Will The Clergy Come Clean on Conscience Provisions?

At our weekly staff meeting, we discussed the HHS directive, our archbishop’s letter in response to it, and the ramifications for us employees. Some questions came to me afterward as I reflected.

I appreciate that bishops and clergy, as our employers, have high ideals to protect. However, I’m less impressed with their potential insulation from a violation of conscience, as they put it. If they cut loose lay employees from health insurance plans, we will be thrown on our own resources. As individuals shopping for health insurance, we will likely not have the clout to dictate to providers what we will and will not pay for. Can someone tell me that the bishops and clergy are not just washing their own hands of distasteful aspects of insurance, and leaving it for the laity to either damage our own souls or cross our fingers with health care costs out of pocket?

And if this is such a grave matter that the Church may no longer provide health insurance, does it become grave matter for any Catholic to pay into a system that authorizes payment for abortions, sterilization, and contraceptives? And if it doesn’t, our pastors are still paying us, are they not? And if we buy into a health insurance plan they might decline, are we still not using money they’ve paid us? Is that one step farther from cooperation with evil enough moral insulation?

And finally, if the Catholic Church does such a great job with health care, why don’t we just organize hospitals as well as clinics to take care of us? Ordinarily, a Catholic, working or not, would tithe into a system, and as a result, would have lifelong health care. Just bypass the whole insurance industry as well as the government. It works for education. And such a Catholic healthcare system would, of course, be completely moral in its practices of medicine and insurance. No abortions. No death panels. No pre-existing conditions. No contraceptives. I’m sure it would take more than a year to set it all up, but hey: I had to violate my conscience and pay federal taxes that supported Mr Bush’s adventurism in southwest Asia for Big Oil.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Will The Clergy Come Clean on Conscience Provisions?

  1. crystal says:

    I do just find it really hard to believe this is about conscience, especially when some states have already had a law like this in force for some times with Catholic hospitals and colleges already paying for insurance with contraception. I wonder why all the attention is on the church hierarchy and their consciences but there’s no concern for all the employees, many not Catholic, who could be disadvantaged.

  2. And the thing I point out is that conscience protection, religious liberty, all of these have been long under attack in the US. Indeed, Catholic Scalia has helped to make this happen (The Smith Decision): http://www.pewforum.org/Church-State-Law/A-Delicate-Balance%286%29.aspx

    Of course, this has been ignored. Why?

  3. Paul says:

    I wonder if the Bishops ever thought if their employees where adult enough to make their own decisions regarding contraception and abortion inducing drugs. If we follow our own consciences and don’t use them do they still see it as sinnful for themselves because their insurance plan covers these drugs. And if I do use the stuff is it not my sin not theirs? What is confession for? Let us not forgoet that 98% of Catholics choose to ignore the church’s teaching on contraception. And if non-Catholics use the stuff who do not beleive it is wrong – are they to be judged by God on what the Catholic bishops say or on their own consciences? Do not we Catholics believe in the primacy of individual consceince?
    What about making its employees pay for their own insurance? Most of us can not afford it on the salaries the church pays us. Then they will have to pay fines for not providing insurance to their employees. Do they expect the faithful to put money in the collection to pay those fines?
    In these financially difficult times where every middle class and poor family are worried about finances have the bishops given consideration to the added stress and worry of their employees?

  4. Mike says:

    I’ve been over trolling in the filth of Deacon Greg’s comboxes on this issue. If the commenters over there were all I had to judge, I would no longer believe that the Catholic Church is in any way Christian. Of course, if all I had to judge were the bishops I would have come to that conclusion a long time ago.

    I would stop lurking there, but it reminds me why being Catholic is not something I can ever choose again.

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