HHS Mandate

Sandra Fluke and Walmart

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Sandra Fluke professes not to have known that birth control pills  for $9.00 for  a month’s supply are available within easy walking distance of Georgetown.  I believe her.  I doubt if Sandra Fluke would ever do anything as declasse as shop at a Walmart.  That is for the hoi polloi.  Sandra’s life as a struggling law student includes trips to Europe, presumably paid for by her mega-rich boy friend. Continue reading

For Greater Glory: Viva Christo Rey!

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Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  I have been waiting for this movie for over a year and now it is finally being released on June 1, 2012.  For Greater Glory (formerly entitled Cristiada).  The must see movie for 2012 for all American Catholics and all of our fellow Americans who cherish religious liberty.  At a time when the Obama administration is firing the opening shots in a struggle against the religious freedom of Catholics, and exploiting a de facto schism within the Church in America to accomplish their ends, a film is being released this election year detailing the struggle of Mexican Catholics in the last century against a bitterly anti-Catholic regime.  Most of the time in life coincidences are merely coincidences, but sometimes I suspect they are sent by God for His purposes.  In any case it appears to be a worthy movie to retell the heroic story of Mexican Catholics and their fight for the Church and freedom.

The story of the Cristeros is the tale of the attempt by the Mexican government to crush the Catholic Church.  Mexico had a long history of anti-clerical political movements prior to the revolution of 1910.  However, the Mexican Revolution brought to the fore radical elements that pushed through the Constitution of 1917 with its anti-clerical articles 3, 5, 27 and 130.  In his encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, the first of three encyclicals he wrote condemning the persecution of the Church in Mexico, Pius XI described the war against the Church waged by the Mexican government: Continue reading

The Church in America: Low Grade Civil War

 

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Dale Price over at Dyspeptic Mutterings is being brilliant again:

 

Fr. Thomas Massaro would like you all to calm down.
I’m not going to fisk this, because it’s an admirable sentiment, as far as it goes. Which means it stagged a step or two before dropping in a messy heap.
Yes, it would be nice if things in the world were more civil and respectful. That’s fine.
But the problem with his call for civility is that he sees the white-hot anger as the problem rather than the symptom. It’s not–the real problem goes far, far deeper than that, and has been savaging the Body of Christ for decades now.
The HHS mandate is just the catalyst causing it to explode to the surface.
The real problem is that the Church in America has fractured into at least two churches. If it hadn’t been this issue, it would have been a dispute over the language of the liturgy, or the latest pronouncement from the Vatican, some university conferring honors on someone who is an open enemy of Catholic teaching or even the renovation of the local cathedral church. The struggle–more bluntly, low-grade civil war–between the churches has been going on since the last bit of incense dispersed at Vatican II. We don’t agree on how to worship, what our schools should teach, what laws should be enacted/opposed, what canons apply and when or even what our parish church should look like. In fact, we can’t even agree on whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.
And for forty five years, our shepherds have been trying to keep it together by careful tacking, including soothing rhetoric, trying to give everyone half a loaf or so (depending on the year, bishop and constituency) and generally trying not to see the coal pile in the ballroom. Continue reading

An American Issue

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Note how the Bishops in the above video indicate what a unique threat to the Catholic Church in America the Obama administration poses.  They recognize that the goal of the current administration is to strip the Bishops, through fostering a de facto schism in the Church, of their ability to stand in the way of this administration.  This is all very unprecedented in American history and all very dangerous to our concept of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.  The Administrative Committee of the USCCB set out what is at stake well on March 14th:

The Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gathered for its March 2012 meeting, is strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day. In our role as Bishops, we approach this question prayerfully and as pastors—concerned not only with the protection of the Church’s own institutions, but with the care of the souls of the individual faithful, and with the common good.

To address the broader range of religious liberty issues, we look forward to the upcoming publication of “A Statement on Religious Liberty,” a document of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. This document reflects on the history of religious liberty in our great Nation; surveys the current range of threats to this foundational principle; and states clearly the resolve of the Bishops to act strongly, in concert with our fellow citizens, in its defense.

