I mused on Twitter the other day when the new rules came out from the unelected bureaucrats that will require all health plans to cover contraception, sterilization, and even abortofacients in some cases, “Call me cynical or Captain Obvious, but is it at all a mystery why Obama chose a Catholic to head HHS?”
Sebelius, the Cuomo boys, the various Kennedys, Leahy, Durbin, Pelosi, Ridge (for bi-partisan flavor), Biden, the list goes on. Politicians who claim to be Catholic, and who may even believe at some level in the Real Presence, the Assumption of Mary, the efficacy of the Sacraments, and all that jazz, but who observe the “personally opposed, but…” model of governing-by-partitioning-one’s-conscience.
For a long time it was simply a matter of these Check-Your-Catholicism-At-The-Door politicians making bad policy decisions that supported the legalization of flatly immoral practices, like abortion. But there was still the freedom not to support or participate in such practices personally or professionally if one did not wish to.
Now, thanks to the new rules, Catholic health care providers will have to either violate the norms of the faith that they are built upon, refuse to provide care for non-Catholics (which is itself a bit of a violation of the Catholic principles that inspire health care endeavors), or shut down. Not a happy choice.
And it was brought about in large part through the work of the Partitioned Catholyc Conscience Caucus.
But for sake of argument, let’s grant them that such a split-conscience is possible or consistent with the way the Church understands Truth and morality. If we grant this, it would still follow that they, in their “personal” conscience, hold that Catholics and Catholic institutions ought to be free to operate according to Catholic teaching without molestation by the government. But when decision time came, the agnostic “governing” conscience kicked in and threw the many centuries of Catholic healthcare under the bus.
Now, thanks to the cooperation of these willing idiots, all Catholics who wish to provide or support Catholic health care must be “personally opposed, but…,” suck it up, and do things contrary to our faith. Seems a bit contradictory, no? They claim for themselves the right to be “Personally opposed, but…,” and they end up enacting laws that strip the rights of Catholic health care providers to live lives and conduct their professional practice according to Catholic teaching. We’re not allowed to be personally and professionally and publicly opposed any longer.
So here we see in stark reality the lie of the “personally opposed, but…” position: the conscience that is personally opposed (i.e., the ostensibly orthodox and faithful Catholic conscience) and the conscience that governs were faced with opposing sides of the same issue, and the opposition of the personally opposed conscience disappeared.
Update: As if we coordinated things, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of Media Relations at the USCCB, has a great post up on this topic at Huffington Post. I recommend the whole thing, but she notes:
Catholic hospitals, charities and educational institutions provide about $30 billion worth of service annually in this country. No one presents a baptismal certificate at the emergency room. The hungry do not recite the Creed to get groceries at the food pantry. Students can pursue learning at The Catholic University of America, Villanova or any other Catholic college without passing a catechism admissions test. The commitment to serve those in need, the sick, the hungry, the uneducated, is intrinsic to Catholicism. No federal rule (except now HHS’s) says the church must limit its service to Catholics if it is to be true to its teaching. HHS doesn’t get the parable of the Good Samaritan, who helped the stranger simply because he was in need.