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Dolan to Lay Catholics: Be Our "Attractive, Articulate" (and Unpaid) Flacks

Following up on Lisa's post below,I think Dolan's call for Catholics to get more involved in politics is very interesting for what it suggests about how the bishops view the role of laypeople and about their conception of the role of the Catholic Church (understood in the broadest sense) in American public life. First off,kudos to Lisa for pointing out Dolan's error on the right to marry. As I understand it, and contrary to the Cardinal's assertion, the right to marry was one of the earliest examples of a subjective right in the Catholic moral discussions. Brian Tierney has written about this. In Dolan's favor, Tierney's discussion of the contours of that right points towards an understanding that is significantly narrower than contemporary discussions. Still, the long history of recognizing an affirmative right to chose one's spouse greatly complicates the rhetorical force of the zinger Dolan was trying to land.More important, in my opinion, is the substance of Dolan's understanding of what it means for Catholics to become more involved in politics. Based on the report in the Times, it sounds like what Dolan has in mind is for Catholic laypeople to go out and sell to the public the political determinations reached exclusively by the Bishops. (I will complicate this a bit at the end of this post, but this seems to be his ultimate vision.) He says that the reason he wants laypeople out front is not because they might have insights to offer in prudential decision making that the Bishops lack, but simply because they are more palatable messengers than the Bishops themselves.He says: In the public square, I hate to tell you, the days of fat, balding Irish bishops are over. He apparently said this without any sense of irony. Unfortunately, he seems to have meant it only in the narrowest and most literal terms. We can get a sense of his meaning from the example he offered. The Times tells us: "He told a story about bishops hiring an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman to speak against abortion and said it was the best thing we ever did. . . ." He makes clear, however, that he views the role of Catholic laypeople in politics in largely the same terms: to uncritically take the conclusions fed to them by the bishops and then sell them to the public more effectively than the bishops can themselves. The role of lay Catholics in the public sphere, however, is not to think for themselves about the implications of Catholic teachings for specific political determinations. Talking about the contraception rule controversy, he says: We kind of got our Irish up when leaders in government seemed to be assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups that are not the bishops. He added: If you want an authoritative voice, go to the bishops. Theyre the ones that speak for the truths of the faith. In other words, Catholic laypeople who reach any conclusion contrary to the bishops have no standing to speak as Catholics.This understanding of the role of Catholic politicians laypeople in public life would leave ample room for independent thought if Dolan's conception of "the truths of the faith" were sufficiently general. But he seems to view "the truths of the faith" as an extremely capacious category.

It includes not only determinations of high-level principles, but also the bishops' views on very specific and fact-intensive moral conclusions, like the determination that Ella is an abortifacent or the conclusion that (under traditional Catholic views about cooperation with evil) Catholic institutions not only cannot provide health insurance that covers contraception that an employee is free to choose not to use but that those institutions must be empowered to preclude their own insurance carriers from separately contracting with employees to provide contraception coverage for no extra cost (or even, presumably, for some nominal extra cost). Although the Bishops have been loathe to actually justify this conclusion in detailed terms, others have argued that it rests on (1) the possibility that observers may view the provision of such insurance to employees of Catholic institutions as suggesting that the Catholic Church is not really serious about its opposition to contraception; and (2) the possibility that employees of these institutions will in fact consume more contraception by virtue of their newly mandated employment-related benefits and because of their misapprehension (due to the mandated coverage) of the depth of the Church's opposition to contraception. My point in this post is not so much to challenge these claims (though they strike me as highly contestable) but to observe just how fine-grained and contingent a moral conclusion this is. And yet it is one that Dolan seems to understand in terms of the kinds of first principles over which the Bishops have an exclusive say. If no one but the bishops can speak out about the correct Catholic view of an issue such as this, there is precious little leftto dofor these lay Catholics in politics other than act as unpaid PR flacks for the political conclusions reached behind closed doors at the USCCB.Dolan did offer one comment that suggests that there might be something for Catholic laypeople to add to the mix. "While priests and bishops 'stick to principles,' he said, 'we leave a lot of the messiness of politics up to you.'" It's not clear what he means by the "messiness of politics." I would have thought that he meant the kind of prudential considerations that lie at the heart of the application of Catholic moral principles to specific policy questions. But if "the principles" includes the ultimate issue of, for instance, precisely how proximately a Catholic institution can contribute to the ability of its employees to make an independent choice to procure and use contraception, then I'm not quite sure what is left.UPDATE: Here is Andrew Sullivan's take.

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.

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Dolan to Lay Catholics: Be Our Attractive, Articulate (and Unpaid) FlacksJesus to Lay Catholics: "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Holy Spirit to Pealver: "bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ." LG 20

Sorry, Bender, but how can you expect an educated laity to take seriously a bishop who "cannot recall" that the Church teaches "the natural right to marry" (Pius XI) and "the inalienable right of marriage" (Paul VI)?

Yuck! The word "shill" comes to mind. He wants women to sell women on the bishops' anti-women policies ... because, you know, we;re just idiots who don't care about the actual message, only the messenger.

If Professor Pealver is to be consistent, he will also have to criticize that theological reactionary, Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII), who told Catholics that, in situations involving cooperation with non-Catholics in the highly secularized societies of the contemporary world, the parameters of that cooperation are ultimately subject to practical decisions made by the bishops. Should you find it hard to believe that the Pope who convened Vatican II actually said that, then please see the last sentence of section 160 of the encyclical Pacem in terris:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-... coherent Catholicism and unwillingness to become an Episcopalian require being a flack for the hierarchy in the sense understood by John XXIII, then please sign me up.

Dolan did offer one comment that suggests that there might be something for Catholic laypeople to add to the mix. While priests and bishops stick to principles, he said, we leave a lot of the messiness of politics up to you. Its not clear what he means by the messiness of politics.

I imagine he means that in politics principles are often fudged.

First of all, Stephen, I don't think I called anyone a "theological reactionary" in my post. Second, I don't doubt that John XXIII said those words. The passage in Pacem in Terris in question concerns dialogue with historical movements (e.g., national liberation movements in the Third World, many of which were explicitly Marxist in ideological inspiration), and was (if memory serves me right) interpreted as something of an opening to the possibility of collaboration between these movements and Catholic groups in those countries. The question is what he means (in both Pacem in Terris and Mater et Magistra in the passage to which he cites in footnote 67 of the former) by the application of moral principle to practical questions. My guess is that John XXIII was loathe to make a sharp distinction between moral conclusions and moral principle and did not want to rule out some role for authoritative teaching in the former category. I have no problem with that, on some level. But I highly doubt that he would be willing to pull rank across the same range of situations that Dolan would. Unless you can show me some evidence that John XXIII thought the space for independent prudential thought among lay people was as pinched as Dolan's apparently is, I don't think criticism of the one requires criticism of the other.

I believe Cardinal Dolan was making the point that one does not have a right to marry as a US citizen as it relates to the founding documents of your country. Bill O'Reilly often says this when the topic of gay marriage is discussed on his show.

He told a story about bishops hiring an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman to speak against abortion and said it was the best thing we ever did. . . .I am curious. Who is this woman?

I share Mr. Penalver's concern. I read Cardinal Dolan's post and had pretty much the same takeaway: that Catholics need to be more in the public square but that what we say should reflect our Bishops' position. I think what's missing is that, while the Bishops get to say what we believe internally as a Church, many of us don't think all of those internal beliefs should be imposed on the rest of society. I fully support same sex marriage and fully support universal access to contraceptives; I have no problem speaking out and telling my legislators that, as a Catholic, I support legislation furthering those goals. The Bishops have a right to publicly advocate to the contrary, but they need to share the public space with other Catholics who don't agree with them.

Irene,The Bishops lead the Church. So yes, in the public square, you should be supporting the views of the Bishops. You cannot be Catholic and support same sex marriage and contraception. They go against the teachings of Christ and his Church. Please read the Catechism. You are welcome to join the Anglicans, they support homosexuality and contraception.

Here's a quote from Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, # 81, to ponder:"We appeal, first of all, to Our sons. In the developing nations and in other countries lay people must consider it their task to improve the temporal order. While the hierarchy has the role of teaching and authoritatively interpreting the moral laws and precepts that apply in this matter, the laity have the duty of using their own initiative and taking action in this areawithout waiting passively for directives and precepts from others. They must try to infuse a Christian spirit into people's mental outlook and daily behavior, into the laws and structures of the civil community. Changes must be made; present conditions must be improved. And the trans formations must be permeated with the spirit of the Gospel."How do the laity (we) use "our initiative"?

If people wonder about the prudential application of Catholic teaching in a secular, pluralistic society, the worst thing to do is accuse them of positions they do not hold. Historically, the Church has always understood our moral positions within are going to be different from society, and often, for the sake of freedom, society is going to accept all kinds of evils (See St. Thomas Aquinas on prostitution). This realization is going to have to be made even clearer when dealing with the pluralistic society we live in. Now, beyond that, it does sound as if the good Cardinal is trying to say that lay Catholics should just be yes-men for the prudential ideas of the Bishops. This is a dangerous position. It reminds me of how, at one time, Popes thought the job of a theologian was just to do theological apologetics. While we must accept the same principles, the application of them in the American society has never been apparent. Never. We would do well to remember true persecution -- how many, for example, knew that Native Americans often had to fight the federal government to get Catholic missionaries into their reservations? There you will find what the lack of religious liberty is like -- and this in what is now often romantically seen as a time when "the Constitution was followed."

The Catholic bishops live rich fantasy lives in which they imagine themselves to be successors of the apostles. In addition, the Catholic bishops imagine that as successors of the apostles, they (the bishops) have the status of apostle that Paul-the-letter-writer claims to have as an apostle. So the Catholic bishops need to be healed of such grandiose fantasies.

"He told a story about bishops hiring an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman to speak against abortion and said it was the best thing we ever did. . . .I am curious. Who is this woman?"My guess would be HELEN ALVARE, law professor at Catholic University School of Lawand former Pro Life attorney and spokeswoman at USCCB.

Mark @ 7:04. I respectfully disagree. Also, I'm sure you didn't mean to be as uncharitable as your comment sounded; I'm quite happy as a Catholic, thanks, and believe I'll stay.

Last night, a Catholic widow in her eighties commented to us about the mandated coverage for contraception: "I don't want to pay for their birth control."

Mark: it is not Irene's role to support the views of the Bishops in the public square, but Cardinal Dolan's role to convince her that his views are the right ones (so that she will then support him while remaining true to her convictions). His role is to be a teacher. It's not that she cannot be Catholic if she doesn't support his views: it's that he cannot be a Bishop if he does not properly teach his views to his flock. Or perhaps there's a middle point between those two extreme opinions... You are welcome to join the Anglicans . Anti-evangelization alert! It is not the Catholic way to try to push people out in this way. You can put this remark down on your list for the next time you go to Confession.

Thomas,They are the successors of the Apostles. But remember, even the Apostles erred from time to time (look to the example of St Peter, who Paul had to correct, when Peter wasn't willing to dine with the Gentiles).

@Mark (3/5, 7:04 am) Actually, you can "be Catholic and support (the legality of) same sex marriage and contraception". Millions of Catholics do every day. Additionally, tens, if not hundreds, of millions of married Catholics have *used* contraception just in the past two generations.Now, you may not like it, or agree with that behavior. Many bishops may not either. But "them's the facts". I forget who, but a generation ago when Catholic politicians like Mario Cuomo engaged in the debate over Church teaching and prudential judgment in the public arena, one commentator wrote that Catholic bishops had spent the last 50 years delivering commencement addresses at Catholic colleges and universities, hailing the coming age of an educated Catholic laity prepared to take its faith into the public arena, and now (circa 1985), confronted with that educated Catholic laity, many bishops seemed like they'd just as soon go back to the days of an uneducated laity.I'm not saying that's true of Cardinal Dolan. I am saying that one of the challenges he and his brother bishops face is that they are shepherding the largest, wealthiest, best educated, most theologically informed national church in history. As a result, when an issue like this debate over contraceptive services arises, millions of US Catholics disagree (publicly and/or privately) with Cardinal Dolan's judgment because they have their own informed judgment about the "truths of the faith" and how they apply in this situation.

In regard to laity involvement in the defense of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, see First of Freedoms? How religious liberty could become a second-class right by Mary Ann Glendon, America, 3/5/12:http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13260Excer... is at stake in these challenges than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide vital social services like health care and education. The ability of religious persons and groups to participate in public deliberation about the conditions under which they live, work and raise their children is also at risk. In announcing the formation of the new committee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S.C.C.B., stated that we are witnessing an unprecedented effort to reduce religion to a private activity, driving religious beliefs and convictions from public life. Never before, he said, have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith. Archbishop Jos Gmez, a committee member, added that the stepped-up infringements represent a sharp break from our nations history, in which religious freedom has always included the churches rights to engage in the public square to help shape our nations moral and social fabricfrom the abolitionist movement, to the civil rights movement, to the pro-life movement.Raising the stakes still higher is the likelihood that increasing marginalization of religion will take a toll on the moral culture that undergirds and nourishes our democratic experiment. Religion plays more than a trivial role in sustaining our complex commitments to freedom, the rule of law and compassion for the disadvantaged. It is probable that religion is an important factor in the minimal social cohesion that a heterogeneous society like ours requires.******The U.S. bishops, in establishing their new committee, showed their awareness of the magnitude of the challenges aheadand of the need for the laity to embrace their responsibility for bringing Christian principles to life in the secular sphere. As Bishop Lori pointed out: Its not enough for the bishops and leaders of Church institutions to clearly state our teaching; the government needs to hear from the lay faithful. The more they [government leaders] see a unity and resolve on the part of the whole church, the less likely they are to try to impose such unjust and illegal rules.The bishop was speaking from hard-won experiencegained in repulsing an especially brazen assault on religious liberty. In March 2009 the Connecticut state legislature announced hearings on a billspecifically directed at the Catholic Churchthat would have reorganized Catholic parishes by transferring administrative control from the pastor and the bishop to an elected committee of laypersons. Perceiving the bill as a thinly veiled attempt to silence the church on important issues, as well as an unconstitutional interference with internal church affairs, Bishop Lori set about rallying rank-and-file Catholics to the churchs defense. Through the diocesan Web site and the Connecticut Catholic Conference, he and Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford and Bishop Michael Cote of Norwich urged people to contact their representatives and to attend a rally at the State Capitol on the day the hearings were to take place.That day, a crowd of 5,000 persons heard the usually mild-mannered Bishop Lori give a fiery speech in which he recalled other instances in American history where Catholics had been singled out for discriminatory treatment. Even a first-year law student would know that Bill 1098 is unconstitutional, he said. Lets bury it for good.These efforts were successful, and the bill was withdrawn. But the assault on the church did not end there. One month later, citing the role of the diocese in galvanizing opposition to the church reorganization bill, Connecticuts Office of State Ethics notified the diocese that it was under investigation for failing to register as a lobbyist.Bishop Lori again went into action. He issued a statement pointing out that when a church encourages its members to exercise their rights of speech and assembly, it is not engaged in lobbying but in constitutionally protected activity. He drove the point home by filing a federal civil rights action against officials of the Office of State Ethics. At that point, Richard Blumenthal, Connecticuts attorney general, stepped in, calling on the office to drop an investigation that risked chilling constitutionally protected political expression by the church. Shortly thereafter, the office announced it would take no further action against the diocese.Reflecting on the incident, Bishop Lori said: Its really astonishing to think that the state government could imagine that it could exercise that much control over the internal affairs of a particular church. That really alerted me and a lot of people to the present dangers against religious liberty.What is remarkable about the Bridgeport controversy is not the brazenness of the attacks on religious liberty. What is truly impressive is the proof that successful resistance to such efforts can be mounted by concerned citizens and courageous bishops. The lesson of Bridgeport is that religious leaders and citizens need not roll over and play dead when their basic freedoms are attacked. Even if immediate, aggressive and intelligent action is not as successful as it was in Connecticut, those who wish to silence religious voices in the public square will at least learn that their actions will have costs.The lesson could not have come at a better time. The erosion of conscience protection, in particular, has placed church-affiliated hospitals, schools and social services in a difficult position. In November 2011 Catholic Charities in Illinois decided to dismantle its 90-year-old adoption and foster care programs because it was financially unable to continue its court battle against the states insistence that they place children with same-sex couples. Faced with the choice between moral compromise and expensive litigation with an uncertain outcome, many institutions have simply retreated from the field. This was the case in 2006 when Catholic Charities in Boston decided to close down its adoption services rather than mount a full-scale challenge to state licensing requirements that do not permit it to operate consistently with Catholic teaching.No serious person disputes that religious freedom has to be harmonized with other fundamental rights or that it is subject to necessary limitations in the interests of public health and safety. Questions of the legitimate scope and limits of religious liberty are complex and delicate, legally and politically. But religious voices must not be excluded from the processes through which these questions are resolved, and religious freedom must not be demoted from its prominent place among this countrys most cherished freedoms.- End of quote from Professor Glendon ---------------------See also [Under the control of the State , by James V. Schall, S.J., 2/17/12http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/1126/under_the_control_of_the_st... no organization has been more reluctant to grasp and acknowledge the operative logic of this total control ideology than the Catholic Church. It has prided itself in its subtle accommodation in recent times to what were thought to be reasonable principles for understanding of the political order, the nature, limits, and place of revelation within it. Catholics have striven to show that its beliefs and organizations are able to accept a limited state, a state that understands its own nature and does not claim competence over all spheres of human life. On the surface, we might be tempted to look on the move to extend what is called health care to everyone, including religious institutions, to be something wholly neutral and well-meant. The fact is, however, that it is but one aspect of a world-wide logic, by no means limited to this country. It demands, under the name of the universal common good, the complete control of the state over all aspects of human well-being, especially those having to do with matters of life, death, human reproduction, and efforts to prevent or control the same. That an American president should cast himself as the main advocate of this massive extension of unlimited state power should, in fact, surprise no one. The essential premises of such expansion have been taught in most American universities for years with little effective criticism. The position that the President employs to justify his actions has been in the books for a long time. Catholicism, much to its surprise, suddenly finds itself in the eye-sight of the absolute state because it is now the remaining body of reasoning that articulately opposes this power extension into all aspects of human life. No one should be fooled into thinking that a democratic totalitarianism is not possible. It is in fact happening before our very eyes. It will be very smooth and enticing. It will reward those who assist it along the way. What is thus of particular interest is the way that administration spokesmen use dissident Catholics to play off Catholics against the hierarchy. The U.S. bishops have become remarkably alert to the threat against its public institutions in a way that many self-announced Catholic politicians, universities, hospitals, and publicists have not. The fact is that those Catholic sources that support the administrations move can anticipate reward on the condition that they serve to justify doctrinally what is going on in the name of democratizing Catholicism. But what is behind all of this current turmoil is the demise of religious freedom itself. The tradition of religious freedom as classically understood is no longer accepted as limiting the state. The state now argues that its concept of human dignity now controls what religion can hold in the public order. Anyone who disagrees with state definition will no longer be allowed to join government programs or institutions. A new ideological test of citizenship is in place. And that test maintains that what Catholicism holds about marriage, contraception, human life, abortion, human experimentation, and euthanasia is contrary to the governments definition of human life. In effect, arguments of reason are delegitimized to be replaced by what the government will do whether we like it or not. What the government proposes to do is, by that very fact, what ought to be done. No higher authority exists but itself. Understanding that this claim is essentially what is motivating the policies of the administration in recent weeks, the bishops have understood that what is at stake is not just health care. Rather it is the very possibility of taking seriously what reason and revelation stand for concerning human life, its meaning and ultimate destiny.- End of quote from Fr. Schall ---------------------------The NYT article cited by Professor Pealver notes that Cardinal Dolan wrote in a blog post that officials in the Obama administration had recommended that bishops listen to the enlightened voices of accommodation within the church. In fact he specifically referred to the recent hardly-surprising but terribly unfortunate editorial in America. In my opinion, (borrowing from my comment on the editorial at the America website), the editorial is stunning in its confusion, self-contradiction, and myopia in regard to issue of the impact of the HHS contraception mandate on the constitutional right to freedom of religion. On one hand, it correctly notes the obvious - that there is a difference between authoritative teaching on matters of principle and debatable applications to public policy. Yet, having noted the distinction, the editorial proceeds to ignore it by the subterfuge of ascribing to the HHS mandate - and implicitly the ACA which gives rise to it - the status of an authoritative, not-to-be-challenged implementation of the right to health care, as opposed to what it is a mere public policy of debatable (and in reality, dubious) legitimacy and benefit. By this reasoning, the indisputable infringement resulting from the HHS mandate upon the constitutional right to religious freedom is of relatively minimal importance compared with a right to health care not defined as merely the right of citizens under our laws to obtain products and services they deem necessary to their health care including abortifacients and sterilization, but as a service that some citizens have the right to demand be provided to them by other citizens, however objectionable on moral grounds the health care service in question is to those others. Therefore, even though the editorial purports to acknowledge the distinction between the authoritative principles and debatable applications of principles to public policy, a right to health care - which includes the forced provision of contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations in all health insurance plans except those for narrowly defined religious organizations is, according to the editorial, the authoritative principle that must be adhered to. And the true authoritative principle the right to religious freedom traditionally understood (and not as a mere right to worship) - simply becomes a debatable public policy issue of far lesser importance.