One particular religious freedom issue demands our immediate attention: the now-finalized rule of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that would force virtually all private health plans nationwide to provide coverage of sterilization and contraception—including abortifacient drugs—subject to an exemption for “religious employers” that is arbitrarily narrow, and to an unspecified and dubious future “accommodation” for other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

We begin,  first, with thanks to all who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate: to our brother bishops; to our clergy and religious; to our Catholic faithful; to the wonderful array of Catholic groups and institutions that enliven our civil society; to our ecumenical and interfaith allies; to women and men of all religions (or none at all); to legal scholars; and to civic leaders. It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate. With your continued help, we will not be divided, and we will continue forward as one.

Second, we wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about. This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue. Continue reading

Lysistrata and the Libs

 

                                     LYSISTRATA:     There are a lot of things about us women    

  That sadden me, considering how men

See us as rascals.        

CALONICE: As indeed we are!

Apparently some liberal women are calling for a sex strike , stating that if the Government does not coerce all employers to provide health insurance policies that cover contraceptives, that somehow translates into their inability to purchase contraceptives on their own dime.  With that reasoning, I think it appropriate that they are lifting the idea of a boycott of sex from Lysistrata, a comedy by Aristophanes, that envisioned women in Athens and Sparta refusing to pay their marital debt until their men made peace.  Of course nothing like this occurred in the actual history of the Peloponnesian War, just as no one is preventing liberal women from  carrying out their project of making certain that there will be fewer of their descendants in the body politic in the years to come.  Continue reading

Obama Losing Public Opinion War Over HHS Mandate

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My favorite liberal pro-abort columnist, Mickey Kaus, is a very honest man, and will never let his ideology stand in the way of a keen analysis of the events of the day.  That is one of the reasons why I stop by each day to read his Kaus Files.  The other reasons are that he is witty and concise.  Here is his take on a recent poll in the New York Times:

Here’s what the NYT‘s story on its latest poll told readers:

In recent weeks, there has been much debate over  the government’s role in guaranteeing insurance coverage for contraception,  including for those who work for religious organizations. The poll found  that women were split as to whether health insurance plans should cover the  costs of birth control and whether employers with religious objections  should be able to opt out. [E.A.]

If the Times says women were “split,” you know that must mean they  were actually narrowly against the NYT‘s preferred position. Sure enough, when asked, “Should health insurance plans for  all employees have to cover the full cost of birth control for female employees  or should employers be able to opt out for moral or religious reasons?” women favored opting out by a 46-44 margin. The margin increased to a decisive  53-38  for “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or  university.”

That’s among women. Unbeknownst to those who read only the Times‘ main story, the poll asked the same question to men. They were not split. Men  favored opting out by a 20 point margin (57 vs. 37), except when a “religiously  affiliated employer” was involved, in which case the margin increased to 25  points. Combining men and women, a substantial majority (51-40) favors  allowing an opt-out–increasing to 57-36 where religiously-affiliated  institutions are involved.

These are not close results. It’s hard to read this poll and not conclude  that, contrary to some accounts, Obama wasn’t such a genius to pick a fight over  mandated contraception coverage–because he appears to be losing the public  debate on the question. That’s a conclusion the Times story effectively  hides from readers.

It’s also one possible explanation for Obama’s otherwise somewhat mystifying  overall drop in approval during the period–March 7-11–when the poll was in the  field. But not an approved explanation.

Gas prices are the official MSM explanation. Got it? Gas  prices. Continue reading

Bishops? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bishops!

 

In the spirit of the Obama Worship Day at Notre Dame in 2009, Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy Gary Cutting has a recent article in the New York Times, the high worship rag for all liberal apostate Catholics, in which he explains why Catholics should not pay attention to the Bishops and the silly fuss they are making over the HHS Mandate, which, among other things, rips to shreds freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment.  I was going to give the article a fisking to remember, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has beaten me to it:

Roman Catholics will be interested to learn that Gary Gutting, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame and someone who claims to be a Catholic, recently discovered that the Reformation is finally over and that the Protestants won:

What interests me as a philosopher — and a Catholic — is that virtually all parties to this often acrimonious debate have assumed that the bishops are right about this, that birth control is contrary to “the teachings of the Catholic Church.” The only issue is how, if at all, the government should “respect” this teaching.

Good question since Gutting thinks that Catholics have pretty much plowed it under and sowed the furrows with nuclear waste.

As critics repeatedly point out, 98 percent of sexually active American Catholic women practice birth control, and 78 percent of Catholics think a “good Catholic” can reject the bishops’ teaching on birth control.  The response from the church, however, has been that, regardless of what the majority of Catholics do and think, the church’s teaching is that birth control is morally wrong.  The church, in the inevitable phrase, “is not a democracy.”   What the church teaches is what the bishops (and, ultimately, the pope, as head of the bishops) say it does.

The bishops aren’t the boss of us!!

But is this true?  The answer requires some thought about the nature and basis of religious authority.  Ultimately the claim is that this authority derives from God.  But since we live in a human world in which God does not directly speak to us, we need to ask, Who decides that God has given, say, the Catholic bishops his authority?

Who died and made the bishops religious leaders?

It makes no sense to say that the bishops themselves can decide this, that we should accept their religious authority because they say God has given it to them.  If this were so, anyone proclaiming himself a religious authority would have to be recognized as one.  From where, then, in our democratic, secular society does such recognition properly come?  It could, in principle, come from some other authority, like the secular government.  But we have long given up the idea (“cujus regio, ejus religio”) that our government can legitimately designate the religious authority in its domain.  But if the government cannot determine religious authority, surely no lesser secular power could.  Theological experts could tell us what the bishops have taught over the centuries, but this does not tell us whether these teachings have divine authority.

Out: cujus regio, ejus religio.  In: vox populi vox dei.

In our democratic society the ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer. It follows that there is no alternative to accepting the members of a religious group as themselves the only legitimate source of the decision to accept their leaders as authorized by God.  They may be wrong, but their judgment is answerable to no one but God.  In this sense, even the Catholic Church is a democracy.

You know that joke I like to make about how in the future, everybody, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, will be an Episcopal bishop for fifteen minutes?  As far as Gutting is concerned, every single Roman Catholic is a bishop right now. Continue reading

Surprise! Sandra Fluke Being Run From White House

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I am sure it will come as little surprise to the regular discerning readers of The American Catholic, but Sandra Fluke, the 30 year old pro-abortion activist and third year law student, read all about her here, who attends Jesuit run Georgetown law school, and who is the frontline shock soldierette in the White House battle to impose the HHS Mandate on the nation and the Catholic Church in America, is being run from the White House.

O’Reilly went on to reveal that SKDKnickerbocker,  a PR agency whose managing director is former White House Communications  Director Anita Dunn, is now representing Fluke. Dunn is perhaps best known for  her attack on Fox News and for naming Chinese revolutionary and Communist leader Mao  Tse Tung as one of her favorite political philosophers back in 2009.

“Now, late today we found out that Ms. Fluke is now being [represented] by  the progressive PR industry SKDKnickerbocker where Anita Dunn, the former Obama  communications director is the managing [director]. Ah-ha. So this whole deal  comes back to the White House, at least indirectly.” Continue reading

Jesuitical 13: Rush and Georgetown

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Part 13 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Georgetown University, founded in 1789, is the oldest Jesuit college in the United States.  Last week it found itself at the center of the debate over the HHS Mandate.  How the powers that be at Georgetown reacted to all of this is instructive.

On February 16, 2012 Representative Darrell Issa (R. CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the ramifications of the HHS Mandate in regard to religious freedom.  Democrats had the opportunity to present witnesses.  Initially they were going to have Barry Lynn, a Methodist minister and Leftist political activist, and head of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, but for some reason that fell through for the Democrats.  They then proposed Sandra Fluke, identified as a third year law student at Georgetown.  Issa refused to allow her to testify on the grounds that she wasn’t testifying about the religious liberty issue but rather about a perceived need for contraception.  The Democrats, who realized that they were in trouble on the religious liberty issue, used this as an argument against the hearings, arguing that women were banned from the hearings as speakers.  This was a lie, as there were two panels which testified in opposition to the Mandate at the hearing.  The second panel included Dr. Allison Garrett and Dr.  Laura Champion who testified as to the dangers that the HHS Mandate poses to religious liberty.

On February 23, 2012, Nancy Pelosi (D.CA), minority leader, organized a Democrats only “hearing” at which Sandra Fluke gave her testimony.  Go here to read that testimony.  Among other statements she said that in three years contraceptives could cost a law student three grand.

The idea that someone at Georgetown Law School, an elite school that costs over 50k a year to attend, was crying poverty over the alleged cost of $1,000.00 a year, a sum about $800-$900 too high in relationship to the actual cost, to make illicit whoopee has its comedic possibilities, and this was  seized upon by Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday February 29:

What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled.” I take it back.

This caused an uproar and on Thursday March 1, John J. DeGioia, the first lay President of Georgetown, released this statement: Continue reading

Newt Refuses to Play By Mainstream Media Rules on HHS Mandate

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Hattip to commenter Chris for pointing this out to me.  Newt Gingrich is a flawed candidate, but when it comes to standing up to the Mainstream Media, and refusing to allow them to set the terms of the debate over issues, he is in a class by himself.  In the video above, he takes David Gregory apart on Meet the Press today, refusing to allow Gregory to frame the debate, dishonestly, as access to contraception rather than as an assault on religious liberty.  Newt recognizes that the Mainstream Media is almost entirely an unpaid arm of the Democrat party.  He knows that they are adversaries and he treats them accordingly.  All Republicans and conservatives:  look and learn! Continue reading

The White House Hopes For Schism

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has been a leader in the fight against the HHS Mandate.  Below is an update that he gave on the current status of that battle this week.  His remarks are fascinating on several grounds.  Here are a few observations:

1.  Schism.  The Cardinal believes that the White House is attempting to take advantage of a de facto schism in the Church in America and render the opposition of the Bishops harmless.  “Instead, they advised the bishops’ conference that we should listen to the “enlightened” voices of accommodation, such as the recent hardly-surprising but terribly unfortunate editorial in America.  The White House seems to think we bishops are hopelessly out of touch with our people, and with those whom the White House now has nominated as official Catholic teachers.”  Some of us have of course seen this coming for a very long time, symbolized by the Obama day of worship at Notre Dame’s commencement in 2009.  The Obama administration hopes to create their own de facto version of a “Patriotic Catholic Association” here in the US, completely subservient to the administration.

2. Religious Liberty.  The Cardinal understands the gravity of this attack on religious liberty.  And it is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical contraception.  Pure and simple, it’s about religious freedom, the sacred right, protected by our constitution, of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry.  This of course is all about Obama’s goal of making the Catholic Church in this country harmless to his ambitions, ambitions I am beginning to fear even his most ardent opponents do not truly comprehend yet.

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3.   Shocked, Shocked.  Obama’s word is meaningless.  When the President announced on January 20th that the choking mandates from HHS would remain — a shock to me, since he had personally assured me that he would do nothing to impede the good work of the Church in health care, education, and charity, and that he considered the protection of conscience a sacred duty — not only you, but men and women of every faith, or none at all, rallied in protest.   Frankly I am shocked that the Cardinal was shocked, but better wise late than never.

