Monday, January 30, 2012

A Caniption

That's what the Catholic Church is having over what they claim is a matter of constitutional rights, specifically the right of free speech--and according to one bishop the rights of conscience. All over the country pulpits vibrated yesterday with letters of indignation from bishops because of the Obama administration's rule that requires contraceptive services such as birth control pills be included in the health care insurance plans under the Affordable Health Care Act. Though churches and other directly-worship connected institutions are exempt, places like hospitals are not. So the Catholic bishops are having shit fits.

I would like to raise several points of order. First, it's been well-established by any number of surveys that Catholics by a massive percentage, like over 90, practice birth control despite what the Church teaches on the matter.
A report released last year shows about 98 per cent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church. The study showed practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.
Nearly 70 per cent of Catholic women use sterilization, the birth control pill or an IUD, according to the Guttmacher Institute research. (Source)
So the natural question arises, just who are these bishops talking to? Second, where are the voices of these models of morality when it comes to issues that aren't "safe" from government retaliation or even more to the point, retaliation from the pews? Which, need we note, translates into far fewer shekels in the collection plates.* Did we hear them denouncing the war in Iraq, which was launched on the basis of a passel of lies by the president and henchmen? The immorality of nuclear weapons? Did we ever hear these paragons of virtue condemn the gross inequities of daily life in this country: the disparity of income, the scandalous number of people who go hungry every day in the land of the free? How about the crimes being committed against the earth by corporations? Hell, no. You're not going to hear this stuff from the pulpits. That's way likely to piss off people with wallets.

Third, anybody who is morally repulsed by an insurance plan that covers contraception, well, they can go get a plan that doesn't. Nobody has to actually use birth control or the morning after pill if it does violence to their religious beliefs. But what about the Methodist who works in a Catholic hospital. Does she not deserve a comprehensive health insurance plan?

Finally, this is the same bunch of people who kept their mouths tightly shut while hundreds of priests in their charge molested and sexually abused children all over the country. (In fact, some of the bishops were pedophiles, too, graduated up the chain.) This is the same bunch of people who didn't have the balls to purge their own ranks after virtually every single one of them suborned pedophilia in their dioceses for decades. This is the same bunch of people that is still spending millions of dollars trying to fend off legal settlements with the victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The whole lot of them have forfeited their right to lecture the rest of us and the US government, no less, about freedom of conscience! Not until they all stand publicly in sackcloth covered with ashes every Sunday for about five years should they open their pie holes about what's constitutional.

*Although there are still some progressives in the Catholic Church, it is a predominantly conservative organization whose hierarchy sees the world in the same way Republicans do. I have to confess this is impressionistic evidence from close observation on my part. As part of the Church's hierarchy for over 25 years, I listened to the political opinions of hundreds of Catholic leaders, cleric and lay, in several different parishes. Let me tell you. Progressives among these people were scarce.
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