Rorate Caeli

Reader Discussion: Contraception Mandate Silver Lining

While numerous conservative Catholic blogs have rightfully covered the United States Department of Health and Human Services's attack on the Catholic Church by mandating Catholic employers cover contraception and abortion in their healthcare plans or face millions of dollars in fines, there is one aspect to this, a blessing if you will or a silver lining, that hasn't been discussed.

In doing so, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has succeeded in doing what most bishops have refused to do for decades: ensure that all Catholics know that there is indeed a ban on contraception and that it is, in fact, a mortal sin.

While many traditional-minded Catholics assume all contracepting Catholics know it's a mortal sin, the truth is that many don't, but now surely most do with the media saturation that has followed this story. God willing, some will abandon their thwarting of His will, throw away their contraceptives and hit a confessional soon.

God works in mysterious ways, and through the most unlikely people.

What's your take on this issue? Does this attack on the Church actually help her restore dogma once known -- and shared -- by all Catholics? Please weigh in now, and please keep charity in mind at all times.

65 comments:

  1. Lopes9:58 PM

    I have been thinking about all this 'rage' from the bishops. I am quite curious to see their reaction once Obama or anyone in his administration point out that most Novus Ordo Catholic women use the pill.

    I am quite sure that Obama will not back down and will have the support of, again, most 'Catholic' women because they believe in their 'reproductive rights.'

    Who is responsible for this situation? The bishops and priests, of course.

    I almost felt compelled to support Obama once I read that Cardinal Mahony 'strongly opposed' this mandate.

    They (the bishops) do not have moral authority to speak up now.

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  2. I am on a "wait and see" position. Perhaps Rino Fisichella will sign an article in L'Osservatore Romano supporting the United States Government, right?

    NC

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  3. Tom S.10:11 PM

    I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, but I believe that your hopes for a silver lining are based on a false premise. That is, the idea that many are unaware of the Church position on contraception.

    In fact, I would suggest that it would be nearly impossible to find a practicing catholic who was unaware of that fact. The objective reality is that many faithful Catholics simply consider such a position to be an overstepping of the bounds of Church authority regarding a personal matter.

    Having reached that conclusion - that the Church position is one which they have no authority to put forth - they are free to proceed as they wish, according to their conscience and good judgement. To them it has no more impact than if their priest told them what kind of fuel to put in their car. It is a matter of complete indifference.

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  4. Sunshine State10:36 PM

    Regardless how one feels on this matter, the facts have not been expressed very well by the media. There is indeed an exemption for churches/parishes. However, the exemption is not being granted to church-owned hospitals, universities, and other non-parish organizations.

    NPR reported today that several Catholic universities and hospitals in the US already provide their employees with this coverage under their current insurance. I personally think that the president should extend the exemption to all religious non-profit organizations, but for the bishops to be in a huff, why weren't they upset about this when their very own Catholic institutions started doing this voluntarily? I think this is very politically motivated (Doing the right thing for the wrong reason).

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  5. I think that it will speed up the process so to speak. By this I mean the people that are faithful to the Church either superficially or really will throw away their contraceptives, but of course there is going to be a large part that will simply be confirmed in their sin and couldn't care less. I think many will just think to themselves "I knew there was a reason I wasn't going to Church." I think more needs to be taught on WHY contraception is wrong rather than 'that' contraception is wrong as I said here: http://www.battleforthecoreoftheworld.com/2012/02/who-are-our-fellow-catholics-thoughts.html However, of course where we are now is a big improvement! This is the first time that the Church in the United States has united on a serious doctrinal issue. (not just social justice type stuff.) There is indeed a silver lining and hopefully now that the Bishops have committed, the reasons against contraception will be presented.

    If you are a priest, this also gives you an opportunity to talk about it from the pulpit without fear of being condemned or ratted on.

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  6. Anonymous10:39 PM

    Tom: "In fact, I would suggest that it would be nearly impossible to find a practicing catholic who was unaware of that fact."

    Tom, I can personally prove that incorrect, as I know Catholics who didn't know. They knew it was "wrong" in part but no clue that it was a mortal sin. You have to remember, as good as Humanae Vitae was, Paul VI vacillated so long that, by the time they actually published it, people thought the Vatican lifted the ban.

    I do agree with you that there's now indifference. But, again, I think this could cause a new awakening.

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  7. Tom S. said...

    "I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, but I believe that your hopes for a silver lining are based on a false premise. That is, the idea that many are unaware of the Church position on contraception."

    I have to agree with you Tom. The Bishops know but the elderly generation in their 80's now sometimes floored me with their ignorance & denial of what was really going on when I was first having children.
    One time 2 of my great Aunts were at a baby shower with me for a relative. They said it was nice that I had (at that time) 5 children but they were so impressed with my cousins (who are mostly cultural Catholics)"having shown such restraint" in their marriages by only having TWO children. "Their self-control is admirable." and they really believed it! I knew my cousins had all stopped at two with their tubals and vasectomies because they told me. Now...if back in the 60's and 70's some of these Bishops spoke up at the pulpit about the sin of contraception these Aunts might have seen the truth and would have prayed for my cousins. Sure, abortion has always been talked about, even in non-Catholic Churches, Synagoges, etc. but the Bishops kept quiet and the Catholic smiled at their silence and dropped their "indulgences" in the collection basket. Of course I'll pray for the Bishops to hold their ground and start speaking the truth but I'm afraid it's too late!

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  8. Lopes,

    I think the fact that even Cardinal Mahony and Sr. Carol Keehan strongly oppose this mandate to the point of threatening to sue over it, says a lot.

    When even the rats are running away, you know that something horrible is coming.

    I disagree that the bishops do not have the moral authority to speak up. The fact that they are directly responsible (either through negligence or naivety or outright disobedience), does not change that they have been given that authority by God himself.

    Now that they are awake, they now need to stay awake, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they stay awake and teach the faith and give people the tools to live their faith, even if it means outright martyrdom.

    This fight will end eventually, even if Obama somehow wins again. He will either lose (most likely), or win and as with Canada the bishops will fall asleep (note Canadian public health care pays for abortions and contraception but that's rarely spoken of).

    When this fight ends, we cannot let the bishops fall asleep again and they need our support for finally having the guts to start doing their job.

    Lest we be too complacent, going to TLM doesn't necessarily mean that you're taught about contraception either. Remember that just before Vatican II, many priests tended to shy away from preaching about contraception, which is one reason why something like Humanae Vitae (which contains no new doctrine) was so widely rebuked. The Eastern Orthodox have preserved the ancient liturgy, but they (at least the American and European Patriarchates) have also arrived at the infamous 1930 Lambeth Contraception concensus which lead Anglicanism and much of Christianity off the cliff. TLM parishes are no less vulnerable.

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  9. No. This will diminish the use of contraception (95% of fertile Catholic contracept) not one wit. It will probably increase abortion and sterilization among Catholics.

    Catholics well know the Church's teachings in these areas, and are as concerned about using abortion as a whippet gives heed to the air. Many Catholics I know find the Church's teaching in these areas downright funny; but they know the official teaching.

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  10. Btw:

    When we had our newest girl (who is 16 months; my oldest is 16 years), my mother-in-law, who is protestant, had a conniption fit. This made me want to have another (but that is in God's hands)!

    I must say very respectfully that there is absolutely no silver lining to re-engendering a climate of death. You see, even a majority of Catholics believe in theCulture of Death; oh, but wait, if you rape and murder someone, contraception/aborting Catholics will vigorously defend the life of the perpetrator!

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  11. Tom S,

    I disagree that many Catholics know the faith, from my experience. There are Catholics who don't even know that abortion in the first trimester is evil and discover this to their horror after the fact that they have murdered their own children.

    But let's assume you are correct. Never forget:

    lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi

    If Hell is never spoken about, and even homilies at funerals speak about the dearly departed "playing golf with God" with no mention of the need for people to pray for their souls since they are likely in purgatory, then Catholics will simply stop believing in Hell or the need to pray for the dead. After all, if the priests can't be bothered to talk about Hell or purgatory, they can't possibly believe that their parishioners have anything to worry about. Put another way, if a child is heading towards a cliff and their "loving" father sits by and just waves to the child, would it not be reasonable for the child to believe that the cliff must not be too high?

    The same can be said for contraception and sterilization, and unfortunately even abortion in some parishes.

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  12. Anil Wang,

    I dare to say that Mahony is only speaking up now because he is no longer in charge.

    I remember well during the previous election cycle when he said that his ONLY topic/focus/whatever was 'immigration reform.'

    The bishops are just trying to save face. Sooner or later, they will find a nuanced approach, like: 'it is evil but...'

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  13. The Bishops mostly slept while the majority of Catholics voted to elect the most pro-abortion president ever, and while Notre Dame gave him a hero's welcome.

    The silver lining that I see is that our Bishops are waking up and getting angry. Perhaps the Bishops will get so angry that they will expect their priests to preach against the rampant immorality which Catholics have come to grow comfortable with and tell us to get to Confession or risk our own salvation.

    Perhaps then, Catholics will realize that it is really immoral to vote for a man who advocates the legalized murder of the unborn and who directly persecutes the Church for Her moral teaching.

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  14. Oh, I agree that this is a silver lining. If it even jolts one more Catholic into awareness of Catholic teaching, it has accomplished a good. Simply having a mandate against us is not bad. What if it ends up unifying Catholics so that Obama does not get re-elected? What if it necessitates great personal sacrifice on the part of Catholic employers/employees so that we are compelled to set an example for others? What if there are other silver linings that don't come immediately to mind? It has already prompted many bishops to do a double-take, and heaven knows many of them needed a kick-start. Maybe someday we can look back on this and say: "Kathleen Sibelius, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."

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  15. Sobieski12:09 AM

    I tend to agree that the media hoopla will have little effect on the matter because no one seems to be discussing the reasons why the Church condemns contraception or its history. I don't watch much of Satan's Tabernacle (TV), though. What I have seen is conservatives glossing the conflict primarily as a religious liberty/conscience issue.

    The alarming thing is that should Obama win again and with a majority of Catholic votes, then the truth about "Catholics" in the US will be plain for all to see. Namely, the gloves will be off because the bishops' authority and the influence of the Church in this country will have been concretely shown to be ineffectual. Plus, Obama will be in his second and last term.

    Further, I think the contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate, coupled with a potential positive ruling on homo-marriage by the Supreme Court, among other things, will be used as effective tools to either silence the Church (fines, jail, etc.) or force it into compliance. They win either way and destroy Catholic institutions in the process.

    Sobieski

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  16. for Adfero:
    "good as Humanae Vitae was, Paul VI vacillated so long that, by the time they actually published it, people thought the Vatican lifted the ban."

    Check out your history around humanae vitae.


    Sadly,I think you will find such "people" were led to so think.

    Otherwise, if ANY doctrine of the church is not repeated every five years by Rome, in detail, we may justifyably believe it's about to change?

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  17. Anonymous12:16 AM

    Mike, remember that there was a commission before HV that was studying the issue. Surrounding that was the media abuzz about whether the Church would -- like she could! -- change her stance on contraception.

    HV was supposed to put that to rest. And, in and of itself, it does. But it took so long to come out that the media continued it's push and people believed them.

