Texas bishop on Catholic HHS Sec. Becerra's religious liberty changes: 'Maybe we should send him a catechism'

Bishop Joseph Strickland said, 'More brokenness from so[-]called Catholics,' referring to Becerra and Biden

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Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Xavier Becerra, a self-described Catholic, might need to revisit his faith's catechism, Bishop Joseph Strickland suggested on Wednesday.

Fox News asked Strickland, who oversees the diocese of Tyler, Texas, about Becerra's department revoking waivers for faith-based child welfare groups and altering enforcement provisions for religious liberty.

"More brokenness from so[-]called Catholics," Strickland told Fox News. He added that "maybe we should send him a Catechism."

Bishop Joseph Strickland speaking on "Pints with Aquinas."(Screenshot/YouTube)

Bishop Joseph Strickland speaking on "Pints with Aquinas."(Screenshot/YouTube) (Screenshot/YouTube)

The catechism, which lays out doctrine for the Catholic faith, asserts that religious liberty is a "natural right" that "ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right."

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It adds that the right has inherent limits, which "must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good and ratified by the civil authority."

Last week, HHS announced that it would revoke waivers for faith-based entities, such as foster care organizations that refused to serve same-sex couples. Becerra said at the time that "we treat any violation of civil rights or religious freedoms seriously." That statement echoed others he made during his confirmation hearing but didn't resemble his actions, critics have said.

HHS did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. In a press release last week, the department defended its decision to revoke the waivers.  

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra answers questions at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss reopening schools during COVID-19 at Capitol Hill on Sept. 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra answers questions at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss reopening schools during COVID-19 at Capitol Hill on Sept. 30, 2021, in Washington, D.C.  (Greg Nash- Pool/Getty Images)

"The waivers are inconsistent with the Department's critical goal of combating discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity," it read. 

This isn't the first time the Biden administration – which is led by another self-described Catholic – and leading Democrats have come in conflict with the Catholic hierarchy. Besides his abortion policies, President Biden's executive order on sexuality and gender issues previously drew criticism from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 

In January, bishops across the country said the order didn't properly account for religious liberty and furthered "false theories on human sexuality." 

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The order, they said, "threatens to infringe the rights of people who recognize the truth of sexual difference or who uphold the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. This may manifest in mandates that, for example, erode health care conscience rights or needed and time-honored sex-specific spaces and activities."

President Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Washington. 

President Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The USCCB did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.

Catholic leaders have generally maintained a distinction between individuals and relationships on this particular issue.

The Catechism reads: "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,'" referencing a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "They are contrary to the natural law," it added.

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It also states that individuals with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

However, Catholic teaching also emphasizes the importance of religious freedom, stating: "The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in religious and moral matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of man. But the exercise of freedom does not entail the putative right to say or do anything."