There has been a lot of talk about the HHS Contraception Mandate lately. Most people know what's going on, but if you're still in the dark you can read about it here. Still, I've heard some...interesting? arguments lately about Catholics and the mandate, so I thought I would devote my Quick Takes to seven arguments against and/or misconceptions about Catholics and politics.
1. The Eucharist is a political weapon. I hate this argument myself, because it follows the same logic of the women's ordination movements. They see sacraments and vocations in terms of power. In those terms, some have power and some don't. That's inequality and inequality is bad, right?
The truth is that they're half right. There is power there, but they miss the whole point of it. The Holy sacraments of God are not tools to force change or compliance in this world. They are the products of an invitation that one can accept or reject. What one cannot do is say they have accepted the invitation while publicly rejecting everything it means. Remember that the Eucharist is a sacrament. That makes it Holy. That makes it dangerous. St. Paul says:
"...whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord...For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself."
1 Corinthians 11:27-29
Catholics believe their bishops are performing an act of mercy when they alert one of the faithful that they have strayed and should not present themselves for communion. We believe it "is better to listen to the rebuke of the wise than to listen to the song of fools." If you don't believe the bishops have that authority then guess what? Don't be Catholic. Nobody is forced to stay in the Church.
3. Most Catholics use contraceptives. I'd like to know who qualifies as "Catholic" in this poll. The truth is that no Catholic in good standing actually uses contraceptives for contraceptive purposes. It's a grave sin. Period. This argument is used by the White House in an attempt to paint the bishops as out of touch and tyrannical. Guess what? I'm a married man and my wife and I don't contracept. The sky is still blue, the birds still chirp and one day we will have the majority of voters because we don't neuter ourselves. Have fun with your cats.
4. The Mandate doesn't force anyone to use contraceptives. This one is rich. Again, on the White House site, we are told that the government isn't forcing anyone to use contraceptives. (Not YET, at least. See China.) This is a total distraction. Nobody is making this claim. The problem is that your forcing us to buy the pills and procedures. How about this: Nobody is forcing you to go to a prostitute, we just want you to pay to put her on retainer so any of your employees can use her when they want." NO. We won't be party to sin. Period.
5. The Church accepts government money, so the government can tell it what to do. I don't even know where to begin. First, even if we stopped taking all government funds, we would still have to comply with this mandate. The mandate applies to all employers (excepting an extremely narrow exemption). Secondly, this argument makes it out like society gets nothing for the money it spends. On the contrary, religious charities have been shown again and again to make better use of money than government run agencies. We already have the hospitals, universities and soup kitchens. Why not spend far less to do far more? (Especially considering that you didn't seem to care for a pretty long time which is why we had to build them in the first place.) We perform essential services for the poorest and weakest of society. If you don't like how we do it, build your own hospital.
The next two Quick Takes don't have to do with Catholics specifically. I just thought they were important.
6. Contraceptives are "Health Care": Bologna. Health care heals. It makes sure that the body works properly. Contraception neuters you. It does much more than that if you take the Pill, which is also a class one carcinogen. For you boys and girls who don't know what that means, a class one carcinogen is a substance known for a fact to cause cancer. For a second source, check out the World Health Organization. (Note: I understand that some contraceptives can be used for non-contraceptive purposes. The Church is ok with that and, as I understand it, would pay for that in health insurance. That is not what is being pushed, though.)
7. The Church is Anti-Woman. The Catholic Church is one of the most pro-woman organizations in the world. I would counter that it is Planned Parenthood and the contraception pushers that are anti-woman. Why don't we see what Pope Paul VI had to say.
"Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection."