Church Reporter: ‘It’s not the President’s job’
(POSTED: 3/12/12) In dissing Sandra Fluke, the birth-control advocate who testified in a mock Congressional hearing, Rush Limbaugh gave us a new unusable word. I dare not say it but can tell you it’s the s-word. If he had used “fornicator” or “adulterer,” he would at least have had the Bible to fall back on, including what Jesus said in Mark 7:
. . . from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”
He could have quoted Scripture to his purpose, in other words, but instead looked to the street for something punchy, and that’s when the s___ hit the fan.
Which is old news by now, and besides, it’s beside the point. There’s still that hellish HHS ruling by the Sebelius lady backed up foursquare by Reverend President, who knows what’s best for patients and students at Catholic hospitals and colleges (and lots of other places).
Namely that Catholic hospitals, colleges, etc. pay for contraceptives and morning-after pills even if the Church is on record as opposed to them on moral grounds.
To which, Cardinal Dolan of New York:
Can a government bureau, in this case the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), define for us or any faith community what is ministry and how it can be exercised? Can government also coerce the church to violate its conscience?
Or as pithily stated by a 1989 (female) Georgetown law grad in Wall St. Journal:
Should Ms. Fluke give up a cup or two of coffee at Starbucks each month to pay for her birth control, or should Georgetown give up its religion?
Many Catholics do not buy the Church’s prohibition. Priests rarely preach it. There has been heated argument among Catholics about it, though not much lately. (Indeed, it had been discussed hardly at all for years before the ABC fellow, a former Clintonista, brought it up in a Republican candidate debate some weeks ago in true gotcha fashion.)
But the Church has not budged. Church authorities have not held a referendum. Nobody expects them to, or almost nobody: it’s probably on the Call to Action agenda. Pew-sitters are divided on the matter. But it’s not a Catholic problem to be adjudicated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the President.
It’s not the President’s job. It’s beyond his pay level, as he said while campaigning in 2008 – about abortion, a truly hot election issue.
So who does he think he is, penalizing Catholics for not violating their religion as described by the institution they believe is divinely established and guided? Does he really think we should prefer him to our bishops in this matter, even if we disagree with them?
It’s not a matter of deciding the morality of birth control, but of bowing to his deciding. Again, who does he think he is?
Penalizing? I’ll say. To the tune of millions in fines, $2,000 per employe. That’s penalizing. Recusant Catholics under a succession of English kings and queens paid through the nose to stay within the law in centuries past. It cost money to be Catholic — or Presbyterian, for that matter.
Cardinal Dolan again:
We are not at peace at all with this attempt to curtail the freedom of religion and sanctity of conviction we cherish as both Catholics and Americans.
You don’t have to be Catholic to think this way. You don’t even have to be religious.
It was a question of liberty or death, Patrick Henry told the Virginia Burgesses (general assembly) in 1775. No such dire alternative lies before us. Just a penal law imposed by edict. Is that not enough to get your dander up?
By Jim Bowman
He was religion editor for The Chicago Daily News, 1968 to its closing in 1978, and since then has written many books and articles, including his Bending the Rules: What American Priests Tell American Catholics (Crossroad, 1994). He blogs at http://blithespirit.wordpress.com/ and elsewhere. www.jimbowman.com has the links.