The liberal Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, blogged that he “cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience”—and he urged people to fight it. Another liberal favorite, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., has raised the specter of “civil disobedience” and vowed that he will drop coverage for diocesan workers rather than comply. They are joined in their expressions of discontent by the leaders of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities, which alone employs 70,000 people.
In the run-up to the ruling, the president of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, suggested a modest compromise by which the president could have avoided most of this strife. That would have been by allowing the traditional exemption for religious organizations. That’s the same understanding two of the president’s own appointees to the Supreme Court just reaffirmed in a 9-0 ruling that recognized a faith-based school’s First Amendment right to choose its own ministers without government interference, regardless of antidiscrimination law.
A few years ago Father Jenkins took enormous grief when he invited President Obama to speak at a Notre Dame commencement; now Father Jenkins finds himself publicly disapproving of an “unnecessary government intervention” that puts many organizations such as his in an “untenable position.”
Here’s just part of what he means by “untenable”: Were Notre Dame to drop coverage for its 5,229 employees, the HHS penalty alone would amount to $10 million each year.
Obama’s unnecessary war
Because it’s more important to compel Catholic institutions to pay for its employees to partake of something it believes is intrinsically evil than it is to respect their right to opt out? Good going, Obama. Folks, when people say the Republicans alone are responsible for creating a faith-based division between the parties, remember this.
I would remind you once again that this is not about whether or not you agree with the Church on the immorality of contraception. The overwhelming number of American Catholics do not agree with their own Church on this issue, to judge by the reported numbers of Catholics who use contraception. The point is religious liberty, and the right of the Church to dissent in the services it provides its own employees. The Church is not trying to change the law on contraception. It’s only insisting on its right not to have to pay for contraception through the health plans it offers its employees. What is unreasonable about that?