4.  Litigation-  The Cardinal believes that the HHS Mandate can be beaten in the courts.  And the courts offer the most light.  In the recent Hosanna-Tabor ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically defended the right of a Church to define its own ministry and services, a dramatic rebuff to the administration, but one apparently unheeded by the White House.  Thus, our bishops’ conference and many individual religious entities are working with some top-notch law firms who have told us they feel so strongly about this that they will represent us pro-bonoThis of course underlines one of the many reasons it is essential to defeat Obama in November.  Another four years would give him probably at least two more supreme court appointments and hundreds of lower federal court appointments.

The Bishops I think, at least the vast majority of them, are now awake to the danger posed to the Catholic Church by the Obama administration.  It is therefore a great pity that too many of them, and their predecessors, over the years, allowed underlings in the Church bureaucracy to continue to have the Catholic Church in this country act as the Democrat party at prayer, and thereby helped foster an attitude of casual indifference, or active approval, as that party embraced position after position directly contrary to Catholic teaching and thus lull most Catholics into the belief that none of this was important when it came to them casting their ballot.  The canonization   funeral Mass given to Teddy Kennedy was a prime example that members of the hierarchy in this country shared fully in this attitude.  These ecclesiastics have sown the wind and now we are all reaping the whirlwind.

Here is the statement of the Cardinal: Continue reading

Weakness and The Truth

“Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect”  Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesian 6: 11-13

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Mr. Voris is exactly right.  The American bishops are asking for a fight after having failed to feed, train and arm their military.  There is no way a single letter, as well intentioned and necessary as it is, read from the pulpit on a single Sunday, urging us to call our elected representatives, is going to save our freedoms and protect our right to practice the faith that Christ handed to us.  It will not help catechize the silly young woman mentioned in the Real Catholic video, nor will it educate the nation as to why the Church teaches abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization are evils.

I hate to say this but in many ways the bishops almost deserve to be ignored. Truth be told, they have lost an immense amount of respect among the devout laity (the non-devout obviously having no respect for them). This is not a loss of respect for the position,  but for the men and the way they hold it; weak and timidly.  The result is a wasteland of liberalism and heresy that is to be found in so many parishes across our nation.  Now, after having the President of the US attempt to force them into committing mortal sin, they want the help of those few who actually believe, practice and uphold the faith to come to the rescue. Continue reading

Peter Shrugged

 

Year in and year out, the Catholic Church in this country, as well as around the globe, is the largest single private provider of charitable services to the poor.  However, what if a government makes it impossible for the Church to carry out her mission? The Church in America with the HHS Mandate is facing just such a dilemma, and Francis Cardinal George of the Chicago Archdiocese tells us what to expect:

The Lenten rules about fasting from food and abstaining from meat have been considerably reduced in the last forty years, but reminders of them remain in the fast days on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and in the abstinence from meat on all the Fridays of Lent. Beyond these common sacrifices that unite us spiritually to the passion of Christ, Catholics were and are encouraged to “give up” something voluntarily for the sake of others. Often this is money that could have been used for personal purposes and instead is given to help others, especially the poor.   This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.

 Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.

 So far in American history, our government has respected the freedom of individual conscience and of institutional integrity for all the many religious groups that shape our society. The government has not compelled them to perform or pay for what their faith tells them is immoral. That’s what we’ve meant by freedom of religion. That’s what we had believed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we were foolish to believe so.

 What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down. Continue reading

Jesuitical 12: America and the Bishops

 

Part 12 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  For a nano second the Jesuit rag America was on the side of every Catholic bishop in this country in opposition to the HHS Mandate.  However, where your heart is so is your treasure, and America is back on the side of Team Obama.  I was going to take the Jesuits of America to task, but Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Faith that I have named him Defender of the Faith, has eloquently beaten me to the punch:

You Roman Catholic bishops have had your fun and put on your little temper tantrum, the editors of The REAL Magisterium Wannabe Episcopalian Weekly America write.  But the adults are here now so why don’t you all just look liturgically impressive, babble a little Latin and keep your stupid opinions to yourselves.  We’ll take it from here:

