The Catholic Church is praised by the mainstream media whenever the political positions its leadership takes coincide with the policies of the Obama administration. Most recently, the Church’s commitment to use parishes for the express purposes of garnering public support for immigration reform comes to mind. The New York Times described the effort as well organized and quoted White House official Cecilia Munoz as saying, “It’s pretty rare for the Catholics to take on an issue like this straight to the pews. . . . This is actually a much more across-the-church effort, and it shows.”
In other words, the enthusiasm of the political Church is to be praised—at least on this topic.
The mainstream media is not always so complimentary of the Church. On many occasions it goes out of its way to find Catholics who will soft-pedal what the Church has to say, particularly on abortion, contraception, and in vitro fertilization. These topics fall under the secular heading of “reproductive health.”
For example, The New York Times sought out Catholic Health Association president Sister Carol Keehan last February to get her take on Catholic hospitals and their adherence to Church teaching. In that report we read, “Being a Catholic hospital means adhering to the Church’s religious directives about care, Sister Carol said, but she says hospitals also see their mission much more broadly, including caring for those who are less fortunate and treating patients with respect.”
In that caveat, The Times garnered exactly what it was looking for—a loophole excusing Catholic healthcare enterprises from strict adherence to Church teaching. Not only that, but Keehan has publicly announced that Catholic Health Association is comfortable with the Obama contraceptive mandate.
One need only follow the dots to understand how seriously wedded Catholic healthcare is to anything but Catholic teaching on matters of human sexuality. “Ascension Health, the largest Catholic and nonprofit health system, received a $202, 706 navigator grant in Alabama and $165,683 in Kansas” to enroll customers in Obamacare.
In New Jersey, in vitro fertilization specialists Michael Darder, M.D., and Susan Treiser, M.D., specialize in the creation of babies in petri dishes. These two practitioners are affiliated with St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. St. Peter’s tells website visitors it is Catholic with a capital “C,” but the facts do not speak the same story.
In the state of Washington, the attorney general, Bob Ferguson, has announced that Catholic hospitals must provide abortion. Ferguson “said that abortion mandate is a must for any hospital in any taxpayer-funded public health district in Washington that provides maternity care. Those hospitals must continue to offer ‘substantially equivalent benefits’ in the form of contraception and abortion despite their religious persuasions.”
While the bishops have said that such state-dictated impositions are contrary to their healthcare directives, we will have to wait and see what happens when Catholic hospitals are pushed to the wall.
Will they cave? Will they surrender their federal funding rather than comply with unjust invasions of their liberty?
Only time will tell. Yet, we can and should hope for the best.
At the same time, those of us who strive to change the status quo must go back to square one and revisit the Church’s timeless teachings on human sexuality. We can call attention to the truth that is often ignored or perverted by those in positions of authority. We can understand and then explain the profound wisdom of teachers like Pope Paul VI who opened his historic encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, with these words: “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.”
May we have the courage to focus on the facts, forge ahead in our quest to educate, and undo the damage caused by the gut-wrenching failure of those who have forgotten what it means to be Catholic. To be stalwart in defending truth may not be easy, but clearly the alternative is nauseating.