Injecting itself aggressively into the health-care debate, the Roman Catholic Church in America has emerged as a major political force with the potential to upend a key piece of President Barack Obama's agenda.
Behind-the-scenes lobbying, coupled with a grassroots mobilization of Catholic churches across the country, led the House Saturday to pass an amendment to its health-care bill barring anyone who receives a new tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers abortion, a once-unthinkable event in Democrat-dominated Washington.
The restriction would still have to be accepted by the Senate, where it will likely face a tough fight. The issue could sink the larger health legislation if the chambers fail to reach agreement, or if any consensus language leads supporters to defect.
The House vote, and the central role played by one of the country's biggest religious denominations, stunned abortion-rights groups that had worked hard to elect Mr. Obama and expand Democratic congressional majorities. Activists on the left had thought social issues would take a back seat to economic concerns.
The bishops' success served as a reminder that Democrats' strategy over the past two election cycles of recruiting more conservative candidates to run in competitive House and Senate seats can have unwelcome policy consequences for liberals among the party's base. About 40 House Democrats are opposed to abortion rights.
The bishops have a history of political activism. In the 2004 presidential race, some bishops said they would refuse to grant communion to Democratic nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who favored abortion rights. In 2005, the bishops' conference backed efforts by then-President George W. Bush and Republican lawmakers to intervene in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case. But rarely has the church entered the fray with such decisive force.
"The Catholic bishops came in at the last minute and drew a line in the sand," said Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the abortion-rights advocacy group Planned Parenthood. "It's very hard to compete with that."
Democratic leaders had hoped that a narrower compromise prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions might win over antiabortion lawmakers, whose support was vital to passing the House bill. When the bishops made it clear in the final hours that they wouldn't support the compromise, and would oppose the entire bill if it were adopted, more Democrats took notice, according to Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), who participated in the negotiations.
"They command respect because they have a good social-justice record," said Mr. Doyle, a Roman Catholic. He said he spoke regularly about the issue with his local bishop. "They actually wanted to pass the bill. That's why they had status. Other groups that had similar views on abortion weren't interested in passing the bill."
The church has also agreed with liberals that illegal immigrants should not be excluded from participating in a proposed health-insurance exchange. And there are growing numbers of Catholic Congress members on both sides of the aisle.
Officials from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday that their intention was to retain existing restrictions on federal financing for abortions, not to expand them. They declined to provide specifics of their lobbying activities. Richard Doerflinger, the group's associate director of the secretariat of pro-life activities, said the conference has begun talking to key senators.
At least four representatives of the group worked the House Friday and Saturday, holding private meetings with lawmakers and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The group distributed talking points to priests across the country and gave fliers to churches featuring the headline, "Health Care Reform Is About Saving Lives, Not Destroying Them." A prayer circulated to churches supporting an overhaul of the health-care system included the phrase: "We will raise our voices to protect the unborn."
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, an evangelical group that tends to side with Republicans, said Saturday's vote ranked among the most important victories for abortion foes since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure, because it came under Democratic leadership.
"There was a shifting when the Republicans lost control [of Congress], but the ideological shift was not as great as the partisan shift," said Mr. Perkins.—Janet Adamy contributed to this article.
"Reformers Reveal the Beast of Revelation 13 and the Little Horn of Daniel 7."
Most reformers spoke of the papacy as antichrist. The papacy has since that time, received it's deadly wound by France in 1798 (Rev. 13:5,10) and is again becoming popular and powerful just as the prophecies predicted! (Rev. 13:3)
Martin Luther (1483-1546) [founder of the Lutheran Church]
“nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist….For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny.” Martin Luther, First Principles, pp. 196-197
John Calvin (1509-1564) [founder of the Presbyterian Church]
“I deny him to be the vicar of Christ, who, in furiously persecuting the gospel, demonstrates by his conduct that he is Antichrist--I deny him to be the successor of Peter..I deny him to be the head of the church.” “Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt…I shall briefly show that (Pauls words in 2 Thessalonians 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy” John Calvin, Tracts, Vol. 1, pp. 219,220. John Calvin, Institutes.
John Wesley (1703-1791) [founder of the Methodist Church]
“He is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers… He it is…that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped… claiming the highest power, and highest honor… claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.” Albert Close, Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms,
London: Thynne and Co., 1917, p. 110.
King James (1566-1625) [Authorized the King James Version of the Bible] “The faithfull praiseth God for the Popes destruction, and their deliverance," and for "the plagues which are to light on him and his followers." "The Pope by his Pardons makes merchandise of the soules of men: Heaven and the Saints reioyce at his destruction, albiet the earth and the worldlings lament for the same"
James I, Paraphrase, in Workes, pp. 47, 57
John Wyclif (1324-1384) [Completed the 1st English translation of the Bible] “Why is it necessary in unbelief to look for another Antichrist? Hence in the seventh chapter of Daniel Antichrist is forcefully described by a horn arising in the time of the 4th kingdom. For it grew from [among] our powerful ones, more horrible, more cruel, and more greedy, because by reckoning the pagans and our Christians by name, a lesser [greater?] struggle for the temporals is not recorded in any preceding time. Therefore the ten horns are the whole of our temporal rulers, and the horn has arisen from the ten horns, having eyes and a mouth speaking great things against the Lofty One, and wearing out the saints of the Most High, and thinking that he is able to change times and laws.” (Daniel 7:8, 25 quoted) …"For so our clergy foresee the lord pope, as it is said of the eighth blaspheming little head." Translated from Wyclif's, De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae, vol. 3 pp. 262, 263
William Tyndale (1484-1536) [1st translator of the Bible from the Greek] “The pope's forbidding matrimony, and to eat of meats created of God for man's use, which is devilish doctrine by Paul's prophecy,… are tokens good enough that he is the right antichrist, and his doctrine sprung of the devil.” 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Tyndale, An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue, in Works, vol. 3, p. 171 Visithttp://www.williamtyndale.com for more information on William Tyndale.
John Knox (1505-1572) [Scottish Reformer] He preached that Romish traditions and ceremonies should be abolished along with “that tyranny which the Pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church" and that he should be acknowledged as "the son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks." In a public challenge he declared: "As for your Roman Church, as it is now corrupted… I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head therof, called the Pope, to be the man of sin of whom the apostle speaketh." Knox, The Zurich Letters, p.199
Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) [Associate of Martin Luther]
“Since it is certain that the pontiffs and the monks have forbidden marriage, it is most manifest, and true without any doubt, that the Roman Pontiff, with his whole order and kingdom, is very Antichrist. Likewise in 2 Thess. II, Paul clearly says that the man of sin will rule in the church exalting himself above the worship of God, etc."
Translated from Melanchthon, Disputationes, No. 56, "De Matrimonio",
in Opera (Corpus Reformatorum), vol. 12 col. 535
Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) [great Swiss reformer quoted on Dec. 28, 1524] “I know that in it works the might and power of the Devil, that is, of the Antichrist… the Papacy has to be abolished… But by no other means can it be more thoroughly routed than by the word of God (2 Thessalonians 2), because as soon as the world receives this in the right way, it will turn away from the Pope without compulsion.” Principle Works of Zwingli, Vol. 7, p. 135.
23 September 98
An open letter to Mr. Patrick Madrid and Envoy Magazine,
In your cover story Pope Fiction, in the March/April 1998 issue, you make the following statement under Fiction 5: