USCCB Promises to Continue Fight against HHS Mandate

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a newly released statement, have promised to continue their fight against the Obama administration's HHS mandate, calling it a "violation of personal civil rights." The story on the USCCB website begins: 

The U.S. bishops are strongly united in their ongoing and determined efforts to protect religious freedom, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a March 14 statement.

The Administrative Committee, chaired by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB, is the highest authority of the bishops’ conference outside the semi-annual sessions of the full body of bishops. The Committee’s membership consists of the elected chairmen of all the USCCB permanent committees and an elected bishop representative from each of the geographic regions of the USCCB.

The full statement can be found at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Admin-Religious-Freedom.pdf and www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/march-14-statement-on-religious-freedom-and-hhs-mandate.cfm

James Martin, SJ

Patrick Loyola
5 years 2 months ago
Marie - I think a fair reading of Mrs. Molai statements is that she wants to keep her healthcare if possible and that she is not suicidal. Her love for God is greater than her love for this life and I don't think that she should be ridiculed for that love.

 
Marie - I have no desire to exaggerate or distort your positions. I feel that the greatest respect I can show you is to treat you as fellow human being who is responsible for her statements. It is because I am concerned about what you truly think that I challenge you to support your positions based on a fair reading of the facts. I apologize sincerely if I came across as someone who did not care about you. My only desire is to treat you as sister that I happen to disagree with on this issue - but still respect and value as a wonderful creation of God.

 
Michael - I do agree that there is indeed great suffering and moral dilemma in life. As a Catholic I seriously reflect on teachings that are in tension with human experience. The book of Job has helped me with this tension. 

I believe God is good. Yes - I have difficulty in understanding why God has let things happen in my life and in the lives of others. These difficulties engender humility within me and instill a greater appreciation of my own limitations in understanding things from God's perspective. Nevertheless God is good and the problem in understanding is with me. Of this I am most certain.


Michael - I can see that you have a great concern for others. I respect the passion with which you defend your positions. While I disagree with some of your conclusions I still value you as a child of God and as a brother.
 
 
As a good will gesture to Marie I will join her in keeping this as my last comment on this thread.
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 2 months ago
As they should, with or without the polling showing a majority in their corner.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57395832-503544/poll-most-say-employers-should-be-allowed-not-to-cover-contraception/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

PS - Haven't seen this poll covered much in the media - Catholic or otherwise.  Perhaps it undermines the standard line on the "GOP's 'war' on women?"

News to the President: Catholics (among others) may be ok with contraception, but they're decidedly less ok about subsidizing it for someone else.
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Marie #100
We do appear to come down on opposite sides in a consistent way on diverse issues. I don't think this is surprising. We derive our ethics based on more fundamental principles and the positions naturally flow from them. I am a scientist who has been in medical research for many years. I accept the Church's teaching on human life and sexual morality, as more reasonable, more aligned to our true human nature, and better for society, no matter how hard that may be for living a single life for many years in modern America, and now as a married man. I believe it is a more generous way to live.
Humanae vitae predicted that contraception would lead to increased infidelity, divorce, marital breakdown, abortion, homosexuality, greater superficiality in all things sexual and a prioritization of pleasure over fidelity in relationships. It is hard to see that Pope Paul VI wasn't prophetic in these consequences. I believe these changes in society are in the end dehumanizing.
I also believe that many in the clergy have been awfully weak in defending the children in their care from the much smaller number of actual perpetrators. I believe they have taken many steps to be more vigilant but this will always be a work in progress. I am furious how the lawyers have taken millions of dollars from the poor parishioners’ donations and away from the charitable works the money would have gone to, as they get really rich and the actual victims remain no better off. How do you heal such abuse with money (but the lawyers don’t care – they want their money). But I also believe in apostolic succession as promised in Matt 16:18-19, and think our knowledge of Jesus, his true teaching and the saving grace of the sacraments would be lost without it. When many were leaving the Lord after his insistence on the Eucharistic teaching (recounted in John 6), he asked the apostles “You do not want to leave too, do you?” And Peter answered: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” That is where I am too with the Church. I know I personally fall short every day in leading the life Jesus calls me to, so I am fearful of judging others, even though I am frequently outraged by injustice (love the sinner, hate the sin).
I have spent a lot of time reading medical ethics and Church and Political History. I have seen how scientists tend toward arrogance and overconfidence in the ethical field (they are terribly conflicted in this area). They have a false anthropology as they believe man is just a more intelligent animal. At best that thinking can offer man is a form of animal rights; whereas the Church teaches that every soul is sacred & eternal (and will outlast the physical universe – amazing but rings true to me). In history, I see how apparently minor deviations in theology (e.g. Arianism - ''an iota of a difference'' – or the filioque dispute with our Eastern brethren, or the first falling from consistent teaching on contraception that came in at the Anglican Lambeth conference in 1930) can have profound effects when elaborated over time. And minor changes in government control (this mandate) can also have profound implications on our freedoms. By the way, on Friday, there will be over 120 marches and rallies for religious liberty across the country (http://catholicliberty.com/344) so we will see how this ends up.
Crystal Watson
5 years 2 months ago
Imagine what it would be like if the bishops were this fired up and united behind eliminating clerical sex abuse, firing those who covered it up, and making restitution to the victims. 
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
Tim:

Below is part of an essay I wrote with references for what you called an "outlandish statement, that 97% of world-wide female married women practice some form of contraception, and that only 3% practice NFP or PC. I don't think you are a fool, but simply ignorant of many facts.

I am a researcher and professional and understand the assumptions and slight-of-hand conclusions that some studies often use to mislead. You can believe anything you read, but I have studied the contraception issue full time for the past 5 years, and have a 3 year work under review by a prominent Catholic theological journal. I also have two prestigious moral theologians as mentors, namely, Joseph Selling, Emeritus Professor of Theological Ethics, and Former Chair of Theology, at the Catholic University at Leuven, Belgium...and William Murphy, Jr., Professor of Moral Theology at the Josephium Seminary in Ohio. Both of these theologians represent two ends of the theological debate. Thus, I study and respect both points of view but disagree with the Church's teaching about contraception. I believe contraception is moral under specific circumstances, based on strong philosophical and theologican argumentations. Five years ago, I had an objective of reading the top 100 books on and related to the subject of moral theology. At the moment, I am reading my 65th book, not including an equal number of articles. This does not make me an expert by any means. However, you should consider that your proclamations are not as convincing and substantive as you may think.

Below is some statistics that are accurate and not misleading. These statistics have been supported by many other studies. You seem shocked that they don't fit your understanding of reality. This tells me that you are not widely read on this subject as you may think. You can check out the assumptions, methodologies, sample sizes, demographic and social status of the women used in these studies. I hope this will be both informative and educational for you. I could easily provide you with a point-counterpoint argument, especially on the controversial and misleading statements you made in your recent blog like: the increase in contraception and the increase in illegitmate children, and contraception as a primary or secondary cause for abortion.  I am suprised you did not quote the works of Janet Smith.

Given your desposition, I doubt any facts or arguments I offer will change your point of view. Marie offered you some excellent facts for reflection. If you are a physican, then you never answered the issue I raised about the young married female whose life is threatened by another pregnancy. Most physicians I know, including those who are Catholic, would recommend sterilization, or the pill, as a reasoned and most prudent way to safe-guard her life. So would most moral theologians, and many priests. Unfortunately, the Church says she must practice risky PC or imposed celibacy. Also, most Catholics would consider this teaching a form of stoic insensibility.


> In 2008 only three percent of U.S. married Catholic women practiced Natural Family Planning (NFP)/-Periodic Continence (PC) as the only licit method for regulating fertility and limiting the number of children in marriage.[1] According to the Population Reference Bureau only three percent of married women and those in union in 2002 worldwide used PC as well.[2] Surprisingly, this percent was the same for the two categories, more developed and less developed countries.

Also, 40 percent of U.S. priests affirmed that using artificial methods of birth control is seldom or never a sin.[3] Moreover, most theologians and many bishops do not believe HV is a convincing doctrine.[4]
Equally troubling is the fact that in 2010, 34 million people were infected with HIV and 7,000 are being infected each day.[5] Sadly, according to the Catholic Church (Church), serodiscordant couples must live a life of celibacy.

Nevertheless, the statistics that reveal disagreement about HV are not a reason to dismiss the Church’s teachings because these facts prove nothing theologically.
Catholics need an unbiased and better understanding of HV and the ethics of procreation, but also that, on the other hand, the Church needs a better understanding of the person and his or her relationships. The Church also needs a convincing moral theology able to address the profound crisis in the Church over the ethics of procreation.




[1] Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke, Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use (New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2011), 1-8, at 5, accessed April 14, 2011, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/Religion-and-Contraceptive-Use.pdf


[2] Population Reference Bureau, Family Planning Worldwide: 2002 Data Sheet (Washington D.C.: PBR, 2002), accessed July 14, 2011 at http://www.prb.org/famplanworldwide_eng.pdf


[3] Susan Pinkus and Dean Basquet, ‘Survey of Roman Catholic Priests in the United States and Puerto Rico,’ Los Angeles Times (October 21, 2002): 1-28, at 22,accessed June 1, 2011, http://www.LAT-Priest-Survey.pdf.


[4] Bishop Kenneth Untener, ‘Humanae Vitae: What has it done to us? And what is to be done now?’ Commonweal 120 (June 18, 1993): no page, accessed March 12, 2011, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n12_v120/ai_13988464


[5] United Nations AIDS Agency, ‘7,000 people still catching AIDS: UN,’ Yahoo! Health, June 3, 2011, accessed June 10, 2011, www.health.yahoo.net/news/s/afp/healthaidsanniversaryunaids

Bill Mazzella
5 years 2 months ago
Right you are Crystal. There is so much corruption and greed in our society while the bishops choose to isolate contraception as the largest. The bishops keep going downhill while saying little about the intense sufferings Americans are undergoing supporting their families. If they followed the bishops on contraception people would  be much poorer. Meanwhile the bishops keep accepting checks from Wall St predators while supporting one party. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?nl=opinion&emc=edit_ty_20120314
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Tim,
I looked up some of the references you provided to Michael.  One item stands out to me, since I believe it is likely that women who have access to contraceptives without copays through their insurance will be more likely to use them if their family circumstances warrant, and thus we will see a decrease in abortions.  It seems to make sense, but your prolife physicians website has numerous articles that assert that abortion numbers are not reduced by contraceptive use. 
In most of these articles a comparison is made between the total number of abortions from one year to the next.  Such a number is not the same as an abortion rate, which takes into account how many women are in the population in a given year.  However, I don't think either of these statistics is meaningul to determining whether contraception works to reduce abortion.
It appears to me that the relevant statistic would be how many pregnancies end in abortion.  I believe this statistic is called the incidence of abortion by Guttmacher, which states that 22% of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.  This may be an average taken over all the years that this information has been tallied.
If we do not look at abortion incidence before health reform and after health reform, we will not really know if contraception is having an effect.  It is very similar to the confusion where the statistic that 98% of Catholic women who have ever been sexually active have used birth control was presumed to say that 98% of all Catholic women have used birth control.
Similarly, there are statistics that say that 40% of white women's pregnancies end in abortion, while 67% of black women's pregnancies end in abortion.  This gross statistic does not take into account that black women are poorer overall than white women such that they possibly cannot afford to purchase the type of contraceptives that would provide the best protection against pregnancy.
In any case, the assertion that statistically greater access to contraceptives leads to more abortions has not been shown to be more than a correlation, especially given that the age group isolated as support for this assertion in "Guttmacher Institute Claims Contraception Lowers Abortions, Data Shows Otherwise (10/09)" refers to teenagers in England.  Should we not take into account how many of these young ladies actually attempted to use birth control and whether those who did actually did so correctly?

Both sides of this controversy have plenty of statistics to use to support their claims, and most people do not have the expertise to interpret these statistics correctly before they assert that their opinions are supported by them.
Leo Zanchettin
5 years 2 months ago
Can someone here help me? I'm trying to find some place where the bishops address the question of whether drugs like Plan B and ella actually are abortofacients. All I can seem to find are assertions that they act in this way, but am having a hard time finding reliable science to back up the claim. But on the other hand, I seem to find statements from organizations like the FDA explaining that this is not the case-with science to back it up.

Is it possible I'm just looking in the wrong places? And to echo Fr. Martin's request on his related Facebook post, I'm not looking for ad hominem statements or unsubstantiated assignations of motive. I'm really trying to see if and where this issue is addressed by opponents of the mandate. Thanks for any help.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Tim

The CDC report you cite says that 99% of women ages 15 to 44 who have had intercourse at least once in their lives have used contraception at some time in their lives (Figure 1).  The statistic that you cite (62%) pertained to only the month in which the women were interviewed (Figure 4).  Some of those women may have been nursing, some may have had no partner at that time, some may have been taking the risk because finances did not stretch far enough to pay for contraception. 

GeGeorge Akerlof said that contraceptive availability in society led to a change in society, such that people more freely engaged in sex, while they did not necessarily use the contraceptives.  In my opinion, this is may be correct for that time, but not necessarily for all time.  Further changes in society could show a growth of social pressure to never have an unwanted pregnancy because of the availability of contraception to everyone with no additional cost than what is already being spent on insurance.
david power
5 years 2 months ago
Crystal, What have you been smoking?
Obama  is the bad guy and the Bishops are taking a heroic stand.
Read the script the next time please. 
C Walter Mattingly
5 years 2 months ago
There is a question of definition here. Most of us would probably consider that abortion occurs when the human life of a fetus is ended by artificial means, yet some consider that pregnancy does not begin until after implantation, not after the embodied human career is established at conception. Those of us who are pro-life or anti-abortion generally consider the willful act of terminating that life by abortifacient drugs or other means to be the ethically objectionable act, whereas those who are pro-choice generally wish to extend the definition of that human life to the point of implantation, or the point where twinning can occur, or to the development of a heart beat, or the development of the nervous system, or to the point of viability. In Who Counts as Persons, Fr Kavanaugh makes a convincing argument that that point where the human life should be protected from willful termination is upon conception, when the embodied human career of that nascent person begins.
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
Tim:

I read the article you referenced as a proclamation of the truth about Humanae Vitae "The Vindication of Humnae Vitae".

Throughtout this article, is pontification after proclamation citing all sorts of articles and studies....yet, right in the middle the author asserts "Although doubt will always remain about what "causes" social custom, the technology-shock theory does fit the facts". Give me a break. She further carefully mentions that such and such a researcher shows a "relation" to contraception. Notice not one study is quoted demonstrating that contraception "causes" the weakening of family ties, the number of unwed mothers, etc. Notice that this article is replete with phrases such as "a link to the contraceptive revolution" or the "sexual revolution".

Few will argue that our culture has become more liberal, especially about sex. However, this is a far cry from demonstating that contraception causes abortion, dysfunctional famlies, spousal abuse, and the number of unwed mothers.

Name one prominent scientific and widely accepted study that has proved that contraception causes these social and cultural phenomenon. You will not find them because they don't exit. What authors like this, and I might add this article did mention Janet Smith, try to persuade by anedote and casual inference or correlation. Even the prominent magisterial theologian Martin Rhonheimer, does not go this far....although he certainly implies contraception causes abortion. However, when you read Rhonheimer, you have to read him carefully and study his chosen words, to determine what he is really claiming are the definitive facts. He finally admits that there is a seeming correlation which should be questioned as to whether this correlation is a cause. Nevertheless, if you read his works you will never guess that this is his true opinion. You find it only when you read "all" of his works because he frequently covers the same subjects with different degrees of detail and argumentation.

So, much for the so-called proof about the consequences of contraception. As Tom Cruise said in one of his movies "Show me the money".
C Walter Mattingly
5 years 2 months ago
There is a question of definition here. Most of us would probably consider that abortion occurs when the human life of a fetus is ended by artificial means, yet some consider that pregnancy does not begin until after implantation, not after the embodied human career is established at conception. Those of us who are pro-life or anti-abortion generally consider the willful act of terminating that life by abortifacient drugs or other means to be the ethically objectionable act, whereas those who are pro-choice generally wish to extend the definition of that human life to the point of implantation, or the point where twinning can occur, or to the development of a heart beat, or the development of the nervous system, or to the point of viability. In Who Counts as Persons, Fr Kavanaugh makes a convincing argument that that point where the human life should be protected from willful termination is upon conception, when the embodied human career of that nascent person begins.
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Marie #111
So, the 99% (darn, they almost got to 100%) is for the much narrower subset of “All Women” - non-virgin women 15-44 (CDC Table 1). And all they had to do is once use a condom to get declared “contraceptive users.” But, wait a minute, it includes those women who used NFP (24%) and 58% who used withdrawal (even once???). I don’t think that is what we are talking about (no copay already). I do note that Hispanics in this definition who ever used NFP is 2.5 times the general population (59%, Table 2). The %’s are not additive and the study did not get into how many types individuals used, but I suspect those using NFP in this study were mostly doing so for Catholic reasons. There are a lot of Catholics trying to be devout today who weren’t always so, as well as converts from the Contracepting Churches.  This data supports the contention that the 90% figure is bogus and, in the case of the abortionist ideologues at Guttmacher, intentionally so. Ditto for the current administration.
Michael #113, 116, 117, 118
You’re killing the argument with the sloppy blogging - very hard to follow your arguments. I promise to be briefer if you will. In any case, while I think you are sincere, and accept you have done a lot of reading and research, so did Luther and Calvin, but they still got the Real Presence wrong. I think you have not read or understood Lydia McGrew’s critique of the 98% Guttmacher figure since you didn’t step away from it. I could be more open to drudge through all these polls if you admitted these high 90s figures were too high and that the Guttmacher study is being grossly misused by the politicians. In any case, you and I agree that morality is never decided by frequency of practice (or lying would be a virtue). So, we have to go to authorities other than polls and studies (did I mention the Magisterium?).
If Ed Gleason is still here, I would like to remind everyone as Patrick just did in #114, that the issue here is religious freedom, that the government is being the aggressor, and that there are marches all over the country on Friday to defend everyone’s rights (even all those who do not share my beliefs on this blog). Thanks Tom Maher, Carlos and Juan and Patrick for your insights, and Gabriel #103 and Maria #104 for your kind words (and Marie for your many rebuttals and persistence).
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Marie #15.
I can agree with you that the belief that a human has a soul and is deserving of human dignity is a religious belief. Science is not competent to say anything about human ensoulment or human dignity or human rights. It only knows the animal, the physical. In fact, science knows nothing about any ethics. It can tell you the number of people killed by abortion, or war, or genocide, but the scientific method cannot discover if any of it is right or wrong. It can evaluate the economics of slavery but doesn't know anything about the ethics of it. The same goes for many of the scientific organizations in our society. By the way, there is an American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG, over 2,500 strong) that differs from you on the conception/implantation question. See their beautiful site. http://www.aaplog.org/

So, we disagree on the timing of ensoulment. But, you want to impose your religious beliefs on Catholics, or certainly on insurance providers, Catholic hospitals, doctors, etc. What if you believed in partial-birth abortion or believed that ensoulment occurred days after birth? (some do). Would you then want to force Catholic hospitals to provide its workers with infanticide insurance? Your principle is flawed.

This whole religious liberty problem has arisen because the government, with its power of coercion, for the first time, is claiming the right to 1) define who is religious and who isn't, 2) force people to go against their consciences, and 3) to keep believing Catholics/Christians from opening certain businesses (such as insurance companies, adoption agencies, etc.) without compromising their faith. Why shouldn't Catholics be allowed to set up pro-life insurance companies and cover people who wish to have their insurance coverage consistent with their ethics? Are orthodox Catholics to now be excluded from certain professions because of this? Is that the society you really want? - More ''freedom'' for you at the abuse of other people's freedom?

Tom Maher (#18) is right that this whole Mandate is unconstitutional and will likely be decided so in the courts. It is unlikely that the first right of the first amendment will fall after lasting over 200 years just because some don't want to pay for their own medicines.

Carolyn (#27)
You and many other commentators seem to think that failings by some Bishops should disqualify all of them from their ethical rights and duties now. But if they failed to stand for religious liberty, then they would be doubly wrong, as two wrongs do not make a right. They have to stand for what's right even though they are not perfect (see http://www.catholicliberty.com/ for their recent statements). And they should still try to protect the innocent in the abuse crisis, not only the children, but also the falsely accused priests. So, please pray for the innocent who are falsely accused and as well as those who are abused. And hope that the law will be there to protect you if you are ever falsely accused of such heinous crimes.
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
Tim:

I think you either are intentionally avoiding my examples that question the reasonability of the Church's teachings about contraception as applied to many complex and concrete cases. I think the reason is thay you have no answer.

We can debate whether the Guttmacher study may have some inconsistencies, but many studies have put the percent of female married Catholics who practice NFP somewhere between 3%-11%. Frankly, does it really matter? Did you every give any serious consideration to the Dean Hoge study? His studies are exceptionally professional and no one criticizes the conclusions.

Contraception and sexual ethics has been intensely debated for the past 44 years. I sincerely question that you have followed the theological debate and know what you are talking about.  I don't criticize you beliefs, but your argument is poor and full of unsubstantiated certitude. If you would like to read my essay, in review at the moment by a prominent theological journal, representing years of work and co-authored by a prominent theologian, I would be happy to send it to you in confidence. You may learn sometime, but I doubt it. Honestly, you are not arguing using a theological or philosophical method, understand the underpinnings of the Church's teachings such as the use of Aquinas that JP II went to after the Church's arguments were going no where.  If you really want to understand the crux of the Church's argument about using Aquinas to support the morality of human acts, particularly contraception, I will send you the two most recent essays in Theological Studies...something you should read and understand but may also ignore.
Tom Maher
5 years 2 months ago
Michael J Barberi # 63

Be careful of your sources especially non-authoritative personal writtings in this blog.

The most authoritative and relevant source at this time to the subjecet of Religous Liberties is the Jnauary 11, 2012 opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts to the Hosanna-Tabor Evagelical Church and School v EEOC Supreme Court Decision.  This opinion givers the hiostoric context to the decision which covers the church v state sturggle since the Magqna Carter in the 13rh century.  Oneo fthe problems that people have is that history did not start in the 1960s with anti-discrimination laws.  Religious hatreds, strife  and warfare has an even longer and widespread history.  The genius of the Consistution is the Religious Liberty clauses which is responsible for centuries of relative religious peasce, harmony and respect.  

Justice Roberts'  opinion of the court describes all the many legal principles that no one fully evpected that is very favorable to Regligious Liberties.  These legal principals however such as the non-entaglement in interpreting or evaluating religous doctrine by the courts give true insight and depth on how the areaa that government is prohibited from being involved with religion. 

The information in Chief Justice Roberts opinion of the court is the source that should be referenced on Religious Liberties.  . ???????????I beleive the USCCB are using ?Roberts' opinion.???????????
Patrick Loyola
5 years 2 months ago
Tim - I agree the issue here is religious freedom and it is a mistake to let it be hijacked by those who have another axe to grind. You may find this article interesting ''Obama’s Deceptive Hidden Premises  The “contraception mandate” is really a presidential power grab.''http://catholicliberty.com/113

It is now time for Catholics and people of goodwill to be united against what I think we all can agree is an abuse of power from the state. Let us focus our energies on defeating this act of aggression. Perhaps it will be a moment where we can heal some of the division within the Church and can begin to see again more clearly that we are brothers and sisters within God's family.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Sorry Carlos, but the issue has been around for ten years and President Obama has only been in charge for 3.  Where was "Pro-Life" President Bush on this issue?  You simply cannot misrepresent President Obama as anti-life over this issue.  Furthermore, the demonizing doesn't stop with this, but includes the misrepresentation of his legislative choices while in Chicago.  An abortion doctor apparently failed to care for a baby that was delivered alive.  Mr. Obama voted against creating yet another new law to deal with this one specific case because there were other laws that could have been used to indict the abortion doctor. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission merely decides if the company is within the law in using the cells it uses.  If you want there to be a law against the use of cells that were once cultured from an aborted fetus, contact your congressional representatives.  President Bush didn't do it for you, so don't expect President Obama to do it either.

However, Carlos, the practice of demonizing people who are not 100% in your camp in believing everything that is passed along as outrages against the unborn only strengthens the other side. 
Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
Marie, with respect to the sweeteners enhancers used by Pepsi, it would help if the corporation was open about what is really going on as, from your own post, they have been mum on the issue while their own shareholders have condemned such unethical practice.

I will certainly not argue in favor of a war criminal such as George W. Bush. As bad as Bush was President, I have no doubt that Barack Obama is worse: he is too weak a man to break with the Bush legacy and adds his own evils (such as his radical positions on life issues), deepening America's leadership crisi.

http://www.issues2000.org/social/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm


"1997: opposed bill preventing partial-birth abortion
"In 1997, Obama voted in the Illinois Senate against SB 230, a bill designed to prevent partial-birth abortions. In the US Senate, Obama has consistently voted to expand embryonic stem cell research. He has voted against requiring minors who get out-of-state abortions to notify their parents. The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) gives Obama a 100% score on his pro-choice voting record in the Senate for 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Opposed legislation protecting born-alive failed abortions
"Obama has consistently refused to support legislation that would define an infant who survives a late-term induced-labor abortion as a human being with the right to live. He insists that no restriction must ever be placed on the right of a mother to decide to abort her child.
"On March 30, 2001, Obama was the only Illinois senator who rose to speak against a bill that would have protected babies who survived late term labor-induced abortion. Obama rose to object that if the bill passed, and a nine-month-old fetus survived a late-term labor-induced abortion was deemed to be a person who had a right to live, then the law would "forbid abortions to take place." Obama further explained the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not allow somebody to kill a child, so if the law deemed a child who survived a late-term labor-induced abortion had a right to live, "then this would be an anti-abortion statute."
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
Tim:

With all due respect, some of your arguments are based on misinformation or poor judgment. I was a senior partner of a world-wide healthcare consulting firm, responsible for a natiional practice, for more than 12 years before I took a SVP position in the healthcare insurance industry. I am very familiar with how scientific and statistical studies can distort the truth. In my 30 years of experience, I often was called as an expert witness in a court of law regarding other consulting studies that were pure non-sense.

There is a significant difference between something that is shown to be a statistical "correlation" and a "cause". For example, the increase in spousal abuse can correlate with the increase in contraceptive use, but everyone with any reasonable knowledge knows that the increase in spousal abuse is caused by: deep psychological problems of the abuser, unemployment and financial problems of the family, drug and alcohol abuse, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth to say that the increase in contraception "causes" the increase in spousal abuse. The Church and the tradition-minded theologians who support all Church teachings, often exaggerate and make logical but not statistically valid conclusions about the consequences of contraception. Another example are the words of Karol Woytla-JP II. I quote him:


“Contraception adds nothing to the personal rights of the woman…. He (man) will cease to hold her in esteem in the context of the transmission of life. She will become for him simply an occasion to enjoy…. The woman can expect not only inequality, but very simply ‘sexual slavery’. To bring about, in the woman’s body, changes making conception impossible and at the same time to free man from his responsibility in the sexual act is to harm the womanand offend justice”.
“Parents who cannot master themselves (i.e. through PC), who cannot sacrifice their egoism to the good of the partner, will no longer be able to have generosity, patience, serenity and calm assurance in their relations with their children. They will love them to the extent that they bring them pleasure, that is, they will love them selfishly and not for themselves.”

Few of us would agree that the 97% of Catholic married women who practice contraception only love their children to the extent they give them pleasure....or do husbands turn their wives into sexual slaves!

You are entitled to your opinion and I do not judge your obedience to the magisterium. However, the Church teaches that a married women with 3 children, whose life is threatened by another pregnancy, must practice "risky PC" or "celibacy" to ensure that every marital act has a procreative meaning. It is immoral if she chooses a prudent and most effective way to safe-guard her life, namely sterilization or taking the pill. The hierarchy of values seems to turned upside down in this case, and in many other complex cases. Therefore, proclaiming contraception as "intrinsically evil" under all circumstances, intentions and ends, without remainder, is simply unreasonable and an example of stoic insensibility. 

 The magisterium and a minority of theologians may proclaim that the Church's interpretation of natural law and sexual ethics to be the absolute moral truth, but there is an overwhelming number of theologians, and many bishops and priests, that have a strong philosophical and theologian argument in support of a different interpretation.

We can disagree and be faithful Catholics. In the end, we all must stand before God and be judged by our actions. However, God will not judge us based on what is objectively right or wrong, but based on the sincerity of our hearts in doing what is right, true and good, even if we make a mistake. Therefore, it is important that we inform our consciences as best we can. I judge not, but I will call into question weak arguments based on incomplete or incorrect facts. We can disagree on the gray areas since they are issues of conscience. We can also disagree on some issues that the Church says are necessary for our faith and those that are doubtful.

As St. Augustine says: In necessary things unity, in doubtful things freedom, but in all things love.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Carlos, in the legislation that we have seen being introduced in various state legislatures recently - all the same, all disrespecting women - it is clear that all these have but one goal.  That goal, I am sure you know, is to criminalize abortion.  Since abortion existed even when it was criminal, is it not a better idea to meet the needs of women so that they do not get to the point of choosing abortion?  Doesn't it make more sense to help them prevent pregnancy?  Isn't that an anti-abortion position?
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Michael #106
Statistics are central to my profession, and I know well the difference between coincidence, correlation and cause. I ask you to reconsider if your ideology is driving your judgment and if you have truly informed your conscience on this subject. Your conscience can be aided by digging into the many scientific studies at physicians for life (http://www.physiciansforlife.org/content/category/11/139/36/). Have you ever read the work of George Akerlof, the 2001 Nobel laureate for economics, who showed why the widespread use of artificial contraception results in a surprising (to him) increase in illegitimacy rather than the decrease he was expecting? It might be worth your while reading an article in the Jan-2005 volume of the ecumenical (Lutheran-founded?) Christian magazine Touchtone, from Brad Wilcox (U. Va), who reviewed studies from six different mostly non-conservative scientists on the connection between contraception & abortion on infidelity, divorce, school drop-out rates, etc. For a single overview with multiple cited studies, see Mary Eberstadt’s The Vindication of Humanae Vitae in First Things Aug 2008. Here is the link: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/07/002-the-vindication-of-ihumanae-vitaei-28. Note that the poor are hardest hit by contraception (so it is a kind of anti-preferential option for the poor).
You should also consider your own use of statistics and the specificity of the terms you use. You state that 97% of Catholic married women practice contraception. It would have been helpful if you tried to provide a source for such an outlandish statement. This is pure propaganda, the kind of number used by dictators in a rigged election. Are we to believe that only 3% of married Catholic women are orthodox (I suppose you think they are all hypocrites), or that the 3% includes those who are infertile, those past menopause, those trying to have children, etc. Maybe, you are referring to a news story or Planned Parenthood. Or maybe you meant to refer to the 98% used by the White house (why they didn’t use 110%, I do not know – maybe they thought it prudent to keep it below 100%). First, they said that “98% of Catholic women use contraception.” When that was seen to be preposterous by the reporters (“did it include the elderly, nuns, sexually inactive, etc”), they reduced it to “sexually active women.” Then they narrowed it further to “any Catholic women who was sexually experienced and ever in her life used contraception.” But even here, look at the source - Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Now look at the study details (well critiqued here www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=26675 and elsewhere). The term “Catholic” was used very loosely (including women who neither believe nor practice). But it gets worse. They found 2% used Natural Family Planning, and then lumped everybody else into the 98%, including in their own graphs 11% who reported no method. What kind of science is this??? Why would you go near such obvious propaganda?
Still, you finished your piece well by using that excellent quote: “In necessary things unity, in doubtful things freedom, but in all things love.” I agree it is a good maxim. The key is discerning what is necessary. This gets to one’s conscience, and how it is formed, and what certainty one has of one’s own judgments. One has to be very honest and very deliberate and very humble about it. Most of all, one has to pray about it and to strive to live a holy life. Prudence and Psychology 101 will inform you that it is rather easy to find excuses for one’s bad actions and fall into denial to protect one’s interests (Bob Dylan song on the weakness of conscience – “You cannot depend on it to be your guide, when it's you who must keep it satisfied”). And then, in a community, what does one do if several people come to different conclusions about the deposit of faith. The Church wouldn’t have lasted a generation if it was arranged this way. Christ, knowing human nature, gave us a way out of this mutating relativism. He gave us a Magisterium, with amazing promises – “the keys of the kingdom of heaven”, the power to bind the faithful to doctrine “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” You either believe these promises or doubt the words of Jesus in Scripture. So, the Magisterium protects the faith from degeneration by preaching the faith in and out of season, under oppression and freedom, dealing with the never-ending creative deviations over 2,000 years, adopting to new challenges in new eras, but always with the confidence that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. The faithful gather around the magisterium, other disperse. That is Catholicism.
And you are right that you will be judged according to how closely you follow a well-formed and honest conscience in keeping the commandments and loving God and your neighbor. You will agree of course that one’s conscience can be wrong, meaning that you can be doing evil without realizing it. And if you really want to avoid doing evil, even unknowingly, you will worry that your ego is fooling you, especially when you reflect on what Christ asked of the rich young man (Luke 18) or when he commanded us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48), or when he said anyone who “looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28) or when he condemned fornication (Mt 15:19, Mk 7:21). Chastity is not a Church invention, it comes from the Master. No, if your conscience is honest, it will tell you no one can live up to this perfection. I am afraid that at judgment day, when we will first see ourselves truly, we would be the first to condemn ourselves, were it not for the saving grace of Christ, who alone can be pure.
Keep those in your prayers who are marching for religious freedom on Friday in over 120 cities (http://catholicliberty.com/3440)
Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
Marie, you can keep playing Obama apologist all you want. If his infanticide voting-record I described in comment #69 does not persuade you he is a RADICAL, then nothing will. I cannot understand Obama's twisted way of thinking. How is it that a Christian (let's give him the benefit of doubt) can defend such grotesque positions with a straight face? Did not Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, elevate human dignity with His Incarnation and Ascension to Heaven? How, then, can we take seriously jesters that so casually disrespect life?
 
The world is sick and is desperately in need of Jesus, not propaganda, not ideology, not politicians, not phony messiahs, not warmongerers, not puppets of bankers.
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Marie #108
You can probably understand the Obama administration’s self-interest in using fraudulent stats on Catholic contraceptive use as a way of splitting us Catholics apart. And you cannot rely on the general media to call them on it.
Lydia McGrew has written the most detailed analysis of the “98%” in her article “How to lie with statistics, example umpteen” (at http://catholicliberty.com/364). It is an insightful and hilarious read. In the thread, there is a link to a government report (Centers of Disease Control) that comes up with a much more credible 62% of all women using contraceptives (Catholics not separated out-http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_029.pdf), and I expect the number to be even lower among devout Catholics (including all those in the 120 marches across the country this Friday (http://catholicliberty.com/344).  For a more scholarly analysis on the relationship of contraceptive use to bad effects, I suggest you try to get to Nobel Laureate George Akerlof’s work.
There is a new article out at Catholic World Report today (http://catholicliberty.com/363) that has a quote from Thomas Jefferson that is pertinent to our current dispute. In his January 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he wrote: “to compel a man to furnish contributions of his money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”
ed gleason
5 years 2 months ago
" The world is sick' OK we now see where you are coming from.. Try reading more Franciscan theology please.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
If the issue is religious freedom, then there is barely anything to discuss given that all women will be free to follow their religious beliefs in the matter of contraception.

That money changes hands and can be remotely connected to the provision of contraception is hardly sufficient to substantiate a claim that religious freedom is in danger.

The controversy over religious freedom is only connected to the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception, just like the Civil War was about state's rights with regard only to the issue of slavery.  Had there been no disagreement about slavery, there might have continued to be disagreement about state's rights, just as there is in this day, but it would not have become the war.  Similarly, we might still have a disagreement about how free religious freedom is supposed to be, but without the issue of contraception there would be no basis for a controversy of this magnitude over insurance benefits without copays.

I appears that every time the points against the Church's stand against contraception are strong, the issue gets turned to religious freedom in the abstract.

Tim, my understanding is that if women have regular cycles, don't like using chemicals or devices, have supportive husbands, and don't mind if they do get pregnant, they use NFP.  If they absolutely cannot tolerate a pregnancy for health reasons, they choose sterilization.  If they don't meet all the criteria for NFP use and they don't want a permanent form of contraception, they try other methods.  I don't think you can deny that women generally have no objection to contraception and that most of them see no moral difference between using NFP and other forms of contraception.  I think only a tiny fraction of women will come through their reproductive years with enthusiasm for NFP, and many of them might be married to doctors who can afford to support a family of whatever size.
Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
Ed, I am sorry to tell you that the 2008 frenzy is long gone. Obama has been in office enough time to understand that his post-modern messiahship is nothing but a fraud.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Tim, just an aside regarding the "real presence".  This is a metaphysical real presence.  Lutherans believe that the real blood and flesh of Jesus is transmitted through the consecrated wine and bread.  They believe that the wine and bread cannot be "transubstantiated" - a scientific sounding term with no scientific basis.
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
As Marie Rehbein makes clear, if there was not a Church teaching condemning contraception under all circumstances, there would be no issue of Freedom of Religion as it is related to the Obama contraceptive mandate. Hence, the blog comments rightly drifted to the inconsistencies and contradictions between the word, as in Church doctrine, and the deed, in terms of pastoral practices. It also rightly shifted to the unreasonability of contraception in complex ethical cases.

When statistics were challenged, this lead to clarification and justification of the percent of Catholic women who practice some form of contraception. We can debate these issues to death, but the most telling is Dean Hoge's surveys that demonstrate that only 8%-11% of Catholics in child bearing years believe using the pill or a condom is morally wrong. There are other references that confirm these statistics, not just the Guttmacher report.

The sad commentary is we have a Church divided and a Crisis of Truth. Theologians that are tradition-minded (the minoriity) don't talk to the less-tradition minded theologians (the majority) on issues of sexual ethics. Each talk past each other, and the magisterium continues to be intransigent on such issues. The losers are the majority of the laity that do not believe in the absolute moral certitude that contraception is intrinsically evil under all circumstances, using a condom by seropositive couples is immoral, sterilization is a grave sin for women whose life is threatened by another pregnancy, celibacy is the only answer for the salvation of people with a same-sex attraction, in vitro fertilization is immoral, and terminating a pregnancy is a grave sin when the life of the mother is threatened and the fetus cannot live under any circumstances (the Phoenix Case).

These are issues of conscience, theological and philosophical argument, and Freedom of Religion, not in abstract terms, but in concrete human circumstances.

The Obama contraceptive mandate may go down in flames for a number of reasons, not just Freedom of Religion, as many of these blog comments attested. Those Catholics, like Tim and others, have a right to their opinion and beliefs about following all the teachings of the magisterium. When a Church teaching is believed to be unreasonable, not intelligible and in tension with human experience, then Catholics also have a right never to go against their informed consciences. An individual conscience can err, but not the overwhelming majority of Catholic consciences, including most theologians, and many bishops and priests. This is the case with contracepton, whether some of us like it or not. Those that disagree are not invincibly ignorant or infected with the evil of the secular world.
Tom Maher
5 years 2 months ago
Amen Carlos on #73.  The basic motivation for the attack on Religous insitutions via the no exemptions HHS mandate which his senior advisers warned him not to do is to maintain his poliitcal base of support at all cost. Obama across the boatrd for more than a year has polled much lower in most demograhic groups he won in 2008 usually by significant double digit drop in support and approval.  As a group women were one of Obama's strongest supporters at a 2008 level of 56 %  where he won the Presidentcy at only 53%.  Today however despite the attacks on Church which seems to work favorably for him he overall  polls at only 49% which is still one of his highest support levels.   This support will likely go much lower  due to high oil prices when women and everyone else will figures out with $5.00 a gallon gas at the pump we have not made it to the Obama promised land of green energy.  Women need to drive their car to work and return home every day. .  Women, even apolitical women, have no sense of humor about high oil prices.  So even with the ploy against the Church Obama polling with women has dropped a huge 12% in the last month due to oil prices skyrocketing.  This is exactly what happened to Jimmy Carter and why Carter lost the 1980 election. .
Marie Rehbein
5 years 2 months ago
Tom and Carlos,

I am a supporter of Barack Obama.  I think it has been a shame that the Republicans in Congress have chosen to play political games.  I fully supported President Obama's effort to reform health care, and it was one of the main reasons that I voted for him.  I think this country is long overdue for health care rather than sickness care.  I think including contraception among the prescriptions that will not require copays is wise and likely to lead to a decrease in abortions.  Unfortunately, it seems to me that there are too many people with vested interests in keeping the abortion issue available for future election fodder.  It seems to me that both you gentlemen have been taken in by those who have motives at odds with reducing abortions.  A lot of voters have already seen through this political strategy and are likely to take a step back from the emotional rhetoric in order to take the wiser path.
ed gleason
5 years 2 months ago
Marie. the obsessed about Obama, believe that he wakes up every day thinking about a co-pay for BC. NOT.. A nuclear war with Iran and Israel and an accelerated pull out from Afghanistan, these problems they think he leaves  to underlings.
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Ed Gleason #59
Thanks for the reminder, although I think the Los Angeles case strengthens my argument about public schools. Here is a link on thishttp://abcnews.go.com/US/los-angeles-school-closed-teacher-abuse-scandal/story?id=15525125 for others to see the news video. There is an update at http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/22/la-teacher-accused-sex-abuse-believed-to-be-at-large-in-mexico/. Some quotes from the second article: “Hernandez was previously investigated three times - but never charged - for sexual misconduct while he worked as a substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Hernandez resigned in 2007 after the third investigation but continued teaching in the neighboring Inglewood Unified School District for three years until he was charged over the videotape.” And then this: “It is the latest in a string of sex-abuse scandals involving Los Angeles teachers” where other recent cases are summarized. I think the intervention of suspending all staff (includes custodial staff) would be warranted if there is an active case involving more than 1 teacher but I hope there is separation of the innocent teachers (including the women teachers and cleaners) from the guilty in a speedy fashion.
Also, see the article from 3 days ago, indicating the school district initially tried to avoid responsibility but lost in court. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/14/tagblogsfindlawcom2012-injured-idUS71860081820120314, “school sex abuse lawsuits just got a whole lot easier to file in California. The state's highest court has ruled that parents and students can sue school districts for negligently hiring, retaining and supervising abusive employees.” So, the American solution seems to be in effect: massive lawsuits, where large amounts of money will in this case be paid by property taxpayers, and over 1/3rd going to the lawyers.
I believe the case in Philadelphia was a historical case, not involving active abuse as in LA, and one of those charged was an ex-priest school teacher. But I agree with you that the same rigor in protecting children should apply. We will know a lot more about the Philadelphia cases in come weeks. The archdiocese has suspended the lawyer that was advising them for the past 6 years, ostensibly for delaying in giving documents to the courts.
Michael Appleton
5 years 2 months ago
Some miscellaneous responses to miscellaneous posts:

1. The Hosanna-Tabor case has no relevance to the current contraception controversy, unless the bishops wish to take the position that all of the Church's institutions, and all of the employees of those institutions, are engaged in primarily "ministerial" functions. Of course, were the Church to take that position, it would simultaneously disqualify itself from receiving tax dollars for any of its work.

2. The President of the United States, regardless of party affiliation, has no more control over the price of gasoline than he or she has over the price of Microsoft stock.

3. The government's position of insurance coverage for contraception is not an attack on religious pluralism; it actually affirms pluralism.  
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
Tom:

Frankly, I don't know anything about you or your credentials. When I became a SVP for one of the largest healthcare companies in the U.S., the CEO said to me...Mike, for the past 10 years you were a Senior Partner and National Expert where many large companies hired you for your expertise... Now, you will be sitting at a table of senior management executives, as just one of many expert voices.

You may be right that the Hosanna-Tabor Evagelical Church and School v EEOC Supreme Court Decision...may be the ultimate authoritative source for rendering a legal decision about the Obama contraceptive mandate. However, many states have contraceptive coverage mandates and I am not convinced that a religious exemption is given to all affiliated religious organizations in these states. If so, then this fact is as important as the Supreme Court decision you mentioned. If not, then there is a conflict between these state laws and this Supreme Court Decision. Perhaps you can speak to this issue.

I want to emphasize that my major disagreement about the Obama mandate was not Freedom of Religion. It was the "free price" portion of this mandate that I explained will be struck down on various legal grounds...as explained in an earlier blog. Whether, the Obama coverage portion of this mandate (or the entire mandate) is also struck down because it violates Freedom of Religion, is still an open question.

Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
According to Catholic philolosher William Gueydan de Rousell, current politics in the West can be best characterized as "game-politics", a deformation of agonal or normal politics. As Religion diminishes, Politics becomes the most important activity in society, thus conservation of political power is the supreme goal. This does not mean that politics become serious, on the contrary: as ideals and noble goals cease to have intrnsic-value, politics deteriorates. During this phase of politics, the Politician ceases to fight for the Common Good and becomes an Actor in the comedy of game-politics. The People cease to be an active force in Politics and become Spectators of the comedy. Specialists, commentators, political strategists and the likewise keep Spectators glued to the comedy as long as possible.

Being a natural enemy of human dignity, game-politics constantly concentrates power in fewer hands. Caesarism appears, which is nothing more than the shrewd Actors promising the tired Spectators to end the frivolous game, if given absolute power. As good of bad as the comedy might have been, it ultimately ends in tragedy.

Yet still in this phase, always according to Gueydan, society has the possibility of  redemption, obviously not through the corrupted Actors or Spectators, but because of the strength and bravery of a few Witnesses of Truth, which carry the sign of martyrdom with them.
david power
5 years 2 months ago
Carlos, the first part of your comment about the agonal etc  is very interesting but the second part or the last paragraph is laughable to say the least.
If you see these Bishops as Martyrs you must  either have lost touch with reality or be a troll.These are the same guys who protected pedophiles for decades and now they are the last strand of conscience in America??  
Who judges what the common good is?You would say that the Bishops do and most would see that as nothing more than  game politics.
This is nothing more than culture Wars which everybody is guilty of and especially the Bishops who no more represent Jesus Christ than Ronald McDonald.Be careful who you swoon over!!!
Agree with you on the 2008 comments btw. 
Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
David, I cannot claim any original ideas at my #80 comment. As I stated, it is very brief exposition of the political philosophy of Gueydan de Roussel. I found his perspective to be fresh and helpful to disregard partisan politics and mainstream media as a complete joke. Gueydan was not American and died back in 1996, so was certainly not immersed in the current debate. But as the President concentrates meta-constitutional  powers (he can start wars without approvel of Congress, he can have American citizens blown-up in foreign contries by drones or have them indefinitely detained without trial, etc.) I believe Gueydan's political perspective can explain the current destruction of liberties, begun with the phony War on Terror, started back in 2001.

I believe that the Church has had many shortcomings in its history, and individuals that allowed the intolerable have to respond to divine abnd human justice, whomever they may be. Still, there is no doubt that the bishops are the recipients of Apostolic graces and tradition. What exactly gives Barack Obama a superior moral authority over Catholic bishops? Absolutely nothing. His voting record on life issues is, literally, criminal.
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
Marie #58.
Taxes are very different from the Mandate, which is really a new thing in federal law. When we are taxed, the money goes to many things, some we like very much, some we are indifferent to, and some we strongly oppose. Taxes cover healthcare through Medicare and Medicaid. Taxes cover wars, antiterrorism, prisons (including executions), contraception and abortions (indirectly through their support of Planned Parenthood). But here, when evil is done, the guilt rests at the feet of the governing legislatures, or those who knowingly voted the politicians in. They do not implicate me. I show my opposition through elections and the democratic process.
The difference with the mandate is the government is no longer paying for some service, but is forcing me to buy that service I find unethical. It is trying to make me complicit in the evil. It is threatening ruinous fines if I don’t comply. This is why it is a serious religious liberty case. Moreover, the government has given complete waivers to the Amish, to some American Indians, to several businesses (its political allies?). It has even deferred to the states decisions on some serious healthcare issues. But it refuses to do it for Catholic institutions, and certainly for Catholic employers. This selective and unequal application of the law shows how ideological this government is. This unequal and discriminatory treatment make’s the government’s case very weak in the courts. This is a civil rights issue and you will see marches and protests in the streets beginning March 23:  http://catholicliberty.com/344.
You uncharitably hypothesize that there must be some nefarious unstated reason for the Church’s opposition, but I saw the religious liberty issue immediately, and so did thousands of people, including the Catholic Bishops and many Protestant (http://catholicliberty.com/104) and Jewish (http://catholicliberty.com/354 ) religious groups.  Why can’t you see that so many people, who even believe BC is ethical, might have an honest point of view? Maybe the fault is in your own perspective. Maybe, you are so wedded to teaching the Church to get “right” with contraception (and abortion-not sure where you stand?) that you don’t care if they (or I) have a point.
You say the Bishops are playing politics in an election year. But the timing of this whole fight was chosen by the administration, not by the Bishops. And they are still at it. A few days ago, news came out that they are working to include surgical abortions in a mandate through a surcharge http://catholicliberty.com/353.
Again, over the weekend, the Obama administration decided to take a new step – extending the mandate on universities to cover students. http://catholicliberty.com/352. This administration is aggressively secular. They are using the ACLU (which has long acted as the Anti-Christian Liberties Union) narrow definition of religious exercise as “worship” so that everything else belongs to the State.
Juan Lino
5 years 2 months ago
I’ve been doing some research on this topic (since, quite frankly, is not an area I focus on) and I’ve learned that the Church teaches that medications necessary to treat hormonal imbalances are morally permitted, even if infertility is a side effect. Hence, mandating insurance coverage for such treatments would be acceptable from a Catholic perspective.

Second, I’ve confirmed that the Church teaches that life begins at conception, and from what I’ve read, until the mid-1960s, scientists universally acknowledged that conception happened at the moment of fertilization of the ovum by the spermatozoa, somewhere in the Fallopian tube. I leave it to others more informed on the topic than I am to explain why this change took place, but it is interesting to note that Dr. Bernard Nathanson has stated that, before his conversion from pro-abortion advocate to champion of human life, he and his colleagues worked hard to convince people that it is impossible to determine when human life begins by insisting that it is a moral, theological, or philosophical question, not a scientific one.

This semantic subterfuge would make the sophists proud and, in my opinion, helps explain why it was important to "change the definition of 'conception' from fertilization implantation. Because, under this new definition of "conception," if a device or drug — such as an IUD or Depo-Provera — prevents implantation, then no abortion takes place. And this new definition has permeated America so thoroughly that the majority in our culture now accept it as an unquestionable fact.

I, however, believe that the clash of "orthodoxies" we are witnessing will continue as long as we, as a culture, refuse to look at reality, and most especially life, as something given. (What I am trying to say is beautifully portrayed in the TED Talk by Louie Schwartzberg titled Gratitude and Happiness.) And since we find it difficult to acknowledge the givenness of reality we do not see the positivity of reality, and thus we want to eliminate those parts of reality that do not conform to our plans.

It’s for this reason that I strongly believe that all of us must do all we can to prevent the Government from encroaching on the Church’s desire (and ability) to publicly proclaim and witness to the positivity of life in all its stages, from conception to natural death, by mandating that the Church must cooperate with evil by dancing to its tune.

Finally, to affirm what Mike said, Denise J. Hunnell, M.D. stated in a recent article, "No matter how you spin it, Catholic institutions will be paying for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. [Thus] the end result is no different than the original Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, since insurance companies are not going to just throw these services in for free."
Michael Barberi
5 years 2 months ago
There is disagreement in scientific studies about when life begins. There is also disagreement within theological circles about what constitutes direct and indirect abortion. Even within so-called tradtion-minded and less-tradition minded theololgical camps, there is disagreement about direct and indirect abortion. I draw everyone's attention to the Phoenix case. While the Bishop in Phoenix excommunicated the good sister of St Joseph's hospital, he also denied the hospital its Catholic status. In this case, the Catholic Healthcase West's report, written by moral theologian Therese Lysaught of Marquette University, argued that the procedure in question was indirect abortion....and cited the like opinions of three prominent magisterial theologians, Germain Grisez, Martin Rhonheimer and William Murphy. We have not recovered from this horrible decision by the local bishop and the so-caled hands-off involvement of Rome.

