Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, rammed Obamacare through the House of Representatives. Lots of Catholic House members voted for it. The law forces Catholic-run hospitals to provide free contraceptives to every woman who wants them and who is covered under the law. Almost 50 million women are.
In the Senate, the story was repeated.
These people “voted their consciences,” and their consciences were opposed to official Catholic doctrine.
There were no church sanctions brought against these politicians. The bishops honored their consciences, too. Their consciences said, “Don’t bring sanctions. Don’t enforce doctrine.”
The cardinals looked at this refusal of the bishops to enforce church doctrine, and they decided to keep quiet, also for conscience’s sake.
The Pope stayed quiet, t0o, for conscience’s sake.
Apparently, they all hold to Martin Luther’s view of conscience. “Here, we sit. We can do no other.”
On August 1, the rule requiring free contraceptives went into effect for secular hospitals, but not religious ones. The latter have a year to comply.
A fight has begun on the campus of Georgetown University, which runs a hospital. It is a Catholic institution.
Hundreds of Georgetown students — non-Catholics — now demand that the new rules be followed. They have a lot of fornicating to do, and they want their free contraceptives. After all, what’s college all about, if not fornicating?
Every one of them could be expelled tomorrow. The university could simply return their tuition money. But it’s a matter of conscience, and the hierarchy of the university, being Jesuit, is now operationally Lutheran. Also, tuition is tuition.
The law gives churches and religious institutions a one-year reprieve. The hammer will not come down on the hospital yet.
The way out: drop health insurance coverage. It’s called “fee for service.”
“This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions,” U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
No, the law puts Ms. Sebelius in charge. It puts the federal government in charge.
Catholic Church leaders have come down hard on Georgetown, which unlike the Catholic University of America across town is not controlled by the bishops. Georgetown’s president, John DeGioia, repeatedly urged tolerance as congressional testimony by then-law student Sandra Fluke and a later graduation day speech by Sebelius thrust the school onto the national stage.
“Part of Catholic identity is to be in union with the bishops,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan told CBS earlier this year, adding that it is the government’s “intrusion that bothers us. It’s not the contraception.”
As a Protestant, I do not understand. The bishops are in union with Mrs. Pelosi on this issue. She is still a member in good standing.
Because the bishops don’t enforce the doctrine on Catholic members of Congress, Protestants assume that Mrs. Pelosi has enforced her doctrine on the bishops. That’s the way Protestants think. Protestants decide whose doctrine is being enforced in terms of whose sanctions are being enforced: the hierarchy’s or the laity’s.
The laity control the purse. It’s pretty clear whose doctrine is being enforced.
“Most of us in the pews are actually using contraception,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, an advocacy group that backs women’s reproductive rights.
That is certainly clear enough to Protestants. I do not see why Cardinal Dolan does not understand this. It is certainly clear to the Archdiocese of Washington.
Jane Belford, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Washington, told Reuters the church has not pressured Georgetown or other schools to take further action.
Georgetown’s DeGioia declined to be interviewed for this story, but a spokeswoman for the university, Stacy Kerr, said in an email, “We believe the best route to resolve this is through the regulatory process at HHS and that is the path we are pursuing.”
Here is how it works: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”
Nearly 800 students signed an open letter to DeGioia urging the school to comply on Aug. 1. More than 100 others signed an open letter against implementing the rule.
“He’s in a complicated political situation,” said one Georgetown law professor who asked not to be named, fearing possible university retaliation. “There is a dance that has to be done with the church and the students.”
The students are calling the tune: 800 to 100. The men with the funny hats are not.
This is why Obamacare got through Congress. Catholic members had the votes to stop it. Instead, they voted for it.