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Contracepting Religious Freedom

Thank God the bishops are using their clout against the attempt of the Obama administration to force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception. Although I do not agree with Paul Moses entirely, I believe he has a point in suggesting that the effort could backfire.  But that is a risk we have to take. Unfortunately, politics today is largely part of our sound bite culture.  So many people are more interested in the outcome of the Twitter war than they are about having an in-depth and clear understanding of the problem at hand.  Political persuasion is to a great extent about perception. Winning a debate  seems more important than dealing with the fundamental issues. Clarifying first principles often clouds the particular agenda and appeals more to the intellect than it does to the emotions. Emotional arguments work better. Partisanship is also an issue.  I am all for distinctions and hard ones when they reflect reality, but Republican vs. Democrat generally does not reflect the complex reality of peoples real interests and positions.  Certainly, neither political party represents the fundamental interests of the Catholic Church. Yet the current problem does reflect a reality that could be conveyed easily on Twitter.  It is President Obama against the Church.  The interests of the bishops relative to this issue are not political.  They are not even confessional.  It is the age old problem of the Church maintaining its liberty from incursions into relgious matters by civil authorities.  And the issue even simpler than the current debate frames it.  The real question is not whether religious institutions should be exempted from paying for something considered immoral by their confession.  The real question is why anyone at all is being forced by the government to act contrary to fundamental religious convictions rooted in natural law and in legal history of our country. During the last presidential campaign Doug Kmiec successfully convinced many Catholics that Barack Obama was the most pro-life candidate in the race.  Many of us were astounded.  Recently, Kmiec wrote to the president in respect to the present debacle.  He said:

In deciding against a reasonable accommodation of Catholic concerns in the implementation of the health care program, you lost sight of your own beliefs.  For this reason, your words this morning touched neither soul nor heart in the room. . . . Today, Sir, I ask you no longer as an Ambassador, but simply as a friend, why put the cold calculus of politics above faith and freedom?  Please respond, for friendship will not permit me to disregard duty to faith and country.  The Barack Obama I knew would never have asked me to make that choice.

I still think Kmiec is very naive–at best. Politicians, journalists, pundits and bloggers will now “soundbite” and “twitter” us with irrelevancies about women dying from a lack of birth control because Catholics don’t want to pay for it and about how the bishop’s are too conservative and partisan.  Unfortunately, many will buy it, which is very ironic, since the official voter’s guide of the USCCB is hardly a conservative or partisan representation. Another irony is Paul Moses’ suggestion that the bishops employ the methods of Saul Alinsky.  This, he says, could build consensus.  Moses counsels the bishops to garner enthusiastic support by community organizing.  Grassroots support, of course, if helpful.  However, the quintessentially alinskian element here is the way in which grassroots support is generated by the ulterior motives of radicals in order to implement a preconceived and elitist agenda.  Moses rightly points out that Obama knows all about this.  But this is not the mission of the bishops. The Church is a voluntary society.  No one has to belong to it, but those who do have an inalienable right to follow its precepts without the interference of the state.   This is not about political maneuvering.  It is about keeping the claws of the government out of religious matters. Politics is tricky.  We cannot do without consensus because politics is a matter of persuasion.  However, I can hardly think of a situation that is more simple than the present one.  The Church must not sacrifice her independence and the general principle of religious liberty for the sake of some vague measure of political coexistence and popular support. There is hardly any way to prevent those who support Obama’s agenda from casting the bishops’ position as a partisan one.  Caesar must not be conceded an inch of God’s territory even if there are political costs. Filed under: Catholic Action, Church, Culture, Politics, Pro-Life, Religion Tagged: Barack Obama, Contraception, Doug Kmiec, Paul Moses Go to Source

51 Responses to “Contracepting Religious Freedom”

  1. Marie Says:

    Not “Caesar”, Father. Pharoah.

    Ave Maria!

  2. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Interesting post. Let me see if I can summarize it.

    The Church must be free of government interference. Of course, they must be allowed to continue to interfere with the government.

    If the government makes an allowance to a law for the Catholic church (and we’ll ignore that whole “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” for now), it must still be bad if people are allowed to use contraception. Even if they aren’t Catholic.

    Did that pretty much cover your argument?

  3. Marie Says:

    Oops. I meant to type, “Pharaoh”.

    Too much caffeine in my fingers! (grin)

    Ave Maria!

  4. Fr Angelo Says:

    Nameless Cynic,

    How is the Church interfering with the government?

    “The government is not interfering with the business of the Church rather the Church is interfering with the work of the government?”

    Does that pretty much cover your argument?

  5. Marie Says:

    Nameless, you’re about to step into a guagmire!

    Send him some rope, Father! :)

  6. Nameless Cynic Says:

    How is the Church interfering with the government?

    Well, gee. Let’s see.

    Government finally passed some healthcare reform, because we, as a society, have been really bad at that. (Incidentally, that whole “heal the sick” thing? I believe Jesus was in favor of that. But oddly, you aren’t? Oh, well. Bygones…)

    However, you – the Church as a whole, not just you personally -objected because it included some family planning requirements. So you mounted protests. Which, if you think about it, is interfering with the government when they’re just trying, for once, to do the right thing.

    And attempting to make concessions, the government hacked out an exemption for the Catholic church which would allow the Catholics church not to pay for birth control, but still have it available for the non-Catholics who work for Catholic hospitals.

    Because we all know that no good Catholic will use birth control methods, right?

    (And, as I mentioned, the government shouldn’t have done that in the first place, from a strict Constitutional standpoint. But… again, bygones.)

  7. Fr Angelo Says:

    Nameless Cynic,

    Healing the sick? I did not know pregnancy was a disease.

    So you think the exercise of free speech on the part of religious people is interference with the government? Would you like to see that regulated by the government too?

    The Obama concession is a shell game. The insurance companies are not going to give the services away.

    If you really are serious about the establishment clause then you should hold that the government stay out the business of regulating the Church on matters that are proper to its religious convictions. But law is about morality, about what is right and wrong. There is no hard line between moral matters that are purely secular and those that are religious.

    This is why government mandated healthcare is a quagmire. Don’t pretend that the matter is so simple just because you have contempt for the Church.

  8. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Ah, but I don’t have contempt for the church. Merely for the falsely pious and unjustifiably pompous. And those who believe that their personal beliefs trump anyone else’s beliefs and must be enforced.

    I’ll take the rest in order. I just thought that the first thing I should do was derail that attempt to attack the messenger. (Cheap debating technique, Father. You’re supposed to be better than that. The Jesuits would not be proud.)

    I did not know pregnancy was a disease.

    Really? Define “ectopic pregnancy” Don’t try to move the goalposts, Father. Not all healthcare involves diseases.

    So you think the exercise of free speech on the part of religious people is interference with the government?

    Well, since the intrusion of any large corporations (and their oversized checkbooks) in the business of government can be defined as interference, then yes, I do.

    And incidentally, I don’t agree that “corporations are people.” And thus, arguing that the Catholic church has freedom of speech is a losing argument with me. Members of the church may well have rights, but the Church (capital C) doesn’t.

    The insurance companies are not going to give the services away.

    Really? Which costs the insurance company more? A pregnancy (and all the associated complications known to go with them), or a little bit of birth control? Bottom line.

    If you really are serious about the establishment clause yadda yadda yadda

    Two way street, Father. You don’t get to argue that the government stay out of your business when you keep trying to insinuate yourself in to theirs. And into the rights of the non-Catholic citizens who don’t hold your views on, for example, birth control.

    There is no hard line between moral matters that are purely secular and those that are religious.

    Yes, there is. Birth control is a fine example; not a lot of excuses to oppose it that aren’t rooted in church teachings.

    Another example: homosexuality. It’s really difficult to find anti-gay arguments that aren’t rooted in the Bible. (Yes, AIDS, but that’s easily prevented by the use of a simple contraceptive… oh, right… hmmm…)

    This is why government mandated healthcare is a quagmire.

    Uh… you’re aware that there’s a difference between “quagmire” and “difficult,” right? Are you saying that we should never try to do the right thing just because it’s difficult?

  9. Marie Says:

    Here’s the rope, Father…..HUMANAE VITAE

  10. Marie Says:

    May I, Father?

    So, Nameless, you are saying that my husband, who is the sole bread winner of our household (5 children, 1 out of the house) should pay more of his hard earned wages into a tax base that will support free contraception to women?!
    I believe I could consider myself ‘a good Catholic’ now. I did the contraception thing when I was first married. It brought nothing but sin into my marriage! And a near divorce! Bravo for anyone, religious or otherwise, who defends the Law of God over the law of man.

    He’s all yours, Father.

  11. Nameless Cynic Says:

    That’s rope, Maria? A papal encyclical that, by definition, only applies to Catholics?

    Oh, and incidentally, “Bravo for anyone, religious or otherwise, who defends the Law of God over the law of man.”

    Really? You mean, like in 1 Timothy 2:12 (“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”)?

  12. JosephMary Says:

    “Ah, but I don’t have contempt for the church. Merely for the falsely pious and unjustifiably pompous. And those who believe that their personal beliefs trump anyone else’s beliefs and must be enforced.”

    But it is okay for the governement to FORCE its agenda on every citizen? Someone else’s “personal beliefs” are trying to be forced on me!!! And the government will back it up with fines and jail and maybe more as all despotic governments tend to do.

    And lets pay for birth control and abortions because they are cheaper than giving life to a child??? And maybe lets kill the old people too because they are expensive to maintain? And lets not treat the terminally ill as they are mandating now in some other socialized medicine countries. Like Scrooge said, they should just die and decrease the surplus population?

    Everything you wrote, cynic, can be looked at from the other direction as well. The separation of church and state was to protect the church FROM the state, not the other way around.

    Have we learned nothing from history as under nazism and communism when the government wants to control everything and move God out of the picture? How many have to die?

    You also will one day be old or sick or disabled and deemed not worthy of life giving funds you know. We must defend the dignity of all life and care for each other. If we lose our Christian morals and values, what follows will not be pretty. We will have to fear our own government. And no one is ‘safe’.

  13. Marie Says:

    JosephMary, well said.

    Nameless, read Humanae Vitae.

    Ave Maria!

  14. JosephMary Says:

    Michael Voris devoted one of his long shows to
    The Cost of Abortion:

    http://www.realcatholictv.com/store/showvid.php?product=30&tag=19

  15. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Aw, Joe, you should probably look up the term “Godwin’s Law” before you get into the Nazi rhetoric.

    And you’re actually going to bring up the specter of “death panels”? I suppose you’re aware that they already exist, right? Only they’re run by the insurance companies. That’s one of the things healthcare reform is trying to combat.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/02/idUS202570+02-Sep-2009+PRN20090902

    (Yeah, that link means I’ll be “held for moderation” – but I already am, so…)

  16. Jennifer Says:

    Nameless Cynic –
    “Government finally passed some healthcare reform, because we, as a society, have been really bad at that. (Incidentally, that whole “heal the sick” thing? I believe Jesus was in favor of that. But oddly, you aren’t? Oh, well. Bygones…)”

    I always have to roll my eyes when I hear about how the Church isn’t interested in ‘healing the sick’. Some of the largest groups that help those suffering with AIDS, the elderly, child trafficking, prison ministry, etc etc ETC are Catholics!!! To even imply that Catholics don’t care to help others is to be thoroughly blind or deceived. In fact, it is through these institutions set up to help others that the Church and Catholic individuals use (their own tax dollars, btw) to try and help these people. This tax money is FOR US not FOR THE GOVERNMENT. This is precisely why the Constitution was written as it was (protecting our religious freedoms) … so that the Government did not begin to take their peoples’ money and use it without respect to the religious beliefs of the people. (Amongst other things, of course.)

    The Catholic Church has not insisted that those who work for Her have to follow the teachings She has for contraception. Where do you read this? The Church only asks that it not be forced to PAY for it directly or indirectly!!! In fact, it’s bad enough that our taxes are paying for much of it already.

    And, have you read through the healthcare document? Although some of it is very good, some of it is QUITE scary. In fact, my elderly parents (called ‘units’ and not people in the document), would no longer get quality care under this new ‘healthcare for everyone’ mandate! If they get rushed to the hospital for, say, a stroke, they will merely be made ‘comfortable’ … not ‘healed’ at all!!! So much for paying into their social security for 65 years of their lives. What a criminal shame. One day you will be in your 70’s … is this what you want??? Fight all of these issues now because once it gets passed into law, you will be long dead before it’s reversed. (And I don’t even know how old you are, I just know how it works.)

  17. Jennifer Says:

    So Father,

    Along some of these lines here with this topic, what do you feel is the job of the Church in dealing with scandalous politicians such as Pelosi, Sebelius, and others? Many say they’ve excommunicated themselves with their actions. But, honestly, that doesn’t fly with me because the average Catholic (whether practicing or not) won’t see it that way. In their minds, these politicians are Catholics and the apparent silence in the Church becomes the apparent approval for their choices. I do hope for their ultimate conversion and obedience to the Church they claim to be a part of, but something needs to happen for the damage control. No? I would really love to understand this better.

    Thanks.

  18. Marie Says:

    Nameless,

    Saint Luke 10:16

    He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

    As for the 1 Timothy quote….God Almighty gave the greatest priviledge ever to a woman! She, the Immaculate Conception, gave birth to Jesus Christ!
    Don’t even go there with me.

    A defender of Holy Mother Church, and devotee of the Immaculate!

    May this Lenten season bring you many graces. At present you have ‘scales’ on your eyes.

    Ave Maria!

  19. Fr Angelo Says:

    Cynic,

    Ah, but I don’t have contempt for the church. Merely for the falsely pious and unjustifiably pompous. And those who believe that their personal beliefs trump anyone else’s beliefs and must be enforced.

    It is a bit convoluted to suggest that opposition to the government’s effort to coerce people to pay for something they have a moral objection to is a matter of having the government “enforce” ones personal beliefs. On the contrary it is simply a matter of insisting that the government minds its own business.

    I’ll take the rest in order. I just thought that the first thing I should do was derail that attempt to attack the messenger. (Cheap debating technique, Father. You’re supposed to be better than that. The Jesuits would not be proud.)

    Your contempt for the Church is what it is. If I am really mistaken then you need to speak differently. Don’t speak the way you do and then put on the pretense of being offended when your remarks are taken at face value.

    “I did not know pregnancy was a disease.”
    Really? Define “ectopic pregnancy” Don’t try to move the goalposts, Father. Not all healthcare involves diseases.

    I am not the one moving the goalposts. You said that since the Church ought to follow the gospel mandate to heal the sick that it ought to be willing to pay for contraception and sterilization.

    Well, since the intrusion of any large corporations (and their oversized checkbooks) in the business of government can be defined as interference, then yes, I do.

    Why don’t you be more specific about what you are suggesting? Do you mean that the Church has the government in its pocket?

    And incidentally, I don’t agree that “corporations are people.” And thus, arguing that the Catholic church has freedom of speech is a losing argument with me. Members of the church may well have rights, but the Church (capital C) doesn’t.

    So the Church has no right to its liberty? If the Church has no rights then the government can do anything it wants to the Church? Right? And if not why not, if the Church has no rights as you say?

    “The insurance companies are not going to give the services away.”

    Really? Which costs the insurance company more? A pregnancy (and all the associated complications known to go with them), or a little bit of birth control? Bottom line.

    If it was really that simple insurance companies would simply offer contraception free of charge to all customers and there would be no need of a government mandate. The fact is that the insurance companies do charge for contraception and the government mandate will have to be paid for.

    “If you really are serious about the establishment clause” yadda yadda yadda

    Two way street, Father. You don’t get to argue that the government stay out of your business when you keep trying to insinuate yourself in to theirs. And into the rights of the non-Catholic citizens who don’t hold your views on, for example, birth control.

    In fact, there are more limits on the government’s powers than there are on the rights of free speech. Whether that speech is religious or not is irrelevant. You don’t like it? Too bad. I don’t particularly like your speech either. Too bad for me. Everyone has a right to say something about how the government mandates the spending of their money. This is not even about how tax money is being spent. It is about controlling the transactions of providers and consumers. You want to provide everyone with birth control? Then you pay for it. I am not paying for it. You mind your own business.

    “There is no hard line between moral matters that are purely secular and those that are religious.”

    Yes, there is. Birth control is a fine example; not a lot of excuses to oppose it that aren’t rooted in church teachings.

    That can be debated, but if you hold that position then you should understand why the government should mind its own business.

    “This is why government mandated healthcare is a quagmire.”

    Uh… you’re aware that there’s a difference between “quagmire” and “difficult,” right? Are you saying that we should never try to do the right thing just because it’s difficult?

    No, I am simply saying that a real commitment to reforming health care is not synonymous with Obamacare.

  20. Fr Angelo Says:

    Jennifer @ February 20th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    See Cardinal Burke’s position on the matter.

  21. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Jennifer:

    In fact, my elderly parents (called ‘units’ and not people in the document)…
    You’re reading the Anchoress, aren’t you? She’s good at spreading weird little conspiracy theories (admittedly, it spread to other places, too, but that’s one of the larger Catholic ones). Here – try this. A little more accurate.

    http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2011/12/30/2011s-last-viral-lie-about-health-reform/

    …would no longer get quality care under this new ‘healthcare for everyone’ mandate!
    Some people will fall for anything, won’t they? Here.

    http://www.elderlawanswers.com/resources/article.asp?id=8171&section=4

    Thank you. That will be all.

  22. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Father,

    Please don’t expect me to change my speaking (or writing) style just because it seems flippant to you (Proverbs 17:22 seems appropriate here).

    Nor should you think I was offended. I was merely identifying what you did.

    I am not the one moving the goalposts. You said that since the Church ought to follow the gospel mandate to heal the sick that it ought to be willing to pay for contraception and sterilization.

    Nope. That part has been dug out of the Catholic church’s requirement. The fact that you’re choosing to see it in the worst possible light is actually your problem, not anyone else’s. Other Catholics see it differently. (Of course, since 78% of qualifying Catholic women have been using birth control, perhaps the problem is a bit broader than your generalized dislike of birth control…)

    My comment about “healing the sick” had more to do with your apparent willingness to let healthcare reform die rather than letting non-Catholics use a condom.

    Do you mean that the Church has the government in its pocket?

    No, but they’re certainly trying to influence things. I suppose the best answer for that is to quote you, up above. “Thank God the bishops are using their clout against the attempt of the Obama administration to force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception.”

    Or let’s just follow the money. The church itself? Are they buying politicians? No, not directly. But the Church has a number of fascinating splinter groups.

    Catholic Health Association of the US: Half a million dollars in lobbying efforts every year – and they’re just one of many lobbying groups.

    And since the Citizens United decision, all kinds of PACs have sprung up. Catholic Advocate Candidate fund Fund, Catholic Democrats PAC, Catholicvote.org PAC – behold the political activists of the field: they toil not, neither do they spin. They just write checks.

    So the Church has no right to its liberty? If the Church has no rights then the government can do anything it wants to the Church?

    Try not to get into a lather, Father. (Didn’t somebody say something about “the pretense of being offended”?) Everyone is welcome to their religion – this is America. You just aren’t welcome to insist that everybody else play by your rules.

    If it was really that simple insurance companies would simply offer contraception free of charge

    Not without being forced. Why do you think that they’re still pulling in record profits?

    You want to provide everyone with birth control?

    No, I want to provide everyone with healthcare. The problem is, we don’t agree with what that entails.

    Birth control is a fine example; not a lot of excuses to oppose it that aren’t rooted in church teachings.

    That can be debated, but if you hold that position then you should understand why the government should mind its own business.

    So you’re saying we should all follow your rules? Not going to happen. Live with it – we are a diverse country.

    a real commitment to reforming health care is not synonymous with Obamacare.

    Then you have no real commitment to reforming health care. Nobody else is trying to do it, unless you define “reform” as the healthcare industry’s attempts to maximize profits. And to do it on the backs of the poor and suffering.

    Which brings us back to your fascinating disdain at the concept of healing the sick.

  23. Jennifer Says:

    NC –
    Actually, i first heard of it through a group of doctors i know, some of whom have been discussing the implications to their profession. I didn’t hear it through the Anchoress. But thanks for the link …

    And … don’t forget that precious phrase that you can catch so many more flies with honey than with vinegar!!!! You’re a very angry and unhappy person …. or at least your haughty sarcasm makes it seem so. Well, your vinegar will at least get people to pray for you but surely won’t get anyone to want to follow what you’re saying.

  24. Fr Angelo Says:

    Cynic,

    I just asked you a simple question about your statement:

    Members of the church may well have rights, but the Church (capital C) doesn’t.

    But I admit, it was a silly question. You were quite clear.

    You and Obama think that any attempt of the Church to maintain its liberty is an “intrusion” into government affairs. This is exactly the reason I wrote this post, and exactly why Obama must be opposed.

  25. Marie Says:

    Bill,

    Twenty one years in the military. Iraq, Kuwait….Marines? My husband served 21 in the Naval sub force. My father 20+ in the Army…did a tour in Vietnam.
    Those who place their lives on the line for freedom are usually found to be God fearing, and full of high moral values. Bill, this is also a war…religious freedom is at stake.

    Ave Maria!

  26. Maryann Says:

    “Beginning again with growing joy.” Struggle, struggle, struggle.

  27. Marian Says:

    Ave Maria!

    I am thankful to our Church for faithfully and courageously defending the sanctity of life. The only thing that will bring true peace and happiness is following God’s law contained in the Teachings of the Church – chastity if unmarried, being open to the gift of life if married.

    In Christ,
    Marian

    Wisdom 1:
    14For he fashioned all things that they might have being,
    and the creatures of the world are wholesome;
    There is not a destructive drug among them
    nor any domain of Hades* on earth,
    15For righteousness is undying
    16It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death,
    considered it a friend, and pined for it,
    and made a covenant with it,
    Because they deserve to be allied with it.n

  28. Joanne L. Says:

    The way to plan the family is Natural Family Planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”
    ~ Blessed Mother Teresa (in front of Bill and Hillary Clinton)

    “I also know that there are great problems in the world – that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.”
    ~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

    “In the conjugal act it is not licitly to separate the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect, because both the one and the other pertain to the intimate truth of the conjugal act. The one is activated together with the other and in a certain sense the one by means of the other. This is what the encyclical teaches (cf. Humanae Vitae, 12). Therefore, in such a case the conjugal act, deprived of its interior truth because it is artificially deprived of its procreative capacity, ceases also to be an act of love.
    ~ Blessed Pope John Paul II (General Audience of August 22, 1984)”

    “The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony) and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of life (n. 24).”
    ~ from the Vatican Pontifical Council for the Family, Vade Mecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life

    “The heart has become a battlefield between love and lust. The more lust dominates the heart, the less the heart experiences the nuptial meaning of the body. It becomes less sensitive to the gift of the person, which expresses that meaning in the mutual relations of the man and woman.”
    ~ Pope John Paul II, (General audience, July 23, 1980)

    “No Christian married couple can want to block the well-springs of life. For their love is based on the love of Christ, which entails dedication and sacrifice. . . Moreover, as Tobias reminded Sara, a husband and wife know that ‘we are children of saints, and we cannot come together in the way of the gentiles, who do not know God.'”
    ~ St. Josemaria Escriva

    “The sinfulness of artificial birth control is rooted in the arrogation of the right to separate the actualized love union in marriage from a possible conception, to sever the wonderful, deeply mysterious connection instituted by God. This mystery is approached in an irreverent attitude. Here we are confronted with the fundamental sin of irreverence toward God, the denial of our creaturehood, the acting as if we were our own lords… It is the same sinfulness that lies in suicide or in euthanasia, in both of which we act as if we were masters of life.
    ~ Dietrich von Hildrebrand (Love, Marriage and the Catholic Conscience, pp. 45-46)

  29. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Marie,
    Air Force. My son is a Marine, and my father was Army. But you’ll find that whole “no atheists in foxholes” thing is a myth.

    http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/

    Father,

    See, here’s the thing. You have had an (unconstitutional) exception from the law carved out for the Church. You are not paying for birth control. Period.

    The fact that your insurance carrier pays for birth control isn’t something you have any control over, so it’s not a stain on your soul. You can’t take the blame for somebody else’s sin.

    And here’s where it gets a little tricky. If you want to complain that your insurance carrier pays for something that you don’t approve of, and by paying them, you are indirectly paying for that, then you don’t have a leg to stand on. Morally or legally.

    Because your taxes already support Medicare and Medicaid, which do (and in most cases, have since their inception) paid for birth control.

    So, to suddenly complain now about a second-hand sin that’s been going on all our lives, leads me to ask a potentially uncomfortable question.

    Why now? Is this an empty political gesture on your part? Is the Church merely a tool of somebody’s political agenda? (You remember our earlier discussion about “interfering with the government,” right?)

    Why is this important now, when it never has been before?

  30. Fr Angelo Says:

    N.C.,

    What is important is the rights of the Church, in which neither you or Obama believe.

  31. Marie Says:

    Bill,

    First of all I would like to thank you and your family for your service in the Armed forces. No guts, no glory!
    Second, fighting for American freedom isn’t a religious thing; its a great ideal fought for at the price of one’s own blood when necessary. The ‘no atheists in a foxhole’ doesn’t apply here. I have yet to meet a serviceman who has lost his faith in the Almighty.
    Freedom is something everyone has a right to, Bill, even the members of the Catholic Church, and every other religious institution. Holy Mother Church has been blessed with martyrs from the very beginning, this may be a new era for a different kind of martyrdom. I’m ready…all 4’11” of me!
    I hope you were not injured during your tours. I began praying for you yesterday. The peace of Christ be with you always! :)

    ~ All for the love of Jesus and Mary!

    Ave Maria!

    ~a military brat, retired Naval Officer’s wife, (and 6 yrs in the Army Reserves myself)

  32. Nameless Cynic Says:

    Well, Father, it’s like this.

    See, I’m sure you saw the study that came out from the Guttmacher Institute, which showed that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives. (Yes, that’s the carefully parsed-out phrasing of the study – we want to be completely accurate here.)

    And now we find that studies are showing that most likely a majority of Catholic hospitals perform tubal ligations. So what does this tell us?

    Well, one term used to describe this concept is “moral relativism.” (I suppose that “situational ethics” can be stretched to fit, but let’s not get off track trying to dance on pinheads, right?)

    But you’ve got to admit that it’s fascinating that the Church can turn a blind eye to something for so long, until suddenly it’s election season. Convenient, isn’t it?

    (And I’m going to make the assumption that you’re a “working” priest here, with the odd Mass to perform and so on – but it’s a pretty sturdy limb, so I’m comfortable with it.)

    But let’s be completely honest, Father. You do it yourself. How often are you in a service, and there’s a young couple (mid-20s, early 30s), who have only one child. Maybe two. And you know that they’ve been married for a while – perhaps you married them yourself. So you know that there’s a really good chance that they’re using some form of birth control. But you just look the other way, serve them the Sacrament, and perhaps even take their confession.

    I’m curious. Why isn’t “Hypocrisy” considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins?

  33. Fr Angelo Says:

    N.C.

    No doubt there has been a crisis of consistency within the Church, but please don’t pretend you know anything about me.

    The bottom line is religious liberty. I am not asking Obama to throw us a bone because we deserve it.

  34. Marie Says:

    Bill,

    Why don’t you search through Father Angelo’s archives to the right of the AirMaria page. He doesn’t deserve your censure!

    Why don’t you spend time the Lenten season reading the Bible…perhaps Acts 9:1-19.

  35. Marian Says:

    Ave Maria!

    Catholic Teaching is not based on popular whim or opinion. The mission of the Church remains the same regardless of the number of Faithful and that is to proclaim the Truth of Christ’s Teachings, including protecting life in all stages.

    Also, I personally know a couple who had one child and would have loved to have had more children but could not and adopted a second child. I think in most cases a priest cannot know if a person is receiving the Sacrament unworthily. However, God knows and will judge justly –
    1 Cor. 11:
    27Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.* 28A person should examine himself,* and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment* on himself.

    In Christ,
    Marian

  36. Fr Angelo Says:

    Cardinal Dolan:

    Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all. This right does not depend on any government’s decision to grant it: it is God-given, and just societies recognize and respect its free exercise. The free exercise of religion extends well beyond the freedom of worship. It also forbids government from forcing people or groups to violate their most deeply held religious convictions, and from interfering in the internal affairs of religious organizations.

    Recent actions by the Administration have attempted to reduce this free exercise to a “privilege” arbitrarily granted by the government as a mere exemption from an all-encompassing, extreme form of secularism. The exemption is too narrowly defined, because it does not exempt most non-profit religious employers, the religiously affiliated insurer, the self-insured employer, the for-profit religious employer, or other private businesses owned and operated by people who rightly object to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. And because it is instituted only by executive whim, even this unduly narrow exemption can be taken away easily.

    In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our “first freedom” and respect for it must be broad and inclusive—not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is “religious enough” to warrant religious freedom protection.

  37. Marie Says:

    GOD BLESS CARDINAL DOLAN!!!! :)

  38. Nameless Cynic Says:

    But if you are not offering contraception, and you are not paying for the contraception offered by the insurance company (and you’re not, regardless of what you said earlier – look it up), at what point have your religious freedoms been trampled on?

    Your argument is like claiming that the fact that you have to walk past condoms in Walgreens, means that your rights as a Catholic are being destroyed.

    And it brings us back to the big question. Catholic hospitals take Medicaid. The various state governments have been supplying contraception through Medicaid for decades.

    http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/8015.pdf

    So, why is this only an issue now? It looks suspiciously like you’re
    tools for somebody’s political agenda. If this issue wasn’t important before, what’s changed? Don’t get me wrong – the false outrage is cute and all, but since you’ve been ignoring the issue for nearly half a century, one has to wonder whether you have a separate agenda.

    A more secular agenda, perhaps.

  39. Marie Says:

    Bill,

    Read “Blessed John Paul II: Champion of Religious Freedom.

  40. Jennifer Says:

    NC –
    Since you are implying that the ‘real’ motive of the Church is to slant the upcoming election, why haven’t they slanted it in the past? In fact, I bet much of the current clergy even voted for half the people who are now in office.

    I think a number of things are happening.
    1. We have had much (deserved) scourging over the last few years and scourging always makes one reflect more.
    2. The bishops have been trying to go along with things for awhile and have watched things we hold dear slip away RAPIDLY over the last few years.
    3. Now, due to our ‘Catholicism’, major charities we have run have had to be walked away from … adoption for instance.
    4. The Vatican has been pushing for the laity and the clergy to stand firm and to promote a new evangelization.
    5. The bishops are going to start putting their feet down where they have feared to do so in the past. They now realize that if they don’t, the moral slide into the abyss will only continue.

    PRAISE GOD!!!! It’s about time. I see this as an awakening, not a political game. Time will tell I suppose.