The truth never changes, but history has demonstrated to us that our understanding of the moral truth is progressive. Not the fundamentals of our faith, or deposit of faith as defined as Christ's Gospel, but the truth about the morality of voluntary human actions. No one will deny, except the Vatican Curia, that many Church teachings once proclaimed by theologians, bishops and popes, and taught for centuries as the moral truth were eventually reformed. The answer seems to be complex, but one thing is clear. We need a bridge of understanding between the teachings of Vatican I (the articles of infalliblity) and Vatican II (the importance of the sensus fidelium to moral wisdom and truth, and the definition of the Church as the Body of Christ: theologians, clergy-hierarchy and the laity). There is also the importance of the theology of reception and the theology of conscience, especially when so much of the Church of Christ is divided on certain sexual ethical teachings...contraception being one of them. 

Every Church teaching, not received, has been reformed. It just took time for the hierarchy to realize the truth about certain moral teachings and offer a reasoned explanation consistent with our ever growing understanding of God's Provincial Plan.

Many of us are perplexed about our divided Church, and so we should. We like to focus on issues that we feel comfortable in argument, like Freedom of Religion, or the unitelligibility of "free contraceptive coverage". We don't like to argue about "inconsistency", "contradiction" or "moral dilemma" when issues of sexual ethics are the topic. It is easier for us to just ignore the teaching, or proclaim that the teaching is the absolute moral truth. Unfortunately, this never moves the conversation forward to resolve our Crisis in Truth.
david power
5 years 2 months ago
@Michael,

You expressed your views very well there. It was informative to read your comment.

@Carlos, I am no fan of the position of Obama on life issues but all of the Apostolic Graces did not stop Law,Mahoney,Brady,Wojtyla, Bevilacqua from indulging in criminal activity. There actions would be considered outside the law and contravened the law of man and God whereas Obama's only contravene those of God.I think. 
Tom Maher
5 years 2 months ago
Michael J. Barberi # 79

The only credentials needed to discuss public issues such as Religigous Liberties rights and the HHS maddate is that a person be able to read and think.  in a participatory democracy in the 21st century the average person is well able to read and think and has an abundance of reading material to find a read authoritative sources and draw their own conclusions about public policy including what the Consttituion and Supreme Court says about Religious Liberties.  A person does not need to have a PhD to observe and comment on public policy and its impacts on Religious Liberties.  

Carlos Orozco
5 years 2 months ago
Michael, the scientific controversy on when life begins is rather artificial. From a genetic point of view there is no difference between a fertilized ovum and a living and kicking person. The redefinition of life beginning at implantation, instead of conception, by many medical circles reminds me of the American Psychiatric Association's decision to stop considering homosexuality as a mental disorder, not because of scientific evidence but for political considerations in the midst of the Sexual Revolution.

Scientific circles are in no way immune to the politics buzzing around them. Major funding are many times tied to a predetermined result. These "studies" are then used as justification to implement programs designed by international bureaucrats and their banker masters (have you noticed how the Rockefeller Foundation is always backing population control conferences and funding front groups such as Catholics for Free Choice?). For example, in Mexico some 10 years ago, pregnancy was redefined as the implantation of the fertilized ovum. In the debate, federal health authorities backed their decision on the UN's World Health Organization (WHO). Immediately after, the market was inundated with Plan B pills whose abuse constitute a problem to this day.
Tom Maher
5 years 2 months ago
Carlos Orozco  # 88

The professional elite HHS health care panel has created major and unneeded political strife in their insular decison to impose on the public their political, personal and professional values in disregard of any other codisderations such as higher addition costs of insurance premiums  and the objection of religious institutions.   One has to wonder what will these professionals elites do next?   The law is written such that HHS could decide by the very same clinical reasoning that insureres should pay for abortions free of charge.  

By the new jealth care law the HHS professional panels are not accountable for the impacts of their decisions.  This is a politically unstable relationship to the public who have other costs, needs and concerns other than health care that are disregared by the health care panel.   The HHS professional panels are reckelssly making major politcal judegements and decisions without regard to the full impact of their decisons on the public or poliical accountabiity to the public.   

Professional groups can not politcally insulate themselve from the rest of society and then expect their values and political impleemntations to be accepted by the public.
A democracy does not need or accept the say-so of a professional aristocracy.
Gabriel Marcella
5 years 2 months ago
Carlos and Tom:
Add to the costs of the mandate the irraplaceable loss of a significant portion of pluralism in American society. The more the federal government mandates in the area of freedom of conscience, the more it wittles away the pluralistic contributions of countless entities of our democracy. To what degree will this matter to a court, should it ever reach that stage of appeal?
Bill Taylor
5 years 2 months ago
The bishops boast that they have longed for universal health care since 1919.  But now they finally begin to understand that such a thing might appear that goes beyond their definition of "universal," whatever that is. 

So, if someobody asked, just what would univesal health care look like to them?   They have just set up rules that makes the whole thing impossible.  It cannot violate the conscience of Catholic religious institutions.  It cannot violate the conscience of Catholic employers.  Having opened that gate, it cannot violate the conscience of anyone whose opposition to some clause or section of the law can be expressed as an oppositioin fueled by conscience.

In other words, they don't want universal health care.  And the boast the bishops made about their search for universal health care adds up to that bland blend of flour, faux protein, and animal waste we know by the name baloney.   The common good, indeed. 
Tim O'Leary
5 years 2 months ago
David (#86) & William (#91) and all Bishop-Bashers on this blog.
Can we not have an intelligent discussion on the government’s mandate without knee-jerk and raw anti-Catholicism of the type more expected at the NYT blogs, and not on an ostensibly Jesuit site? It is lazy thinking to always reduce everything to the child abuse problem. The issues the mandate raises are: 1) when it is ethical for the government to use its coercive powers to force its citizens to do things the citizens have long held to be a violation of its religious practice, 2) how does the government define what is religious and what is not, and 3) can the government give exemptions to some citizens (Amish, etc) but not to others. If you can’t listen to any arguments from the Bishops, then how about the pro-life women (at http://www.womenspeakforthemselves.com/), or the Protestant or Jewish voices (see #83 above)? This mandate will soon be extended to surgical abortions (see #83 above) and will eventually cover something you find ethically objectionable, if not stopped now. The problem is not the specific ethical concern, but the government assuming the power to force its citizens to be complicit in the unethical behavior.
William #91
Universal healthcare is more like Medicare and I addressed the issue in #83 above. The Bishops are consistent in supporting a government-led system but objecting to the mandate. However, now that they see the ethical trouble the government is causing them, they should think twice about any government-run system.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Greg Hicks as "Richard III" (photo: Alex Brenner)
It would be fascinating were the producers able to arrange a quick transfer to a venue somewhere near the White House.
David StewartMay 26, 2017
In the hyper-curated, beautiful world that Dev lives in, a scene that conveys the touching, ugly stubbornness of marriage seems totally impossible.
Eloise BlondiauMay 26, 2017
This image released by the Minya governorate media office shows bodies of victims killed when gunmen stormed a bus in Minya, Egypt, Friday, May 26, 2017 (Minya Governorate Media office via AP).
The attack in central Egypt today killed at least 26 people, including children aged 2 to 4, and wounded 25 others.
Gerard O'ConnellMay 26, 2017
The data and facts are clear: If you care about working families and sound economic policy, SNAP is the program for you.
Meghan J. ClarkMay 26, 2017