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  18. Mike Ortiz12:22 AM

    1. Our NO parish has a priest with a JD talking about how contraception is wrong, and how this mandate is an incursion against the conscience of Catholics. Good.

    2. Cardinal-designate Dolan of NY gave a lecture at Fordham Law recently on how this mandate and contraception and abortion violate the natural law--it's not just a Catholic thing. Spot on.

    3. This is a moment of clarity. God allows this, in his mercy and justice, to make manifest (he knows already) which hearts belong to him.

    4. Keep your seat-belt fastened; we are living in momentous times.

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  19. Victor W.12:48 AM

    Most Americans (55%) including Catholics support Mr Obama on this, and he knows it. Sorry folks, too little too late: the game is over, the majority wins.

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  20. anabel12:50 AM

    In order for there to be a silver lining, we'd have to assume that novus ordo Catholics even know what mortal sin is.

    Recently, a friend who teaches "CYM" in a novus ordo church told me that one of her eleventh graders preparing for Confirmation did not know what a Rosary was. Has a child who has never even seen a Rosary been taught about mortal sin?

    Ergo, if we have Catholics who have never even heard of "mortal" sin, how are they to know that contracepting is?

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  21. Anonymous1:01 AM

    Victor, this is going nowhere. This rule will never go through. Even Democrats are publicly defecting.

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  22. While Pope Paul VI pondered the question of contraception three to four years of parish teaching the opposite of what he decided became the modus operandi. We never recovered. That said his teaching turned out to be an act of prophecy of the ill fruits to civilization.
    Yet, Obama had no need to do this [could have waited] unless he decided that this was a wedge that would work into an assist in his re-election, i.e. culture war works for the Democrats.
    However if the femme-nazis are wrong and the bishops cause his defeat, the implication that Catholic Bishops can make an enormous difference may save us from the Gay Manifesto directives. Obama, the ideologue is invested in the Gay Agenda. Queer marriage will be mandatory by 2013.

    The clarity of my bishop's letter which included reference to the promises made at Notre Dame speaks to his own sense of betrayal. I'm convinced that he voted for Obama.
    If not awesome, this is a very significant moment of the institutional Church prepared to draw the line that may cause it to stand up be counted.

    St Petersburg, Florida

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  23. Anonymous1:32 AM

    Mike, federal law dictates that one state does not have to recognize the "marriage" of another state (DOMA). So no, it won't be mandatory next year.

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  24. Anonymous1:45 AM

    Please folks, we will not allow any more anonymous posts, even if you write a name at the end. Please follow the instructions on how to use a name if you don't know how.

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  25. I think there must be many people who know contraceptives are wrong, but have no idea how wrong. They would put contraception in the same category as white lies rather than adultery. And these people wouldn't guess in a thousand years it was something serious enough to land their souls in hell. Speaking for myself, I went through probably 8 years of CCD, was confirmed at age 16, and graduated from an elite Catholic prep school. The only time I ever remember hearing the words "mortal sin" was when it was introduced as a vocabulary word in 2nd grade CCD.

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  26. Francis2:07 AM

    This is very true. In fact not only has the majority of the Catholic Bishops not made it clear that using contraception is a mortal sin but most of the American Bishops were in favor of socialized medicine (Ie Obamacare)which is the big reason why the Church is in the predicament she's in now. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI also muddied the waters in his book which the leftwing and secular media jumped on about using condoms to fight HIV. While some good will come from this and some Catholics might stop using contraception, many "Catholics" don't think there is anything wrong with homosexual "marriage", socialism, divorce, religious and moral relativism, indifferentism and in some cases abortion

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  27. It's Never Too Late2:32 AM

    God can bring good out of the worst of circumstances. Many American Bishops, who were formerly silent on important issues affecting the Catholic Church, are now speaking out strongly against the HHS mandate. Although some may say this is too little, too late, God regularly makes good of the things we have done poorly in the past. In fact, I think most of us fall into this category.

    Leading by example is the best way to spread the Faith. This gives hope to the laity and also renews their strength. I, for one, can say that it does my soul good to see a priest standing next to me in the lines of a public protest condemning abortion.

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  28. Adfero,
    Presidential intentions to ignore DOMA via executive fiats have been made evident. In addition if the recent California Supreme Court decision which overturned the California voter is not overturned by the Federal Supreme Court [or ignored] Homosexual marriage will be nation-wide in 2013.
    Frankly, I don't believe we have really come to grips with the ideologue Obama, and the promises he will keep if re-elected.

    I'm currently watching a CSPAN2 from Wednesday on the contraception/abortifacient mandate presented by Catholic ethicists.
    They drive home the danger we are in, but still cannot simply say that the Catholic Church is being forced to condone an action the Church addresses as 'sin'. They speak all about 'conscience' without really addressing the reality. Legalese softens the true impact of this criminal intent to overturn our Constitution.

    St Petersburg Florida

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  29. Anonymous2:56 AM

    Mike, you can't change law like DOMA with an executive order. And it wasn't the state supreme court it was the 9th circuit which is three left wing nuts with the highest spreme court reversal rate in the country.

    There will be no nationalized homosexual marriage law next year, or any year after that. It could go state by state, but that's it, and that wont happen either.

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  30. Xavier Rynne2:58 AM

    I think it would be more accurate and prudent to say that the use of artificial contraceptives is grave matter. It satisfies one of three criteria for a mortal sin to exist.

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  31. "Most Americans (55%) including Catholics support Mr Obama on this, and he knows it. Sorry folks, too little too late: the game is over, the majority wins."

    Yes, and Goliath was a lot bigger than David too. . . .

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  32. Adfero,
    Perhaps you're right but DOMA didn't stop the administration strong arming chaplains to not speak biblical truth to homosexual relationships. In addition, letters from American bishops about Religious rights violations have been mandated 'persona non grata' in the military.

    Again, I must say that Obama administration will go where the unknown resides.

    St Petersburg Fl

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  33. Gratias4:21 AM

    Silver lining? From Obama? The American Bishops were in favor of ObamaCare, so here we are.

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  34. Adfero, you can forget about the DOMA being relevant at all if Justice Kennedy decides to make the logical extension of his Lawrence v. Texas opinion when the Ninth Circuit case comes before the Supreme Court. Read Scalia's dissent in that case and then be very afraid.

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  35. Brian4:28 AM

    I think it would be more accurate and prudent to say that the use of artificial contraceptives is grave matter. It satisfies one of three criteria for a mortal sin to exist.

    When I was in Catholic grade school in the early 60's, every child knew that it was a mortal sin to murder, miss Mass on Sundays, take Communion while in a state of mortal sin, commit adultery, and commit other similarly grave sins.

    In the past fifty years, however, so much emphasis has been placed on invincible ignorance and full consent of the will, that mortal sin seems to have all but disappeared.

    The very act that one adamantly disagrees with a clear Catholic precept regarding an objectively grave moral matter, now seems to serve as presumptive evidence that because of that adamant disagreement, the person is most likely not guilty of mortal sin.

    What ever happened to the Biblical notion of the hardened heart?

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  36. SkinnyBaldGuy4:39 AM

    I can understand dismay at the underlying principle of the gov't intruding into realm of faith but I don't understand the outrage at the HHS legislation itself. Folks, most Catholics are laymen with secular jobs buying secular insurance policies that have covered this sort of thing for a long time. Good Catholics don't use the immoral services - bad Catholics do. The big deal is?

    Our tax money has been used by the gov't to finance every immoral initiative under the sun; from works of blasphemy disguised as "art" all the way to the federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Where is the outrage? Why is there outrage only now when they've been making us pay for immorality and Godlessness for a VERY long time?

    That's the part I don't understand.

    So now the Church has to offer the full package that us regular working class Catholics have had available to us from as long as we can remember (if we're lucky enough to work for an employer who offers a plan). I did not even know you could create your own policy. I figure you had to take one of Blue Cross / Blue Shield's package deals as is. Didn't know you could cherry pick it.... but nevertheless even in my locale it was said years ago that the local Catholic Social Service's insurance plan offered contraceptives. I think this stuff has been going on silently for quite a while. I really don't understand the outrage behind the HHS itself in light of all the other junk we've been forced to "buy" with our tax money.

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  37. The silver lining is to demonstrate the catastrophic failure of the John Courtney Murray approach to religious liberty.

    Once this was bought into, it was only a matter of time until its foundational logical error would be made inescapably manifest:

    If religious liberty means extending equal liberty to true and false religions indifferently, then ultimately only the true religion will be targeted for persecution.

    All the false ones will happily render to Caesar what is God's.

    The True One won't.

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  38. I can understand dismay at the underlying principle of the gov't intruding into realm of faith but I don't understand the outrage at the HHS legislation itself. Folks, most Catholics are laymen with secular jobs buying secular insurance policies that have covered this sort of thing for a long time. Good Catholics don't use the immoral services - bad Catholics do. The big deal is?

    The big deal is that the federal government is *requiring* Catholic institutions to participate in grave evil. It's one thing to have a policy that would pay for an immoral act if you chose to avail yourself of that part of your policy. It's something else entirely for a government to require a church institution to provide that plan (and to make it illegal for anyone to buy an insurance plan that covers just the things that you want and need covered -- really now, even if I thought contraception was a-okay, why should I, a man, be forced to carry insurance that pays for the Pill?).

    but nevertheless even in my locale it was said years ago that the local Catholic Social Service's insurance plan offered contraceptives. I think this stuff has been going on silently for quite a while.

    True. Many states already have unjust and invalid laws requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives, and in those states most Catholic institutions have either stopped offering health insurance to their employees or have compromised their principles and have betrayed the Lord Jesus.

    But that doesn't mean the State has the right to require contraceptive coverage, and it doesn't mean the federal government can ignore the First Amendment.

    I really don't understand the outrage behind the HHS itself in light of all the other junk we've been forced to "buy" with our tax money.

    Whether the outrage is rational and consistent or not, the outrage is welcome and long overdue.

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  39. Gratias5:31 AM

    Perhaps a silver lining could be that people might realize the loss of Liberty that the ObamaCare law - passed with the help of the Catholic bishops, the AARP and the American Medical Association - really was. Another step down the road of Marxist Eugenics and Euthanasia.

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  40. oremus5:43 AM

    This is all about money. It would be great to believe that Obama woke a sleeping giant but I believe otherwise. The Powers That Be could not have cared less about the moral issues until this ruling threatened the revenue for the hospitals. Once the matter is resolved one way or the other then all will go back to business as usual.

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  41. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Mike: Adfero, Perhaps you're right but DOMA didn't stop the administration strong arming chaplains to not speak biblical truth to homosexual relationships.

    Mike, law is a lot different than pressure. And those chaplains were weak if they bowed to it.

    Gratias, I said what the silver lining could be. It's not realizing the wonders of liberty, it's realizing that they're in mortal sin. And it's not from Obama, it's from God, through Obama.

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  42. Anonymous1:24 PM

    I'm now hearing from sources on Capitol Hill that the White House will announce some backtrack on this today. It makes sense -- Friday dump, take out the trash day before the weekend.

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  43. Curious1:42 PM

    Jordanes,

    While the mandate is clearly wrong, I actually do think there is a case to be made that the blow up over this is out of proportion.