Talking about the contraception rule controversy, he says: We kind of got our Irish up when leaders in government seemed to be assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups that are not the bishops. He added: If you want an authoritative voice, go to the bishops. Theyre the ones that speak for the truths of the faith. In other words, Catholic laypeople who reach any conclusion contrary to the bishops have no standing to speak as Catholics.Close, but not accurate. If you had written that Catholic laypeople who reach any conclusion contrary to <Church teaching have no standing to speak as Catholics, then that would have been accurate. But writing it that way wouldn't support the narrative that a layperson can disagree with Church teaching, and still be a spokesman for the Church. People who support such groups like Catholics For Choice, or Catholics For Equality, for instance.Let me put it this way. If I come to the conclusion, as a layperson, that the Eucharist is merely a symbol of Christ's Body and Blood, then I have no standing to speak as a Catholic, because I am denying a truth of the faith. Now suppose a bishop were to conclude that - according to your statement, I would only be able to speak as a Catholic if I agreed with the bishop, even though his conclusion is a decidedly non-Catholic one. That's nonsense, isn't it?Similarly with contraception or abortion or so-called same sex marriage. Any bishop who supports any of those things doesn't deserve to be agreed with because such positions are in opposition to Church teaching.It has nothing to do with coming to conclusions that are contrary to what the bishops say. It has everything to do with coming to conclusions that are contrary to what the Church teaches. That's the key point.

Irene and Claire,I think that Mark has a valid point. You are perfectly free to espouse any position you want with regard to gay marriage, contraception etc. However, when you add that you are a Catholic you are implying a communion with the Body of Christ that is not possible since you are in direct opposition to its teaching. Your position is tearing at the fabric of Church and hurting every member of the Body of Christ, something surely you dont intend. You are free to choose and hold these positions but I think it is highly improper of you to claim you are Catholic at the same time. Make you position stick through your thoughts and ideas not any association with the Catholic church, because that association is non-existent in these areas.

that those institutions must be empowered to preclude their own insurance carriers from separately contracting with employees to provide contraception coverage for no extra cost (or even, presumably, for some nominal extra cost). This is a disingenuous way to describe the as-yet-to-be-determined "compromise" position. The idea is to mandate that insurance carriers offer a "separate" and "free" birth control option. But obviously birth control does cost something (we're always being assured that it costs several hundred or a thousand dollars a year, after all). Even if the insurance company supposedly saves money in the long run, it is going to be expending money here and now, and that cost will be built into the premiums paid in part by Catholic employers. As I explained in an earlier thread, if you spend money at Time A on Product X with the hope of saving money at Time B on some other expense, it is absurd to claim that because of the projection of future savings, you therefore haven't actually spent any money at Time A.

Bruce, I agree that the divisions are hurting the church. You might argue that there is not a perfect communion between Irene (along with all the Catholics who support contraception) and Cardinal Dolan. But you have to consider that the possibility that the responsibility for that division lies not with Irene et al. but with Cardinal Dolan, or that it is shared between the two sides. Who carelessly uses the inflammatory, war-like rhetoric deepening divisions? That's the one who is tearing at the fabric of the church.

Regardless of what folks at America and Commonweal want, the Bishops are correct on these matters.

I think what Cardinal Dolan is really talking about is marketing. The "old, bald bishops" have become bad marketers for the Faith for all the obvious reasons.He wants better marketing and PR. Young, attractive Catholic women (and men) make better PR on issues related to sex in particular (contraception/gay and lesbian marriage/abortion). He is right of course.He sees the role of lay people as more effective marketers -- not as having more of a voice in any real sense of church affairs or engagement. What he is really looking for are effective spokespersons to speak for the bishops. That's it.

but how can you expect an educated laity to take seriously a bishop....I think this begs the question of the 'educated laity's' responsibility. Many of us are very well educated, but judging by the curriculum at most post-secondary schools, most of us have little education or competency in theology, philosophy, moral theology, canon law, church history, etc. In the hierarchy's area of authority, on faith and morals, that leaves us as the laity to either agree with their position or educate ourselves sufficiently to make well-reasoned arguments to them in an attempt to change their position. I don't believe it allows us to publicly disagree and claim we are Catholic.Its different in areas beyond their area of authority and expertise. For example, the hierarchy can and should tell the laity and the laity should accept unquestioningly, that society needs to provide adequate care for the poor. But its perfectly reasonable to disagree with them over the 'how to' of providing that care.

It's different in areas beyond their area of authority and expertise ... such as biology, medicine, public health, civil law, or politics.

Michael J Kelly, thank you for that lengthy comment. I'd specifically recommend that folks read the excerpt by Fr. Schall - it's the best encapsulation I've seen so far of how far-reaching the nature of this dispute really is.

"Actually, you can be Catholic and support (the legality of) same sex marriage and contraception. Millions of Catholics do every day. Additionally, tens, if not hundreds, of millions of married Catholics have *used* contraception just in the past two generations. Now, you may not like it, or agree with that behavior. Many bishops may not either. But thems the facts."But there are repercussions to dissent. The destiny of the dissenter's soul is imperiled. Even if his conscience compels him to hold these sinful views, promoting them publicly and acting on them politically brings a whole new set of moral risks.

biology, medicine, public health, civil law, or politicsThey certainly teach authoritatively, and have received expert advice, with regard to abortion or contraception. And in the case of health insurance, in addition to expert advice, they have day-to-day practical experience as the employer-provider.

The principle that Cardinal Dolan rather colorfully articulated is unremarkable. *Of course* lay Catholics are supposed to bring their Catholic faith into the public square. *Of course* bishops are supposed to teach the faith and the moral principles that lay citizens should be translating into Christian-influenced public policies.

Ideas for implementing Dolan's great idea: The bishops should require all Catholic men and boys to spend two years acting as missionaries. Follow the example of the Mormons and send young Catholics out to act as spokesmen for the Church. With an influx of converts, the departed dissidents will not be missed. Put an end to college education for Catholics and close Catholic colleges. As Santorum has so eloquently explained, college is not . . . Outlaw birth control. As Santorum, Rush, the bishops, various editors, et al., have reminded us, birth control . . .

biology, medicine, public health, civil law, or politicsFurthermore, these disciplines educate us about how we *can* act, but provide little or no direction about how we *should* act.For example, basic biology and medicine tell us that we *can* take a pill to prevent conception and it will have a certain failure rate but it makes no statement at all on whether we *should* take that pill in the sense of whether it is good for our soul or enhances the proper expression of our humanity or the potential unwanted progeny.

"But there are repercussions to dissent. The destiny of the dissenters soul is imperiled. Even if his conscience compels him to hold these sinful views, promoting them publicly and acting on them politically brings a whole new set of moral risks."Aren't there the same risks to obedience? What if I'm right and the bishops are wrong? When I have to answer to God someday, and he says "Why did you tolerate this injustice against your gay brothers and sisters when you knew it was wrong?" . Does saying " Because the Bishops told me to?"square things with God?

Jim P. -- Once again, you ignore numerous faithful Catholic women and men who have devoted serious learning, understanding, consultation, reflection, and prayer together as a couple to the issue of contraception and have concluded that what the Popes and bishops say is wrong and to be ignored. Your implication that these Catholics should keep quiet about their carefully formed moral convictions, judged by you though not by them to be soul-imperiling and sinful, flies in the face of Cdl. Dolan's call to disseminate the truth as we know it. The list of past instances when the bishops followed and the laity led the way will presumably be posted here before long as is becoming customary.

I'm afraid this has become a replay of the dispute over the Affordable Care Act's abortion-funding mechanism. http://commonwealmagazine.org/uncertainty-principle

The bishops would like to be leading American Catholics, but they're surely aware that they can't. American Catholicism is hopelessly fragmented, both politically and as regards the authority of the hierarchy. But the bishops may see this as an issue on which they can gain credibility, at least with Catholics who aren't completely lost to them. Maybe it is. It probably should be.Obama has a year. The election is in ten months. A concession could easily be postponed until the election - and I'd guess it surely will be. No sense in getting the left mad at you and deciding not to vote. Then, in December, he can "give in" enough to please the bishops and the other religious leaders who see the HHS action as dangerous.Of course, the bishops don't have a year. They'll have to continue to attack all through the summer and fall. I'd imagine it won't be hard for them to keep the troops attacking with them.If the attacking doesn't work, though, we need to start thinking seriously about civil disobedience. That's not an idle threat. It will be deplored in these pages, of course, but it could well happen. The troops will rally.

What's funny is that the people defending contraception coverage are acting as tools for Big Pharma: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/02/peter-schweizer-big-pha...

I want to thank Jack Barry for pointing out that "threa" Catho.lcism is also a major problem as it drives folks away fro mthe Church by saying you must folow the party line or at least don't disagree publicly.This is the worst kind of "compay man" arghument that continues to be part of the division.

But there are repercussions to dissent. The destiny of the dissenters soul is imperiled. Even if his conscience compels him to hold these sinful views, promoting them publicly and acting on them politically brings a whole new set of moral risks.

Jim, I wonder whether this issue may not have created a significant watershed on the understanding of morality among American Catholics. Those who've finessed contraception until now will pretty much have to decide which side of the divide they're on. Staying neutral will be a lot less easy than it has been.

When a Catholic disagrees with a bishop's or several bishops' or the bishops conference's interpretation of the effects of a statute, he is not in dissent. He has not separated himself from the church. He has simply come to a different prudential judgment about a particular policy question.When are the Catholic bishops going to make a Catholic moral-theological argument to support their claim that the HHS ruling forces them to act against church teaching?

"What if Im right and the bishops are wrong?"Then I'm a chump. FWIW, here is what seems to me to be the case: if the Holy Father and the college of bishops are wrong on such matters of faith and morals as marriage and contraception, then all bets are off. The entire project known as Christianity is so much horse manure. The earth has quaked and the temple has come crashing down in a cloud of dust and rubble. The Holy Spirit has fled. The light has been extinguished and the Prince of Darkness has reclaimed the throne. Fly for your lives. Grab whatever you can stick in your pockets, duck and dodge the falling debris, sprint to the nearest raft and push off. I would never dispute anyone's right to believe what they ascertain to be true, nor to state publicly whatever they wish in a civil manner. But if you believe and promote something that is the opposite of what the church actually teaches, you have an obligation to truth to promote it in such a way that everyone can see that what you're promoting is not Catholicism but its opposite, and that in speaking on that matter, you're not speaking for the church but for someone else - possibly even the church's enemies.

Mark, Bruce, and Cardinal Dolan forget a few things. The French clergy helped to develop condoms and passed them out in the back of churches to keep their male congregants from contracting venereal disease! Information like this might not be what they want to discuss in Church history - but it happened. The reality is that most of us know that the birth control commission of 1969 voted overwhelmingly in favor of some forms of contraception and Pope Paul went the the small and clerical minority to condemn. Most American Catholics have ignored this teaching for years and still believe ourselves to be good Catholics. There is also a clause in the new code of Cannon Law that commands us to follow our correctly formed conscience. For many of us, practicing birth control because we know we cannot responsibly rear a large family falls under this law and is, therefore, not a sin at all. Keep up the good fight Irene and Claire! Most women are with you. And Cardinal Dolan - keep your laws off of my body, thank you.

My guess would be HELEN ALVARE, law professor at Catholic University School of Lawand former Pro Life attorney and spokeswoman at USCCB.She has moved to George Mason but still writes at Public Discourse, part of Robby Geoge's Witherpoon Institute.http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/author/helen-alvareShe seems to have moved seamlessly from arguing that the Affordable Care Act promotes abortion to arguing that the HHS regulations violate freedom of religion. Her web page (with picture): http://helenalvare.com/I would think she would be annoyed that Cardinal Dolan mentioned that one reason she was an effective representative for the USCCB is that she is an attractive woman. She is obviously a very capable lawyer.

"He told a story about bishops hiring an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman to speak against abortion and said it was the best thing we ever did. . . .New Idea? Straight from FOX News playbook [ Roger Ailes?].. .. 'Let's get good looking women preferably blondes..

Two things are being ignored here: the hierarchy of truths and the development of doctrine.First, there are teachings of the Church that, if one cannot hold them in sincere conscience, mark one as having separated from the Church. They are called "dogmas," and dissent from them makes one a "heretic." (The quotes are to mark the terms as technical language, rather than the willy-nilly way in which they're often used.) Birth control and sexuality are doctrinal matters, not dogmas. Further, specific prudential applications of these teachings, such as the question of same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate, are merely that--interpretations of how one might reasonably translate doctrine into policy, and simply do not have the force even of doctrine, much less dogma. Doctrine is not without force, but to conflate doctrine with dogma is a sectarian and anti-Catholic impulse. Taken to extreme, it approaches ecclesiolatry.Second, doctrine, in fact, develops. It is simply incorrect to say that every papal or episcopal utterance has proven to stand the test of time. It is simply incorrect to say that the "Catholic" stance is to murmur along with whatever the bishop says. One impulse behind development of doctrine is the considered and careful objection to authoritative teaching by laity, clergy and bishops. This is a historical fact. And to quote the prophet Melissa Etheridge, "You can't change this. You can't erase this. You can't pretend this is not the truth."This doesn't mean that every voice in conflict with this or that bishop or pope is correct, any more than it means that every bishop or pope is correct. It means that as Catholics we are called to educate ourselves and each other, to work and pray together toward a better sense of the Truth. But to say a priori that the bishops or the pope or the laity are always correct is to ignore the deep truth that the Spirit blows where it will.

Jim Pauwels--Wow. Clearly you are in a minority among Catholics here, many of whom believe that the Pope and the bishops are precisely wrong on these matters without any of the apocalypticism you describe. How do you reconcile such matters as slavery, religious freedom, and usury where it is difficult not to look back and say that the pope and bishops were wrong? The whole of Christianity, the Incarnation of God, the resurrection of the dead really stands or falls on what the pope thinks about condoms? Did Jesus Christ really come, suffer, and die primarily so that bishops today would always be right?

Really. Contraception in the same category as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the Eucharist? The Church has survived any number of loony bishops and popes. It abides today and will continue to do so.

What if Im right and the bishops are wrong?I'd make a slightly different point which is 'Lord, I did my best to follow the teaching of those you charged with teaching and leading me' as opposed to 'I followed what I believed to be my correctly formed conscience is spite of stern warnings to the contrary of those you charged with teaching and leading me. Here's why?'And I certainly wouldn't want to make the argument 'because I could not responsibly rear a large family' without expecting some version of the reply found in Matthew 7:11 *If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!*Cardinal Dolan isn't putting any constraints on anyone's body. He's trying to educate us in the ways we should constrain ourselves. We remain free to act however we choose.

. . . if the Holy Father and the college of bishops are wrong on such matters of faith and morals as marriage and contraception, then all bets are off. The entire project known as Christianity is so much horse manure. The earth has quaked and the temple has come crashing down in a cloud of dust and rubble. The Holy Spirit has fled. The light has been extinguished and the Prince of Darkness has reclaimed the throne. ------Reading Church history would be helpful.

Pursuing what Lisa wrote about what to believe, both liberals and conservatives should keep in mind that merely quoting a pope or an encyclical does not lock up your assertion. Popes and bishops as well as Fathers of the church have contradicted themselves. We know that even the Devil can quote scripture so quoting scripture or popes are not necessarily conclusive. But most egregious and erroneous are those who say the hierarchy is right on contraception. If they are right then they should resign because they have less than 5% of Catholics who follow them. Let them lead that 5% and stay with them in conscience.

When are the Catholic bishops going to make a Catholic moral-theological argument to support their claim that the HHS ruling forces them to act against church teaching?I must have missed something because that is the basis of their freedom of religion claim. Their position is that the HHS mandate is forcing them to be involved in the procurement of contraception, abortifacient and sterilization services. There is no question that these are inimical to Catholic teaching. There is no question that the HHS mandate requires these services be provided. There is also no question that without the underlying employer policy, these services would not be provided. The Bishops have prudentially judged that this situation is morally untenable for the Church as a whole. So what part of the moral-theological argument do you want?And please dont give me the 98% of Catholics use contraceptives or some similar argument. The contraception teaching apply to the worldwide church so whether they are well received by the faithful in the US is neither here nor there. Also, an individual opinion that the employer is not really involved does not deserve much weight since most all of us are on the outside looking in and only possess second-hand, incomplete information of a solution which is still unformed.

Bruce, Not just the US. So don't give us ....

Bruce: I would be delighted to see a Catholic moral-theological argument from the bishops. Not an assertion, but an argument. Something that shows how -- according to Catholic moral thinking -- the HHS mandate forces Catholic institutions to violate church teaching. Simply being involved in evil is not sufficient to show that one has, according to the Catholic moral tradition, illicitly cooperated with that evil.Of course, if you rule out opinions about this that are not held by bishops, as your last sentence seems to imply, then you're probably wasting you're time here.