For a brief moment, Catholics on all sides were united in defense of the freedom of the Catholic Church to define for itself what it means to be Catholic in the United States. They came together to defend the church’s institutions from morally objectionable, potentially crippling burdens imposed by the Obama administration under the Affordable Care Act. Catholic journalists, like E. J. Dionne and Mark Shields, and politicians, like Tim Kaine and Robert P. Casey Jr., joined the U.S. bishops in demanding that the administration grant a broad exemption for religiously affiliated institutions from paying health care premiums for contraceptive services. Then, on Feb. 10, President Obama announced a compromise solution by which religious institutions would be exempt from paying the objectionable premiums but women would not be denied contraceptive coverage. A confrontation that should never have happened was over. But not for long.

Every single time we let the hierarchy think it’s in charge, the idiots completely screw things up.  Every.  Single.  Time.

After a nod to the White House’s retreat as “a first step in the right direction,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected the president’s “accommodation” as insufficient. Their statement presented a bill of indictments on the fine points of public policy: It opposed any mandate for contraceptive coverage, expanded the list of claimants for exemption to include self-insured employers and for-profit business owners and contested the administration’s assertion that under the new exemption religious employers would not pay for contraception. Some of these points, particularly the needs of self-insured institutions like universities, have merit and should find some remedy. Others, with wonkish precision, seem to press the religious liberty campaign too far.

“Some of these points…have merit and should find some remedy?”  From where?  From the same people who wrote the initial rule and the transparently fraudulent “compromise?”  I can’t for the life of me understand why the bishops might be reluctant to take that offer.  Foxes, hen houses and all that.

And it’s difficult for me to see how the objections of the bishops constitute “press[ing] the religious liberty campaign too far” since forcing Church ministries to facilitate the acquisition of free contraceptives by any employee who wants them is the only option left on the table.  The idea of not being forced to provide free birth control at all seems no longer to be possible.

The bishops have been most effective in influencing public policy when they have acted as pastors, trying to build consensus in church and society, as they did in their pastorals on nuclear war and the economy. The American public is uncomfortable with an overt exercise of political muscle by the hierarchy. Catholics, too, have proved more responsive to pastoral approaches. They expect church leaders to appeal to Gospel values, conscience and right reason. They hope bishops will accept honorable accommodations and, even when provoked, not stir up hostility. In the continuing dialogue with government, a conciliatory style that keeps Catholics united and cools the national distemper would benefit the whole church.

I think you all know what’s going on there.  It’s the age-old story.  As long as the bishops are commenting on the issues that are important to the America editorial staff the right issues, we’re behind them 100%.  But once they move on to those…other issues(you know the ones America means), they are exercising “political muscle” and contributing to the “national distemper.”

On issues like nuclear war and the economy, the bishops should certainly take no prisoners and accept no compromises.  But on those relatively trivial issues that the laity constantly insists on whining about, Roman Catholic bishops need to “accept honorable accomodations,” they need to “not stir up hostility,” and, most importantly, they need to be “conciliatory.”

After all, we have the example constantly before us of the Author and Finisher of our faith who was always willing to accept honorable accomodations, who never stirred up hostility and Whose first name was Conciliatory.  Actually, we don’t have that at all.  What the heck was I thinking?

The campaign also risks ignoring two fundamental principles of Catholic political theology. Official Catholic rights theory proposes that people should be willing to adjust their rights claims to one another. It also assigns to government the responsibility to coordinate contending rights and interests for the sake of the common good. The campaign fails to acknowledge that in the present instance, claims of religious liberty may collide with the right to health care, or that the religious rights of other denominations are in tension with those of Catholics. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus Caritas Est,” the church does not seek to “impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith.” Furthermore, the campaign fails to admit that the administration’s Feb. 10 solution, though it can be improved, fundamentally did what Catholic social teaching expects government to do—coordinate contending rights for the good of all.

