other provisions. In other words, the Reproductive Health Act would advance an unregulated abortion environment in Michigan, prioritizing the financial, political and business interests of the abortion industry over the health and safety of women in this state – a deregulation of the abortion industry in Michigan.

House Bill 4623, another piece of legislation, fails to exempt religious employers from having to pay for contraception services as part of their employee health plans, even though a religious exemption exists at the federal level.

Senate Bill 500 would make permanent an expansion of school meal programs to all students in schools that are participating in a federal breakfast and lunch program. The bill would make it so that every student in those participating schools could have access to free meals in part to reduce the stigma students face in receiving free meals. It seems like a good bill at face value, but many nonpublic schools already participating in the existing federal breakfast and lunch program have been left out of this meal program expansion. This would affect Catholic schools in our diocese.

These examples give you an indication of the lens through which our current legislature sees things on a number of critical issues. Obviously, it is a different lens than the Gospel. This is why your voice is extremely important.

What does law do? Laws govern the fabric of society. They also impose morality. How often do we hear: “Don’t impose your morality on me.” This is exactly what law does. In a real way, laws impose the morality of those passing them. Laws also teach and educate others, forming a way of thinking, especially for young people. Laws, in their own way, for better or for worse, determine what is acceptable behavior and what is not, what is to be tolerated and what is not. The real question is whether a law is grounded in reason, whether it is grounded in truth. If it is not, a law would be unjust and perhaps discriminatory.

To keep informed about what is going on in our State legislature, I encourage you to sign up to become a member of the Catholic Advocacy Network, an arm of the Michigan Catholic Conference (www.micatholic.org/advocacy). As a member, you will receive updates on what is going on in Lansing as well as future invitations to take part in Action Alerts. You are not required to be Catholic to be a part of the Catholic Advocacy Network. It is an important way to let your legislators know what you think about bills being proposed. 

In the high-stakes drama all around us, we have each been given a part to play, one that bears our name and no one else’s. Get involved! Help create a more just and loving society for people from conception to natural death. Don’t let the Enemy have his way!

The Most Reverend Robert D. Gruss is the seventh bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.