Those of you who follow my blog know that I am Catholic (unless of course I’ve been excommunicated and haven’t received the paperwork yet). My conservative Catholic friends would say I’m not the average Catholic but I’d disagree. I’m probably more mainstream than they are – just more vocal.
Anyway, Catholic leaders mobilized earlier this year when the Obama administration announced that church-affiliated organizations would be required to provide health insurance plans that include contraceptives for women free of charge. Angry Catholics insisted that the ruling infringed on the their first amendment right to freedom of religion.
Recently Pope Benedict stated: “Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.”
So now I’m confused. On this issue of contraception Church leaders say in effect, that government should stay out of our bedrooms. Because insistence upon government mandated coverage of contraceptives is a violation of our religious beliefs – okay, I get that. But then the Church says who we decide to share our bedroom with should be ‘Church sanctioned’. It seems that Church leaders want the government involved in this most intimate decision. That the sanctity of marriage should be defended by government; in essence the government should stay in our bedrooms. Therein lies the conflict.
So separation of Church and State is a “pick and choose” kind of thing? I’m often accused of being a ‘Cafeteria Catholic’ – one who chooses which teachings to follow and which to reject or ignore. Never mind that I have a conscience, my arch-conservative friends would be more comfortable with me if I would just blindly follow the hierarchy’s rules. But that’s too easy and an insult to the intellect God gave me.
Here’s what I propose:
Church take care of Church things. Exclude whomever you want. Make up whatever rules you want to impose upon your faithful. And deal with the fallout.
Government (read conservative politicians) stop pandering to the fears of the citizenry. People of reasonable intelligence can (and should) decide with whom to share their life. And when (and if) to have children. If the faith community that they belong to can’t embrace their love and life decisions; it’s that community’s loss.
Blimey, I’m even more glad to be living in England right now!