Catholics and the Constitution

Here in Saint Louis, our leftist daily newspaper, the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, weighed in today on the Bishops’ letter, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.

Not surprisingly, the editorial writer takes a dim view of the Bishops’ stand.

This editorial page has profound respect for the work of the Catholic Church and its individual members in health care, education and social justice. We do not take issue with church beliefs or internal operations, regardless of the church, as long as they do not enter the public square. The U.S. bishops, in their call for civil disobedience, have entered the square.

“What we ask is nothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be respected,” the bishops state.

That is entirely appropriate. So, too, is that bishops should respect the rights of those who do not share their beliefs. Some of them may work for church-affiliated institutions and may want access to the contraceptive services to which civil law says they are entitled.

The last two sentences are typical of the anti-Catholic view of this situation.  The Church is not disrespecting anyone’s rights.  Whatever evil non-Catholics choose to do with their own bodies, the Church is not trying to stop them.  What the Church is saying is that she has the right to refuse to pay for it.  Cheap and even free birth control is available from any number of sources.  Nothing the Catholic Church does is going to prevent anyone, even Catholics, from obtaining the pill, if they choose to do so.

It’s not easy to come up with an analogy that doesn’t trivialize this issue, but I’ll give it a shot.  Many of our non-Christian brethren have strict dietary laws.  For example, Jews and Muslims aren’t supposed to eat pork.  I’m no expert on this, but I don’t believe they have an objection to me eating pork.  But it would be a gross violation of the First Amendment if the government decided to mandate that all Jewish and Muslim institutions must serve bacon in their lunch rooms.  An even graver violation of their rights would be to demand that they provide BLTs at no charge.

The Post editorial also quotes a questionable study that declared that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control.  Well guess what?  I’ve known a lot of Jewish people who have eaten pork.  I can’t quote statistics, but I know from personal observation that Jewish dietary laws are not followed 100%.  Does that mean that the government has a right to impose restrictions on an institution’s right to support those laws?  Of course not!

It’s remarkable that any member of the media, who will gladly go to jail rather than reveal a source, claiming the protection of the Constitution, would come out against another institution who is advocating its members do exactly the same thing.  You’d think the media would be falling all over itself to stand with us.

Over the centuries, Catholic men and women have made great sacrifices to retain their religious freedom.  From the very beginning of the Church there have been martyrs who went to their death rather than surrender their religious freedom.  No one is suggesting that we die over this.  (Although the Bishops’ document does contain the word “martyr”.)  The Bishops are asking us to take a stand.  Even if you are one of the alleged 98%, you still must respect your Church’s position on religious freedom.

There is much more at stake here than free birth control pills.

2 Responses

  1. I believe the Bishop has put this whole argument into its proper context.

  2. […] Yesterday I posted on the local paper’s editorial concerning last week’s document published by the US Bishops on the subject of religious freedom.  One of the editorial’s points (actually a distraction from the main topic) was the notion that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control. […]

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