When the Health and Human Services Department of the Obama administration ruled that religious organizations must offer contraceptives in the insurance packages of their employees, I rejoiced. Then the outcry from Catholics, even those who use birth control (Why??), followed by what I thought was brilliant—the administration saying that insurance companies will bear the cost (in the long run, no cost, because contraceptives save money). The bishops stubbornly refuse to accept this and wage a campaign claiming the Obama administration violates religious freedom. What twisted logic!
The Catholic hierarchy wants to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives to all persons who work for their organizations. A tiny minority wants to impose its standard of morality on the majority, inflicting real hardship on some. The administration will not let them do this. And it is accused of violating religious freedom!
I understand the point that the HHS definition of religious organizations excludes some that should be included in the definition, but the practical results are fortunate—more religious freedom because less moral tyranny by a religious minority. It should be obvious that the egregious violators of religious freedom are the bishops who want to deny birth control, thus preventive health care, to persons who need it.
Orthodox Rabbi Arthur Waskow has it exactly right:
Claiming [the HHS rule] violates religious freedom is an Orwellian perversion of thought—attacking religious freedom in the guise of defending it.Campaigning for “religious freedom” sounds so righteous, but it is a defensive move by a group fearful of losing its status and feeling cornered. Consider only a few actions of Catholic bishops:
• Attacking those who uncovered sex abuse
• Criticizing nuns for not condemning the bishops’ pet sins—contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination.
• Attacking women priests and those who support them
• Attacking nuns who corrected them about health care
• Attacking renowned women theologians
• Attacking the leadership conference of nuns
• Attacking the rights of gays
• Continuing to cover up the cover-up of clergy sex abuse by the top of the hierarchy
Doesn’t it all sound like paranoia? Like patriarchs protecting their power?
Psychologist, Kathy Galleher worked with men who committed sexual abuse and resisted taking responsibility for it. They became aggressively defensive. She sees the parallel in the Catholic hierarchy and gets it exactly right:
. . . feels like someone is picking a fight, and the intensity of it hints at the enormous amount of still unworked pain at the heart of the church’s sexual abuse crisis. . . . this fight looks like a distraction.Galleher is talking about the bishops’ fight with nuns and Waskow is talking about the bishops’ fight with the Obama administration, but I apply their points to the whole story of the Catholic hierarchy lately. Think of the scene in Hamlet where the queen says, “The lady doth protest too much.” The bishops do protest too much.
How many Catholic bishops are appalled by the posturing of their fellow bishops? Would it not be interesting to find out! It must be painful for them.
Francis affirms Benedict's rebuke, April 17, 2013
The news that PopeFrancis reaffirmed Pope Benedict XVI's rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious does not promise changes that both Colman McCarthy and I want from the hierarchy.
McCarthy asks, “What will it take to get me back?” For me the question is, “What will it take to get me back to respecting Catholic leadership?” Besides some changes, McCarthy demands some confessions from the hierarchy:
- “Go to confession collectively . . .”
- “Confess to the sin of harassing the American nuns, . . .”
- “the sin of stonewalling the appeals of pedophile victims.”
- “the sin of expelling Fr. Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood . . .”
- “the sin of demeaning gays and lesbians, . . .”
- Give the laity equal status.
- Put an end to priestly celibacy, male-only clergy, bans on contraception and altar girls.