E.J. Dione's Washington Post essay
on the Church and politics, with my commentary.
Catholicism is not the Tea Party at prayer
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: March 11
The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church’s legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama?
The latter is necessary to secure the former.
And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the Tea Party at prayer?
Perhaps the salient political characteristic of the Tea Party is that it is not about social issues. It is a movement demanding fiscal responsibility, Constitutional government, and respect for the primacy of individual rights.
Catholic Social Justice, contra Dionne, is not
socialism, which is explicitly condemned in Catholic social teaching. Catholic Social Justice is the just ordering of society in accordance with the fundamental Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which means that decisions are made at as local a level as possible-- by the individual, the family, the small community, and that government on a large scale only exercise power that it inherently must
exercise (national defense, coinage, diplomacy, etc).
Catholic social teaching explicitly condemns socialism
(Leo XIII encyclical Rerum Novarum
). Subsidiarity is a bulwark against socialism and totalitarianism, and is at the core of Catholic social teaching.
These are the issues confronting the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ administrative committee when it begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday. The bishops should ponder how they transformed a moment of exceptional Catholic unity into an occasion for recrimination and anger.
Catholics are still united on this. There are some leftists
who mistake Obama-worship for Catholic piety, but they're getting schooled as we speak.
When the Department of Health and Human Services initially issued rules requiring contraceptive services to be covered under the new health-care law, it effectively exempted churches and other houses of worship but declined to do so for religiously affiliated entities such as hospitals, universities and social welfare organizations.
Catholics across the political spectrum — including liberals like me — demanded a broader exemption, on the theory that government should honor the religious character of the educational and social service institutions closely connected to faith traditions.
Under pressure, Obama announced a compromise on Feb. 10. It still mandated contraception coverage, but religiously affiliated groups would neither have to pay for it nor refer its employees to alternatives. These burdens would be on insurance companies.
Insurance companies don't carry "burdens". People who purchase the insurance
carry the burden, passed on by the insurance companies.
And which section of the Constitution empowers the federal government to mandate that a private company provide a product for private consumption?
The compromise was quickly endorsed by the Catholic Health Association. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the bishops’ conference, reserved judgment but called Obama’s move “a first step in the right direction.”
The CHA is run by a far-left Obama groupie
(Sister Carol Keehan) who insisted, in the run-up to Obamacare, that things like the contraception mandate would never happen.
Then, right-wing bishops and allied staff at the bishops’ conference took control.
Bishops are responsible for Catholic teaching. Far-left bureaucrats running health care associations who are currying favor with far-left politicians don't set Church policy.
For weeks, Catholics at Sunday Mass were confronted with attacks that, at the most extreme, cast administration officials as communist-style apparatchiks intent on destroying Roman Catholicism.
Administration officials are
communist-style apparatchiks intent on destroying Roman Catholicism. The hard left has morphed (Dionne really must read Gramsci
). Gone are the raised fists and the Mao jackets and the massive violence (in the West). The apparatchiks wear suits and go to regulatory meetings and issue white papers. The left is in our institutions. Socialism-- national and international-- has a friendly face.
And the Catholic Church is perhaps the most powerful institution blocking their way to transformation of our culture and government.
The contraceptive mandate is a brilliant
tactic to drive the Church out of healthcare and out of many other aspects of civic life. If it prevails, the Church by its own moral compass cannot employ people
, because by law the Church would need to purchase health insurance for them.
Pure political genius. These Gramsci lefties are as smart as the Bolshevik lefties were murderous.
You think I exaggerate? In his diocesan newspaper, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, wrote: “The provision of health care should not demand ‘giving up’ religious liberty. Liberty of religion is more than freedom of worship. Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union. You could go to church, if you could find one. The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship — no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and the works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government. We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society.”
My goodness, does Obama want to bring the Commies back?
They're.... back. Actually, they never left. They just got tenure, and waited for the right time. Like now.
Cardinal Dolan is more moderate than Cardinal George, but he offered an unfortunate metaphor in a March 3 speech on Long Island. “I suppose we could say there might be some doctor who would say to a man who is suffering some sort of sexual dysfunction, ‘You ought to start visiting a prostitute to help you, and I will write you a prescription, and I hope the government will pay for it.’ ”
Did Cardinal Dolan really want to suggest to faithfully married Catholic women and men who decide to limit the size of their families that there is any moral equivalence between wanting contraception coverage and visiting a prostitute? Presumably not. But then why even reach for such an outlandish comparison?
Contraception in Catholic moral teaching is a very serious sin. It is the artificial dissociation of the procreative end of sex from the unitive and pleasurable end of sex. It is, in the Catholic view, a grave sin, and has been recognized as such for 2000 years.
Such a view is no longer fashionable among the cognoscenti (I'm sure Dionne never
hears contraception criticized at his Washington dinner parties), and is generally not well understood even among the Catholic faithful.
Prostitution and contraception are obviously different sins, but they have some similarities, and are both grave.
Opposition in the church to extreme rhetoric is growing.
Opposition is collapsing. There has never been more Church unity in my lifetime. When our parish priest read our bishop's statement on the contraception mandate issue at the end of Mass last month, there was applause from the congregation.
Moderate and progressive bishops are alarmed that Catholicism’s deep commitment to social justice is being shunted aside in this single-minded and exceptionally narrow focus on the health-care exemption.
People who agree with Dionne aren't "moderate". There is great unanimity among the bishops, even the immoderate leftist ones. Dionne is being disingenuous. He is smart enough to understand the dynamics here.
Obama is demanding that the Church abandon one of her most deeply held moral principles or withdraw from huge tracts of American civic life.
A wise priest of my acquaintance offered the bishops some excellent questions about the church.
Dionne's definition of "wise priests": priests who agree with Dionne, and not with the Church.
“Is it abandoning its historical style of being a leaven in society to become a strident critic of government?” he asked.
The Church is a critic of socialism and is a critic of sin. The contraception mandate is a socialist scheme to promote an act the Church rightly recognizes as sinful.
“Have the bishops given up on their conviction that there can be disagreement among Catholics on the application of principle to policy?
The Church has always been open-minded on matters of political prudence. She is closed-minded on matters of faith and morals. This is a matter of morals.
Do they now believe that there must be unanimity even on political strategy?”
There must be unanimity among Catholics on morals. Political strategies that compromise those morals are immoral.
The bishops have legitimate concerns about the Obama compromise, including how to deal with self-insured entities and whether the wording of the HHS rule still fails to recognize the religious character of the church’s charitable work.
Damn right the bishops have "legitimate concerns". They should also have legitimate concerns that there are Catholics who are still ostensibly in communion with the Church who are actively working to damage it.
But before the bishops accuse Obama of being an enemy of the faith, they might look for a settlement that’s within reach —
'Before the bishops accuse Diocletian of being an enemy of the faith, they might look for a settlement that's within reach...'
one that would give the church the accommodations it needs while offering women the health coverage they need.
Contraception isn't health care. Pregnancy isn't a disease. People who want contraception can buy it themselves. It's dirt cheap
This controversy is about religious freedom and the role of Christianity in civic society, not about pills and condoms.
I don’t see any communist plots in this.
You weren't supposed to, E.J..