  41. Maryann Says:

    NC

    FYI http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-coming-age-of-the-laity, possibly this may help.

  42. Fr Angelo Says:

    N.C. @ February 23rd, 2012 at 3:08 pm e

    As I have pointed out, the bishops’ voters guide is hardly conservative or republican. In fact, the bishops have resisted creating one that could construed as putting pro-life issues above other social justice issues.

    Even liberal bishops like Cardinal Mahoney have bucked Obama on this one. You are wrong, there is no political agenda. Obama thinks the government is all powerful. You believe the Church has no rights. It is pretty obvious where this is headed.

    This reaction has been delayed for a long time. It is more or less a wake up. I would like to see the consistency that both of us can see is lacking.

  43. Nameless Cynic Says:

    It’s an “awakening”?

    Bishops “are going to start putting their feet down”?

    And you picked birth control as your first choice? Really?

    Good choice.

    (Oh, by the way, Father. “Obama thinks the government is all powerful.” You’re buying into the “Democrats love big government” meme? Little too much Fox “News,” there.)

    http://www.politicususa.com/en/big-government-obama-reagan

  44. Marie Says:

    There’s was a saying in my old Army Reserve unit that went like this:

    “Ignore your troops and they will go away.”

  45. Marie Says:

    Bill,

    Were you a flyer for the Air Force? I thought about you tonight during the Stations of the Cross. If you did two tours overseas and saw death you had to have been affected by it. I hope you find healing. You don’t seem to have any joy. May God bless you with it.

    Ave Maria!

  46. George Lower Says:

    Nameless Cynic,

    Your conclusion that Fr Angleo believes in the meme “Democrats love big government…” does not follow logically from the statement “Obama thinks the government is all powerful…” One can believe in an all powerful government and still reduce the size of the government…Based upon Obama’s duplicitious dealings with the USCCB (i.e. saying directly to Bp Doolan that religious freedom will be protected…then working against it…then lying to the press with “the USCCB was never in favor of health care reform” when the USSCB reacts to the intrustion…) could lead someone to logically conclude that Obama believes the government is all powerful…or at least the Obama has contempt for the Catholic Church…without making the slightest implication about the size of the federal government.

    In spite of your denial that you do not have contempt for the Church…I do see a strong strain of consequentialism in your reasoning. First, even if the Bishops have been inconsistent in the practice…the teaching regarding contraception, sterilization and abortion has been consistent. Therefore, the practice is intrinsically evil according to the Catholic Church. When one finds that he or she is committing (or enabling) an evil practice the logical response would be contrition and repentence. You advocate continuing to ignore it.

    Second, since the practice is intrinsically evil…it is the height of consequentialism to say…Come let us do this evil thing (pay for contraception) so that a greater good (healthcare for all) can be realized…It is the exact same argument used by defenders of torture (on the right) and abortion (on the left). Your argument that the Church is not being forced to support it or pay for it is not supported by the law as written…even the existence of an exemption is inadequate because it places the onus on the government to continue something that should be an inalienable right…not subject to government whimsy…

  47. EmilyS Says:

    While I agree that it is important to point out how this heinous mandate is an affront to the free practice of religion, I do think we should also keep speaking up to defend the goodness of children. This mandate is an affront to natural law because it formally identifies children along with the worst diseases, worse in fact than most others. We still pay co-pays for medications that actually treat illness. This mandate says that children are worse than infections and sickness, and that is brutally cruel as well as dangerous to society. Faithful Catholics refuse to see any person or group of persons as inherently evil. We should put the pressure on those who support it by asking how they dare to see babies in this light.

    (And, I happen to disagree with a previous poster who thinks that avoiding conception is an effective and valid treatment of the rare case of ectopic pregnancy. Absurd.)

  48. Hank Says:

    Why is it that anytime someone challenges what the church teaches, no matter how civil the challenge is, that person is accused of having contempt for the church?

  49. Hank Says:

    Regarding the “Church’s Rights” as mentioned by Fr. Angelo. Institutions, organizations, businesses, etc. do no have rights. Individuals within those entities have rights. It amazes me how Republican the Franciscans of the Immaculate have become. Strident, hard core right wing political views and going to great lengths to make church teacing fit those views. It doesn’t work.

  50. Hank Says:

    The church is absolutely right about abortion and absolutely wrong on contraception.

  51. Fr Angelo Says:

    Hank @ March 15th, 2012 at 4:00 pm e

    Your position is precisely why I wrote this post. We can’t fight for our religious freedom without being accuses of being shills for a party. We oppose Obama o on the matter of the HHS business because of religious freedom.

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