With regard to fighting the mandate, I agree that at one level the emphasis has to be on the First Amendment. But I also think that we need to do what we can to point out that giving hormonal birth control is not good medicine. And we need to point out also that the claim to a right to free birth control is simply an outrageous example of the entitlement attitude that is sinking this country economically.
I think we need to recognize that this is in large part due to 43 years of ecclesiastical neglect of conscience formation regarding these issues. I think it is entirely possible that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Sibelius have never met a fertile-age married person who actually believes and lives by what the Church teaches regarding marital love and sexuality. (Okay, so they know Rick Santorum.) But they are certainly aware of the statistics at the USCCB website that show that fertile-age Catholics are overwhelmingly in favor of the birth control practices they want to mandate.
Back in the Seventies or Eighties I was accused by a priest in another diocese of teaching against the bishops because I was critical of their still keeping archdissenter Fr. Charles Curran at CUA. (Pope John Paul II finally forced his removal after 19 years.)
Sheila and I started an NFP course on February 8 at St. Lawrence parish here in Cincinnati. I sent announcements to every parish in the city. We had four registrations, all engaged couples at St. Lawrence, thanks to Father Watkins making the course a normal part of preparation for marriage. At least 90% of fertile-age church-going Catholics are using unnatural forms of birth control; only 1.1% are using some form of systematic NFP. This is well known. The donation for our course is the cheapest in the area (half of what another teaching couple charges), so money can’t be the reason.
In NFPI we do not teach “Catholic birth control. We try to teach generosity. We promote and teach ecological breastfeeding, and where else are local engaged couples going to hear this today? That alone should be sufficient reason for our priests to insist that their engaged couples take the NFPI course.
I certainly agree that we need to support our bishops in this battle against the HHS mandate. While most fertile-age Catholics are already using unnatural forms of birth control, and while most Catholic doctors and medical practices are already doing what HHS wants, it is another thing entirely to be forced to do these things.
The time has come for our bishops, priests and deacons to realize that they can no longer ignore, for all practical purposes, the teaching of Humanae Vitae. They need to provide practical motivation, and they need to realize that the practical and theological help we have been offering for 40 years (yes, 41 come this fall) is first rate even though dirt cheap.
A public response to John:
I completely agree with you, John! I was out in the schools–Catholic and public–teaching abstinence for 5 years. It was a hard road. I was involved in high school youth ministry at my parish for 17 years, mainly on the spiritual retreats. We mostly had the “cream of the crop”–those who wanted to get closer to God. Lots of them Catholic. They didn’t really want to hear the abstinence message either. Most of them didn’t understand why the boys had separate sleeping quarters from the girls and why one wasn’t allowed in the other’s sleeping area or why opposites weren’t allowed in each other’s sleeping bags! Girls “spooning” with guys was totally OK with them. Just look at how women–adolescents and on up–dress for Mass or better yet for their weddings!
I know from this experience, that abortion won’t end until modesty and morality return; and at this point, that has to start in the pulpit. It’s time for all religious–sisters, brothers, deacons, priests, etc–to stop worrying about offending their congregation and quake in their boots over the souls that are being lost to sin because of their sin of pride for the praise of men. If the world loves you, it is because it doesn’t love God. If you are going to stand in for Jesus–EXPECT TO NOT BE LIKED AND TO BE PERSECUTED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!! It was hard for me, I didn’t like it. Lots of times I felt like Jeremiah, but I knew what I was responsible for and who I would be answering to if I didn’t tell them the truth.
Their outrage is 20 years too late. So I’m praying for the Bishops–mostly that God has mercy on their souls.
Other comments by John regarding the mandate.
“What editors and the readers need to see is that hormonal birth control is bad news because it increases the risks of several diseases–breast cancer included. To foist this on unsuspecting teenagers is simply evil. ”
“I would add one more factor. Regardless of the demerits or merits of any kind of birth control, the choice is a personal one. Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab for personal choices which are essentially a matter of personal responsibility. And I would say the same thing about Viagra-type drugs. Reining in the cost of health care has to start someplace, and it seems to me that personal choice items simply have to go.”
For the dangers of taking the birth control pill, read the Lanfranchi and Brind online booklet on breast cancer at the NFPI website.
John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive