I'm Regina Small. I'm a writer and editor in NYC. Interests include: sci-fi/fantasy, summertime daydrinking, trying to be a better person, fancy manicures, cooking, absurd humor, philosophy and the role of irony in the modern world.
so I know literally no person wants to discuss contraception and the Catholic Church BUT America magazine (disclosure: I worked there!) wrote this very reasonable editorial about why the US Conference of Catholic Bishops shouldn’t continue griping in light of the concessions made by the Obama administration:
The [bishops’] campaign also risks ignoring two fundamental principles of Catholic political theology. Official Catholic rights theory proposes that people should be willing to adjust their rights claims to one another. It also assigns to government the responsibility to coordinate contending rights and interests for the sake of the common good. The [bishops’] campaign fails to acknowledge that in the present instance, claims of religious liberty may collide with the right to health care, or that the religious rights of other denominations are in tension with those of Catholics. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus Caritas Est,” the church does not seek to “impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith.” Furthermore, the campaign fails to admit that the administration’s Feb. 10 solution, though it can be improved, fundamentally did what Catholic social teaching expects government to do—coordinate contending rights for the good of all.
Bishop William E. Lori publicly responded to this editorial angrily and sarcastically: “Pardon me also for wondering whether the most basic of freedoms, religious liberty, isn’t being compromised, not by a right to health care, but by a claim to ‘services’ which regard pregnancy and fertility as diseases.”
In response to THAT, Grant Gallicho of Commonweal (another Catholic publication), reminded Bishop Lori of something very important!
In other words, five years ago the bishops of Connecticut made a prudential judgment to allow Catholic hospitals to provide rape victims with pharmaceutical agents the USCCB now routinely refers to as “abortion-causing drugs.” That would be the same sort of judgment Bishop Morlino of Madison made when he decided to comply with Wisconsin law and provide contraception coverage to diocesan employees.
If the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was planning to make an actual moral-theological argument at some point — one that goes beyond repeating that Catholic institutions will be “forced to provide for” services inimical to church teaching — now would be a good time. While they’re at it, maybe someone could point out to the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom that not all women can tolerate the outmoded pills offered at Walmart for $9 a month.
Beyond the obvious (that I side with Gallicho and America’s editors on this issue), I just felt like highlighting these schisms that occur WITHIN the Catholic community, if only to illustrate that Catholic opinion isn’t a monolith, that there are Catholics who are opinionated and vocal in their support for women and their rights, because that’s something that is often — quite understandably — forgotten or dismissed.