Skip to comments.Understanding Oppostion to the HHS Mandate (Part 1): Why the Church Won’t Pay for Contracept
Posted on 02/07/2012 2:11:19 PM PST by NYer
In discussing the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate that will attempt to force the Catholic Church to pay for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization, I have discovered that many Catholics, while generally understanding why we object to paying for sterilization and abortifacients, are less than enthusiastic about our refusal to pay for contraceptives. This “lack of enthusiasm” for the Church’s position on Contraception, along with political irritation, makes many Catholics ambivalent or even hostile to the Bishop’s call that we oppose the HHS mandate.
Why we won’t pay for contraceptives – While the fundamental issue is this matter is Religious Freedom and the First Amendment, (which we have discussed here before and will again in the future), it may be worthwhile to focus for a moment on why we religiously oppose the use and funding of contraceptives. This discussion on contraception cannot be complete in a brief blog post, but setting forth the principled reasons of the Church teaching may be helpful.
In looking at the issue, we might begin by looking at the “big picture.” For while many people fail to see why contraception is harmful in a particular marriage, it is easier for them to begin to see the harm that contraceptives have caused in our wider culture. Looking at some of the harm may be of help in addressing the overall negative attitude that many, including most Catholics, bring to the Church teaching on Contraception.
For indeed, a generation has passed since the publication of the boldly pastoral and prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae which upheld the ancient ban on the use of artificial contraception. Perhaps no teaching of the Church causes the worldly to scoff more than our teaching against artificial contraception. The eyes of so many, Catholics among them, roll and the scoffing begins: Unrealistic! Out of touch! Uncompassionate! Silly! You’ve got to be kidding!
The Lord Jesus had an answer to those who ridiculed him in a similar way: Time will prove where wisdom lies. (Matt 11:16-18)
And to a large degree time has proven where wisdom lies. For some forty or more years after widespread acceptance of contraception many grave cultural consequences have set in, related to sexuality and mistaken notions of sex. Among the consequences are: widespread and open promiscuity, which has led to higher and higher levels of STDs, abortion, teenage pregnancy, single parent homes, divorce, and to a decline in marriage rates. Recall that advocates of contraceptives, beginning in the 1950s and into the 1960s made many promises of the “benefits” of contraceptives.
The Promises of the Contraception Advocates:
Paul VI in refuting these benefits made a few predictions of his own.
What were some of the concerns and predictions made by Pope Paul VI? (All of these are quotes from Humanae Vitae)
So, forty years later, who had the wisdom to see the true effects of Contraception, the world or the Church? Well lets consider some of the data:
Most people seem largely disinterested in this data. Hearts have become numb and minds have gone to sleep. I hope you are not among them, and that you might consider this information well and share it with others. Time HAS proved where wisdom lay. It’s time to admit the obvious
What I have tried to do here is to show some of the reasons the Church opposes the use and promotion of contraceptive practices. There are actually insights that bring forth this opposition. It is not just a backward bunch of clerics in the Vatican opposing sex. Rather it is an ancient wisdom that makes good sense.
When sex is decoupled from child-bearing many grave distortions are introduced into a culture. As the proper understanding of sex becomes unraveled, so does the family. And it is children who suffer most.
While the crisis of Western Culture has more than contraception for its cause, contraception has still played a huge role in setting off many whirlwinds that have swept away much that was good. It is no accident or mere coincidence that in the very 50 years that contraceptives have become widely available and used, that the family has gone into a kind of nuclear winter. The statistics make it clear that more than half of children (and far more in minority communities) will never know the two parent family that most of us who are over fifty experienced as normal and ubiquitous.
Of course another fundamental reason we oppose Contraception is rooted in the ancient practice, stretching back into biblical times and carried forward all through the Christian era. Until the 1940 Lambeth conference there never was a Christian Church or communion who approved of contraception. In that fateful year the Anglican Church of England gave the first tip of the hat to contraceptive practice, and slowly, the Protestant denominations all followed. But Catholics, Orthodox and Orthodox Jews have never changed. We continue to hold the ancient and wise insight that sex is intrinsically linked to child bearing, and that the link should never be broken and replaced by other intentions in isolation from that. To do so invites disaster, as we can plainly see.
It will be granted that living the Church teaching on Contraception is not easy. Yet some of the difficulty must also be traced to our seeming obsession with small families. We have argued on this blog at some length about economic realities and many have voiced strong opinions that more than 2 children is just not economically feasible. And yet others with larger families say they do fine. It would seem that a lot has to do with what we want and what our priorities are going to be. And while the arguments will surely continue, it is remains true to this author that the absolute necessity for only 1 or 2 children is not an unassailable fact.
In the end however, Catholics are encouraged to look beyond merely their own family and see what contraception has done to us. Life is bigger than merely what is hard for me, or what I like or don’t like, think or don’t think. Contraception has been a bitter pill that the West has swallowed.
