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25 May 2012


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"Only now, with this mandate’s demands, has the federal government said that we must leave our conscience behind when we step into the public square."
I would counter that the Church left their conscience behind when they started accepting federal tax dollars. after all, abortionists pay federal taxes.


I was thinking of getting a t-shirt that says, "Deregulate me: I want to behave badly, too."

Now I think I'll get one that says, "As a child of God, I obviously do God's work, so I shouldn't be taxed."

If any random gov-vomit employee can make decisions of what is and what is not a religious institution, I just need to find the right gov-vomit employee!


Already anticipating the hue and cry of people who believe their 'freedom' is the highest calling possible and anything that infringes on that is wrong, morality be damned.



I agree. They should stop taking USG money for hospitals, development projects in Palestine, etc. Let USAID and HHS do these things themselves. They will dp so much better. (irony alert) I am curious as to whether you object in principle to the Catholic insitutions suing the USG. If that is so, is it your position that citizens have no right to sue the USG? Or, is it your position that you object to this particular lawsuit in that you want the USG to be able to dictate the terms of employment of private employees of private institutions? pl


Schism? I don't think so. There's been an accelerating divergence between what the hierarchy says and what American Catholics (and Catholics in other wealthy countries) do for decades now. The experience since Vatican II is that the rachet only seems to work one way - liberalizing modifications are adopted quickly, conservatizing modifications far more slowly if at all.

The old joke is, what do you call an American Catholic? A Protestant. For better or worse, many American Catholics seem to have internalized the Protestant mindset towards an authoritarian hierarchy. As a result, that hierarchy rarely tries to force it's will on the laity because they're nervous about what would happen if they lost.

I understand that this makes no sense given the history and philosophy of the Catholic church, but just because things don't make sense doesn't mean they don't exist.


Even if they are motivated by their religious beliefs to provide these services, that doesn't necessarily mean they should be construed as religious activities--even clear and long established religious activities are not always covered under the Establishment Clause (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_Division_v._Smith).

N M salamon

This proposed mandate reminds me of Hungary in 1949-50.
I started my education in a Catholic school in 1949, unfortunately the mandate was that only state school can operate, and lo and behold in 1950 the school was closed. Irony of ironies, the school thereafter served its original purpose sans the Catholic input to teach the children of the Russian Government employees/army personel residing in Budapest.Similar closing overcme the Catholic hospital where my grandfather died in 1942, 10 days before I was born in another ward. The Sisters were sent away, and the hospital became short staffed according to my parents.

I hope the USA does ot follow this Ussr mandated "solution".;

r whitman

A deeper question is whether a religious institution should be the sole arbeiter of human sexual behavior. For centuries western religious institutions have assumed this responsibility. In the last two centuries this has been partially ceded to governments. This whole arguement can be summed up in where the line between the two is drawn. Its not static, certainly here in the USA during the last 50 years.



"whether a religious institution should be the sole arbeiter of human sexual behavior" The Church is not seeking to regulate anyone's behavior. It is resisting the government's claim that it can force them to buy insurance however that might be disguised in some Pharisaical "arrangement." pl



So, you agree with Wuerl that the state is seeking to define what is religious or not. So, you think that the anti-religious regime in HHS should be endowed with that power. Is this bcause you think that religion really is "the opiate of the masses?" Or is there some other reason. What, the Democratic Party is the vanguard of the future? pl



"liberalizing modifications are adopted quickly, conservatizing modifications far more slowly if at all." Which Church are you talking about, surely not the Catholic Church? Cite me some specifics. The vernacular Mass? Girl acolytes? What? pl

r whitman

I would like to say up front that I have no strong feelings either way in this fight. The real question is whether University of St Thomas here in Houston, founded and operated by the Catholic Church but whose faculty
accepts government grants and contracts and educates students who have government reimbursements for schooling is the agent of the Church or the government. In reality it is the agent of both. This arguement is who has the power to attempt to regulate behavoir of employees. It is not just insurance, it is sexual behavior. We would not be having this arguement over eyeglasses or dental services.


r. whitman

I think that if you look at those grants you wil lfind they were given with no "strings." Certainly the grants to students are a matter between them and the government, not the university or the church. Do you really want a country in which acceptng money makes a church rthe servant of government. Would that not be "an establishment of religion?" anf how, exactly is the Church seeking to "regulate" the sexual behavior of employees? Are they going to have to "clock in" at the bedroom door. Catholic Universities are generally not run the Same way that places like Bob Jones U. are run. pl


Col. -

Much of this is based on my 35+ year old memories from Catholic high school, so there may be some gaps or errors. Also, sorry if it's too long but I can't see how to answer your question at a shorter length.

