(CNN Religion Blog) Stephen Prothero—Roman Catholic bishops are speaking against the common good

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

5 Comments
Posted April 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

Moreover, when Catholic bishops and priests opposed the contraception mandate, HHS modified its rule, exempting not only Catholic churches but also Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies. (For these organizations, employees would receive contraceptive coverage from insurance companies separately from the policies purchased by their employers).

This quite simply is a lie.  The Catholics will still be required to pay the premiums.  And if the insurers are truly being required to offer this coverage with out any compensation then it is an unconstitutional taking of property.  In addition those organizations that are self insured will still have to pay. 

What then?  Why the big deal about offering a little incense to Caesar?  It doesn’t cost much.

The very gall in this person deciding another person’s conscience!

April 17, 3:46 pm | [comment link]
2. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

This is a very dangerous logic to follow: “To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.”

April 17, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
3. MichaelA wrote:

“The U.S. Catholic bishops who claim, increasingly incredibly, to speak on behalf of American Catholics ...”

Errr, what else is a bishop supposed to do? Doesn’t a CEO or General Manager speak on behalf of their organisation? If some RCs don’t agree with their bishops, they are equally entitled to say so. But that is not a reason to infer that the bishops are not entitled by their office to speak out on behalf of their church.

“The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live.”

Firstly, no it isn’t. And secondly, the right of each person (and group of persons) to challenge laws which are not in accordance with their conscience is part of every western system of law.

Stephen Prothero’s problem is that he can’t cope with laws which he supports being challenged or protested. In a word, he is against free speech except when its in support of a principle he likes.  Sorry Stephen, but Western pluralism doesn’t work that way.

“I thought Catholic clerics would withdraw their objections. I was wrong.”

Well, they haven’t, so get used to it. You are fully entitled to disagree with them.  What you are not entitled to do is force them to stop objecting.

“The bishops refer repeatedly in their statement to “civil society.”  But think for a moment of the sort of “civil society” we would have if religious people were exempt from any law they deemed “unjust” for religious reasons.”

Think for a moment of the sort of “civil society” we would have if people like Stephen Prothero succeeded in gagging any form of political protest (except for those he agrees with).

I personally don’t share the RC bishops’ concern about contraception. I do share their concerns about abortion.  But whatever, the RC bishops have every right to protest laws, challenge laws, and call for their removal or change. Stephen Prothero’s article is not arguing in favour of the laws; rather, he is arguing that the RC bishops should not be permitted to protest. This protest-ant disagrees!

April 17, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
4. Charles52 wrote:

Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers.

Well, no, the Church is being required to pay for contraceptive coverage (which includes abortion-inducing drugs).

I find interesting the utter lack of understanding of Christian ministry shown in the phrase “who work for their organizations”.  Heck, even from a non-religious understanding of organizational structure and dynamics this is a desperately impoverished construction.  I wonder if Prothero considers his teaching career to be nothing more than working for a (historically) Methodist organization (Boston University). 

The HHS regulations represent not only a major advance in the power of government over conscience, but also an advance in the pro-choice agenda of murdering unborn children whenever and however those with the power wish to do so.  This is anything but a “civil society”, and decent (not to mention reasonable) people will indeed to refuse to participate in it.

Br. Michael expresses it perfectly well: in all times and places, Caesar demands his pinch of incense. We all decide how to respond.

April 17, 7:19 pm | [comment link]
5. driver8 wrote:

The effort by male Roman Catholic leaders to deny contraception coverage to female employees who want it

This is simply false. Any Catholic employee who wants contraception is free to nip down to CVS or any other provider.

If religious freedom means only that you are free to follow your religious beliefs only until the state declares it illegal, then it isn’t really a freedom at all.

(Compare this - your right to free speech means that you are free to communicate your views only until the state declares your speech illegal. On this kind of view China is a bastion of free speech).

April 17, 7:59 pm | [comment link]
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