My question is: Who pays the insurance premiums? If the Church pays the insurance company premiums which funds the things the Church objects to, how can the Obama administration not see that it is forcing the Church to act against its core values? Many of the Church’s agencies are self-insured and could not be expected to pay for health care it considers immoral.
The bishop’s response to all this is to throw down the gauntlet. Two weeks of prayer and polite demonstration and expensive full-page ads in national newspapers should do it, they seem to think. However, reaction of Catholics to this approach seems fairly tepid. Most of us priests would not be able to mount a good argument against the disputed provisions of the bill so you won’t be hearing much from most pulpits, either.
The bishops have not made their case clear. On the street it feels like this: Here’s the bishops of the Catholic Church trying to throw their ample weight around again. While the poor suffer for lack of access to health care, the bishops continue to defend their positions and fight the embarassment of the sex abuse crisis emenating from its shepherds. Many women in particular are furious because the big shot men in the Church want them to be satisfied with second-class health care. Something is rotten in the state of the American Catholic Church.
I don’t, of course, agree that our Church wants the poor to suffer more or that poor women should not receive health care. But I am concerned about contraception because it separates sexual relations from love. I’m concerned about abortion because it ends an innocent human life. But, I understand that others do not come to the same conclusions that I have.
We have to stay in dialogue with our neighbors. I read the graffiti (some of it) and bumper-stickers which reflect the mood of our culture. A recent sighting: “Pray Your Rosary and Stay Out of My Womb.” What’s wrong with this picture? Dialogue it’s not. Somehow we have provoked this kind of a response because the official American Church looks like a big bully.
Our bishops should be able to come up with a better plan to get us through these rough days without compromising our Catholic values or appearing to force those values on others. We Catholics deserve better leadership.