Grant, You can read this article here. There are plenty of links to other opinions included. One implicit part of the conclusion is that for Institutional Catholic related employers, the moral-theological standard for culpability is different.http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/02/4817but here is the conclusion:And this brings us back to the Obama Administrations contraception mandate. Agreeing that employers who comply with the mandate would be engaged in material cooperation with evil, everyone involved in this debate has focused on whether such cooperation would be culpable. On that issue, I agree with Tollefsen that the question will depend on the circumstances of the particular employer, but I deny the assumption, explicit in Gibson and perhaps unwittingly accepted by others, that if religious and conscientiously objecting employers may comply with the mandate without involving themselves in moral wrongdoing, then the mandate is morally unobjectionable.Such an idea is certainly not right. Even if their cooperation is not culpable, the objecting employers would be cooperating only because they are being coerced into doing so: if they do not comply, then the law imposes on them rather substantial financial penalties. Such a law is morally objectionable even if the coercion involved makes complying with the law morally permissible. To think that the mandate is unobjectionable because it is possible to comply with it without guilt is like thinking there is nothing objectionable in the robbers putting a gun to the bank managers head and ordering him to open the safe because, after all, the manager will not sin if he complies. If he opens the safe, the bank manager will have done nothing morally wrong, for the coercion excuses what would otherwise be a wrongful action, but it is quite absurd to say on this basis that the bank manager has nothing to complain about or, even worse, that the bank robbers have done nothing wrong.The fundamental problem with the contraception mandate is not that complying with it involves objecting employers in moral wrongdoing. At least for some employers, it may well do that, and this certainly makes the mandate morally objectionable, but this is not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem with the mandate is that it coerces some people into doing what they think is wrong, and this problem remains regardless of whether the coercion excuses the actions of the people being coerced.

Maybe, in charity, Cdl. Dolan should be given credit for a bad day at Hicksville and a fresh start later. - His right to marriage statement was obviously a puzzle. - Looking to "Irish bishops" as a symbol of the good old days is odd at a time when Irish bishops are the notorious center of a national upheaval in Church and State in their homeland because of their past behavior. (Dolan came from St. Louis, U.S.) - Naming "chemical contraceptives" on his list of evils strangely omits the non-chemical ones like female condoms, etc., that have been as evil as pills to date. Is there a point to his selectivity?- His attention to the gender of the messengers brings to mind his press conference in Nov 2012 at the bishops' meeting: We see in our culture a drive to neuter (sic) religion,. What concept of religion invites such a blatantly sexual metaphor for disable or cripple or weaken or obliterate or .? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/us/bishops-renew-fight-on-abortion-and... - It is no affront to all the attractive, articulate, intelligent women I've known to observe that, if the Pres. of the USCCB believes the best thing we ever did was hire an attractive, articulate, intelligent woman to speak on their behalf against abortion, the organizational view of things to do and criteria for assessment is woefully limited. It would be interesting to know how may aai women he chased away with that nugget.Dolan's conclusion seems to exclude deliberately the kind of support he, Lori, etc. so obviously need.

In this present context Grant is right to focus on the matter of prudential judgment. That is the only squarely on the table about how Catholics prudentially ought to deal with the HHS mandate with the modifications proposed by the Obama administration. The rest of the talk about religious freedom, the Constitution, the morality of contraception, etc. area separable issues and should be separated if we are to talk clearly.

Amazing the power of the bishops to phrase the question. So add "religious liberty" to Communism, abortion, same sex marriage. It is a battle the bishops have been looking for...Look for it in the next few decades whenever their oxes are gored.Meanwhile the Holocaust happened, wars rage, atrocities continue, Darfur and Somalia lingers Haiti slumbers forever...... But the bishops have their finger on it....

Larry D --it seems to me there is a big difference between "speak as a Catholic" and "speak as an official spokesman for the RCC." Surely we speak as Catholics when we honestly disagree with the bishops on theoogical or moral grounds What could not be countenanced would be claiming that I, a non-bishop, can tell the bishops what is in fact the current teaching of the Church. I can disagree with that current teaching, but the bishop is the one who decides what it is. When a bishop says, "this is the official teaching", that is his job He might be wrong (as may I), but it is also legitimate for him to speak his conscience and to do so as a representive of the Church. Sort of like a lawyer who represents you -- he might be wrong about certain things and you might disagree with how he is representing you to some extent, but he is still your lawyer. So even though a majority of Americans disagree about contraception (including me) the bishops still have a duty to say what they honestly believe is Church teaching. (And remember, the U. S, is not the whole Church.)This is why it is a fundamental problem of freedom of religion -- the bishops honestly believe what they're teaching, and they should not be required to violate that belief by having to support contraception, not unless there were some overwhelming common good necessity. The problem of providing all women with complete health coverage (a legal right, not a constitutional one) could be solved easily enough by other means. And Obama's revised mandate seems to me to do so.

Even if the insurance company supposedly saves money in the long run, it is going to be expending money here and now, and that cost will be built into the premiums paid in part by Catholic employers."Studebaker --You admit that it it the insurance company that spends its money on the contraceptives when you say, "Even if the insurance company supposedly saves money in the long run, it is going to be expending money here and now, . . ." And in the second clause you say it it is "the Catholic employers who will pay." But the employers and not the insurance company, and they don't both pay the contraceptive producers for the product, Only one institution is paying for that product == and it's the insurance company.Again, you seem unwilling to admit remote cooperation as a factor in making a decision.

"Regardless of what folks at America and Commonweal want, the Bishops are correct on these matters."Ken,That is really a silly thing to say to us. You know, or ought to know by now, that the Church sometimes changes its teachings, and before that happens usually there are many of the Faithful or at least some theologians, who have been disagreeing with the bishops and pope -- and rightly so.Think on this long and hard, Ken: even popes sometimes admit that they sometimes contradict each other. If you ever manage to grasp that historical fact (see usury, the Jews, slavery), you can begin to understand the role of dissent in the development of doctrine. But as long as you deny it, you will not grasp the *full* teaching of the Church on whether or not bishops can be wrong,(By the way, there were a number of bishops in the early Church especially who were excommunicated for teaching false doctrine. You and I might agree that they should have been tossed out, and we should also admit the obvious: by excommunicating bishops the popes were also admitting that bishops can be wrong. And the same is true today -- see the Lefebrvists.

"I think this begs the question of the educated laitys responsibility. Many of us are very well educated, but judging by the curriculum at most post-secondary schools, most of us have little education or competency in theology, philosophy, moral theology, canon law, church history, etc."Bruce --About the well-educated -- many teachers of philosophy and theology have their degrees from Catholic universities. Of those I've known, most of the philosophy Phd's disagree with the contraception teaching. (My own Master's and PhD are from a pontifical university -- that is, one sponsored by the Pope himself, and I disagree.)Make no mistake: bishops can be wrong, and the truth of that statement *requires* you to admit. Yes, laity can be wrong too. Time will tell, as it did with usury, etc.

Obviously one can be a Catholic in good standing and dissent - JC Murray is an example. Dolan seems to want the equivalent of human sock puppets to sell his views .... maybe he should start his own lay PR group like the UK's Catholic Voices.

Ann,Glad to know you are more informed voice on this matter than mine. Admittedly, the Bishops and even the Pope can be wrong. I doubt its as often as many seem to think these days but thats only my opinion.Given that you disagree with the contraception teaching, do you evaluate the HHS Mandate giving consideration to your contraception judgement, or do you assume the official teaching on contraception is correct and then make your judgement?

"But there are repercussions to dissent. The destiny of the dissenters soul is imperiled."Jim P. --Indeed there are repercussions, but not all dissent imperils one's soul. "Thou shalt not lie" is the operative principle here. We must tell the truth to both ourselves and others. If one tells the truth as one sees it ("That can't be right, the bishop must be wrong') then one's soul is in good shape. If one lies to oneself and agrees with a teaching one *really* thinks is wrong, then that is plainly a lie -- and prohibited by one of God's great laws. Assent can also be dangerous to one's soul.

Bruce --I agree with the other liberals who say that in the first go-round of this brouhaha the bishops were right to claim a violation of their right to religious freedom. To me it was clearly a violation by HHS. The issue was NOT contraception -- the issue was: has the bishops' freedom of religion been violated? The issue was a legal one, not a moral one even though what the bishops believe their belief is a matter of morality.Yes, the other side -- the women who wouldn't have coverage -- were also claiming a violation of a legal right to contraceptives, but it is not one explicitly in the Constitution. So in this conflict of rights, the bishops' should prevail.What I'm saying is that under the Constitution we have a RIGHT to be wrong in our religious beliefs. If that weren't so, we could have no freedom of religion for all religions. The bishops have a right to be *wrong* about contraception, and I will defend their *right* loudly, even though I do not defend their *belief*.And, no, I've never read Thoreau. Didn't need to. Read Aquinas and some Franciscans. By the way, were you aware that Aquinas himself was accused of many counts of heresy? (He beat the rap.)

Doctrine is not without force, but to conflate doctrine with dogma is a sectarian and anti-Catholic impulse. Taken to extreme, it approaches ecclesiolatry.

Lisa, are Catholics free to treat doctrine as optional, then, or at least as subject to each individual's personal interpretation?

"FWIW, here is what seems to me to be the case: if the Holy Father and the college of bishops are wrong on such matters of faith and morals as marriage and contraception, then all bets are off. The entire project known as Christianity is so much horse manure."Jim P. ==How do you know this? Did Christ promise us in so many words that our bishops could not possibly be wrong in interpreting His Word? There is strong evidence in the Bible that this is not so. We have it in the Acts that Paul had to reprimand Peter. And don't tell me that that was a matter of discipline only. It was a matter of Peter's not *knowing* that Christ came to save the Gentiles too -- he messed up on that one, Jim. AND he was the FIRST pope. I'm inclined to think that Jesus intends a lesson for us there -- popes CAN be wrong occasionally.

This may have been posted before but its a letter from Dolan.http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Dolan-to... am particularly worried about this situation because it shows that dissension is making the government more intractable in the negotiations.The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers.

"Two things are being ignored here: the hierarchy of truths and the development of doctrine."Humanae Vitae is clearly a magisterial declaration of a doctrinal nature, and a faithful Catholic - indeed, anyone of good will - is bound to assent religiously to its doctrinal teachings.I agree that doctrine develops, but I know of no authentic and magisterially-confirmed doctrinal development in the matters that Humanae Vitae treat that would justify dissent from its teachings.

Bender: to quote (03/05/2012 - 3:04 am) from LG 20 about the bishops is to quote from a document that they wrote, they approved and they (including the bishop of Rome) promulgate as The Gospel Truth. Doesnt that smack just a wee bit of self-serving? Are these episcopal utterances persuasive? Sometimes. Are they compelling? Rarely.Now HERE are some quotable comments about many bishops:A Bishop never more resembles Jesus Christ than when he has his mouth shut. Attributed to St. Ignatius of Antioch.The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops. St. John ChrysostomThose called to serve the people of God as Bishops have to remember that they walk on feet of clay and rely on the power of prayer and sacraments to protect them from the dangers of earthly ambition and corrosive pride. Regrettably, some bishops fail to understand the shepherding nature of their episcopal role; they attempt to rule rather than lead the flock that has been entrusted to their care. That simply doesnt work, and it is regrettable that the bishop is often the last to notice.William J. Bryon, SJ, The church can learn a lot from 'servant leadership', NCR, Aug 21, 2010, http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/church-can-learn-lot-servant-le... said (03/05/2012 - 7:04 am): You cannot be Catholic and support same sex marriage and contraception. They go against the teachings of Christ and his Church. Would you be so kind as to show me chapter and verse where Christ spoke against either of these two topics? Be specific to identify where he was AGAINST either of them. And please do NOT attempt to conflate this church with Christ.

Btw, for those interested in thinking more deeply about dissent, an instruction from the CDF, written by its then-Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, entitled Donum Veritatis, includes a lengthy section headed, "The problem of dissent".http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_...

"popes CAN be wrong occasionally."Hi, Ann, I can easily believe that I could ask the Holy Father, "What day is it today?" and he could answer "Tuesday" when it's really Wednesday. But when he formally exercises his teaching authority, as he did in Humanae Vitae, we're expected to believe that he got it right. We believe that he gets divine assistance in these matters.

"If one tells the truth as one sees it (That cant be right, the bishop must be wrong) then ones soul is in good shape. If one lies to oneself and agrees with a teaching one *really* thinks is wrong, then that is plainly a lie and prohibited by one of Gods great laws. Assent can also be dangerous to ones soul."Ann, I agree, but the dissenter bears the burden -and it can be a terrible burden - of struggling to see if there are ways he can assent. It can be a long, distressing, exhausting struggle. People like me should try to help dissenters, not read them out of the church.

It would seem appropriate, wouldn't it, if one sensed at least a smidgen of fear and trembling from dissenters? Wouldn't that be the sign that their conscience is adequately informed? Yet one rarely sees it.

Jim P said @ 10"46 am: But there are repercussions to dissent. The destiny of the dissenters soul is imperiled. Even if his conscience compels him to hold these sinful views, promoting them publicly and acting on them politically brings a whole new set of moral risks.Hear what this saint had to say:Every consideration, the fullest time should be given to those who have to make up their minds to hold an article of faith which is new to them. To take up at once such an article may be the act of a vigorous faith; but it may also be the act of a man who will believe anything because he believes nothing, and is ready to profess whatever his ecclesiastical, that is, his political party requires of him. There are too many high ecclesiastics who think that to believe is as easy as to obey - that is, they talk as if they did not know what an act of faith is. One who hesitates may have more of the real spirit of faith than one who swallows ... Our theological philosophers are like the old nurses who wrap the unhappy infant in swaddling bands or boards - put a lot of blankets over him - as if he were not healthy enough to bear wind and water in due measures. They move in a groove, and will not tolerate anyone who does not move in the same ... You cannot make men believe by force and repression ... A Catholic is kept from skepticism, not by any external prohibition, but by admiration, trust and love. While he admires, trusts, and loves our Lord and His Church, those feelings prohibit him from doubt; they guard and protect his faith; the real prohibition is from within. But suppose those feelings go; suppose he ceases to have admiration, trust, and love, of our Lord and His Church; in that case, the external prohibition will not suffice to keep him from doubting, if he be of an argumentative turn. (J. H. Newman from a letter that he wrote shortly after Vatican I in which he complained at the way I. Doellinger was being treated by his bishop because he refused to declare his agreement with the definition of papal infallibility.)

But the employers are not the insurance company, and they dont both pay the contraceptive producers for the product, Only one institution is paying for that product == and its the insurance company.Um, the insurance company is charging the employer for that. How else does the insurance company make money except by charging its policyholders for the policies that they buy? If a policy covers contraception (or, what is the exact same thing, is accompanied by tagalong coverage of contraception), the insurance company will build the cost of contraception into the price of the policy. Otherwise, with contraception being as expensive as we are being told, the insurance company would be losing a thousand dollars a year per contraceptive user.

@Mark Proska (3/5, 5:53 pm) I don't know that "a smidgen of fear and trembling from dissenters" would be "the sign" that their conscience is adequately formed. It might be *a* sign.Quibbling out of the way, and speaking just for myself, any time I contemplate the awesomeness and immensity of that which we call God, I experience some measure of fear and trembling. And I've lived long enough to have been wrong about lots of things. As a result I have, I think, a certain degree of humility about my opinions and beliefs, particularly when in dissent.Having said that, it remains baffling to me that so many of our bishops read the "signs of the times" as calling them to act as they are acting on this issue of health insurance and contraceptive services.

@Studebaker (3/5, 6:06 pm) I'm not the person to make the full argument, and this thread may not be the place for it anyway, but I just want to put on the record an alternate view of who's "paying" for the product (health care in general, contraception in particular). There's a plausible argument to be made that the "payer" is the worker. The way in which workers' wages have remained flat for much of the past generation, while the health care portion of employee benefits has risen lends credence to this viewpoint.There's probably another whole set of moral/philosophical/theological debates to have if one accepts that premise. Again, I'm not the best person to engage in that debate. I just thought the assumption that it's the corporation that's "paying" shouldn't go unchallenged.

Cardinal Dolan says: We kind of got our Irish up when leaders in government seemed to be assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups 'And 'Himself' as a jolly guy Irish American was sent to Ireland to tamp down the abuse crisis. NOT...That and his 'getting his Irish up' statements is a sad and silly stage Irish stance that went out of fashion 60 years ago.. new speech advisers are needed and let's get out that sign again.. 'no Irish need apply'

But when he formally exercises his teaching authority, as he did in Humanae Vitae, were expected to believe that he got it right. We believe that he gets divine assistance in these matters.Jim,Does that hold true for all teachings by a pope, or only recent ones? Few would want to grant much authority to the Syllabus of Errors. Humani Generis was much more recent, but do we want to stick with the idea of the human race descended from two individuals?Also, in some ways the notion of infallibility actually hurts the teaching authority of the pope, because it seems to be universally agreed that the pope has deliberately invoked infallibility only twice (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption). This pretty much puts all other papal teachings in the non-infallible category. If I recall correctly, it has been said by someone here that Paul VI was talked out of invoking infallibility for Humanae Vitae. It seems to me that unless people makes one huge assent as a Catholic, and decide to believe everything the Church teaches, everything the pope says, and everything the local bishop says, then they are pretty much on their own in deciding what is believable and what is not. Very little is infallibly taught. There's a hierarchy of truth. There's "development of doctrine" to contend with. Commonly held beliefs, when reversed, "never were doctrines." (Limbo, for example.) Catholic doctrine affirming freedom of conscience is so new it is younger than I am. Had I been a very devout Catholic, I would have believed, before 1965, that freedom of religion was a terrible idea, and after 1965 I would have had to believe it was a tenet of my religion. What would the early Christians say if they could see all of the intellectual propositions Catholics "have to" believe in the 21st century? They would probably be thankful they were eaten by lions!

ed gleason. -- You have to overplay that Irish bit if you are born and brought up in Missouri until going to a prep. seminary at age 14 in Missouri, as Dolan did. It's like Cdl. Sean O'Malley, born in Ohio and growing up in Pennsylvania, who adopted the Sean (with accent) at age 21. Think vaudeville and/or Vatican selection criteria for inspectors to go to Ireland.

I'm glad that Jim camre out of his loset of maximal magisterialism, bu ti?m sorry for his parishoners who are thus told.I fear that this is the way the diocesan priests and deacons of the future are told they have to think.

Jim Pauwels--I would still like to hear your views on cases like slavery and religious liberty, where church teaching was not simply developed, but rather reversed. Were those who argued that slavery was immoral dissenters who should have kept their mouths shut, or allowed themselves to be "helped" by the faithful assenters to the doctrine that slavery was part of the natural order and not against the will of God? How can you be so certain that the same is not going on in the case of contraception or homosexuality? I'm all for humility on both sides--I could very well be wrong in my disagreement--but it seems that you're arguing about this as a matter of principle, not mere application in these instances. How does the reversal of some church teachings fit within this principle of de facto infallibility to anything ever proposed by church leaders on issues of faith or morals?

"Um, the insurance company is charging the employer for that. How else does the insurance company make money except by charging its policyholders for the policies that they buy?"Studebaker -Um, no. In this case the insurance company is making money from *other policy holders* and using part of that profit to pay for the contraceptives. They do that to avoid paying even more for the loss of the first employers contract. The employers are not involved in that at all. It's the ins. company == and the employee == who ultimately make the decisions to buy or not buy.

Well, again, we seem to have two outspokenly public churches here. It's not surprising that Obama will choose the one more congenial to him and adaptable to his program. But it surprises me how easily the dissenters blow off the bishops while insisting that they're purer than the popes. There's something very wrong, very tone-deaf about that.

Um, no. In this case the insurance company is making money from *other policy holders* and using part of that profit to pay for the contraceptives. Says who? How do the insurance companies stay in business if they're not charging policy holders according to what their policies cover?

Um, the insurance company is charging the employer for that. How else does the insurance company make money except by charging its policyholders for the policies that they buy?Studebaker,One of the ways insurance companies make money is by investing money paid in premiums in stocks, bonds, gold, and so on. I quoted someone at length from Vox Nova recently, but why not again:

Pricing of group insurance is based on previous claims experience. The things that push the needle so to speak on that are claims experiences of participants over $25,000.in a year. Having a large group of contraception claims isnt going to push the needle. Whether it does so with pregnancies is already reflected in the claims experience. Where you see numbers for adding a contraception benefit have to do with the reinsurance market. Not all claims experience is contractually eligible for reinsurance. The is sometimes requested by the insurer and sometimes by the beneficiary. In the end, you arent going to get a satisfactory answer over whose dollar paid for what. It would be like going to Pepsi and asking them not to serve you Pepsi derived from Farmer Xs corn.

On average, only half the women working for a company will be women, not all of whom will be of childbearing age, and not all women of childbearing age will use contraceptives. Here's some interesting data:

According to Aon Hewitt's analysis, the 2012 average health care premium rate increase will be 7.0 percent, which is slightly lower than the 7.5 percent mark in 2011, and on par with the 6.9 percent increase in 2010. However, the average total health care premium per employee for large companies is projected to be $10,475 in 2012, up from $9,792 in 2011, and $9,111 in 2010. The amount employees will be asked to contribute toward this premium cost in 2012 is $2,306 (or 22 percent of the total health care premium), compared to $2,084 in 2011 (or 21.3 percent of the total health care premium), and $1,952 in 2010 (or 21.4 percent of the total health care premium). Meanwhile, average employee out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, are expected to be $2,275 in 2012, compared to $2,007 in 2011, and $1,691 in 2010.

Now, think of the cost of contraception or sterilization, and then think of $10,475 a year. And then remember, also, that the average "normal" pregnancy (where everything goes right) with hospital delivery costs $12,000, and one premature baby can easily cost $400,000 or more. (And you can ask my sister and brother-in-law.) It does not seem to me that insurance companies worry about how many women will use "free" contraceptives, but rather how many premature babies will be born (costing up to $1 million), how many people will require open-heart surgery, how many have diabetes, how many will get cancer and need Avastin (at a cost of $50,000 a year), and so on.

Theres a plausible argument to be made that the payer is the worker. The way in which workers wages have remained flat for much of the past generation, while the health care portion of employee benefits has risen lends credence to this viewpoint.Yes. But if the employer were required to pay part of the employee's wages in the form of free heroin, it wouldn't be surprising if employers thought that they were somehow involved in that payment scheme. (Let's remember the purpose of analogies: I'm not saying that birth control is the same thing as heroin or even that it's comparable in any way -- it's safer for most people but more dangerous for others, since it gives them cancer. The analogy is only meant to make you think about how employers pay their workers.)

David -- the person you quote says: "Pricing of group insurance is based on previous claims experience. The things that push the needle so to speak on that are claims experiences of participants over $25,000.in a year."Maybe, but I have a very hard time believing that insurance companies are almost completely oblivious to what is covered in their policies. If that were true, you could do very well for yourself (as could anyone else) by starting an insurance company that paid more attention to its expenses. Moreover, it's silly to compare the cost of contraception to the cost of a premature delivery. One would have to compare the cost of contraceptive coverage to this: the probability that a woman currently on the insurance plan who isn't using contraception now, and who isn't infertile or using other forms of contraception or abstaining, and who is currently having sex without contraception solely because of the lack of contraceptive coverage, but who would start using it if covered, would then become pregnant, and who have a premature baby in a given year. One would have to know lots and lots of stuff to calculate that probability. You don't know any of it.

How do the insurance companies stay in business if theyre not charging policy holders according to what their policies cover?Studebaker,Here's an exhaustive look at the issue from Factcheck.org, and it concludes:

What we can say is this: The administration hasnt proven that requiring insurance companies to provide free contraception on request will save them enough in medical costs to make the net costs zero or less. But by the same token, the presidents critics cant prove that hes wrong, either.

Moreover, its silly to compare the cost of contraception to the cost of a premature delivery . . Studebaker,My point wasn't that contraceptive coverage will lower the probability of premature birth for a given insured population (although it most probably would in a very large population, since unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be premature than planned ones). My point is that insurance premiums are based on the risk of high-cost medical conditions, not on calculable, predictable costs like the cost of contraceptives. Leave the premature-baby example out of the list, if you like.

@David Smith (3/5, 7:05 pm) While it's helpful to have your perspective (as in this comment), I'm not sure how helpful your comments are for advancing the point(s) you wish to make."...we seem to have two outspokenly public churches here." Another way to look at it is we have multiple contested notions of what the church should say and do in the public arena. Or, to use a gentler view, as has been true since the days of Peter and Paul, God's self-revelation in Christ Jesus and the consequences of that revelation for us are beyond the limits of any one person or group to comprehend fully, and thus there are multiple facets apprehended by multiple believers."...how easily the dissenters blow off the bishops...." I wouldn't assume that all, or even most, dissenters are "blowing off" the bishops, or that it's done "easily" even for those who are."...while insisting that they're purer than the popes." Again, I haven't seen a lot of this. I've seen a lot of reminders about the history of the papacy, and the all-too-human sins and failings of our brothers in Christ who have served as bishop of Rome. As well as some reminders of teachings emanating authoritatively from Rome in one generation or century that are later reversed (de facto at least) later on. "There's something very wrong, very tone-deaf about that." Well, yes, there would be (unless the purpose of such comments is to annoy those with whom one disagrees; then tone-deafness wouldn't be the issue). What I find striking (i.e., surprising) is the "tone-deafness" of comments like those by Cardinal Dolan. He's clearly an intelligent and thoughtful man, and one who is, in many ways, a good communicator, and someone who works hard at trying to communicate well with a range of people. There's something endearingly humble about self-deprecating comments about "fat, balding Irish bishops".That's why Dolan's comments about hiring an attractive, articulate, intelligent laywoman as "the best thing we ever did" are so surprising. I take it as a sign of how removed from the lives of ordinary Catholics many of our bishops are, if one of the best communicators in the USCCB regularly makes comments that are that far "off-pitch".

Studebaker, Ann and David,I think that getting caught up in the flow of money just obfuscates the issue. To me, its pretty simple, the employer has to have a policy with an insurance company that covers an employee. Without that underlying policy, there is no secondary policy. That being the case, the employer is certainly involved in facilitating the procurement. In the case of Church entities, that definitively contradicts church teaching and makes it appear that the church condones the 'reproductive services' This is particularly true because the employer can refuse to provide any health coverage and avoid the problem. And this analysis does not even cover self-insured plans, where there is no insurance company, only a processing agent. The proposed accommodation is just a sham.Personally, if I were the Bishops, I would be seriously considering a way to pay the fine, pay the employees the difference between the fine and the cost of the insurance, and dump the problem back on the government. I would not be the least bit surprised if we see many employers take that same action though for other reasons.

That being the case, the employer is certainly involved in facilitating the procurement.Bruce,The employer may still be involved, but the employer does not will that the contraceptive coverage be provided or take any part in arranging to provide it. That makes the situation different. It may not be different enough to satisfy you or the bishops, but it is different enough to satisfy many people. So I don't think it is fair to call it a shame. It is inadequate in your eyes, but that does not make it a sham.By the way, with all of the state mandates, can you name an instance of a Catholic organization that has already done what you suggest? To the best of my knowledge, in cases involving state mandates, Catholic employers were simply free to drop insurance coverage altogether and do whatever they pleased with that very significant savings. It will only be under the federal plan that employers (of 15 or more) will be required to provide insurance or pay a fine. It seems a little late for the Catholic Church to draw a line in the sand which its organization will not cross, since so many of then have crossed at the state level.

David,All of the state mandates were avoidable by moving to a Federal plan under ERISA. I believe some did and some didn't. Cant do that now that the have Feds taken over. I dont know what the thought process was in those cases, but some went to state court and lost. You know, You can only kick a dog so many times before he bites you. I suspect we are seeing some of that as well.Just dropping coverage and keeping the funds makes the compensation look and be substandard; hard to attract employees for below market wages. From what I understand, 'willing' is not the standard here. Willing the coverage would be 'Formal Cooperation' and that is always wrong. My understanding is that this is material cooperation which may or may not be wrong. Here's a sentence from an earlier post:Agreeing that employers who comply with the mandate would be engaged in material cooperation with evil, everyone involved in this debate has focused on whether such cooperation would be culpable

David,By the way, I dont think the moral analysis of the situation changes if complying with the Mandate resulted in the employers getting a big check. The argument isnt about cost.

One needs to remember Church history - this is the church that condemned Galileo, taught that the earth was flat and brought us the Inquisitions. St. Augustine did not believe that women had souls and Aquinas taught that they had souls "but their intellect is lower than that of a worm." That pretty much summarizes how many Catholic women view the teachings on contraception. I have had discussions for years on this topic. Where are the church teachings on nutrition, exercise, moderation in diet, etc? Most of us eat three times per day but I don't know of anyone who has sex three times a day....I'm just saying....

From Cardinal Dolan:The Archbishop of New York admonished Rush Limbaugh on Sunday, asserting that the campaign against the Obama administrations birth control mandate shouldnt be pugnacious, according to a report.Whatever we do, and however strongly we feel, we do it charitably, we do it civilly, Timothy Cardinal Dolan said after Sunday morning Mass at St. Patricks Cathedral, according to the New York Daily News.We dont judge the motives of other people. We just try, in a confident, peaceful, inviting way, to make our position felt, to invite other people to respect it, he added, when asked about Limbaughs recent comments that a Georgetown law student was a slut for advocating birth control coverage.Dolan added that the church didnt want to [oppose contraception] in a pugnacious way.http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73610.html Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73610.html#ixzz1oIZwRn7j

Grant Gallicho: "Im afraid this has become a replay of the dispute over the Affordable Care Acts abortion-funding mechanism." Every time Cdl. Dolan opens his mouth on the subject, it sounds more and more like he and his fellow bishops never got over the fact that Obama took a nun's word on the Affordable Care Act instead of waiting for them to complete their seemingly never-ending demands for changes. And, lo and behold, her ok meant Obama got the first historic health care reform passed without their approval! I don't think they've ever forgiven either the nun (you know who) or Obama. Unfair? Too petty to even consider? Well, note again what Dolan himself says about the bishops getting their "Irish up" when "leaders in the government" seemed to be "assigning an authoritative voice to Catholic groups other than the bishops." Huh? Again, Obama had the nerve to consult that pesky nun re his compromise on the HHS mandate (never mind that her organization was one of those directly affected). Mere coincidence that the Cardinal tried to make it clear he prefers attractive laypeople -- never nuns? -- speaking on his behalf....after he tells them what to say? Of course.

<<Mere coincidence that the Cardinal tried to make it clear he prefers attractive laypeople never nuns? speaking on his behalf.after he tells them what to say? Of course.<Not.:)

Luke (03/05/2012 - 8:03 pm), just for the heck of it, try to think of it this way. There are two factions of the same Church out there. One is very close in thinking to the secular power and the other is much further away. The secular power decides to change the rules of the government game so that the part of the Church it's further away from will be seriously up against a wall whereas the government-friendly faction won't be bothered a bit. Remember, we're talking anout the same Church, not two different churches. Two sister factions of the same family, if you don't mind. Same family. Brothers and sisters. Wouldn't you expect the faction that's got smooth sailing here to be at least publicly more supportive of the other faction - of the same family - than it is of the secular government that is, in reality, attacking that other side of the family? When a sister, say, is under attack by a non-family member, wouldn't you expect her brother to support her against the outsider, rather than side with the outsider? Under what conditions would it be normal to find a family member siding with an outsider against his own family?Maybe, just maybe, what we have here is not two factions of the same family, after all.

"The contraception teaching apply to the worldwide church so whether they are well received by the faithful in the US is neither here nor there."And then there's this darn thing called "reception".Which plays into doctrinal development.Reminds me of John Noonan's work on the development of Catholic moral teaching.In fact, taking Richard Gaillardetz's model of an ecclesial feedback loop into account, we laity teach the bishops as much as they teach us.Except the JPII hierarchs apparently don't like this model.So I say, Pooh on them!Some guys (read: bishops) are just hard to teach :-)

"Under what conditions would it be normal to find a family member siding with an outsider against his own family?"David S. --When the family is a tribe, you can expect the behavior you project. When a family has moved past such primitive views, it might criticize one of its own, depending on what the other individual members think.

Julie Rubio on the Catholic Moral Theology blog:Certainly, Kennedy was not trying to argue that faith had no place in the moral discernment of politicians or citizens. His audience would never have bought into that. They accepted Protestant voices in the public sphere; they were trying to decide if they could welcome Catholic voices as well. And by reassuring them that he would be a president for all Americans, not just Catholics, he earned their trust, and the trust of many other Protestants. Catholics at the time were not disgusted but proud and they went on to vote for him in record numbers.But Kennedy did not say everything that needs to be said about the role of religion in public life. By separating the religious issue from other critical issues the country faced in 1960, he drew the line between religion and politics too starkly. More helpful to our contemporary discussion is President Obamas 2006 speech in which he provocatively said:"But what I am suggesting is this secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause.So to say that men and women should not inject their personal morality into public policy debates is a practical absurdity."If this is what Santorum is after, he might find that he and his chief rival arent as far apart as he thinks. If Catholics embrace this vision, they can feel fine about viewing political issues through the lens of faith, making their case, and welcoming everyone else in the public square to do the same.

"Hi, Ann, I can easily believe that I could ask the Holy Father, What day is it today? and he could answer Tuesday when its really Wednesday. But when he formally exercises his teaching authority, as he did in Humanae Vitae, were expected to believe that he got it right. We believe that he gets divine assistance in these matters.'Jim P. ==We agree, I think, that the Holy Spirit is always available to the bishops. But the bishops are not as faultless as God. They can, and have, made mistakes about what the HS was nudging them towards.This is why you can't justify always agreeing with them. You are claiming for men what is only God's, and, as I read the story of Peter and Paul, Jesus Himself wanted to show us this truth: Popes can err even in good faith. Peter did. Or do you dispute the event?

Bruce: "Agreeing that employers who comply with the mandate would be engaged in material cooperation with evil, everyone involved in this debate has focused on whether such cooperation would be culpable"Under the mandate compromise, the religious employer's cooperation is so remote I can't see how you can say it even exists. It's not only not willed, it exists only in the minds of those moralists who profess to see it giving scandal should somebody somewhere someday *erroneously* conclude a Catholic organization endorses contraception because one of its employees is discovered to be getting her contraception free of charge thanks to the organization's insurance company. Other than that remote possibility of giving scandal to someone who gets his/her facts wrong (!), there's no money changing hands, no policy that says contraception is covered, not even a gentlemen's agreement to cover it without saying it's covered. All to the contrary. It seems to me the bishops themselves had trouble following this argument, and therefore immediately upped the ante by claiming there should be no mandate at all, since there's no exemption provided for private individual employers who have moral objections. And on and on.

Ann, would you then consider Roman Catholics to be free to decide for themselves what, if anything, they will believe?Would you consider it natural that a Catholic in America should feel no particular kinship with a Catholic in, say, Zimbabwe?I'm a little surprised to hear you say that family feeling is a "primitive" emotion. Do you think that many people here - perhaps particulaly those who have a perennially low opinion of the hierarchy and their conservative way of thinking - may feel similarly? Is the rejection of the importance of "primitive", "tribal" family ties a progressive sentiment? I'm really curious - that's honestly never occurred to me. I wonder whether these two groups may not be in fact much further apart than either has generally realized.

David " I wonder whether these two groups may not be in fact much further apart' it is so I believe you believe you are an orthodox Catholic. I know, I'm an orthodox Catholic. And I also know I disagree with your over all religious stances ALMOST completely. Stances are not what people say are their beliefs.. stances are what really matters in everyday life. That is the way it is.. that's the way it was for many centuries.

"Im glad that Jim camre out of his loset of maximal magisterialism"Ha ha. Bob, if you think what I've written here constitutes maximal magisterialism, you need to visit a few more (c)losets where the *real* ultramontanists hang out.What I've written here is just plain, vanilla Catholicism. It's cribbed from the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism.

"We agree, I think, that the Holy Spirit is always available to the bishops. But the bishops are not as faultless as God. They can, and have, made mistakes about what the HS was nudging them towards."Hi, Ann, yes, that's plausible. But in the specific instance of Humanae Vitae, it's not just "the bishops". It's a magisterial exercise by the Holy Father, who possesses charisms in this respect that are not available to the bishops (except when, as a body, they're in communion with the Holy Father).

David Smith: "Im a little surprised to hear you say that family feeling is a primitive emotion. Do you think that many people here perhaps particulaly those who have a perennially low opinion of the hierarchy and their conservative way of thinking may feel similarly? Is the rejection of the importance of primitive, tribal family ties a progressive sentiment? Im really curious thats honestly never occurred to me."Me neither. I realize this was directed to Ann, not me, but as one who disagrees with the bishops on this one, I'm wondering why you think there's some meaningful relationship between a Catholic's opinion of an episcopal decision such as this and her rejection or acceptance of the importance of family ties? I come from a close-knit family. Heck, I even like my mother-in-law. Family ties mean a lot to me. But there are families and then there are families. The Church itself discourages the kind of family idolatry that undergirds institutions such as the Mafia, and heck, Jesus himself could sound downright anti-family with the "let the dead bury the dead" and fuhrgettabout'em rants he often went on when recruiting the men who became our first bishops. Too often, appeals to family -- blood and land -- ARE code words for the worst sort of sentiments human beings harbor. By comparison, Christian appeals to the Body of Christ and communion of the saints rest on higher sentiments and realities. No matter what our opinions, especially on prudential judgments such as this one, the ties between Catholics should transcend what any of us think, including bishops.

"I would still like to hear your views on cases like slavery and religious liberty, where church teaching was not simply developed, but rather reversed. Were those who argued that slavery was immoral dissenters who should have kept their mouths shut, or allowed themselves to be helped by the faithful assenters to the doctrine that slavery was part of the natural order and not against the will of God? How can you be so certain that the same is not going on in the case of contraception or homosexuality? Im all for humility on both sidesI could very well be wrong in my disagreementbut it seems that youre arguing about this as a matter of principle, not mere application in these instances. How does the reversal of some church teachings fit within this principle of de facto infallibility to anything ever proposed by church leaders on issues of faith or morals?"Hi, Andy, I don't have particularly deep views on slavery or religious liberty. I agree that doctrines develop, even in some cases to the point that church teaching can seemingly turn 180 degrees. My understanding, btw, is that Humanae Vitae itself represents development in church teaching; I believe it emphasized the unitive aspects of marital sex in ways that hadn't quite been done that way before.I would say, though, that in all the instances I'm aware of in which church teaching seems to have been reversed, the reversal was ratified *by those with teaching authority*. As I stated, I'm not aware of even a whiff of a hint of such a thing happening with regard to what is taught in Humanae Vitae. Every five years, the bishops seem to celebrate its anniversary by reaffirming its central teaching, praising its prophetic character, etc. I don't see any evidence that it is a teaching under development.Btw, in response to your final sentence: I don't consider Humanae Vitae to be an exercise in papal infallibility. It's not a dogmatic definition. It is, nevertheless, a magisterial pronouncement to which we are called to assent religiously. In practical terms, "religious obedience" is pretty much "accept as true, and live accordingly".Personally, I'd settle for, "take it seriously and at least try to abide by it." I don't think many Catholics even give it the minimal respect of working to understand what it says. I'd think that at least 75 out of 100 adult Catholic in the US couldn't give an accurate summary of what HV teaches.

"Also, in some ways the notion of infallibility actually hurts the teaching authority of the pope, because it seems to be universally agreed that the pope has deliberately invoked infallibility only twice (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption). This pretty much puts all other papal teachings in the non-infallible category."I think what you would like to say is that the pope has spoken ex cathedra only twice. There are a number of other doctrines that are infallible, for example the Trinity, or the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And yes, I agree that if we divide the universe of magisterial teaching into that which is dogmatic and that which isn't, the latter is a much larger set. But to note that a teaching lacks the character of infallibility doesn't therefore make adherence to it optional.

As a general note to folks who have tried to engage me in conversation here, I apologize that I'm not able to reply in detail to every point that everyone has made. If this means anything to anyone, my assent to what is taught in Humanae Vitae has not come easily - I'm a married man who lives in the real world - and I don't mean to disparage those who don't agree with, or don't want to confront, that teaching. I can understand that, for a woman who has spent huge chunks of her married life taking the pill, the loss of that flexibility and control may be nearly unthinkable. (This is why the witness of married couples who have achieved strong and lasting marriages and families without birth control is really important.)

"Ann, would you then consider Roman Catholics to be free to decide for themselves what, if anything, they will believe?"David S. --Once we decide to believe that Jesus is God, the Truth, and the Way, it would be crazy to disbelieve His teachings. Falsity and Truth are totally incompatible. The problem often is, however: just what are His teachings? They are sometimes very difficult to know. What God wants us to be is honest, and when the HIerarchy tells us, "This is the teaching of Christ", then we are NOT FREE to reject it UNLESS there is very strong evidence that it is not true. The over-riding principle in all of this is:do not fool yourself or allow yourself to be fooled -- tell the truth as *you* see it. For instance, don't say, "I believe in Hell" when you don't really. Go read the whole of the Book of Job and you'll see how important God thinks it is for man to tell the truth -- even when the truth seems to be that God is unfair. Sometimes we are torn between two "truths" -- e.g., God is just and God is unjust. What do we do then? Tell the truth. Admit there is a contradiction, and admit there must be something wrong with our thinking somewhere. Sometimes we must also admit our inability to resolve such dilemmas, at least in this world. But tell the truth about it: God is Justice, but He SEEMS unfair.Tell the truth as Job did, and God will bless you. He will not bless those who lie to themselves and deny there are problems of belief -- God will punish them. Again, see Job.

Ken, Bender, Jim Pauwels -- gay marriage is not the total opposite of Catholic teaching -- in fact it espouses Catholic esteem for marriage. Casting everying in terms of "dissent" is a Stalinist tactic; why not admit that liberal Catholics are calling for "development", in the fullest and richest sense of that word."If the Holy Father and the college of bishops are wrong on such matters of faith and morals as marriage and contraception, then all bets are off. The entire project known as Christianity is so much horse manure."Well, there is a biblical and Catholic wisdom about marriage that proclaims its own value quite persuasively. But on the details it may need to be developed, as has often happened in the past." The earth has quaked and the temple has come crashing down in a cloud of dust and rubble. The Holy Spirit has fled. The light has been extinguished and the Prince of Darkness has reclaimed the throne."That is what Lefebvrites say about the doctrinal innovations of Vatican II. It is the rhetoric of panic and of an immature relationships to history." Fly for your lives. Grab whatever you can stick in your pockets, duck and dodge the falling debris, sprint to the nearest raft and push off."It sounds as if after telling liberal Catholics to push off to Anglicanism the boys left standing on the burning deck are all too prone to jump ship themselves.

"I think what you would like to say is that the pope has spoken ex cathedra only twice. There are a number of other doctrines that are infallible, for example the Trinity, or the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist."The Trinity was defined at the first two ecumenical councils, summoned by the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius, with no papal presence.The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was the topic of dogmatic definition at the councils of Lateran IV and Trent.There are in fact only two surviving candidates for the status of specifically papally infallible utterances, the Marian doctrines of 1854 and 1950, and some theologians would say they do not meet the criteria for such statements as laid down in Vatican I.That is why I call papal infallibility the Cheshire Cat doctrine. After functioning for a century to maximize the papal authority and its aura, it now functions as a limiting clause, reminding us of any given papal utterance that "well, of course, it's not infallible."

The Holy Spirit is a master craftsman. When he offers guidance to Pope and bishops, or to laity, or even to heretics, unbelievers, Assyrians and ancient Chinese (for surely he has a care for them all), he knows the full range of the tools available to him and is not compelled to act in a heavy-handed, top-down manner. His first recourse, I should think, would often be to exercise that sometimes elusive but never extinguished spirit of reason and good will with which we have been gifted. Our beliefs will be no shakier, and may well be the firmer, for being subjected to careful inquiry by ourselves in light of all the evidence and all the circumstances.Something like that, I suspect, is what the Pope may have been guided to think when he set up a commission to study the question of artificial birth control. He was acknowledging that on that matter at least, others besides consecrated bishops may have much of value to say and a legitimate right to be heard. I have never heard an adequate account of the counterarguments that eventually prevailed over the commission's majority. But if any part of them was, "We've already taken a position on this subject, and if we change it now, people will wonder," then the Holy Spirit must have sighed a most holy sigh.

Ann, Beverly, my objection to what's happening is simply that the President and his people are clearly using one Catholic faction against another to bend the Church to his will, careless of any damage that may be caused that - and the faction he's using as his principal tool seem not to have the smallest compunction about this. Not even the smallest. Some adjectives that occur to me are self-centered, arrogant, small minded, insensitive, and wilful. None of those have anything to do with humility and consideration for anything greater than themselves. I don't want to believe that any of them apply, but I can't honestly see how most of them don't.

"Personally, Id settle for, take it seriously and at least try to abide by it. I dont think many Catholics even give it the minimal respect of working to understand what it says. Id think that at least 75 out of 100 adult Catholic in the US couldnt give an accurate summary of what HV teaches."For what it's worth, I not only know what HV teaches (I was studying moral theology in college the fall after it came out), I assent to it and achieved what I believe was a long and happy marriage until my husband's death from cancer a few years ago. HOWEVER, I do NOT approve of the way the bishops are handling this public policy issue. This is clearly a prudential judgment on their part, not something Catholics should have to assent to on any grounds except that it makes good sense for all concerned, which IMHO it does not. If they want people to understand their teachings, if they want to influence civil law for the better, if they want to promote the pro-life cause, God help them, they're doing everything wrong.

"Ann, Beverly, my objection to whats happening is simply that the President and his people are clearly using one Catholic faction against another to bend the Church to his will.."The President is not the one who refused to compromise; the bishops, on the other hand, not only insulted his attempt at accomodation, they upped the ante, and began demanding he do everything they say, or else! Then, in a heartbeat, Republican politicians began pushing that agenda as if it were a political cause! Who's trying to bend who to their will?

Beverly, making an unacceptable demand and then changing it very slightly into another unacceptable demand doesn't qualify as a compromise.This is definitely a bargaining business. What the dissident side is doing is weakening the bargaining position of the bishops - the "official" Church. Your Church, unless you've left without telling anyone. Obama has the power to force this - he doesn't have to bargain. He will bargain only so long as he senses that he'll suffer serious political damage by simply imposing his solution. If he becomes certain that the Church is so divided that forcing the issue will have no political cost to him, he'll close the door in the bishops' face and the dissidents will have won.What kind of victory would that be? You'd have helped a politician to hurt a large part of your Church. You'd have gained very little politically - and that gain will be fleeting, as are most political gains - and you'd have lost much good will inside the Church.

Jim Pauwels, thanks for your detailed responses, and your willingness to engage with those who disagree with you throughout this thread. I agree that testimony and witness of married couples who follow the teachings of Humanae Vitae on birth control is a powerful one. I think it's at least mildly problematic for those teachings that the Church is also blessed with the witness of what it, by all accounts, a much larger cohort of married couples in the Church who do not follow those teachings---some of whom testify quite powerfully to the ways in which *not* following those teachings has strengthened their marriage.(Note: I'm not looking for a response, just laying out the complexity of the pastoral situation.)

Beverly, bless you for your witness. And I largely agree with your assessment of the bishops' campaign and your characterization of it as an exercise in prudential judgment. I don't think their rhetoric is well-tuned. (When I hear folks longing for the days of the peace and economic statements of the '80's, I think a large part of what they sense is missing is the tone with which the bishops addressed the larger society).I'm sorry to read that you lost your husband. I hope he is with God now, and I hope you're healing from your grief.I've appreciated reading your comments here, and I hope you'll hang out with us.

I love these examples like these of the Church hierarchy being mistaken:this is the church that condemned Galileo, taught that the earth was flat The reason I like them is that Astronomy and Geography are sciences where the hierarchy has no special insight. When Benedict speaks about global warming he just like any other 80 year old man. No Catholic or anyone else has any need to show a special regard for what is espoused. As Catholics, we only need to give the hierarchy special consideration when they speak on faith and morals.This is true for the science of 'reproductive services' as well. But when the hierarchy says these procedures should not be used because they are morally wrong, then we Catholics need to listen very, very carefully.

Beverly wrote in part:If they want people to understand their teachings, if they want to influence civil law for the better, if they want to promote the pro-life cause, God help them, theyre doing everything wrong.I think this kind of dissenting opinion about how the bishops are going about achieving a goal is fine, but when it morphs into 'I dont support them because contraception is ok and women need health care' then I think its gone to far. Also, since they are on the front lines in this negotiation, the bishops deserve the benefit of any doubt.Btw, I'm specifically NOT saying those are your positions Beverly. I just copied your first sentence to save myself some typing.

Jim--Thanks for your reply. I find what you say sensible (I have actually gone the opposite course, from very strongly defending HV and the teachings of the magisterium on....well anything, to rejecting some of these issues, particularly on sexual morality. But there was certainly more than simply an "attempt" to assent, since I very much did. I realize you weren't addressing anything to me specifically, but I wonder if it's true that as many Catholics as you suspect really haven't grappled with this). My question was more addressed to your rather apocalyptic statement yesterday that if HV is wrong, then the entirety of Christianity collapses with it. You seem to be taking a much more tame approach today: it's not an irreformable teaching, but should be treated with respect. I find that perfectly sensible. And if yesterday was mostly hyperbole, well, I've been in that boat myself.

"But when the hierarchy says these procedures should not be used because they are morally wrong, then we Catholics need to listen very, very carefully."Bruce, The hierarchy has only taught since Vatican II that there mutual love and procreation are ends in marriage. Prior to that the only end or purpose was procreation. That is a definitive change and not always taught. Augustine considered it a sin if a man took pleasure in sex with his wife. For the most part moralists have been rather squeamish about that and probably because they were celibate.Face it Bruce the bishops and popes have erred. Unfortunately some here are making these absurd opinions the foundation of the church. Jesus Christ is still the same yesterday and tomorrow. We have to stop this glorification of the hierarchy which has brought the Crusades, the Inquisition, Witch Trials, subjugation of women, glorification of the rich and other ills. Our Church is a church of the Way. Not of dogma and scribes and pharisees. The leaders should wash the feet of the disciples. Not parade around in long robes affecting unauthorized authority.

"My question was more addressed to your rather apocalyptic statement yesterday that if HV is wrong, then the entirety of Christianity collapses with it."Andy - it does seem to me that Paul VI, in issuing this teaching in the form he did, has staked the authority of his teaching office on it - as is the case with any encyclical or similar form of apostolic pronouncement. And if he can't be trusted on that, why should he, or any successor of Peter, or any successor to the apostles, be trusted to get anything else right? Conceivably, if they're wrong about HV, they're wrong about everything else. And how do we determine whether they're right or wrong? What authority transcends them, to determine whether they're right or wrong?I really do think the stakes are high, and that is one reason I am pushing this conversation rather hard.

Jim,The stakes are high for people who have bought into the incorrect concept of infallibility. There is substantial evidence that Paul VI was not convinced that contraception was wrong but that he was persuaded by others that the infallibility of the church was threatened by changing the teaching. I don't know where you have been but we have shown here many times how the hierarchy has been wrong: On slavery, ends of marriage, Crusades, inquisition, etc. It is an egocentric, power centered hierarchy which continues to put the hierarchy before Jesus. It is the Beatitudes not dogma that drives the Christian life. I understand that you and many others are threatened. The reason is you have bought what it is not tenable. But that does not take away from the richness of the life of Christ that they have been wrong. The decline of the monarchical church actually helps the real church to grow.

IMO the policy makers of the American hierach ymade a high risk/high reward bet that they could tump Obama's accomodation(and maybe his presiency?) and also reinforce their contaception teaching and bring more faithful into line.I don't see that happening despie the"hard push" on magisterial submission ( a subset of maximal mgisterialism it strikes me.)If the strikes are high, it;s due to the American Bishops IMO who continue patterns of implacability.I'm sure that (like cardinal George's plea before) they would love to have catholic coleges and epriodicals and theologians all following along.I think Ed G. said it' right tthat it hasn' tand won't work that way.

Bill, I think you are way to complacent bandying about "the bishops can be wrong" Sure, they can be and I'm sure they are making a lot of mistakes in how they are negotiating the HHS mandate. But to dismiss their moral judgement with 'they can be wrong' does not, in my estimation, give their prudential judgement about 'reproductive services' proper respect. You and I can be wrong too.On a related subject, here is another article about cooperation with evil.http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2012/no-cooperation-with-evil.ht... the way, one reason I support the bishops so strongly is what I see occurring in our world today. Young men refer to women as objects for their sexual pleasure; believe it or not, some of the terms are several steps below whore and slut. Over 50% of births are to unmarried women; that cant be good for the mother or the child. Charles Murray's new book shows these trends are even more pronounced among the less well-educated and poor, so they are being disproportionately hurt. The philosophy of recreational sex with contraception is a complete failure IMHO as well as being morally bankrupt.

Jim, in his book What Happened at Vatican II, John O'Malley addresses your very question. He says all institutions face issues of identity: how to maintain it while dealing with the inevitability of change, and then how to make it effective in new but recognizably authentic ways. He notes that John Courtney Murray termed this development of doctrine. By that he meant the problem of elaborations of church teaching that went beyond, or might even seem to contravene, previous teachings: in a word, the problem of change in an institution that draws its lifeblood from a belief in the transcendent validity of the message it received from the past, which it is duty-bound to proclaim unadulterated.The mechanics of how this happens can obviously be messy. But as Catholics, one of the hallmarks of our intellectual tradition is the coherence of faith and reason. If we really believe that, and if there are obvious disconnects between our current understanding of faith and what reason tells us is tenable, then one of the two of them is messed up. That's why thinking and debate are so important. They are tests to our understanding. And the beauty of natural law is that it is amenable to reason. So if we think faith and reason are in fact coherent, and they appear not to be, then I think we're obligated to track down the flaws either in reasoning or in our current understanding of faith.

JIm P. --About the claim concerning HV that it must be accepted, you seem to be arguing like this:An infallible statement is one which a pope or pope plus bishops in council say is true and say must be accepted. A definitive The one is not the othe statement is the next best thing to an infallible statement, so it must be true and be accepted. But this is fallacious: the next best thing is not the best thing; So you can't argue simply from the truth of infallible statement to the truth of a definitive one, from the truth of the popes authority concerning infallible statements to the truth of JPII's claims of certainty for definitive ones. They are not the same thing.So you need to provide some other evidence for the unfailing truth you claim for the definitive statements. Further, if f they cannot fail to be true and we must assent to them, don't' you also have to also that they*are* infallible by definition of "infallible", which is a contradiction of what you held earlier.This mash-up of infallible and definitive statements is why JPII's theory of "definitive statements" has been called "creeping infallibility".

Oops-- A definitive The one is not the othe statement is the next best thing to an infallible statement, so it must be true and be accepted.The definitive statements are not the infallible statements, though the definitives are the next best thing to infalllible ones, and therefore they also must be true and must be accepted.

Slings and arrows directed at the Bishops, here and elsewhere, in the past and in the present, represent much more than civil disagreements. Not just rarely or occasionally, they are expressions of contempt and they seemingly grow in intensity.

Jim--I think part of the issue is where we view ultimate authority to cohere. I don't think it resides in the pope, but in the church. The pope is only teaching truly when he is proclaiming what the church thinks, not just what he thinks or what he thinks has to be said to ensure that his office is not seen as inconsistent. This is why reception is such a pivotal--and under-analyzed--thing. The church will not collapse if Paul VI is wrong about contraception, because Paul VI is not the only place--even the primary place--where the Spirit breathes. I accept the statements of the Nicene Creed, and hope to live them, not because the Pope says so, or even because a council said so, but because they have been accepted by the whole body of Christians and incorporated into that space where the church is most visible, the liturgy. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, but that doesn't mean there won't be conflict, and if teachings are not received--as I think clearly HV has not been by most Catholics and increasingly the teaching on homosexuality--that raises important questions about their truth, not simply by secularizing dissenters, but large portions of the community guided by the Spirit.

The Boston Globe has a long article today consisting mostly of interviews with students at Jesuit-run Boston College about the contraception insurance issue.It's worth reading to get insight into the views of hose people, regardless of your own views on the situation.http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2012/03/06/young-catholic-women-bac...