Vatican II was considered a very liberal and liberalizing document when it was released, but the vernacular mass was only a small part of it. Among other things, it states that elements of truth can be found outside the church and it also concentrates on the issue of inerrancy/infallibility of scripture (it's actually not entirely clear on that one, but did emphasize scripture rather than interpretation). But the emphasis on scripture was seen as somewhat Lutherian to traditionalists at the time. It also decentralized the church to a certain extent and gave more powers to the bishops to determine how to manage their dioceses. But most of all they kind of fudged the whole deal by invoking the "spirit of Vatican II" which left a LOT of leeway in interpretation. Remember there were movements like liberation theology around at the time, and it wasn't until the 80s that Rome ruled that their interpretations were in error. Overall, it gave a lot more freedom to bishops and the laity to interpret what Catholicism meant to them. (Of course, this is by comparison to the results of Vatican I, not on any kind of absolute scale.) But conservative and traditionalist Catholics have been very unhappy about the changes and interpretations implemented by Vatican II (how they square that with the belief in absolute loyalty to the pope and the church I admit I have a hard time understanding). They specifically dislike any changes to the tridentine mass, any acceptance of religious liberty and any hint that the RCC is not the single and exclusive path to salvation. Paul VI tried to make the church much more ecumenical than his predecessors, allowing different views, working on better relations with other religious leaders and refusing to excommunicate.

Since Paul VI, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have moved to reverse some of the changes that resulted from Vatican II. John Paul II renounced liberation theology and put a leash on many of the South American dioceses, he appointed almost exclusively conservative bishops, he reiterated traditional teachings on birth control and homosexuality (but with more emphasis than his predecessor) and he gave much more leeway to traditionalists like Opus Dei. Benedict XVI has been even more emphatic in opposition to birth control and homosexuality. Both have also seemed to place less emphasis on ecumenicism. So while they haven't reversed Vatican II they certainly seem to be trimming back at the edges, reducing the variety of opinions among the bishops and laity, and accepting of at least the attitudes of not the policies of conservatives and traditionalists.

Among the laity, I know from experience that the Vatican II changes spread quickly in the 60s and 70s. The attempts by John Paul II and Benedict XVI have met with more resistance. I'm sure part of this is the change in American society over the past several decades, but from the outside looking in that's what I've seen.

rjj du Nord

"It is not just insurance, it is sexual behavior. We would not be having this arguement over eyeglasses or dental services."

eyeglasses could become an issue if people are forced refrain from the, as it were, generic activities because HMC refuses to pay for their safes or their abortions.


I don't agree, no. I think the federal government is elevating certain behaviors above others that some seek protection for under the Establishment Clause. In contrast, Wuerl wants protection for those behaviors that he feels should be covered under the 1st Amendment.

So my point is that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that just because something is religious in nature doesn't mean that the government cannot pass laws that seek to curb that behavior. If it's true for peyote why wouldn't it be true for contraceptive rights?

As for my opinion on religion...I don't particularly care what anyone believes so long as it doesn't impune on another's individual liberties (yes, I know what Wuerl would say to that but I'm not done making my point)..and I think that women ought to have the right to reproductive freedom and that includes chemically suppressing their ovulation...and here's the kicker...and so long as health benefits are primarily conferred by employers I think it's acceptable for the government to mandate certain levels of coverage. And even more so when those same employers are taking Federal dollars.

Of course, if there's was something like Medicare For All this would be a largely pointless discussion (it would be in the same vein as someone saying "I don't want my tax dollars to support foreign wars)", so I hope we reach that point sooner or later, but until then I don't side with the Bishops.

I also think it's interesting that everyone always leaves out the preamble to "religion is the opiate of the masses." What he wrote before that is: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

At one time I think that was the case for the Catholic Church, but it has ceased to be true. They no more represent the oppressed then the Democratic Party. They only seek to protect their own place of privilege and power in the world.


i do object in principle to the catholic institution suing the USG. they should have politely told the USG they have no jurisdiction over their healthcare and continued on with business as usual. it was extremely disconcerting to me to see church officials reporting to "Caeser" on Capitol Hill.

rjj du Nord

another potential gray area: medically prescribed depilatories

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