Monday, May 30, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


ARCHBOLD: America Mag Bails on the Fight for Religious Liberty

Run away! Run away!  The brave editors of America Magazine stood for a while with the bishops in their struggle for religious liberty. But no more. The editors of the Jesuit magazine have sounded the trumpets of retreat and are bravely galloping away to watch from the sidelines. In an editorial piece called "Policy, Not Liberty," the editors of America Magazine did not only announce that they were abandoning the bishops in their continued quest to end the HHS mandate, but they also chided the bishops, saying they "press the religious liberty campaign too far." As you might know, America's editors are the world-renowned arbiters of "gone too far." The editors advise the bishops to go back to talking about nuclear war and the economy. People prefer that, the editors say.
The bishops have been most effective in influencing public policy when they have acted as pastors, trying to build consensus in [C]hurch and society, as they did in their pastorals on nuclear war and the economy. The American public is uncomfortable with an overt exercise of political muscle by the hierarchy. Catholics, too, have proved more responsive to pastoral approaches. They expect [C]hurch leaders to appeal to Gospel values, conscience and right reason. They hope bishops will accept honorable accommodations and, even when provoked, not stir up hostility. In the continuing dialogue with government, a conciliatory style that keeps Catholics united and cools the national distemper would benefit the whole [C]hurch.
Cooling the national distemper? Seriously. Is that what Jesus died on the cross for? You know, things got a little heated in Jerusalem around 33 A.D., so Jesus got right up on that cross in an effort to "cool the national distemper." The editorial goes on to say that "official Catholic rights theory" proposes that people should be willing to "adjust their rights claims to one another."
The campaign fails to acknowledge that in the present instance, claims of religious liberty may collide with the right to health care, or that the religious rights of other denominations are in tension with those of Catholics. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus Caritas Est,” the [C]hurch does not seek to “impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith.”
Only to the editors of America (and Mother Jones, Huffington Post, NPR, etc.) could refusing to pay for someone else's contraceptives be called "imposing" on them.  Or regard abortion-causing drugs and sterilizations to be "health care" equal in value to the Church's "claims" of religious liberty. But perhaps we should understand, the Jesuits of America Magazine have been too long in the mainstream on this matter. So in scurrying back to the sidelines, not only do they scold the bishops, but they go out of their way to praise President Obama's compromise which has been derided as "an accounting gimmick." The editors of America Magazine say the bishops' campaign for religious liberty "fails to admit that the administration’s Feb. 10 solution, though it can be improved, fundamentally did what Catholic social teaching expects government to do—coordinate contending rights for the good of all." Of course, the bishops have rightly noted that there is no "Feb. 10 solution;" the HHS mandate stands unchanged, and all we have is promises following upon broken promises. And the hoped-for "solution" would not protect self-insured groups like the Sisters of Life, even if its scheme proved morally acceptable (which is hotly contested). As for contending rights, they put the First Amendment right of Catholic institutions not to take part in something they consider evil against the "right" of people to have consequence-less sex at the expense of others. Man, that's some coordinating of contending rights, huh? The editors accuse the bishops of "stretching the religious liberty strategy to cover the fine points of health care coverage," and say their continuing struggle "devalues the coinage of religious liberty." Frankly, it was surprising to many that the editors of America Magazine stood with the bishops in the first place, and for that they gained a lot of respectability after past conflicts with the Church. This unnecessary cheap shot against the bishops -- and a poorly argued one at that -- puts them back in the mud.  Hopefully it is a momentary lapse of reason and America will stand with the bishops once again... and soon!

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