Tuesday, March 20, 2012

E.J. Dionne: "Catholicism is not the Tea Party at prayer"

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.’ ”
 Good analogy.
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..


  1. If a Catholic institution refuses to cover birth control, they will receive a tiny discount on their insurance rates, and the insurance company’s other customers will see an even smaller increase in their rates. Voila! The Catholic institution is no longer paying for birth control.

    Dr. Egnor says the grave sin is “It is the artificial dissociation of the procreative end of sex from the unitive and pleasurable end of sex.” If this really represents the thoughts of the objecting bishops (and I’m sure it does), what they are really bemoaning is the loss of what little control they had over their female employee’s sexual practices.

    If the Catholic Church chooses to further withdraw from the public arena because of this, it’s not due to a communist plot (that really is quite funny), it’s due to the churches desire to cling to Bronze Age misogynistic attitudes.


    1. @KW:

      How about this: don't force anybody to pay for birth control. People who want it can buy it.

      Freedom works.

  2. Interesting, KW.
    Bronze age sexual ethics, eh?
    Which bronze age woman demeaning attitudes?
    Maybe like rampant promiscuity? Institutionalized homosexuality? Infanticide? Polygamy? Pederasty?
    Oh, sorry those are the Bronze Age ideals the progressive movement pushes.
    You must mean late Classic (ie Iron Age) period through Renaissance and Imperial Age CHRISTIAN values like marriage, chastity, fidelity, and procreation.
    Funny... most of the women I know think these attitudes are good for women.

    1. Timothy 2:12, And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence..

      Corinthians 14:34, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

      Genesis 3:16, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

      Numbers 31:18, But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

      1 Corinthians 11, A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
      Genesis 2:18, The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

      I could go on and on. There are 8-10 places where the bible condones, approves or commands rape, and many tens of passages affirming the inferior status of women.

    2. I'll quote from the secular bible:

      Roe vs Wade:

      20,000,000 dead little girls since 1973.

      You guys are soooo "pro-women".

    3. Here are two Bible quotes about atheists like KW:

      Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.

      Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

  3. How about this: don’t force anyone to pay for maternity.

    Let’s get rid of insurance altogether and maximize freedom


    1. Insurance isn't "force". Insurance is voluntary pooling of risk.

      There should be incentives to allow people to purchase their own insurance (tax breaks, insurance savings accounts,etc), if they wish to do so. They could choose benefits they like-- contraception,no contraception, maternity coverage, etc.

      For the people who are not able to afford care, we should provide a system (like Medicaid) to help them.

      Doctors and hospitals should also be encouraged to provide pro-bono care, which would be a big help to the poor.

    2. KW,
      Again, the comparison is utterly invalid.
      You compare the interruption of procreation on a massive scale, and the destruction of new life (infanticide & 'abortion') with MATERNITY? Killing does NOT equate to healing? Surely even an atheist can see that? Maybe not, eh?
      'We the people' requires PEOPLE, not animals to be controlled, culled, and crushed under foot. People are the result of a sexual union. Get it?
      So even if the only thing you worship is a flag or statue, maybe you could ask your 'inner self' or whatever you call that voice that guides you: What is the purpose of killing my own people BEFORE birth? What is the purpose of preventing their births? Sustainability perhaps?
      WHAT (or who) requires so much innocent blood to sustain it?

  4. "Contraception isn't health care."

    And yet women who use hormonal birth control seemed to experience a lower mortality rate than those who don't.

    It seems to me that any product that can reduce mortality by 12% over an almost 40 year period certainly qualifies as "health care".

    But the truth is that people like Egnor don't actually care about women. Which is why his ideological allies have compared them to farm animals.

    1. Abstinence lowers the mortality and morbidity rate even more.

      Is abstinence from extramarital sex preventative health care, like abstinence from smoking and from overeating?

    2. Anon,
      "And yet women who use hormonal birth control seemed to experience a lower mortality rate than those who don't."
      Do these figures also count in the number of women who die or are infected with diseases due to promiscuity? Nope. They do not. They are cherry picked by lobbyists for the eugenics lobby in a nation with a rapidly declining birth rate.

      "It seems to me that any product that can reduce mortality by 12% over an almost 40 year period certainly qualifies as "health care"."
      And what about the population growth for that region(s)? How will THAT effect the 'health' of their nation, I wonder.

      "But the truth is that people like Egnor don't actually care about women. "
      Ad hominem nonsense.

      "Which is why his ideological allies have compared them to farm animals."
      Christians are not Social-Darwinists.
      We see ALL human beings as exceptional creations - not animals to be controlled or 'fixed' for the benefit of their elite political masters and some insane notion of 'sustainability' on a global scale.
      Utopia through engineering is your camp's dream, personal morality is ours.
      Own your own ideas, and do not project them onto us.

    3. ""And yet women who use hormonal birth control seemed to experience a lower mortality rate than those who don't.""
      I am not done with this line yet.
      It's speaks volumes within only a few words.
      First to the line itself:
      Let's include some concepts the authors of this report leave out. First lets include the above numbers of women killed by pathogens contracted while exercising their right to promiscuity. Then let's consider the number of female foetus that are aborted - just for being female. On top of that let's consider the shifting demographics of the regions that are implicit in this 'movement'.
      [Aside: How long do you think you can get by with only your own volunteers resisting the natural urge to reproduce and killing their unborn before the more sane ideologies that happily breed and multiply completely overwhelm you?]
      I wonder what percentages or statistics we would come to/up with then?
      I would suggest we are talking about VERY negative numbers when considering the whole. Your movement is killing itself off and taking millions of DUPES down with it.
      But no matter, eh? Let's just obscure all that with the gravitas of selfishness of 'me'.
      'ME' live longer if 'ME' have no kids and pump myself full of hormones. So it is written, and so it must be. For the science (atheology) of 'ME' has said so.

      The philosophy behind the words:
      That is it, isn't it? When it is naked and bare we see it as selfish, short sighted, and incredibly hubristic.
      For all the talk about 'the greater good', 'sustainability', and 'rights' from the pro-eugenics anti-population movements - from New Atheism to New Age - the real focus is ALWAYS on 'ME'.
      That is why I lump all you monists into the 'religion of ME'.
      Use Darwin, Mayan Calendars, 'science',Crystals, positivism as a front all you want, but the truth is that you folks are all about 'ME'. Forget the 'we' or 'us' - that's just for the pamphlets and slick videos.
      Anything that lengthens an individual life, no matter the cost to individual innocents, the civilization(s) that nurtured you, or even the species itself is all fair game provided it saves you PERSONALLY a even few minutes from what you fear most: DEATH.
      The religion of 'ME' fears PERSONAL extinction, and dresses it up like some sort of 'environmental' or 'health' issue.

      Perhaps that is why truth is a relative position to you folks, and you decry the sane philosophies as 'bunk' while promoting modern nihilisms to the masses.
      Could it be that is why, by extension, morality is made to appear subjective. A tuna fish is equated to a human child, and the 'earth' is elevated to the status of deity that must have blood sacrifices placed before it in order to raise the crops.
      To this purpose, even the MIND itself is reduced in your various theories and belief systems.
      All for your monism.
      All for your supposedly goalless, non personal, futile, and utterly 'random' Un-God.

  5. Michael said: "20,000,000 dead little girls since 1973."

    If you saw a car stalled on a railroad track with a freight train fast approaching and in the back of the car was a little girl and a fertility clinic cooler with 500 fertilized embryos, which would you rescue first? The one little girl, or the 500 "little girls" by your definition?

    If science invented a drug that could eliminate ALL birth defects, but increased the rate of miscarriages by 1%, would you advocate its use?

    If terminating a pregnancy is murder, then shouldn't any behavior that increases the rate of miscarriage be punishable to the same degree as, for example, drunk driving? Should women of child-bearing age be fined or imprisoned for drinking alcohol, smoking, being obese or eating unpasteurized cheese?

  6. @RickK: I'll post on your questions.