Ann - the word "infallibility", when used in reference to Catholic teaching, has a technical meaning for Catholic teaching that is somewhat different than the word's more general, common usage. I don't claim that HV is infallible (as the word is used in regard to Catholic teaching), or "the next best thing". I claim it is what I've described it to be: an exercise in magisterial teaching by the Holy Father, to which we owe religious assent. (We owe assent of a different, higher order to the foundational elements of our faith - the sort of thing that would be the subject of an infallible definition). Vatican II's Lumen Gentium lays this out in paragraph 25: "In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking." There is a rather common misapprehension (perhaps not widely held among readers of dotCom, but more generally held - and it's understandable; our minds tend to be a bit binary) that if a teaching does not have the attribute of infallibility, it is therefore optional, or a mere suggestion or guideline. Sometimes, the church does confine itself to making suggestions or giving guidelines, like 'frequent reception of Communion is praiseworthy'. HV is not one of those. HV is intended to be binding on the faithful.

Patrick M, you say ' Not just rarely or occasionally, they are expressions of contempt and they seemingly grow in intensity.'Who are the allies about the evils of BC that the bishops have picked up in the last few weeks? Santorum is the only one I can think of. .. Not the so called 'religious liberty' folks'' but BC is evil folks?

Jim Pauwels, perhaps the more important question is "Is HV irreformable?. Could Benedict or some future Pope decide that it is no longer the right answer for the current time - and issue a new encyclical saying most the same things but not limiting the methods of contraception used?

I think the problem of Jim's"hard push" is the circulat to which we must assent. It goes beyond reaspectful listenin gand taking seriously.Then there is the issue of"supreme" magisterium which is not infallible.Oh well.....

Jim Pouwels, please let me offer a few thoughts about contaception.First, a few general considerations:1. Some moral prohibitions, simply by the terms in which they are formulated, have no exceptions. For example, "Do not murder" or "Do not commit adultery."2. Some other moral prohibitions invite questions about their purpose or the circumstances of their application. For example. "Do not kill" (except in self defense, a just war, etc.), "Do not steal" (except if you are in dire straits for food or medicine for yourself or your minor children). Surely we don't want to be in the position of Javere (sp.) in "Les Miserables" (The law, the law, to the letter of the law).Now to the prohibition against the use of contraceptives by married couples.I ask: What is the purpose of this rule? It won't do just to say that it's against natural law. One has to say why it would be against the natural law.I would also ask: Are there any extenuating or exculpating circumstances in which it would not be wrong to use contraceptives? Could there even be cases in which not using them would be morally wrong? Notice that this second question is one concerning practical wisdom. In ecclesiastical terminology, it is a pastoral question, a question that calls for dialogue between adults who are presumably thoughtful and sincere. So no "pat" answers.I have not recently looked at Humanae Vitae, but I don't recall any teaching that regularly addressed the two questions I raise. Also notice, that to raise these questions I do not have to deny that there is some validity to HV's prohibition of contraception. But whatever validity one claims for it does not exempt one from having to provide answers to the two questions I raise.And let me make the obvious point that matters are quite different when one talks about the dogmas of faith. My two questions are not relevant to them.

Joseph O'leary wrote in part: gay marriage is not the total opposite of Catholic teaching in fact it espouses Catholic esteem for marriage.I'm not sure where your understanding of the gay marriage agenda comes from but the legal argument for it is based on an understandings like this:-marriage is essentially a vehicle for advancing individual fulfillment-fundamental right to have the relationship of ones choice called marriage.-homosexuals create their personalities and identities by freely engaging in intimate conductand the forefather of the above.-the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.Each of these arguments is essentially based on 'self'. The Catholic sacrament of marriage is based on the complete opposite - The Total giving of Self to the other. And, I believe, we have no individual right to define the mystery of human life, rather it is defined by God. Nothing could be more inimical, in my estimation, to the Sacrament of Marriage than 'gay marriage'

Augustine considered it a sin if a man took pleasure in sex with his wife. Augustine also lived with a woman and had a son. That doesnt mean HV is in error.

Returning to the subject of the post, Cdl. Dolan's appreciation of attractive, articulate, intelligent laywomen is reminiscent of a view found in HV. It identifies as one of the problematic changes in the world "a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society ." (Para. 2). On arriving at Pastoral Directives to Christian Couples (Para. 25), it exhorts (4 times) the husband to love his wife and concludes "and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Mutual love and respect are unquestionably vital if a marriage is to survive and thrive. The HV view of who does what to whom as explicitly reflected in this directive is one example of an outlook that would benefit from reform in the 21st century, along with Cdl. Dolan's.

Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modoThat was while he was a Manichee, before he reconverted to Catholicism. He broke off with the concubine who was the mother of hs son in favor of an arranged engagement with an 11 year old girl. Augustine's mother had followed him to Milan and he allowed her to arrange a society marriage, for which he abandoned his concubine. It is believed that Augustine truly loved the woman he had lived with for so long. In his "Confessions," he expressed how deeply he was hurt by ending this relationship, and also admitted that the experience eventually produced a decreased sensitivity to pain over time. However, he had to wait two years until his fiancee came of age, so despite the grief he felt over leaving "The One", as he called her, he soon took another concubine. Augustine eventually broke off his engagement to his eleven-year-old fiancee, but never renewed his relationship with "The One" and soon left his second concubine.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo

Boy-o-boy, I sure do see manifestations of *creeping infallibility* (or something very close to it) on display by some of our more conservative commenters on this thread!Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus states in relevant part, "We teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks 'ex cathedra'...he possesses...that infallibility which the Divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining faith or morals..."In other words, *it is the Church itself* that is infallible on matters of faith and morals. And what is the Church? It is all of us, lay and ordained alike. The Church is the People of God. If the Holy Spirit works among all of us, then we can trust that the Spirit will not allow the People of God to fall into serious doctrinal error. Then we have that thing called *ecclesial reception*. If HV is infallible teaching, it sure doesn't seem so. Even Rome acknowledges only two dogmatic pronouncements by the popes, namely, the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption (1870).In addition, we have canon 749.3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It states, "No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident." In other words, it is uncumbent on the official teachers --- pope and fellow bishops --- to make their case that a proposed teaching is infallible. They bear the burden. THIS IS CHURCH LAW intended to protect the deposit of faith, defined as all that God has revealed through Christ for our salvation.If HV is not infallible teaching (and I've never seen Rome put the doctrine up there with the two Marian dogmas), and if canon law itself puts the burden of infallible teaching on the pope and fellow bishops, then it stands to reason that Catholics must and can be free in good conscience to question proposed teachings considered less than infallible on the doctrinal totem pole (the so-called "hierarchy of truths").Creeping infallibility.One of the toxic legacies of JPII.

Joseph jaglowicz, those exercising an office in the name of the Church are required to make an expanded profession of faith, going beyond the Nicene Creed.I. PROFESSION OF FAITHI, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light.... [continue with Nicene Creed].With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.NOTE: Canon 833, Nos. 5-8 obliges the following to make the profession of faith: vicars general, episcopal vicars and judicial vicars; "at the beginning of their term of office, pastors, the rector of a seminary and the professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries; those to be promoted to the diaconate"; "the rectors of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university at the beginning of the rector's term of office"; and, "at the beginning of their term of office, teachers in any universities whatsoever who teach disciplines which deal with faith or morals"; and "superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in accord with the norm of the constitutions."There is also an "Oath of Fidelity" which includes other requirements, such as:With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also with due regard for the character and purpose of my institute faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church. http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfoath.htm

Joseph,Jim P. posted a link to a document about dissent. The concept which may deal with your creeping infallibility comment is the relationship of freedom of judgement versus truth. It speaks about our cultural belief to regard a judgement as having more validity when it comes from an individual relying on his own powers, than the authority of tradition. In this case freedom of judgment becomes more important than truth. Whereas, faith requires more of a loyal openness to accept the teachings obediently because we have a 'moral obligation to accept the truth' which may transcend our judgement. That said, 'nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will'. It also makes the point that while we are obligated to follow our conscience, it has to be properly formed; it is not independent and infallible.The way I think of it is not as infallibility, but rather that our faith requires a service to Christ and his Church which may not always be in congruence with our judgement and our conscience because we are all sinners. So there's a lot more we have to accept in faith than just infallible teachings.

The "Doctrinal Commentary on the Professio Fidei" gives some examples of teachings that FFA.ll into the three categories:http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfadtu.htmIt was written by Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the CDF

FFAll = fall

A White House official responded to Cdl. Dolan's recent letter and blog posts. http://www.religionnews.com/politics/legislation/white-house-says-contra... It may be unfortunate that bishops have made a practice of harshly criticizing wise old Washington hands who don't meet their standards as Catholics but might be useful advisers on how to advance one's cause. Cdl. Dolan carries on his fight from his public blog. "Church officials familiar with the negotiations privately noted that some USCCB staff members involved in the talks are veteran culture warriors who worked at places like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and often take a harder line than the bishops themselves." It remains unclear to me how the USCCB will know when it has reached its goal.

"Vatican IIs Lumen Gentium lays this out in paragraph 25: In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent."Jim, if we don't accept infallibility it means that even documents of Vatican II are not infallible. The truth is that most documents of Vatican II are the result of tugs between opposite views and that each allowed some things to appear so it could get its own agenda in. So quoting this or that document does not prove anything but the way one faction felt at the time. The real issue is that we must return to the church of the Beatitudes and not the church of dogma. Otherwise debates are endless like this over 150 post thread. It is at the Beatitudes where we meet. Not at infallibility and magesterial authority which are indications of empire not gospel.

Jack Barry, My sense is that whatever the WH proposes, the bishops will not consider the matter closed until the Becket Fund cases get to the Supreme Court and are either refused by it or heard and decided.In sequence, their milestones are probably:1. Get a bill passed by this Congress. FIrst try didnt get through the Senate and its unlikely that they will ever get the 2/3 majority of the present Congress needed to override a veto2. In November, elect a Republican president and Republican majorities in both Houses so that a bill could be passed in early 2013 This raises the question of how much pressure they will put on Catholics to vote that way.3. Wait for action by the Supreme Court Since the cases have to be heard by District Courts and Appeals Courts first, this probably wouldnt produce a decision before the end of 2013, even if the Supreme Court accepts a case.

I think you're right, John. Alternatively, they could exercise their teaching office and try to bring the faithful along by presenting a detailed natural law argument justifying their position. (And HV does not qualify, not containing an actual natural law argument, only natural law vocabulary.) But I doubt if that will happen.

Eduardo P. said: " contrary to the Cardinals assertion, the right to marry was one of the earliest examples of a subjective right in the Catholic moral discussions."And if he meant there is no right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, in Loving v. Virginia (the landmark miscegenation case) the Supreme Court said:These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.(/I>

I believe that we should take seriously the question that Jim poses. It shows that either by force, intimidation, or persuasion, the monarchs of Rome have gotten the message across that Rome is more important than Jesus. It is an empire which has made itself the center not the Lord. Rome is dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor who is not comfortable with the message of the humble Jesus.

Interesting quote by Michael Sean Winters on Mar. 02, 2012 Distinctly CatholicI do not want to feed the beast in modern American culture that perceives conscience as solely an individual thing, untethered from tradition or from the Magisterium. Conscience so conceived too easily becomes not the voice of God speaking to the individual, but the individual's own voice, speaking to itself.

Bill:"It shows that either by force, intimidation, or persuasion, the monarchs of Rome have gotten the message across that Rome is more important than Jesus."I never got that message. Are you sure it's not your imagination?

"What is the purpose of this rule? It wont do just to say that its against natural law. One has to say why it would be against the natural law. I would also ask: Are there any extenuating or exculpating circumstances in which it would not be wrong to use contraceptives? Could there even be cases in which not using them would be morally wrong?"Hi, Bernard, regarding your first question, the purpose for the rule itself: Humanae Vitae itself was issued in response to the very specific historical context of the 1960s, and that context is described in the opening paragraphs of the document. It notes that society has been rocked by a number of changes to married life and procreation, on everything from growing world population to changes in understanding of the dignity of women to a new appreciation for the importance of marital intimacy to human progress in mastering the forces of nature (which surely encompasses the Pill, among many other things). These disruptive changes have made people question whether the traditional church teaching on contraception within marriage can change - particularly because it is a difficult teaching to live by.I would add this: it may be that the practical conclusion of HV - that contraception isn't permitted within marriage - arguably isn't the doctrine itself, but rather is an application - a necessary appoication - of the actual doctrines. The doctrinal portion may relate more to such items as what it means to be fully human, particularly in our relationship with God, God's will for marriage and for married love, and God's will for the propagation of the human species.I don't know whether there are any extenuating circumstances that would provide exceptions to the rule spelled out in HV. The encyclical states that good cannot be accomplished by an evil means. That would seem to narrow the possibilities.

" Alternatively, they could exercise their teaching office and try to bring the faithful along by presenting a detailed natural law argument justifying their position."I agree with you, and with Grant, that this is a teaching moment and the bishops would be wise to provide some substantive teaching to help Catholics and others of good will to understand its positions. I would note, though, that the proper subject of that teaching probably wouldn't be contraception per se, but rather the importance of religious liberty. That is the ball they should be keeping their eye on.

" an exercise in magisterial teaching by the Holy Father, to which we owe religious assent."Jim P. --OK, so some statements must be assented to, others not necessarily. If infallible, then assent is necessary. But how can you tell which are the other statements which require assent? What are your criteria for non-infallible statements which must be assented to? Is it because the pope *tells* you must assent, even though he doesn't say it's infallible? That's a dangerous position.

John Hayes (8:17pm) -- Good plausible list. Have you tried any Plan Bs for step 2? A year from now, whatever the environment is will be substantially different for the bishops, I believe. If elections go as you suggest, my hunch is that the enormous enthusiasm of politicians for religion that conveniently popped up with the Republican campaign will fade as other priorities prevail. Support a la Blunt and Issa will probably persist, but politicians' hunger for Catholic voters, to the extent they are a coherent group, will ease up for a while. Catholic universities already practicing similarly to what the bishops oppose have been identified publicly in a recent Congressional hearing. David Gibson's article (link 6:09pm) mentions ongoing "[Administration] talks with Catholic officials from other institutions", suggesting the bishops and other Catholic organization may be operating on separate paths, probably not a healthy sign. One question is who is following Dolan. A symbolic campaign like the long-running anti-Roe v.Wade effort begins to look like one of the possibilities.

Joe, I didnt make those quotes up. Here are the sources.-marriage is essentially a vehicle for advancing individual fulfillment - CA Supreme Court-fundamental right to have the relationship of ones choice called marriage. - CT Supreme Court-homosexuals create their personalities and identities by freely engaging in intimate conduct - MA Supreme Judicial Courtand the forefather of the above.-the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. - US Supreme Court in Lawrence vs. Texas which the dissenters correctly predicted would lead to 'gay marriage' decisionsYou can see a Catholic view of marriage herehttp://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/love... of the points included isAre empowered to make a total gift of self to each other. All you have to do is look at men's and women's bodies to realize that they can make "a total gift of self' to each other in a way same-sex couples cannot. One thing I love about the Church is that it strives for Truth. While many of us disagree on where that truth may be, our goal is to find it, and it marriage I think its fairly easy to see, though the view can easily be distorted by a slight-of-hand.

"I would add this: it may be that the practical conclusion of HV that contraception isnt permitted within marriage arguably isnt the doctrine itself, but rather is an application"Not the doctrine itself???? HUH??????

Humanae Vitae appears to refer to its subject as doctrine e.g., Para 11, 12, etc. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_...

the current Commonweal includes an interview with Fr. James Alison, the priest who defends homosexuality openly. He offers a text from Donum veritatis (assumed to be written by Ratzinger) which explains the duty of dissenters: "It can also happen that at the conclusion of a serious study, undertaken with the desire to heed the Magisteriums teaching without hesitation, the theologians difficulty remains because the arguments to the contrary seem more persuasive to him. Faced with a proposition to which he feels he cannot give his intellectual assent, the theologian nevertheless has the duty to remain open to a deeper examination of the question.For a loyal spirit, animated by love for the church, such a situation can certainly prove a difficult trial. It can be a call to suffer for the truth, in silence and prayer, but with the certainty, that if the truth really is at stake, it will ultimately prevail."

If the federal government were to tax employer provided plans and then use the revenue to reimburse insurance companies for the actuarial cost of covering contraception for people in employer provided plans, would people still consider it a religious liberty issue?This is why I can't see this as a religious liberty issue. The government is transferring resources from one group to another in a way that the first group finds morally objectionable. Governments do this all the time. Pacifists aren't happy that they are paying for war, but I don't recall the bishops supporting proposals to let them not pay taxes or subtract the portion that goes to the military.

"Paul VI, in issuing this teaching in the form he did, has staked the authority of his teaching office on it... If he cant be trusted on that, why should he, or any successor of Peter, or any successor to the apostles, be trusted to get anything else right? Conceivably, if theyre wrong about HV, theyre wrong about everything else. "Hans Kung thought Paul VI's mistake put an end to papal infallibility -- but in fact it poses even deeper problems of credibility.Bruce says on gay marriage that it is based on a false understanding of marriage as "essentially a vehicle for advancing individual fulfillment" -- surely that is the vision of Genesis 2 -- it is not good for humans to be alone, I will provide a helpmate etc.?" -fundamental right to have the relationship of ones choice called marriage. The Church does teach the natural right to marriage (Pius XI, Pius XII) and the inalienable right to marriage (Paul VI)." -homosexuals create their personalities and identities by freely engaging in intimate conduct" -- and so do heterosexuals. Sexual experience is an important element in the development of everyone's personality."and the forefather of the above. -the right to define ones own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."This is a wild extrapolation. It could be tossed out as an accusation against anyone you disagree with. Indeed it sounds like the accusations the Church tossed at Galileo."Each of these arguments is essentially based on self. The Catholic sacrament of marriage is based on the complete opposite The Total giving of Self to the other."No, each of the arguments is also used in favor of heterosexual marriage. Total giving of self to the other is also practiced by same-sex couples."And, I believe, we have no individual right to define the mystery of human life, rather it is defined by God. Nothing could be more inimical, in my estimation, to the Sacrament of Marriage than gay marriage"In your estimation, but the people of God are coming to see things in a broader way.

Thanks for the Ratzinger quote, Ann Olivier.

What an amazing James Alison interview!

... [Trackback] ... [...] There you will find 40466 more Infos: commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=17786...

Hi, Bernard, regarding your first question, the purpose for the rule itself: Humanae Vitae itself was issued in response to the very specific historical context of the 1960As a practical matter, it was issued because the Vatican II document Gaudiam et Spes gave a long discussion of marriage (47 to 52) but stopped short of saying what methods of birth control were legitimate:51. This council realizes that certain modern conditions often keep couples from arranging their married lives harmoniously, and that they find themselves in circumstances where at least temporarily the size of their families should not be increased. As a result, the faithful exercise of love and the full intimacy of their lives is hard to maintain. But where the intimacy of married life is broken off, its faithfulness can sometimes be imperiled and its quality of fruitfulness ruined, for then the upbringing of the children and the courage to accept new ones are both endangered.To these problems there are those who presume to offer dishonorable solutions indeed; they do not recoil even from the taking of life. But the Church issues the reminder that a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to authentic conjugal love.For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. The sexual characteristics of man and the human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms of life. Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence. Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.(14)All should be persuaded that human life and the task of transmitting it are not realities bound up with this world alone. Hence they cannot be measured or perceived only in terms of it, but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny of men.footnote 14 leaves the definition of legitimate methods of birth control to the Pope, after the commission initiated by John XXIII submits its report. Humanae Vitae was Paul Vi's response.14. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930): Denz.-Schoen. 3716-3718, Pius XII, Allocutio Conventui Unionis Italicae inter Obstetrices, Oct. 29, 1951: AAS 43 (1951), pp. 835-854, Paul VI, Address to a group of cardinals, June 23 1964: AAS 56 (1964), pp. 581-589. Certain questions which need further and more careful investigation have been handed over, at the command of the Supreme Pontiff, to a commission for the study of population, family, and births, in order that, after it fulfills its function, the Supreme Pontiff may pass judgment. With the doctrine of the magisterium in this state, this holy synod does not intend to propose immediately concrete solutions.

