. . . . Thank you also to the civic officials for your presence, especially the Consul General of Poland and his wife, Mr. & Mrs. Franciszek Adamczyk, and the Governor of the State of Illinois, the Honorable Rod Blagojevich.
That brings me to my request. As some of you know, I come from a family of pharmacists. My grandfather and his brother were pharmacists. My father and his brother were pharmacists with their own drug stores. Two of my brothers currently work in pharmacies, and I have a niece just beginning pharmacy school, thus marking four generations of pharmacists in the Paprocki family. In fact, if I had not become a priest, I probably would have become a pharmacist myself. But I never would have thought that the day would come when pharmacists would have to choose between practicing their profession as a pharmacist and living their profession of the Catholic faith. Yet that is precisely the situation that Illinois pharmacists now find themselves in because the Governor last Friday signed an “emergency regulation” requiring that all pharmacies and pharmacists in the State of Illinois will be expected to accept and fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay.
The obvious problem, as Pope John Paul II so clearly and repeatedly taught, is that Catholics believe that artificial contraception is morally wrong; moreover, some contraceptives, so-called “morning after” pills, actually induce abortion by stopping the life of an early human embryo.
As a lawyer myself, I believe that this executive order violates the First Amendment religious rights of the pharmacist under the United States Constitution and the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. As a Bishop, I am dismayed that our secular society has reached the point that individuals are being required by law to violate their personal religious beliefs in order to accommodate the selfish demands of special interest groups.
Mr. Governor, I mean no disrespect. I am not here to criticize or scold you. On the contrary, I respectfully plead with you, I beg of you, to rescind your executive order. You are here, as we all are, to pay our respects to the life of Pope John Paul II. He spoke consistently and forcefully against moral evils and the whole point of his life was to put such words into action.
Pope John Paul II once said, “In the designs of divine providence, there is no such thing as mere coincidence.” Hence, I believe it is no mere coincidence that I have this opportunity to address this issue in person and in public just two days after the Governor issued his decree.
Mr. Governor, out of respect for our beloved Pope John Paul II, please respect his wishes; please rescind your order. Let our pharmacists be free to follow their faith!
-- POST-COMMUNION REMARKS (condensed version) AT MASS FOR POPE JOHN PAUL II. St. Hyacinth Basilica, Chicago, Illinois April 3, 2005.
These comments were made by Bishop Thomas Paprocki concerning the recent legislation demanding that pharmacists must fill prescriptions for contraceptives, even if it goes contrary to their conscience. [Via Mere Comments Touchstone Weblog].