Um…nuh-uh.  I have no idea what “Catholic rights theory” really consists of but I seriously doubt that “adjust[ing] their rights claims to one another” obligates Catholics to commit sins themselves or acquiesce in their commission.

As for the “contending rights” that America believes were coordinated by the Administration’s “compromise,” we have the long-established Constitutional right of Christian churches to order their own affairs versus the newly-created “right” to free birth control pills, a “right” which remains in place by means of an accounting trick.

Once again, there is no possibility of the Catholic Church not being forced to provide free birth control at all; the default position is the liberal one.  And that is not coordination of contending rights at all; it is soft tyranny.

By stretching the religious liberty strategy to cover the fine points of health care coverage, the campaign devalues the coinage of religious liberty. The fight the bishop’s conference won against the initial mandate was indeed a fight for religious liberty and for that reason won widespread support. The latest phase of the campaign, however, seems intended to bar health care funding for contraception. Catholics legitimately oppose such a policy on moral grounds. But that opposition entails a difference over policy, not an infringement of religious liberty. It does a disservice to the victims of religious persecution everywhere to inflate policy differences into a struggle over religious freedom. Such exaggerated protests likewise show disrespect for the freedom Catholics have enjoyed in the United States, which is a model for the world—and for the church.

What are you mackeral snappers complaining about?  It’s not like anyone’s burning down your churches or anything.  And you don’t have to pay for anyone’s abortion so chill out.

But here’s the problem.  A government that thinks it has the right to determine what are or are not Christian ministries is a government that can(and probably one day will) not only order Christian hospitals to provide free birth control but also order Christian hospitals and churches to provide free abortions for any staff member who wants one.

Were that to happen, what would America say?  That the bishops shouldn’t be so “wonkish” because this is yet anothern policy difference that doesn’t rise to the level of religious persecution?  That the bishops shouldn’t “provoke hostility” and need to take the lead toward cooling the “national distemper” over the fact that the Church is now being forced to participate in one of the greatest evils it is possible to conceive simply because somebody claims a right to access to it? Continue reading

Goerge Weigel: The Betrayal of Religious Freedom by Liberal Catholics

 

George Weigel has a post on National Review Online regarding the betrayal by some liberal Catholics of religious freedom in regard to the HHS Mandate:

Thus “liberal Catholics” who refuse to grasp the threats to religious freedom posed by the Obama administration on so many fronts — the HHS mandate, the EEOC’s recently rejected attempt to strip the “ministerial exemption” from employment law, the State Department’s dumbing-down of religious freedom to a mere “freedom of worship” — are betraying the best of their own heritage. And some are doing it in a particularly nasty way, trying to recruit the memory of John Courtney Murray as an ally in their attempts to cover for the Obama administration’s turning its de facto secularist bias into de jure policy, regulations, and mandates. More than 50 years ago, Murray warned of the dangers deracinated secularism posed to the American democratic experiment: a warning that seems quite prescient in the light of the Leviathan-like politics of this administration, aided and abetted by baptized secularists who insist that they are “liberal Catholics.” I daresay Murray, who did not suffer fools gladly, would not be amused by those who now try to use his work to shore up their own hollow arguments on behalf of the establishment of secularism.

The HHS-mandate battle is bringing to the surface of our public life many problems that were long hidden: the real and present danger to civil society of certain forms of Enlightenment thinking; the determination of the promoters of the sexual revolution to use state coercion to impose their agenda on society; the failure of the Catholic Church to educate the faithful in its own social doctrine; the reluctance of the U.S. bishops’ conference to forcefully apply that social doctrine — especially its principle of subsidiarity — during the Obamacare debate. To that list can now be added one more sad reality, long suspected but now unmistakably clear: the utter incoherence of 21st-century liberal Catholicism, revealed by its failure to defend its own intellectual patrimony: the truth of religious freedom as the first of human rights. That liberal Catholics have done so in order to play court chaplain to overweening and harshly secularist state power compounds that tragedy, with deep historical irony. Continue reading

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