Bishops are cafeteria Catholics in their choice of moral issues requiring civil action.Birth control is a gift of modern medicine. We accept transplanted organs, wonder drugs of all sorts and revolutionary procedures.Male hydraulic drugs pass muster. Erections must be therapeutic. I think the bishops have a legitimate concern about abortifacients.If they would support reasonable presentations about acceptable "artificial" birth control usage as they do dissecting menstrual cycles and mucus in Natural Family Planning efforts, they might show some understanding and encouragement to people who find this area genuinely difficult.The absolute stonewalling of birth control as legitimate for almost a half-century has gotten us nowhere.

Jack - you're quite right. I agree with you.

"OK, so some statements must be assented to, others not necessarily. If infallible, then assent is necessary. But how can you tell which are the other statements which require assent? What are your criteria for non-infallible statements which must be assented to? Is it because the pope *tells* you must assent, even though he doesnt say its infallible? Thats a dangerous position."Ann, that quote I pasted earlier from Lumen Gentium provides an answer to your question: "His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."I suppose you could say that's a "dangerous position". I'd put it that, when he binds the faithful, he is, in a sense, standing behind the teaching with all the weight of the church's claims for his teaching office. It isn't something he should do lightly, and he should do it only when he's sure he's got it right. There is danger, or risk, for him, his office and the church. That is why I have said that the stakes are high.

"2. In November, elect a Republican president and Republican majorities in both Houses so that a bill could be passed in early 2013 This raises the question of how much pressure they will put on Catholics to vote that way."I believe that repealing the mandate wouldn't require any Congressional action. As I understand it, the Affordable Care Act empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue rules of this nature; that is how this whole kerfuffle started. Presumably, a President Romney would appoint a Secretary who will issue whatever legal issuance is needed to countermand the mandate.I've raised this question in the past, and if any of our legal experts are reading, I'd appreciate their views: suppose a President Romney appoints a Secretary of HHS who is expected to act as I've described here. Suppose also that neither party will hold a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (which is almost certain to come to pass). If the Senate holds up confirmation of President Romney's nominee, is the mandate un-countermand-able until that position is filled? In other words, in the absence of a confirmed Secretary, could an undersecretary, or the President himself, countermand the mandate? (I don't know if this issue is of such importance to Democrats that they would hold up approval of the Secretary over it).In the extremely unlikely chance that the elections result in a GOP House majority, a GOP filibuster-proof Senate majority, and a President Romney, repealing the Affordable Care Act itself becomes a real possibility - in fact, a likelihood.

"Jack youre quite right. I agree with you."Sorry, I see that Jack has made several comments recently. Jack, I was agreeing with your pointing out that HV 11 and 12 suggest that the core teaching of HV itself really is doctrinal in nature, and my speculation that it might be a derivative of doctrine, rather than doctrine itself, seems to be incorrect.

I continue to think "so much is at stake" because command/control is really the bottom line.The quptes from the professions and loyalty paths are deep indications of how this is attempted to be managed on the clerical inside.(I thought of Philly and por deceased Fr, Malloy who helped oversee the destruction of documents of abuse because a good priest just obeys his bishop.) Canon Law which is supposed tro promote good govwenance is at the heart of many problems in that it is a tool of power.control.The stakes are high about getting folks into line.The big divide on cotraception will remain however because the days of the laity just folowing "you must assent" have passed. Many see the religious liberty being central as a canard in this.We can have 300 plus posts but positions either way will continue because you won't solve the prroblem of the divide by saying this is so or arguing from documents or quotes.Until the lives of everyday Catholics and their voices are heard it wil go on and talk of"collaboration" in which the canonists say only those who wear their collars differently are the deciders will continue to be hollow.

Hey Bob,Forget command and control. Look around at the everyday lives of your fellow man, not even Catholics, this is what I see:Young men refer to women as objects for their sexual pleasure; believe it or not, some of the terms are several steps below whore and slut. Over 50% of births are to unmarried women; that cant be good for the mother or the child, nor for that matter the father. Charles Murrays new book shows these trends are even more pronounced among the less well-educated and poor, so they are being disproportionately hurt. Catholic social policy says we should make a special effort to help them.A teacher I know in a poor area of NYC tells me there are free condoms all over the streets. Her 7 year old students pick them up and bring them into school, sometimes thinking the packages might contain candy.So how does free contraception (remember it does not work perfectly) move to eliminate these problems? This current argument wont eliminate the problem, but it may slow down the progress. IMHO thats reason enough to support the bishops.

Jim,Pouwels, re your 3/6 11:20 pm cpmment, and the paragraph that begins "I would add this:"What you say there makes evident the lack of clarity that concerns me with the blanket prohibition of the use of contraception within marriage. You speak of "necessary applications" of the doctrine that expresses God's plan for marriage. Does "necessary application" mean "logically deducible from" the doctrine? If so, then the doctrine expressing God's plan must be set out with enough clarity to show why this "application" can be deduced from it.Or from another angle, Aristotle already saw that no legislator can foresee all the circumstances that ought to be considered when determining how to apply some universal moral norm. There are obvious cases to which the norm clearly applies. In the case at hand, the prohibition of contraception would clearly apply to a couple who decide to rule out having any children. I actually know of such a couple. Their decision is simply incompatible with Catholic doctrine about marriage. But there are many other cases in which couples decide to use contraceptives for some period because of the circumstances in which they have to deal with, frequently circumstances over which they have no control. Wise legislators would expect them to respond to the moral norm in question by doing as much as they could to comply with the objectives of the norm even though they would not literally be observing it. This Aristotelian conception of what's called epikeia has figured largely in Catholic moral thought. Why should one claim that it is not applicable to the contraception issue.Note that this notion of epikeia or practical wisdom does not call for "doing good by evil means." Rather, it calls for finding the actual good in the case at hand by sound thinking. Indeed, finding what justice calls for in the particular circumstances requires exactly this kind of thinking. So far as I can see, the kind of talk about contraception that has been prevalent in Catholic preaching has all too often neglected to give due place to epikeia. It has contented itself with announcing the general prohibition without giving expression to the complexity of app[lying it to particular circumstances.

Bruce, I think your view of the evryday lives of Catholics is quite different from the experience of others and your anecdote of the poor areas is simpl;istic as well.Forfet about just supporting the bishops because command/control is in play.

"I continue to think so much is at stake because command/control is really the bottom line."Of course you do. It's all a patriarchal plot to subjugate women.You're applying your postmodern worldview - it's all about power - to the decidedly un-postmodern project known as Christianity.Free contraception has instantly (within the last six weeks or so) become a "right" of which the church would "deprive" women who are "entitled" to it. How postmodern that formulation is. I'd think that kenosis is quite alien to postmoderns. And yet kenosis just may be a huge missing piece for folks who can't imagine why anyone could possibly want to live without contraception.

Bob, my anecdote about the poor area may be simplistic but it also happens to be a verbatim description from someone who sees in real life everyday. Believe what you want.

"So how does free contraception (remember it does not work perfectly) move to eliminate these problems? "We already know it won't eliminate the problem. Everyone knows it won't eliminate the problem. Free contraception has never eliminated the problem. Free contraception has been tried all over the world for years. It doesn't work, whether the issue is controlling birth rates or eliminating AIDS or reducing out-of-wedlock births. Eliminating problems has little or nothing to do with the politics of employer-subsidized contraception.

Bernard - I agree with your comments about practical wisdom - in fact, with your entire comment. Whether intentionally or not, HV has left a lot of room for us to do our best to think through the hard cases that come up in real life.

Carlos:"I never got that message. Are you sure its not your imagination?"You are in the minority. Have you every read the chapter in the Brothers Karsmazov on the Grand Inquisitor. "We are not with Thee, but with him, and that is our secret! For centuries have we abandoned Thee to follow him." The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that he cannot allow him to do his work on Earth, because his work is at odds with the work of the Church. The Church is taking away freedom of choice and replacing it with security. Thus, the Grand Inquisitor must keep Christ in prison, because if Christ were allowed to go free, he might undermine the Churchs work to lift the burden of free will from mankind.It is nothing new, Carlos. Just something you refuse to see. Salvation never depended on Rome nor Augustine. Nor the Scribes and Pharisees.

Bernard - what bothers me about these types of discussions is the fact that Paul VI's Papal Commission studied, developed, and overwhemingly approved the use of birth control within the context of marriage, etc.We now know from those that Paul VI added to the commission post vote that a small cohort in the curia (primarily, Ottaviani) convinced Paul VI that approving birth control in any form would weaken the papacy; look like a sell out to the Protestant position, and weaken infallibility raising questions about other papal decision, change, etc. Thus, HV really has little to do with the merits of the issue and question of artificial birth control. HV was an announcement predicated on fear, setting a precedent, power and authority - not a statement on ethics or morality. As such, it truly damaged the people of God and shook the advances made by Vatican II.So, when folks begin to argue about the "merits" of HV - it smacks of little understanding of the history or final approval/conclusion of the papal commission on birth control.

"Ann, that quote I pasted earlier from Lumen Gentium provides an answer to your question: His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."Jim P. ==So your criterion is how forcefully the pontiff makes his statement? How about the statements of Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors? Surely that was forceful, but some of it was rejected by VII.When I look at the properties of infallible statements and those of definitive ones as you seem to mean the words, what I find are the same properties in both case, e.g., words spoken with full authority by pope to whole Church, his authority guarantees its truth. However, the infallible statements say explicitly that they are infallible, while the others say "definitive". When words have the exact same meaning then they are synonyms.You obviously don't think they're synonyms, so In your understanding of the terms, how do they differ in meaning? In other words, how can you distinguish the two kinds of statements?

Bill, agreed.Fr. John Ford was the author of the Minority Report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control, which argued that the Church should not and could not change its long-standing teaching. This point of view eventually prevailed. In the Minority Report, he said that If we could bring forward arguments which are clear and cogent based on reason alone, it would not be necessary for our Commission to exist, nor would the present state of affairs exist in the Church. ... The Church could not have erred through so many centuries, even through one century, by imposing under serious obligation very grave burdens in the name of Jesus Christ, if Jesus Christ did not actually impose these burdens. He is also quoted by Garry Wills in his book Papal Sin as saying that if the church reversed itself now, it would prove that the Holy Spirit had been with the Anglicans at Lambeth, not with the Pope in Rome.Bruce said, "One thing I love about the Church is that it strives for Truth." I think the reason HV drives so many people crazy is that it is pretty obvious that at that time, the Church was not actually striving for the truth, deciding the case on the merits, but attempting to protect the teaching authority of the Church. This is a perfectly understandable concern and I sympathize with Paul VI. Wouldn't have wanted to be in his boots. Yet it has had the complete opposite effect, thoroughly compromising that very teaching authority. What I don't have a lot of sympathy for is continuing to force its conclusions rather than just seeing it as an understandable mistake for the time and opening it up to a rethinking.

Bernard --Excellent point about epikeis. I was taught that the principle is something like this: Do what the legislators would have done had they been in your particular circumstances.Yes, it does seem to be a solution to the problem of unintended consequences, allowing, as it does, rational exceptions.The problem that remains is: did the original lawmakers fully understand the original circumstances? (Oh, Lordy, I"m starting to talk like Rawls! St. Thomas, forgive me :-)

Over at america"In All Things" a worthwhile post on the Health care Controversy by Michael Rozier S.J.A good corrective on civility and complexity/

Thanks, Bob - here is the link - excellent and from someone in Public Health clarifying many of the "myths" used above:http://thejesuitpost.org/site/2012/03/mandated-reporting/Highlight:"As astute readers, no doubt youve anticipated my point, but let me be clear never the less. It lies at the heart of the tension between the rights of individuals and the obligations of living in a society. In other words, we ought not simply say: you, government, are violating my religious liberty. Instead we must be able to say, you are violating my religious liberty unnecessarily without sufficient cause. And this simple word, this unnecessarily, is not a propositional argument for which there is one right answer, it is a persuasive case that must be made.And persuasion gets adjudicated in the public square. The common good, and threats to it, must be argued for. So we should all stop yelling either about religious liberty or about womens health and start trying to persuade one another."

In 1993, on the 25th anniversary of HV, Richard McCormack S.J. Wrote a long article for "America" tht raises many of the points considered in our discussion here. The article ends I view the matter of the churchs teaching on birth regulation as dominantly an authority problem. By that I mean that any analysis, conclusion or process that challenges or threatens previous authoritative statements is by that very fact rejected. Any modification of past authority is viewed as an attack on present authority. Behind such an attitude is an unacknowledged and historically unsupportable triumphalism, the idea that the official teaching authority of the church is always right, never errs, is always totally adequate in its formulations. Vatican II radically axed this idea in many ways, but nowhere more explicitly than in its November 1964 "Decree on Ecumenism": "Therefore, if the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipline, or even in the formulation of doctrine (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself), these should be appropriately rectified at the proper moment" (my emphasis, No.6).But on this question that remains unthinkable. Thus Paul VI rejected the recommendations of his commission to modify church teaching because he was led to fear that his teaching authority would be eroded. Subsequent attempts (e.g., the Synod of 1980) to reopen the issue have been summarily rejected and the churchs teaching declared not "open to free discussion among theologians." A similar fear seems to lurk behind such assertions. What would happen if national episcopates would hold truly open consultations on birth regulation similar to those that led to the pastorals on peace and the economy? I think the answer is only too clear. We would have a replay of the deliberations of the Birth Control Commission, and, if we did, authority would see itself as threatened. Therefore it cannot happen. As Bishop Untener puts it: "a dysfunctional family." The lesson of the open procedure on the pastoral letters has not been learned: The best and only way to enhance authority in the modem world is to share it. To save our lives, so to speak, we must lose them. Catholics above all should know this.On the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae it is important to point out, with Naud, that there are abiding substantial values that all disputants share and want to protect: the holiness of marriage, generous and responsible openness to life, the human character of the expression of married love, the fidelity and stability of marriage and respect for life. If these get lost in debates about the means of birth regulation, as I fear they may have, then to the malaise of polarization will have been added the tragedy of irrelevance. The means-question will have smothered the more basic message, a state of affairs from which only the Spirit can deliver us.Richard A. McCormick, S.J., taught ethics for many years at the University of Notre Dame. Among his books is The Critical Calling: Reflections on Moral Dilemmas Since Vatrican II.

In 1993, on the 25th anniversary of HV, Richard McCormack S.J. Wrote a long article for "America" tht raises many of the points considered in our discussion here. The article ends I view the matter of the churchs teaching on birth regulation as dominantly an authority problem. By that I mean that any analysis, conclusion or process that challenges or threatens previous authoritative statements is by that very fact rejected. Any modification of past authority is viewed as an attack on present authority. Behind such an attitude is an unacknowledged and historically unsupportable triumphalism, the idea that the official teaching authority of the church is always right, never errs, is always totally adequate in its formulations. Vatican II radically axed this idea in many ways, but nowhere more explicitly than in its November 1964 "Decree on Ecumenism": "Therefore, if the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipline, or even in the formulation of doctrine (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself), these should be appropriately rectified at the proper moment" (my emphasis, No.6).But on this question that remains unthinkable. Thus Paul VI rejected the recommendations of his commission to modify church teaching because he was led to fear that his teaching authority would be eroded. Subsequent attempts (e.g., the Synod of 1980) to reopen the issue have been summarily rejected and the churchs teaching declared not "open to free discussion among theologians." A similar fear seems to lurk behind such assertions. What would happen if national episcopates would hold truly open consultations on birth regulation similar to those that led to the pastorals on peace and the economy? I think the answer is only too clear. We would have a replay of the deliberations of the Birth Control Commission, and, if we did, authority would see itself as threatened. Therefore it cannot happen. As Bishop Untener puts it: "a dysfunctional family." The lesson of the open procedure on the pastoral letters has not been learned: The best and only way to enhance authority in the modem world is to share it. To save our lives, so to speak, we must lose them. Catholics above all should know this.On the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae it is important to point out, with Naud, that there are abiding substantial values that all disputants share and want to protect: the holiness of marriage, generous and responsible openness to life, the human character of the expression of married love, the fidelity and stability of marriage and respect for life. If these get lost in debates about the means of birth regulation, as I fear they may have, then to the malaise of polarization will have been added the tragedy of irrelevance. The means-question will have smothered the more basic message, a state of affairs from which only the Spirit can deliver us.Richard A. McCormick, S.J., taught ethics for many years at the University of Notre Dame. Among his books is The Critical Calling: Reflections on Moral Dilemmas Since Vatrican II.http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=10960

Jeanne --Here's the Fr. John Ford site which, as I remember is maintained by G Grisez. The site tells in much detail the story of how HV came to be written.What scandalizes me is how Grisez and Ford, only two natural law theologians, came to be the de facto authors of the document. If Paul wanted to reverse the Commission, he should have called it back into session and should have hadr Grisez/Ford thrash the matter out with the Commission. There was no 'I answer that ,,,"

IOOPS -- Here's the Ford=Grisez link: http://www.twotlj.org/Ford.html

we ought not simply say: you, government, are violating my religious liberty. Instead we must be able to say, you are violating my religious liberty unnecessarily without sufficient cause.That is actully what the law requires. The Religious Freedom Restortion Act says that:(b)... [the] Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person--(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.Note that it does not say that the government cannot ever burden a person's exercise of religion - as some people argue. The question of whether the HHS regulations meet that test is the issue the Becket cases raise - and will eventually be decided by the courts.

Mr. Hayes, thanks for the Magisterial quotes yesterday @ 4:34 pm.Thank God I'm not on the Roman payroll :-) I've no problem with the Creeds, but I cannot ignore my experience or that of others, much less our reflection/reasoning on such experience. This exchange reminds me of Francis Sullivan's CREATIVE FIDELITY: WEIGHING AND INTERPRETING DOCUMENTS OF THE MAGISTERIUM. I have great respect for this theologian (own a few of his books). That said, I think it's a sad day when it requires a theologian to explain in book-length format how to "weigh and interpret" official doctrines. The average Catholic in the pews is not disposed by intellect or interest to go through such an exercise (think HV here). On the other hand, then Cardinal Ratzinger gave a 1979 speech to the bishops in Dallas about "Conscience and Truth" (http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/ratzcons.htm). I first read his presentation a few years ago, and I re-read recently. I also read Sidney Callahan's "What Is a Good Conscience?" in which she pointed out that Ratzinger's bottom-line lesson is that only the pope has the answers we need to live the good moral life.There is a very real disconnect between the Vatican and the rest of us (most of us, anyway). If the typical Catholic is not going to take the time to comb through magisterial pronouncements, and if the typical Catholic likely would not understand their content anyway, that leaves two options as I see it: ignore the teaching altogether, or conform (blindly?) to the official teaching. This approach tends to promote the elevation of the ordained at the expense of the rest of us (think "clergy on pedestals" because they have the answers to life's problems, and the higher the rank --- pastor, bishop, cardinal, pope --- the greater the deference to be given the "answer man".I'm content with application of canon 749.3 along with my experience and reasoning ability. If the teaching makes sense, I'll more than likely embrace it. If it doesn't, I'll ignore it.No more "pray, pay, obey".The pre-Vatican II modus operandi is not going to work for most Catholics in today's church.

