We Need to Clean Up Our Own House First
I commend the many Bishops around the country who are calling on the faithful to defend religious liberty. How blessed we are to have leaders who will stand up in the face of adversity and shepherd their flocks in this time of need. Thomas Peters at CatholicVote has an excellent roundup of the various statements from around the country. The message is similar from the various bishops: Our religious liberty is under attack and we must fight back. I completely agree and I will be on the front lines fighting for my rights as a physician, a father, a husband, and as a Catholic.
There have also been good commentary here and here pointing out that Catholics have basically put themselves into this position by rejecting the Church’s teaching on contraception. President Obama is a genius in his choice of issues upon which to attack Catholics. There is no other issue in the Church where more American Catholics have broken with the Church. This is fairly obvious when 98% of Catholic women are using or have used birth control at some point. Michael Voris (who occasionally has some good points) made an excellent point that the Bishops, in the fight against the Birth Control Mandate, turn around and find that there is no army behind them.
The bishops have a monumental task ahead of them. Not only are they fighting against the current administration, but they are basically going to fight against Catholics who have rejected Church teaching on contraception and probably view this mandate as a good thing. Moreover, the bishops have very little credibility when it comes to defending Church teaching on contraception, and this, in my opinion, is because they have not upheld Church teaching within their own dioceses. This may be in the preaching from the pulpits, the marriage prep courses, or the counseling couples receive. There are also many hospitals around the country who purport to be Catholic and yet daily violate Church teaching and the Ethical and Religious Directives, particularly on contraception.
It is high time that these bishops calling for the fight against the Birth Control Mandate also turn an eye to their own dioceses and examine just how this part of Church teaching is being lived out. In my own diocese of Toledo (and Bishop Blair has issued a call to the fight) I know that a majority of the Catholics do not accept the Church’s teaching on contraception and that the Catholic hospital system does not appear to be upholding Church teaching either. These bishops need to take steps to ensure that the hospitals in their dioceses are compliant with the ERDs and that these same hospitals aren’t already handing out contraception. Otherwise, what is the point? If all the Catholic institutions in a diocese are already supporting/paying for contraception, then this mandate doesn’t really change anything.
We need to make sure that our own house is cleaned up before we will have any leg to stand on against outside forces. It is high time to take action.