While our fight against the HHS ruling is essentially about religious liberty, Catholics and others must understand that we do not seek to religious freedom merely for some arcane doctrine of no importance, that Catholics or others should say “What’s the big deal?” Rather, opposition to contraception is an essential component in the Catholic teaching on sexuality by which we stand against grave forces that wreak havoc on our culture. We cannot pay for something we see as sinful and destructive.
The church is not being forced to provide birth control or abortions.
It isn’t about religion or liberty. It’s about property.
The church has the choice to get out of the hospital business and turn the buildings over to the federal government cheap as its first step (25% of all hospitals), besides the VA, in taking over all hospitals.
I believe that is and has been Obama’s only goal in this.
You can’t have “religious liberty” without “just plain liberty.”
Every country that has socialized medicine gives up liberty by the bucketful to enact their socialized medical schemes.
It would appear that the Church was naive enough to think that there was some path towards socialized medicine that was going to respect their “religious liberty” at the same time compromising the liberty of everyone else involved.
So, how’s that working out?
Dear friend, like an intricately woven tapestry, the Catholic Church carries out its mission to serve, through hospitals, colleges, universities, and a host of other organizations. No one, regardless of their inability to pay, is ever turned away.
Obama's goal is to attack ALL religious groups beginning with the largest one. If they can succeed here, the rest will collapse like dominoes. That is the plan.
No employer or insurance company, religious or non-, should be forced to privilege anti-life drugs and surgery over the treatment of actual illness or injury. No copayment for contraceptives, but there is for statins? No deductible for sterilization surgery, but there is for angioplasty or joint replacement? Poppycock. (Thank you, Rick Santorum, for the great word, which is much more offensive than y’all think it is.)
Everyone should be against this ... especially every sick person, whose costs will go up so that some people can pretend there are no costs to their sexual behavior choices.
Congratulations on the newest addition! She is beautiful, like you :-)
Part of what Obama wants is to cause the exodus of the Church from running hospitals. This is because they Church has approximately 11% of the sum total of hospitals in the country.
But, he also wants to re-engineer society as he wishes it to be. That means that any agency or organization whose teachings, ideals, theology or philosophy run contrary to O’s variant of socialism must falter and fall, in his eyes. The largest and best-known of those is the Catholic Church. Obama wants the influence of the Church, and any others who would oppose him, to want.
So what’s he gonna do? Just a guess, here. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that he has one of the myriad agencies under his control use regulations to make something roughly equating to a same-sex union law or laws. Suppose that the regs in question make it tantamount to a crime to forbid same-sex unions from happening in any facility in the US. That’d give the impetus to charge those at whichever facilities didn’t allow for the unions.
Obama likes regulation, since he’s is a true bureaucrat, as well as a socialist. It’s able to be dictated by him and those who agree with him, there’s little recourse, no messy congressional hearings or posturing from undependable politicians, AND it can be couched in a way which sympathetic ears may hear as being more benign than it really is.
If Obama gets the Catholic Church out of the hospital business, he wins, since that’s the largest other player, aside from the government. If the Church fights him on it, he’ll try to get the courts involved to be those sympathetic to him, and he wins. If genuine Catholic organizations, along with his evil planted fake ones (Catholics for the Common Good, anyone?) weaken their resolve, than he’ll use that in PR, and he wins. And this is in addition to the fact that Church teachings are completely contra-Obama’s view of life in this country. So to him, any of this is a win.
But make no mistake, He is after the Catholic Church. And once he feels he’s done there, his eyes will focus on any and all other groups who oppose his actions and words. He’s a coward, but that doesn’t remove the evil, it intensifies it. The fact that his personal hands won’t be busy does not stop the hands he will direct. Those will be any convenient ones under his command.
Pray, brother, for your country, and those in it.
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Yes, and once the Catholic Church is driven out of the hospital business, one less protective buffer will exist between the people of this country and coercive population control policies like those that have been imposed upon the people of China.
This HHS mandate, if allowed to stand, is merely a "preview of coming attractions."
So people who want to keep yapping about "mean old mother church" had better take a good hard look at what the "wicked stepmother" will look like.
Thank you! She looks like Frank, except that the tiny bit of hairs seems to be brown, instead of red.
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What political party is the Catholic Church? Neither of course. But depending on what is in the news you can count on labels being applied. If the issue is abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or homosexual marriage detractors will say the Church and bishops are in bed with the Republicans. But if the issue is immigration reform, capital punishment, concerns about war, or care for the poor, then theyre all just a bunch of Democrats.
The move by the Bishops to inform the Catholic Faithful on the Mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that all organizations, including religious ones, must pay for contraceptives, abortion-inducing medicine such as the morning after pill, and sterilizations, has been interpreted by some as a raw political move. To be fair, this move by the Administration is so egregious that many political liberals and conservatives stand largely together in calling for the HHS Mandate to restore the historical religious exemptions that have always marked such policies.
Anti-Obama? But there remain some in this country who see the move by the Bishops as merely anti-President Obama and another example of the conservative Catholic Church showing itself a mere outpost of the Republican Party. Others, like Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius, though Catholic, stand, it would seem both politically AND religiously against the Church.
And thus, this may be a moment to ask, what party is the Roman Catholic Church? Perhaps Republican!? Really? A lot of Republican readers of this other blogs would beg to differ, and have often written here with annoyance to described the Bishops as liberal and have indicated disgust at how many Catholics vote Democrat. And Catholic Democrats too take annoyance at the Bishops for being too conservative on many issues and not bold enough in matters of Social Justice and the Social teachings of the Church. The fact is, as a huge Church of 70 million, Catholics are as diverse as America. Much to the chagrin of many Catholics themselves who often see their differences as a serious departure from the Gospel on the part of their opponents.
The fact is that the real goal for the Church is to be Catholic, across the board: vigorously pro-life and clear on the sexual and life issues, working to strengthen marriage and the family, vigorously advocating for the poor and immigrants, aware of and advocating all the social teachings, fully embracing subsidiarity, solidarity and justice, standing fore-square against the violence that so permeates our culture, generous, merciful and forgiving; and willing to work in communion with those who authentically advocate these Catholic Principles, even if they focus on some of them in particular. Pro-life Catholics should rejoice that others work for and advocate for the poor, and advocates for the poor should rejoice that some fight for life and to end abortion. Together we can cover all the bases.
The goal is for every Catholic to learn the Catholic faith and be a principled adherent to the faith prior to any political allegiance, or worldview. Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He is God and He does not fit into our little categories. Neither does the Church. And hence we are to some extent an equal opportunity annoyer. And while we may align with the views of certain political parties and groups in certain matters, we are just as likely to stand opposed to other views of the very same party in other matters.
Is the Catholic Church Republican? Democrat? And what are you? As for me:
Hmm, and all this time I just thought I was trying to be a Catholic Christian. I just dont seem to fit in. And, frankly, no Catholic should. We cannot be encompassed by any Party as currently defined.
True Catholicism cannot be tamed by any political party or interest group. True Catholicism will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It will annoy both the right and the left, and will also affirm them, it has no permanent allies or opponents. As it was with Christ, most every one will have reason to hate the Church, and some will come to love the her. We are destined to be, with Christ, a sign of contradiction (Luke 2:34) that will often be opposed, for we do not simply fit into any on world agenda or party.
In the end we are called to be those who are simply Catholic. Every other party affiliation, membership, alliance, or connection must yield to the Faith and be judged by it. No worldly thought should ever trump the Faith which God has revealed through the Church. And, even in some matters (e.g. how best to care for the poor) that are prudential in nature, our alliance to the Church founded by Jesus Christ ought to win the day when it comes giving the benefit of any doubt. And while staying in a dialogue with our Bishops, we must also accept their leadership and respect their insights as those designated to teach, govern and sanctify. In the end we should be simply, plainly and essentially Catholic.
Thus, in this case, when the Bishops speak out against the HHS Mandate they are well able to appeal to a principled stance of Catholicism that has not changed, no matter what the culture or the politics of abortion or the sexual revolution have demanded. Who, even among our worst opponents can really claim that the Catholic church has not been consistent on matters of abortion and contraception? And while our culture has shifted its views and allegiances in these matters, the Church has not. Our views are principled and consistent in this regard. Call us conservative today, but tomorrow when another issue like immigration comes up, we who strive to be simply Catholic, will not purely line up with the conservative or Republican party line. Again, our source must be, and is, a consistent reference to the biblical message and the social teachings of the Church that insists, in this case, that the foreigner among us must be treated with respect and justice. And while border security is essential, so is generosity and justice for those who, like our own ancestors, seek opportunity in this land. Not conservative enough? Perhaps not, but Catholic and biblical.
Frankly the Catholic Church is just too big and diverse, our teachings too ancient, biblical and Catholic to fit into a narrow little label like liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. Long after the West as we know it may be gone (pray not), and surely long after political positions have drifted and morphed into other combinations, the Church will still be here articulating and trying to live to the best of her ability the Gospel as set forth by a higher and more lasting authority. We should do and be nothing less than being Simply Catholic.
Please note this is the second in the series of articles responding to some of the criticism of the Churchs opposition to the HHS Mandate. The first article was yesterday and can be read here: Why the Church Wont Pay for Contraceptives
In this video, Cardinal George and the Chicago Archdiocese are making a similar point very about being Catholic First, creatively: