By WILLIAM MAYER
March 6, 2012 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - It should go without saying that the American Catholic Church is now engaged in an intense struggle with the Obama administration regarding its decision to force Catholic institutions to provide a full range of "birth control/family planning" services to its employees.
The administration maintains that such an edict [the final language was just published in the Federal Register] doesn't rise to the threshold of abridging the Church's First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
Less prominent in the give and take on this issue is the understanding that for the most part the U.S Catholic Church, primarily through its governing board, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as its lobbyists cooperated very closely with the president on the Affordable Health Care for America Act, now commonly referred to as Obama Care.
So complete was its devotion to the principle of government funded universal health care that at one point, feeling the extent of the coverage being offered was insufficient, Church representatives suggested that it be expanded to cover the approximately 12M [primarily Mexican] illegal aliens as a matter of Christian equity.
We are expected to ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of these illegals are at least nominally Roman Catholic.
Much was written at the time about the intricate kabuki-like dance between the administration and the USCCB in crafting language that would make it appear that the comprehensive health care bill would never be used to provide federal funding for abortion.
Life issues quickly became the road block in the health care equation as far as the Church was concerned, hence a "compromise," was hatched; one that appeared to comply with the abortion prohibition represented by the long-in-the-tooth Hyde amendment, which traditionally has had heavy bipartisan support.
Amidst unrelenting pressure, the chief proponent of carving out this exception, a weak-kneed Democrat Representative Bart Stupak, quickly folded his hand, instead agreeing to a loosely worded executive order which would supposedly provide the same protections and safeguards.
"As both sides of the debate remember all too well, the final passage of Obamacare last year hinged on a many-layered debate on abortion funding in the final bill. The balance of power on the final vote in the House of Representatives rested with a small group of pro-life Democrats, led by former Representative Bart Stupak (DMI), who abandoned their support for a comprehensive restriction on abortion funding. Instead, the "Stupak 7" settled for a presidential executive order that purported to fill the gaps in the legislation that allow various types of abortion subsidies - through tax credits, mandates on insurance companies and states, and direct payments..." [source, Heritage Foundation, http://blog.heritage.org/2011/08/10/more-tax-subsidies-for-abortion-in-obamacare/]
The USCCB's "new age" teaching on health care is encapsulated as follows:
Catholic Social Teaching and Health Care - In our Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives. Instead, every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care. This teaching is rooted in the biblical call to heal the sick and to serve "the least of these," our concern for human life and dignity, and the principle of the common good. Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans do not have health insurance. According to the Catholic bishops of the United States, the current health care system is in need of fundamental reform..." [source, USCCB Action Alert, July 17, 2009, http://old.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-07-17-alert-healthcare.pdf]
So in the modern iteration of Catholic theology, government health care is a right and hence, as a moral imperative, Obama Care was fully supported by the USCCB.
The non-compromise on abortion was welcomed [wink-wink-nod-nod] by the USCCB and publicly supported by the leadership of powerhouse Catholic entities including the Catholic Health Association, run by Sister Carol Keehan a "progressive" nun. 60 Catholic religious orders [primarily nuns] were signatory to a letter greeting this non-compromise as being fully acceptable.
One of the dirty little secrets in this aspect of the controversy is that Keehan has always maintained that she and CHA were in complete lock-step with the USCCB, working with them throughout the entire process.
We see no reason to disagree with Sr. Keehan on that point.
The seminal USCCB document, Making Health Care Abortion Neutral, states in its concluding paragraph, "Health care reform whose goal is to advance health coverage, not advance an agenda on abortion, will take care to be abortion neutral. It will preserve current policies that bar use of taxpayer funds, respect conscience rights, and generally encourage childbirth over abortion; it will not mandate abortion as part of any "basic" or minimum benefit package." [source, http://old.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-07-17-bg-healthcare-abortion.pdf].
For some inexplicable reason, this document is no longer available on the new USCCB website as site specific internet searches produce zero hits. It is however available at the "old" USCCB website as heretofore noted, again found via a non site specific 'net search.
Notwithstanding the cloud of obfuscation behind which the USCCB is now attempting to hide, America's Catholic governing board unequivocally supported the final Obama Care bill despite the legislation's clear expansion of funding of euthanasia-like services, birth control and "sex education," all on the strength of weasel worded lip service on the abortion question.
So, paraphrasing a quip by the president's favorite preacher Reverend Wright, "the USCCB's chickens have come home to roost" - and with results fully predictable at the time this legislation was originally rammed through Congress and then quickly signed by Obama.
For her efforts, Sister Keehan received a ceremonial pen used during the president's melodramatic public signing of the bill.
As a result the Church now wants its congregants to believe that it was utterly flummoxed when Mr. Obama issued the mandate through HHS that will require Catholic institutions to fund what they continue to claim is anathema.
Unfortunately for the Church, this dodge simply doesn't pass the smell test.
Are we to believe that, surprise...surprise...surprise, the U.S. Catholic Church is now apparently led by a consortium of Gomer Pyles masquerading as bishops who couldn't conceive that such a development might ensue?
Let there be no confusion here, we fully support the Church's efforts to battle [however weakly] the "family planning services" mandate laid down by the imperial Mr. Obama.
In our opinion such a mandate is clearly unconstitutional.
The bitter irony of this matter lies in the fact that the USCCB brought this mess down on its own head largely because it jettisoned its traditional morality in favor of political clout. It's heart, as this author has fully noted in numerous articles as well as a monograph [please refer to Bitter Harvest: How Marxist "Progressives" Have Infiltrated the American Catholic Church as well as Catholic Utopian Socialists - Fraudulent Use of Faith Now The Norm has been willingly captured by disciples of Saul Alinsky who then brought Catholic social teaching into line with the radical's hard left, progressive world view.
So when New York's Cardinal Dolan bleats his now high minded opposition to the HHS mandate, he should do so knowing full well that the organization [USCCB] over which he now presides is in large part responsible for this problem in the first place, having long ago sacrificed its moral integrity in pursuit of temporal power.
© 2012 William Mayer, PipeLineNews.org,. All rights reserved.