"Does America’s national health policy really need to make a far-reaching exception for Catholic institutions when a majority of Catholics oppose that exception?"
"Kristof: The cost of birth control is one reason poor women are more than three times as likely to end up pregnant unintentionally as middle-class women. "
Bridget Mary: Contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies that often result in abortion. It makes no sense for the bishops who claim to be pro-life to oppose contraceptives that could possibly reduce the number of abortions. Or is the real agenda here something else, control of women's sexuality. Read article below on Minority report- the reason the Vatican rejected contracpetives is fear of loss of power and control. Another major point is that the Vatican's teaching prohibiting birth control has never been "received"by the church. Here are the reasons: 1 )the teaching must reflect the faith of the people of God, the Catholic community; 2) the teaching must be affirmed the majority of the church's theologians and 3) the teaching must be proclaimed by the pope and bishops in communion with him-- not by the pope alone or a minority.
Kristof:... a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute reported that even among Catholics, 52 percent back the Obama policy: they believe that religiously affiliated universities and hospitals should be obliged to include birth control coverage in insurance plans.
Bridget Mary: The majority of Catholics are supportive of this policy because it protects women's health. That should be the bishop's pastoral concern too. Vatican II taught that the people of God are the church, not the bishops alone.
Kristof: After all, do we really want to make accommodations across the range of faith? What if organizations affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses insisted on health insurance that did not cover blood transfusions? What if ultraconservative Muslim or Jewish organizations objected to health care except at sex-segregated clinics?
Bridget Mary: And the furor is all about protecting the Catholic hierarchy's freedom of religion even though it is well known that they do not reflect their fellow Catholics views or practices. Will our political leaders give the same protection to Sharia Law as they are to Church Law in the name of freedom of religion? This debate will open more questions and issues than the politicans can imagine. But right now, by promoting the U.S. hiearchy's rejected teaching, the politicans have walked into a hornet's nest that has already done a lot of damage. They have certainly alienated many Catholics and Catholic women!
Kristof: In this case, we should make a good-faith effort to avoid offending Catholic bishops who passionately oppose birth control. I’m glad that Obama sought a compromise. But let’s remember that there are also other interests at stake. If we have to choose between bishops’ sensibilities and women’s health, our national priority must be the female half of our population.
Bridget Mary: I agree completely! Catholic women perform about 80% of the ministry in Catholic parishes. Now that we have women priests, we are finding that more and more Catholics want a more inclusive, egalitarian church. Catholics are finding a spiritual home with married priests and women priests in new Eucharistic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments. So, perhaps, it is ironic, but the alienation of Catholics and specifically ofwomen in the church may result in the growth of a renewed Catholic Church.
Bridget Mary Meehan