    This is a mandate to provide coverage, of which nobody who gets the coverage has to make any use of, in principle.

    In contrast, we are required through mandatory tax dollars to fund Medicaid family planning, military hospital abortions, and, I imagine, all sorts of stuff with international family planning and population control initiatives that USAID and others are involved in.

    This coverage mandate is not much more compared to what has already existed.

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  44. Anonymous2:09 PM

    Curious, we weren't funding all of that under Bush, with the Mexico City Language banning it. On his first day, Obama rescinded that language.

    This is bigger than what's in place. Taking payroll taxes and using them for these things is wrong. But it doubles down on that when you force someone to actually write the check for their employees.

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  45. Anonymous2:40 PM

    This "compromise" now seems to not fix the problem enough for the Church.

    The White House about to step in it again with a half-pull back on forcing the Church to provide contraception. This compromise would still equate to material cooperation with evil on the part of the Church.

    The White House will back down sooner or later -- all they're doing is prolonging the inevitable and stepping all over their message in the meantime.

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  46. Percy3:00 PM

    Actually, what's happening is that dissenters, who believe in the right of conscience, are merely having the integrity to apply the implications of that right to religious-affiliated institutions. So, there's a counter-counter lesson, too.

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  47. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Percy, I don't think that's an "actually" -- that's a main point to this. But also that, God willing, they'll see the light and that they're in mortal sin and convert.

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  48. This is my take:

    1. The bishops are a day late and dollar short on this subject, as with most others. It was something they assert from time to time but not forcefully. They didn't anticipate this kind of nonsense from the Govt (none of us actually) and now they are trying to play catch-up with it all.

    None of this was ever mentioned at any of our parishes here in L.A. since it all broke out. Gomez, as a signator to this protest, didn't think (or didn't want) to make this an archdiocesan fight? Evidently so.

    2. I read elsewhere this is actually a calculated action by the Administration to see how hard we'd fight back and what tactics would be used. It would then launch an attack on those parameters. As others have stated, this "silver lining" is only part of a recon job to see what and where we stand. Even if religious institutions became "excempt," it does nothing to address secular Catholic employers.

    EWTN announced yesterday it filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Birmingham to stop this whole thing. The CEO of EWTN said they are stuck between a rock and a hard spot. They could discontinue coverage altogether but that would be against the social justice mentality whatever but the Administration would come back and penalize EWTN $600,000 each year it fails to provide insurance to employees. This is any employer, BTW, but on this point, we'll see who slips through the cracks on this one because it means ALL, not just full-timers and the size of the business.

    Matt

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  49. Kathleen6:05 PM

    A saintly man that I'm blessed to work with in our group at a local abortion mill made exactly the same point.

    And that is a blessing. There is serious ignorance out there.

    I know through first hand knowledge.

    I know because I'm blessed to work with a Catholic group at the mill which has the primary purpose of the conversion of poor sinners (which along with conversions, results in 1 out of 4-5 potential abortions turned). This group passes on the full teachings on sexual morality, including contraception. There absolutely is ignorance among the Catholics we encounter -- and we do encounter Catholics.

    Moreover, our local president goes to great lengths to make sure all of us have proper formation in the teaching of the Church on sexual morality because even among those willing to get in the trenches there was one in the past that did not understand that the Church condemns artificial contraception.

    As to what impact this will have, there is some potential if a priest or bishop uses it as an opportunity to really work on it with his flock.

    Otherwise we just have to hope it's a burr planted in consciences, which is a good thing, but the impact will be limited.

    It would be good for us to pray for some very sharp burrs perhaps.

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  50. Anonymous7:54 PM

    Kathleen, thank you for your example, and for the great work you do.

    One famous Catholic, Sean Hannity, for years brags about his Catholicism while openly promoting heresy on contraception. He's even been admonished live on TV by a priest and yet he persists in his public heresy.

    Many people that call themselves pro-life are really just anti-abortion, and pro-contraception. You can't knowingly disagree with the Church on contraception and claim to be pro-life.

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  51. This is a mandate to provide coverage, of which nobody who gets the coverage has to make any use of, in principle.

    Whether or not one personally uses contraceptives, EVERYONE, including religious institutions, must buy the contraceptives so that others may use them.

    No, the reaction to this outrage against natural and divine law is not at all out of proportion.

    As for today's "compromise," some have said it's like the federal government announcing that, well, you Catholics don't actually have to go into the bank and rob it -- we'll let you sit in the getaway car while somebody else goes in and robs the bank.

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  52. Barbara6:07 AM

    The contraceptive mentality has been absorbed everywhere. It's considered "normal" now instead of the diabolical thing that it is. I did some research on sex education in schools, and although I had some vague idea that the pharmaceutical companies, the multinationals, the international and European 'health' organisations, plus governments at both the local and national level were all in on it, nonetheless I was distressed, disgusted to see the extent of the absolute filth that thse 'professionals' are preaching to the young and they undoubtly encourage promiscuity among them.(there is a global network that is into population control) It is most depressing. I am also angry about it when I see how this mentality devastates the lives of the young.The problems are immense and Catholics have now for the most part, succumbed to the contraceptive mentality, mostly because the modern Church NEVER speaks about it. So souls both young and not so young are living continuously in serious sin, but if their consciences have not been formed correctly?

    Contraception is a particularly insidious and diabolical sin, which destroys beauty, purity and all that is good...

    Prayers for Bishops to lead the way in this battle for life and death...

    Lord have pity on us!

