The bishops of the United States have issued a list of 7 violations of religious liberty. The list includes:
- The mandate for required contraception and sterilization coverage
- State immigration laws, such as in Alabama, that violate the basic dignity of human persons
- Laws that influence Church structure in governance, such as in Connecticut
- Discrimination towards Christian groups on university campuses
- Laws that discriminate against Catholic foster care and adoptive services, such as were leveled at Catholic Charities
- Discrimination against small church communities in the Bronx
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services for refusing to provide abortive and contraceptive services
The bishops have called for two weeks of prayer beginning on the eve of the memorials of St. Thomas More and St. Thomas Fisher and leading up to July 4.
Needless to say, Commonweal thinks that the bishops’ statement “vastly exaggerates” the problem. Then the magazine contradicts itself by saying the bishops have not gone far enough by not mentioning the vast amount of government discrimination against the Muslim community in the United States. On that I would agree. Mustlims in the United States have faced awful discrimination since September 11th. But I think that only proves the point that religious discrimination in the United States has gotten worse, and it is right of the American bishops to draw attention to it.
This is not to say that I disapprove of the Affordable Care Act on constitutional grounds. Frankly, I don’t know the arguments well enough. But I am concerned that groups like America magazine and Commonweal magazine are blind to blatant violations of religious liberty because they are so tied to compromising with Obama’s health care overhall. While the intention is good, the execution is bad, especially when America magazine is reduced to what at least seems to me to be wrongheaded and simplistic arguments for why Catholic institutions would not actually be paying for the contraceptive services.
Instead, I think it is time to join the bishops in this fight. It is time for those on the Catholic Left to stop viewing the bishops as the “Republican party that prays,” as I heard a priest preach at my parish last week, and instead give backing to the very prophetic statements that the bishops have indeed made about immigration reform, the death penalty, war and economic justice — and Catholic institutions providing contraceptive and sterilization services.
Focusing mainly on item’s #1 & #7, neither contraception nor abortion (on demand) are really issues about the health of the recipient. Once the “thin edged of the wedge” is worked in (forced in as is often the case here) it tends to be driven in deeper so as to cause more disruption and the like.
So, what’s next on this agenda? Coverage for toys at the sex shop and room bills at the No Tell Motel?
Instead, I think it is time to join the bishops in this fight.
I don’t. In fact after 53 years as an active, participatiory Catholic, it is the cause of my disengagement from the Catholic Church. On some of these matters, it goes beyond differences of opinion to where the bishops are out and out dishonest. The bottom line is that the bishops have an irrational hatred for Barack Obama as a person. They apply measures towards him that they never used before. One can only makes guesses as to why.
I think I can see your perspective, but I’m sorry that it’s causing you to disengage.
I would add, Father, that I don’t think you are helping with your inaccurate and false statements. You claim violation of religious liberty by laws “that influence Church structure in governance, such as in Connecticut.”
There is no such law in Connecticut. What there was is a bill that never became law, introduced by a member of the state legislature in one previous session of the legislature, that didn’t even made it out of committee. There are about 5,000 state legislators in the United States. One of them introduced a bill that went nowhere. The bill did not deal with church governance but the legal title to the temporal goods of a parish. It was in specific response to a pastor who stole a huge sum of parish funds (he is now in jail as he should be) and the lack of controls to prevent such theft of the donations of the lay faithful. The Episcopate’s failures in the child abuse scandal certainly added to the ill feelings. The bill required nothing directly contrary to Catholic doctrine, mandating a form of ownership which in some parts of the world (i.e. Quebec) is what the Church actually requires.
So, sparked by the laity seeing their tithes stolen by the church authority in control of the parish’s temporal goods, this one bill, introduced in one chamber of the legislature of one state, in one session of that legislature and which died without even a committee vote and which has not been re-introduced, is cited as a reason to launch a crusade for religious liberty. Yes, it was a bad bill. No, it is not as basis for a national religious liberty crusade.
Yet, given that the State cannot be totally eliminated from a role in determining how the Church or anyone can hold legal title to temporal goods, when one looks at the whole picture, there has in our country been tremendous generosity towards the Catholic Church in allowing her to hold temporal goods in the manner she prefers, such has the existence of the “corporation sole” in many states, an extreme legal fiction almost outside the American and English legal traditions designed exclusively for the Catholic Church as well as laws in all states that generously allow the Church to protect her temporal goods in ways no other organization is allow with simultaneous central control and decentralized liability.
Again, I don’t support the bill that was once introduced in Connecticut. The best way to see such a bill never introduced again is to get your brother priests not to steal parish funds.
Thanks for the correction.
Just a note of clarification: I am not a priest yet. I’m a Jesuit scholastic, which means I’m in studies and several years away from ordination.
How do the immigration laws of Alabama violate religious liberty. They don’t violate anything but they protect the state right to determine the LEGAL status of persons seeking residence in the state which it has a God given right to do