Ann O. linked to the Grisez site on John Ford, which I recommend. Grisez also provides a collection of interesting documents from the commission era. http://www.twotlj.org/BCCommission.html Notable in 2012 (see above) are two of the more urgent items requiring work then, listed near the end of the "Report on the 4th. session of the Commission", 25-28 March 1965. "1. To what extent can one call in question what has been decided by the Magisterium on the essence, object and properties of marriage?"2. More thorough investigation into the idea of "nature;" the means for understanding it; the connection between art and nature; the limits of the power of man over the fundamental structure of his being. What do the profane sciences bring to the theology of marriage which should be incorporated in the teaching cf the Church? "

Is this a record at 204 posts and counting. Seems it has it all: abortion, contraception, attractive, articulate, intelligent women, fat balding bishops, authority, security in wanting to be told what to do or the thirst for the absolute, Vatican II...Only thing it does not have is liturgy. If someone starts with that a real explosion will come. Why not after all these problems really came with the vernacular. Shut if down. Is there no mercy or decency......

Ann Olivier, thanks for the Link to he Ford-Grisez website. It was interesting to see that Grisez wrote that statements made at the announcement of HV had given the impression that it was not infallible teaching and could be changed later: To a great extent, the debate which took place after the publication of Humanae vitae was conducted within a framework established by the statements of Msgr. Ferdinando Lambruschini at the press conference at which Humanae vitae was released. Lambruschini's formal statement made clear that the encyclical contained no ex cathedra pronouncement and also seemed to rule out the possibility that it was a reaffirmation of a teaching already infallibly proposed; his reported answers to questions raised by reporters at the conference indicated that Lambruschini thought that contraception might eventually be accepted by the Church. Of course, that is just the setup for long paper written mainly by Grisez with review by Ford which attempts to prove that the teaching against contraception is indeed infallible. http://www.twotlj.org/Ford-Grisez.pdf

Bill Mazzella,98% of the people on one of the websites I follow off and on are convinced that the decline in numbers of active Catholics is not due to HV or other positions on sexuality but is the result of the Bugnini-directed changes to the liturgy - OF vs EF, vernacular vs. Latin,, versus populum vs ad orientem, Protestant-style hymns vs Gregorian Chant, girls as altar servers and, especially, laypersons distributing communion. I don't agree, but those who feel that way have great fire in their bellies.

Hey, Bill, I think, on one of those threads last year devoted to the hospital in Phoenix, we got past 500 comments. But if you add together all the comments on all the threads devoted to this topic, we may have set the record.

Tic toc, tic toc:http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-06/lifestyle/31125028_1_contraceptive... Catholic women back birth control useMarch 06, 2012|By Bella English

Jimmy Mac, I had read that article in he Globe. I think the reporter missed the point that Boston College does provide health insurance coverage for contraception. Although it didn't come through in the article, what the people interviewed were complaining about is that the BC Health service will not write prescriptions for contraceptives unless thy are needed for medical problems. BC's insurance will pay for the contraceptives but you have to go to a doctor outside to get a prescription for purely birth-control use. I think that's reasonable, just as I believe that Catholic hospitals shouldn't be required to perform elective abortions (they aren't). Fordham does the sameJack Dunn, Director of News and Public Affairs at Boston College, affirmed this, saying The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all Massachusetts medical insurance plans (including student plans) to offer prescription drug and outpatient service coverages to include contraceptive drug consultations and prescriptions.As with the federal regulations being discussed, the church or church-controlled institution exception is very narrowly drawn and does not include an institution such as Boston College.Though MA law requires BC-issued health care plans to cover contraception, Boston College Health Services does not offer contraception on campus.In accordance with our mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university, Boston College Health Services does not prescribe birth control pills for contraception, said Dunn.http://www.thebcobserver.com/2011/09/20/guidelines-require-catholic-coll...

The atmosphere at BC described in the article linked by Jimmy seems very similar to Brown University. This captures it well (talking about the BC Health services BC restrictions): ... Ive been doing quite a few interviews with college newspapers [...]. Its completely outside their reality. They didnt ever think this would be a question, that you wouldnt have access to contraceptives. Indeed, we are not agonizing over HV (that was for our parents' or grand-parents' generation, not for us), and there's a surreal quality to the current "controversy".

Bruce, you now reveal eminent sources for the theses you believe to lie at the heart of the push for gay marriage. But as I noted the theses bear a perfectly acceptable meaning, and can apply to heterosexual marriage as well: they do not exclude the values stressed by the Church.Bender gives us the benefit of his two cents: "All you have to do is look at mens and womens bodies to realize that they can make a total gift of self to each other in a way same-sex couples cannot."I see that he reads the Church's language of total gift of self as code for depositing the male semen in the vas debitum. I suggest that love can express the total gift in many ways.

Bender should meditate on this line from the Catechism of the Cathlolic Church (#2332): "Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others."

The slavish, ritualistic obsession with the physical attributes of specific body parts (as if they were talismans) is, to put it mildly, incongruous in a belief system that revolves around the holy spirit, the promise of overcoming the limitations of the physical body, with the hope of redemption, salvation, and ultimately resurrection.In reality, evolutionary biology demands quite a different interpretation: that reproduction is the byproduct, not the motivation, of human sexual activity. Reproduction is a measure of sucess for the survival of the species; it does not "explain" the "purpose" of behavior that correlates with or is conducive to that success.

Barbara, Humans reproduce sexually, so the purpose of heterosexual relations is most certainly reproduction. That is its basic biologic purpose. Your interpretation would say we dont eat to maintain life, but only from some other motivation (oh, might that be hunger) and providing the energy to live is only a byproduct. The hunger feeling is obviously around so we know when and how much to eat. Hunger can be disordered: anorexia, bulimia, etc. So why not sexual appetites as well...

The last time I made love with my husband, I assure you the purpose was not to reproduce. Indeed, I am pretty sure that has been the case for a while now. The "effect" of something cannot without more be classified as its "purpose" or "motivation" or "reason." The fact is, you are simply making ipse dixit claims, and sexual activity is a lot less tethered to reproduction in humans than it is for many, maybe even most other species. I think that makes my reasoning lot more credible than yours.

"I assure you the purpose was not to reproduce."Sure, that was your intent. But our intent for a thing does not always correspond to the end of the thing itself. The end of a broom is to sweep the floor, even when my intent a few minutes ago was to shoo the cat out of the kitchen with it. (Gently!)There are two ends which God has ordained for marital intimacy, HV says, and one of them is reproduction. Couples could engage in it for other reasons (e.g. to make a pornographic film), but the ends remain, regardless of their intent. (I realize it's not particularly insightful to note that reproduction happens whether or not that is the intent of the couple.)

Bruce -- It is now known beyond any doubt that nature guarantees that normal human conjugal activity by a fertile, healthy woman can not possibly lead to reproduction/procreation/conception most of the time (~ 80%) in any month, year, or decade. It is similarly well known, in contrast, that unitive aspects exist essentially all the time. The same externally visible organs are among those involved in both cases, which tells you nothing about an asserted exclusive purpose ("the purpose") of the organs or their use. In reading Humanae Vitae, it is illuminating to recall authoritative understanding of humans and their sexual activity from an earlier age. Thomas Aquinas, learning from Aristotle, imagined a very different reproductive process. One detailed description is in "Femina ut imago Dei in the integral feminism of St. Thomas Aquinas" by Joseph Francis Hartel, 1993, esp. Chaps. 5-10 or page 80 on. Google Search [ isbn: 8876526463 ] Note there how life was believed to be transmitted, particularly emphasizing the role Joseph O'Leary refers to as "depositing the male semen in the vas debitum" vs. the role attributed to the female and her body. It helps us understand why the birth control commission saw the need for urgent work: 2. More thorough investigation into the idea of nature; the means for understanding it;" (3/7/12 343pm)

Jack, First lets correct your math. While the probability of a normal, fertile woman becoming pregnant is low for any given act of sexual intercourse, over a one-year period, the likelihood of pregnancy is about 80%. In fact, if a couple is trying to get pregnant and fails after a year, the recommendation is to see your doctor.Second, Thomas Aquinas did not have the benefit of all the scientific knowledge which has been accumulated since 1200. Who cares if he 'imagined' a different process? He used what he knew at the time. My read of HV is that it is not at odds with any medical knowledge we have learned up to today. Are you saying that because our knowledge base was lower in the past, we should make our current decisions on some future unknown knowledge.Finally, you might find this article interesting because it has the Washington Post against artificial birth control.http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2012/new-challenges-on-birth-con...

Jim, human reproduction is notable precisely because, as Jack says, it is so detached from its reproductive consequences. The ends, therefore do not remain or obtain or whatever verb you want to use, "most of the time," and indeed, all of the time after a woman reaches a certain age. Reproduction is the "result" of an incredibly small number of sexual acts even when those acts are completed between male and female. It takes serious denial to take that result and say that it cannot be gainsaid, denied or even argued that it is in fact the "end" of the vast majority of sexual activity that is demonstrably engaged in voluntarily for an unrelated purpose. We aren't little robots. We actually can engage in sex without intending for it to result in reproduction. That is, our bodies are enabled to allow it to be so biologically. Reproduction may require sexual activity but that does not make the corollary true, that all sexual activity requires reproduction. It is evident that the "purpose" of human sexual activity is far less directed at reproduction than sexual activity in many other species. Thus, the simple biologism on display here is not only offputting and incompatible with lived experience, it shows an incorrect understanding of where humans fall in the range of sexual activity and reproduction exhibited by other species, including other mammals. To put it very plainly: biology is actually not on your side whether you admit it or not.

"When I look at the properties of infallible statements and those of definitive ones as you seem to mean the words, what I find are the same properties in both case, e.g., words spoken with full authority by pope to whole Church, his authority guarantees its truth. However, the infallible statements say explicitly that they are infallible, while the others say definitive. When words have the exact same meaning then they are synonyms. You obviously dont think theyre synonyms, so In your understanding of the terms, how do they differ in meaning? In other words, how can you distinguish the two kinds of statements?"Hi, Ann, let me state first that I'm not an expert in these matters. There are technical distinctions between infallible and non-infallible teachings on faith and morals. But here is my understanding: an infallible teaching, whether it is given by the Holy Father ex cathedra, or via an ecumenical council, or via the ordinary and universal magisterium, pertains to the deposit of faith which (we believe) the successors to the apostles have guarded faithfully since the Ascension and Pentecost. Because it pertains to the deposit of faith, it is irreformable. There are other teachings on faith and morals that are still binding on the faithful but which are not infallible in nature. They are not taken directly from the deposit of faith, and they can, and do, develop. Perhaps an example would be the church's teaching on the charging of interest, which traditionally was equated with usury. In the monetarily primitive pre-modern economies, there was moral sense to that teaching. Economic life has been transformed over the last several hundred years as the developed world developed the mechanisms of increasing economic prosperity by investing. The teaching on usury has developed from "no charging of interest" to "no charging of exorbitant interest".You used the word "definitive". I'm not certain that the word "definitive" would apply to HV. I don't know that HV really defined any new teaching; istm that it rather reiterated a traditional teaching in response to a changed situation (the invention and proliferation of the Pill). I read above that Germain Grisez has argued that HV is actually infallible. I haven't read his argument. But istm that the words of HV itself indicate that Paul VI did not set out to formally make an infallible statement. I read it as him teaching something to which we are expected to assent religiously, but that is not an explicit exercise of any of the three forms of infallibility I listed above.

Oops --- Assumption (1950), not 1870.(what was i thinkin'?)(vatican i)

Jim can't quir -I wonder what all the other non -infallible teachings we MUST assent to are that are not linked to the deposit of faith?I'm sure his bishop feels that way as do many heirarchs.But the argumen tstill seems circular.As to exorbitant interest as a sideline, maybe Jim can offer a moral view on check cashing gstablishments.

Bruce -- I deliberately avoided probabilities because of long-term observation of how frequently they are misunderstood and misapplied. If you divide the number of days on which no healthy ovum is accessible (and therefore natural procreation/reproduction/conception are absolutely impossible) by the number of days in a month, you will get an estimate around 80%, with variation in individual women and groups. NFP, for one example, depends on scientific observations, measurements, and analysis establishing that fact. HV speaks of the inseparable connection of various procreative and unitive aspects, but nature does not.

Some on this thread asked; "What if the bishops are wrong?"It might be intersting to ponder the flip side of that for a moment; What if the bishops are correct? What would that mean?

Ken, it would mean a huge number of people got it wrong.But, you don't seem to think the buishops got ir wrong and if they did, what would YOU do?

Patty Crowley (d. Nov 23, 2005), notable as a lay, married, female participant in birth control commission meetings, had a response to a question related to Ken's and Bob's. Jesuit moralist Fr.Zalba asked "What then of the millions we have sent to hell, if these norms were not valid?" Crowley's answer was ""Father Zalba, do you really believe God has carried out all your orders?" http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0MKY/is_20_29/ai_n15977467/

Joe Pauwels:-- <>Presumably, this excludes the overwhelming majority of American Catholics, who use contraception without much in the way of moral anxiety. It would also exclude, at the very least, a substantial minority of American priests and clergy.It also excludes the many millions of members of the Anglican Communion, which is hardly devoid of thoughtful theologians, including the present Archbishop of Canterbury. They take a very different view. Are they not people of good will?http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/medical-ethics-health-social-ca... inquisition into the acts and beliefs of those who think of themselves as faithful Catholics might well lead to a drastic pruning of the numbers of the faithful. This could begin to satisfy the expressed desire of leading figures in Opus Dei, to turn the Church from a catholic and an apostolic body into a small and obedient sect.The Church would be stripped of those who Opus Dei regards as "cafeteria Catholics", and left under the control of the Opus Dei cafeteria Catholics, who frequently express contempt for most of the social teachings of the Church. Exactly who would benefit from such a change?

Many states require, under state law, that contraception should be covered by insurance in the same way as anything else prescribed. Not all of them have an exemption for religious institutions.I do not recall any great protests over the laws introduced in the states of Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Yet my understanding is that their laws have taken the position originally taken by the Obama administration.Did I miss the massive protests? Are Catholic and other religious organizations routinely defying the law in those states, or have they found some way of evading the law? Is there an attempt at present to get federal law to trump state laws, providing an exemption that does not currently exist in nine states?

"-I wonder what all the other non -infallible teachings we MUST assent to are that are not linked to the deposit of faith?"http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3.htm

"Jim, human reproduction is notable precisely because, as Jack says, it is so detached from its reproductive consequences. The ends, therefore do not remain or obtain or whatever verb you want to use, most of the time, and indeed, all of the time after a woman reaches a certain age. "Barbara - I think you are using the word "ends" here in the sense in which we might say, "The ends justify the means". I'm using the word "end" in a different way. The end of a thing is the purpose for which it exists, the purpose for which its creator created it. A can opener's end is opening cans, whether I use it for that or for squeezing the lid off a pickle jar or cracking open a walnut. My intended use of a thing has no bearing on the end for which it was created.Human marital sexual intercourse has two ends. One of them is reproduction. That it is inefficient, or only achieves that end for one segment of a lifelong marriage, doesn't have any bearing on its end. That its other end - the uniting of husband and wife - is found by most husbands and wives to be a much more compelling motivator for doing it doesn't change the fact that there are two ends to it. Husbands and wives didn't invent it. God did. We're just the users.

Jack Barry, your quote from Patty Crowley reminded me of this quote attributed to JP II. I don't have a copy of the Hasler book, so I can't confirm this secondary source:Mumford gives as an example the citation made by August Bernhard Hasler of a comment by Pope John Paul II prior to his papacy:"If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 (when the encyclical Casti Connubii was promulgated), in 1951 (Pius XII's address to the midwives), and in 1958 (the address delivered before the Society of Hematologists in the year the pope died). It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error. This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. The fact can neither be denied nor ignored that these same acts would now be declared licit on the grounds of principles cited by the Protestants, which popes and bishops have either condemned or at least not approved.[62]62^ Hasler, August Bernhard (1981). How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion. Doubleday. ISBN 0385158513."

Ken: "What if the bishops are correct? "Bob: "it would mean a huge number of people got it wrong."Yes, it would. It does.

Jim, there are at least three errors in your reasoning. 1. It assumes the truth of your conclusion. Saying that there are two purposes to sexual activity doesn't make it so. 2. Effect and purpose are not the same thing.3. Even if for argument's sake we take as a given that there are two purposes to something does not mean that both must be operating at full capacity each and every time the thing is in use. "My mouth ws made for the purpose of talking and eating" does not mean that it is essential to the proper functioning of my mouth that I talk and eat at the same time whenever my mouth is engaged. Effect and purpose are not the same thing.Re: "This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned."The fallacy of sunk costs transported into the realm of theology: To double down on error means that "leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence [will] . . . condemn [] thousands of innocent human acts . . ." now and forevermore. The world we live in.

Many states require, under state law, that contraception should be covered by insuranceDavid, Prior to the HHS mandate it was always possible for an employer to set up a health insurance plan under Ferderal ERISA rules and so avoid any state mandated coverage. The new regs eliminate that safety valve.

I thought this was interesting. The quote is Blaise Pascal, the mathematician:It is just, Lord, that thou shouldst have interrupted a joy so criminal as that in which I was reposing in the shadow of death.What he means, though, is that, given the way we are, even legitimate goods and pleasures typically wind up making us only more self-centered and more self-satisfied in a deep disorder.

Prior to the HHS mandate it was always possible for an employer to set up a health insurance plan under Ferderal ERISA rules and so avoid any state mandated coverage. The new regs eliminate that safety valve.In order to come under ERISA, it would have to be self-funded (self-insured). The expense and risk have to be considered. That is why Bishop Morlino decided not to go self-insured for the Diocese of Madison. I have not yet seen a survey of how many Catholic institutions are self-insured.

"The new regs eliminate that safety valve" - this is not accurate. The regs for self insured plans are still being negotiated.

The new regs eliminate that safety valve this is not accurate. The regs for self insured plans are still being negotiated.This actually depends on your point of view. The published regs are law and eliminated the ERISA option, but the regs wont be enforced for an additional year. There is a promise to negotiate new regs.

jordans 2013...dotCommonweal Blog Archive Dolan to Lay Catholics: Be Our Attractive, Articulate (and Unpaid) Flacks...

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