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  53. Latin Rite Catholic1:42 PM

    Well, that old, bald-headed, celibate bachelor Pope Paul VI was right after all. All his predictions have come true. The problem is that the 'Don't Tread On My Orgasm' crowd simply won't have any of it. I've actually had Catholics rhetorically ask me what the difference is between using artificial contraception and mathematics to avoid pregnancy. This is the fault of the Church for not using the Teaching Authority God gave her. The bishops dropped the ball and so they are paying the price and Catholicism is now in a sorry state. May God have mercy on us all.

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  54. I choose not to disdain this extraordinary 'fait accompli' by the USCCB with the cooperation of possibly 181 local bishops. The bishops were obviously ready and willing to publicly oppose this Federal assault.
    However, the protection of conscience by individual Christian employers must be guaranteed. The bishops cannot back off now.
    In addition, this shows that Apostolic Bishops acting in unison to protect the Faith continue to have enormous respect inside and outside the Church.
    For the future, it is critical that leadership at USCCB continues to reflect this unity to protect the parishioner in the aisles from secular domination.
    This was not possible with the generation of bishops of 5-10 years ago.
    American bishops must be reading Pope Benedict's preaching on these matters, and his appointments reflect a new reality. Yet the modernist infrastructure at the USCCB remains.

    St Petersburg Florida

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  55. I am continually amazed that there are people who believe that the Bishops who pushed for Universal Government-Mandated Health Care to be implemented by the most pro-death government we've ever had in this country actually "didn't know" that this would happen. I'm sorry it just strains credulity. It matters little if the USCCB manages at this time to contain the debate and frame it as an issue of "Religious liberty" so that they get a few "morsels" from the Government and a few more "Catholic" named institutions get an exemption from this or that regulation to which the rest of the country will be subjected. The simple fact is that NO American, regardless of whether his business is called "Catholic" should be required by the Government to buy insurance which fund abortions, because no American should be required by the government to participate in such a monstrously evil Universal Health Care system at ALL. But our Bishops, speaking through the USCCB believe otherwise. There is no other way to understand their actions. And of course, what the government has "given" in terms of exemptions, can always be "taken back" in terms of re-written mandates and canceled exemptions - once the election is over. Once you capitulate the primary point, which our beloved USCCB was only to hasty to do, which is that the Government CAN and SHOULD mandate UNIVERSAL Health Care, it is too late to argue now that the Government should not be allowed to mandate what care is given, to whom it is given, and who has to pay for it.

    Do they really think we are ALL that stupid? This USCCB is filled with what Jesus called "hirelings". And the final proof will be when the death panels begin to condemn the aged from their flocks to be euthanized - or merely to not be given any care at all. No true shepherd would have turned his flock over to the wolves in the way that our USCCB has. But strangely only a few people are commenting on this. Everyone is acting like they are so brave and so good for "standing up to" Obama. What a joke. All we have seen is whiny memos quibbling over this or that aspect and complaining about who can be classified as "Religious" for purposes of obtaining an exemption from a Universal Health Care system which SHOULD have been opposed by EVERY faithful Catholic precisely because it gives the Government the ability to decide who gets care and who doesn't, what care they get, and who pays for it, in the first place.

    Just look at any of the letters which any of our Bishops have had read in churches recently. Have ANY of them said ANYTHING about the monstrous intrusion into EVERY American's life by this Government-mandated Universal health care? I don't think so. All of these so-called "strongly-worded" letters merely frame the debate as if it only concerns religious liberty: e.g. how many of us can be exempted from certain provisions of a monstrously evil system which turns whether you get health care, and what kind you get, and who pays for it, into a political question to be decided by a government bureaucrat.

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  56. (continued from my previous)

    This is NOT primarily an issue of religious liberty and to frame it as such is very, very weak. This is an issue of a Statist attempt to achieve total control over the life and death of each of it's serfs.

    And as such, it is an issue for every American, not just for "religious" or "Catholic" institutions. But our USCCB continues to believe otherwise - at least if it's current memos can be believed - and nothing about any of the recent flurry of verbiage from our Bishops has shown any different.

    Until our Bishops, severally and together, simply accept the fact that CHRIST is the Healer of the Nations, and that the CHURCH as his Body in this world is the agent he holds responsible for tending the sick and lame among the flock - until they give up their Statist mindset, and start reading their Gospel mandate for what it is: a mandate to the CHURCH, NOT a mandate to the STATE. Until they do this there will be no silver lining for any Americans, least of all Catholic ones.

    Kyrie eleison,
    Jeff H.

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  57. Abdiesus,
    Your attitude gives sucker to the intentions of this Obamacare ploy to further disrupt Catholic unity.

    Please calm down. We are not inside a State sponsored Church in the USA and we do not want to be.
    Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association is creating enough confusion for the sake of Obamacare, and to oppose the bishops.

    St Petersburg Florida

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  58. Mike B.: You write, "Your attitude gives [succour] to the intentions of this Obamacare ploy to further disrupt Catholic unity."

    Please explain how abdiesus's reasoned, albeit somewhat understandably repetitive, rejection of the government's oft-stated claim that it has a right to interpose itself between an individual and his physician—rather, between every individual and every physician—serves the end you list, even if one assumes for the sake of argument that any creature describable as "Catholic unity" can be found on these shores without the aid of a divining rod.

    You write further, "Please calm down. We are not inside a State sponsored Church in the USA and we do not want to be." While today's American Catholic Church may not, strictly speaking, be "state sponsored," it has nonetheless become so willingly and servilely dependent upon government largesse—a largesse not of grace, need it be added, but of cash—that it will do nothing whatsoever to place either that cash flow or its far more precious status as a tax-exempt institution in proximate danger. You are aware, aren't you, that certain House members—New York's Nita Lowey, among many others—are perpetually at the ready with prepared denunciations of the continuation of federal tax exemption whenever any demurral, however slight, from any governmental arrogation to itself of still more power and still newer forms of power is heard. Under the circumstances, it would be far more sensible, then, for you to stir yourself up instead of asking abdiesus to calm down!

    One last point on a related matter, if I may. In an earlier comment, you grandly instructed Adfero to beware the administration's "criminal intent to overturn our Constitution." You and those who instruct you in history and civics have come to the party/wake almost a century and a half late. That document has been a dead letter since at least 1867, by which time the "state" of West Virginia had been unconstitutionally hewn from Virginia and admitted into the Union and the states of the defeated Confederacy were instructed in words of one syllable that they would be under punitive military occupation until they ratified the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Theoretical discussions of the wisdom or advisability of being governed by the U.S. Constitution belong on a different sort of blog, of course. What is appropriate to this blog are reflections on the moral and theological consequences of the U.S. government's now decades-old decision to act as if Our Blessed Lord's distinction between Caesar and God is well past its sell-by date.

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  59. Ecclesia Militans8:05 AM

    There is nothing wrong with Universal Healthcare, as it is understood throughout Europe.

    There is nothing socialist about it and there is no obligation to fund contraceptives or abortion - this must be an American invention.

    In fact, the foundations of Universal Healthcare are found in the glorious Middle Ages, when Catholic charity-inspired public hospitals offered free healthcare to all patients, sometimes prescribed by the State.

    Not counting those manipulated masses, the opposition to Universal Healthcare per se is motivated by an uncharitable, un-Catholic excessive greed of insurance companies, which acquire immoral earnings by exploiting the most poor.

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  60. Ecclesia Militans, thank you for your contribution to the discussion. I must admit at the outset that I have never lived in Europe, and I have no knowledge of the details of the European system. I find it very difficult to believe on the face of it, however, that even if there is not a direct funding of immoral practices in the European System, that there is necessarily an indirect funding of such practices (what, are you trying to tell me that European systems do not cover abortion, etc.?) with merely a fig-leaf or middle-man to allow one to claim that it avoid "direct" support for immoral practices. Never-the-less, I do not want to get this discussion bogged down on that question, because even if it were the case that the European Systems are blameless (for now) in terms of public coverage (and therefore public funding, supported by all who, by law, must contribute to such public funding) for immoral practices, never-the-less, I say, such a state of affairs is merely temporary (if it is even more than a ruse to begin with). *In Principle* the ceding of the Church's mission to the State in the area of Health Care, as with it's occasional ceding of it's mission in the area of Education, or it's other areas of mission to the poor (Feed the hungry; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; etc.) such ceding to the State, I maintain, is a failure of the Church to read the Gospel mandates which impel it's activity in these areas of mission. For the Gospel never mandates that the *State* qua State do ANY of these things. But it does mandate perennially that the *Church* do these things, both by word and example of our Blessed Lord. The Church, most specifically, is commanded by our Lord to do all of these things, NOT to agitate so as to force (the State, remember, bears the sword "not in vain") *others* to do the job our Blessed Lord assigned her.

    This is why the example which you seek to use to "prove" the acceptability of modern, State-imposed, systems of Universal Health Care simply do not apply to the case you are trying to build at all. Rather, such examples representing the glory of the Mideaval Church, of which there are many, merely show how far the modern Church with it's Statist faith has fallen from her previous attention to her Lord's commands concerning the poor.

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  61. European healthcare systems are so varied, from ones completely unified and under absolute state control to others based on private insurance and private institutions and with only general governmental direction. But in most of them, abortion and contraception are part of the complete package. They are not within the essence of those systems, that is true, but once both are recognized as "rights" ("reproductive rights"), then there is no reason not to fund them as other health concerns - and to force or "influence" private healthcare providers to make them available.

    It is almost always a mistake, nevertheless, to use the adjective "European" to describe almost any political reality: things really do vary considerably from nation to nation, and within the same polity.

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  62. (continued from my previous)
    If, by using the term "Universal Health Care" you are merely suggesting a return to the Mediaeval Church's glorious leadership in care for the poor, rather than just attempting to bolster continued faith in the secular State as the savior of us all, then I don't think we have a substantial disagreement. However, it might be helpful, if this is true, not to present the one as if it were the other. For they are NOT the same, and to equivocate on this matter is to spread confusion in a matter of literally life-and-death importance for all of us, not just the poor. For, you see, as I alluded in my previous, even were *current* European State-based Health-care systems *truly* blameless in terms of their public funding of immoral practices, the fact is that such a condition or state of affairs is merely temporary. That which the State giveth today, the State may (and will) "taketh away" tommorrow. This is the bitter fruit of putting one's faith in the State as the savior of all, by ceding to the State those responsibilities which our Lord gave to the Church. It is only the Church who has been entrusted with this responsibility by our Lord, not the secular State, precisely because the State always has an ulterior motive - it's own power and prestige, and the continued recognition and adulation of it's subjects. If, as we now see it in the developed world, those subjects are increasingly clamoring for immorality to be codified as law, then the State must acquiesce. And it will, every time. The Church, however, is the only institution which is guaranteed by God not to defect from the moral code of her Master's teachings, and thus the Church is the only institution which can be trusted with wisdom required by universal responsibility for the care of the poor (under which auspices lie her mandate from her Lord concerning health care).

    Is this not clear? Moreover, is it not also blinding obvious from the history of modern Europe and America?

    I find it impossible not to see the truth of this etched not only in the pages of Scripture, but in the Tradition of the Church, and in the annals of the History of Western Civilization:

    Statism is not Christian, nor has it ever been. The CHURCH is Christ's answer to the need for Universal Health Care, NOT the State.

    Until our Bishops (and all the rest of us) give up our ill placed faith in the State as the savior of us all, and recognize this fact, our Lady's prophecy concerning the errors of Russia will continue to be increasingly and loudly validated in Europe as well as in America. The cries of Rachel weeping for her children which we hear from China, are just around the corner for us too, and depend ONLY upon the fickle will of a government bureaucrat.

    Kyrie eleison,
    Jeff H.

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  63. Ecclesia Militans10:07 AM

    First off, yes there is indirect funding of immoral practices, but this is the case with taxes as well - anything you give to the government can be used for criminal purposes (and often is), and the responsibility is not yours but theirs. It is, however, your responsibility if you are forced to directly supply funding for contraception and abortion, among other things.
    This is a great danger now in America, with the government threatening to persecute Catholics for refusing to betray their Faith.

    Secondly, healthcare is not only the responsibility of the Church but also of the State. During the Middle Ages many Catholic States created and governed public hospitals which provided free healthcare to all, precisely because they felt, and said it explicitly, that the State is obliged by Christian charity to help those who cannot pay for medical care. This is also the original reason for creating a universal system for healthcare - the first system, in 19th century Germany, was intended and applied mostly to the lower class.

    The glorious Christian Ages, as I like to call the so-called Middle Ages, had many great examples of Christian brotherly charity.

    There were even states who, led by Christian charity and justice, did not tax the lower classes at all, but only the high class. Which state today can say the same?

    Both the actions of the modern State, as well as the Church, leave much to be desired.

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  64. Ecclesia Militans, thank you for your continued interaction. It allows a fuller working-out of the implications to be seen, and this is helpful, I believe.

    I must however take exception to several things which you state.

    First off, and most central to the rest of your argument, you make the mistake of failing to distinguish between what is incumbent upon a Christian magistrate, *simply because* he is a Christian, and what is the responsibility of the State QUA State. This is a common mistake to make, and it has plagued much that has been written concerning Church/State relations and affairs for a long time. The point which you fail to recognize is that the responsibility which a Christian magistrate has to further care for the poor, including health care, is a responsibility which exists NOT because he is a magistrate, but because he is a CHRISTIAN magistrate. It is because he is a member of the CHURCH that he inherits some portion of the responsibility which Christ lays upon the CHURCH for the care of the poor - such a portion of that responsibility which is appropriate to his state in life as a magistrate. Is this clear?

    Unfortunately, it is by means of consistent *lack* of clarity on this point that those who agitate for the State to be seen as the savior of all - and, in this case, THE entity responsible for the care of the poor, and thus for Universal Health care, have been able to make as much progress as they have in duping the faithful into accepting the idea that State-mandated and imposed systems of health-care MUST be supported on grounds of *CHRISTIAN* morality - when, in fact, it is increasingly the case, that such systems are designed precisely for the codification of immorality on the one hand, and on the other, the idolatry of State-worship.

    Christ did not command his Church to sit back and let the State take care of the Poor. He commanded the Church herself to do this work, and though it is true that a CHRISTIAN magistrate may (and should) do all he can in his office and state in life as a magistrate to assist the Church in her task, that task, is, and remains, a task assigned to the CHURCH, *not* to the State.

    It is the CHURCH to which this task of Universal Health care, as with all other care for the poor, has been given, because only the Church has the wisdom and the holiness to do so according to her Master's teaching, and only the Church has been guaranteed not to defect from that moral teaching.

    Is this clear? If you reject this, I'd like to know on what grounds?

    As the international economic crisis continues to advance, it is soon to become a matter of more than merely academic importance, for if the public roles can no longer fund the health care of the aged, will not the State resort to euthanizing the unwanted old and infirm tommorrow, just as it has resorted to encouraging in the strongest possible way aborting the unwanted children of
    today?

    This is the spirit and agenda of Statism, *in principle* everwhere, even if, for reasons of pragmatism, it fails in some places to always enforce this spirit at every juncture.

    As such, the spirit and agenda of Statism must be rejected in every form and manifestation, particularly as it affects, as it does in this case, issues like Universal Health Care which belong, by command of our Blessed Lord, to the Church, and NOT to the State.

    Kyrie eleison,
    Jeff H.

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  65. Ecclesia Militans1:10 PM

    Jeff,

    It seems to me that you are advocating a system of theocracy, where the Church takes part in the governing of the State. That kind of system is unprecedented in Christian states, because even in cases when the ruler of a state was a bishop, he carefully kept the two offices apart.

    The State, as a state, especially the one where most of the population is Catholic, has an obligation to recognize the Catholic Faith as the State religion, not only as the religion of its statesmen, and to pass laws which support the work of the Church.

    It is not at all contrary to natural law nor an usurpation of the laws of the Church for the State to regulate healthcare, or any other matter which does not concern the Faith or Church institutions.

    On the other hand, it is not at all a job of the Church to regulate healthcare - this is a legislative responsibility, and the Church is not the legislator of the State.
    The Church does not pass laws on the State, so neither does it interfere in the making or implementation of these laws.

    The charitable institutions of the Church are bodies separate from the State, but which the State can influence with its laws.
    The charitable institutions of the State, in existence at least from the Middle Ages, are bodies separate from the Church, but they are obligated in terms of Christian morality, and the Church often cooperates in their operations.

    I have read documents from the Middle Ages to before the Council, where states recognize their various obligations, as states, not as individual statesmen - to the Catholic Church.

    One of those is the creation of a public State hospital in the 12th century, which I mentioned before.

    In fact, charitable institutions in the Middle Ages were not only the domain of the Church and the State, but also of private individuals - many guilds and fraternities were charitable institutions entirely separate from the Church and the State, but cooperating with both.

    In the Middle Ages all the layers and parts of Society were intertwined but still everyone knew his place and the limitations of his position, all of which is lost today.

    Let us render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.

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