Professor Gregory Sisk of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., recently challenged the prevailing view in academic circles of contraception as a “positive social good” and made a plea for tolerance for those who disagree.
In light of the HHS Mandate which requires Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage to employees, Sisk, writing at the blog Mirror of Justice, asked for “something more than grudging tolerance of different opinion but rather a request for a more ‘liberal’ acceptance of a community with an alternative view of the good life.”
He argued that a free society requires allowing “ample breathing room for a community with a counter-cultural understanding.”
Let us suppose that a particular Catholic community—a Catholic university, let us say—wishes to build an oasis in which young men and women have an alternative to the contraception culture that dominates most of society. This university builds single-sex dormitories and adopts what we’ll label “parietals” that call for person of the opposite sex to leave a student’s dorm room after a certain time each night. Every student admitted to the university (and every faculty or staff member employed by the university) is well aware of the Church’s teaching and of the university’s considered policies in accordance with that teaching.
Knowing that their students are real people and not angels, the Catholic university leadership understands that not all young men and women on campus will succeed in living what they believe is a healthier and more satisfying lifestyle. But a critical mass of students (and faculty and staff) will so succeed within a supportive environment, quite different from that which prevails at most universities.
… For these reasons, as a faithful witness to the community and as an encouragement to students to live faithfully, this Catholic university will not permit artificial contraception to be dispensed on campus and will not associate itself in any way with those who market or distribute such artificial contraception. Not wanting to give any scandal or tarnish in any way the Church’s message about the sacred beauty of human sexuality, the university refuses to cooperate or be complicit with distribution of artificial contraception.
Sisk asks if a truly “liberal” society would allow that community to hold an alternative viewpoint. “Shouldn’t we strive for a public policy respectful of diversity that does not suffocate these countercultural views by all-embracing mandates?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we be alarmed by a governmental orthodoxy that cannot allow this community to march to a different drummer?”
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