Category Archives: Obamacare

Mandate rubs Catholics’ noses in it. Yuck.

Responded last week to especially provocative local-paper column about the HHS mandate, “Who controls birth control?”  But no letters in the paper this week.  Thin paper and all.  A pity, that.  Here’s my letter, which addresses some more than parochial concerns:

2/17/2012 3:54:03 PM


Ken Trainor, my excellent editor for many months of Wednesday Journal columns, laid an egg in his Feb. 14 column about the HHS mandate, ignoring the governmental intrusion-coercion factor in favor of lambasting bishops.

In so doing, he soared over the top, even for this sometime critic.  The bishops were “beside themselves with outrage” over the mandate.  They “thundered,” calling the issue “a matter of religious liberty!”  It’s time for them “to grow up.”

Plus, he makes a bit much of the “people of God” argument, as if the Vatican Council meant to dismantle or otherwise negate the church’s entire governing structure.  Where’d he get that idea?

Basically, he wants a referendum about what’s sin and what isn’t, something not even the pace-setting reformer Martin Luther had in mind.

Failing that, he wants bishops to shut up about some things, which is apparently what the feds want also and have hefty fines in store if they don’t.  Refusal to participate has an estimated $10 million a year fine for an institution the size of Notre Dame, for instance.  Not even the bishops have that kind of power.

The whole thing is really a rubbing of Catholics’ noses in the weltanschaung, a German word for the whole damn contemporary dumb view of things.  Ken doesn’t mind, because he stepped in it and can’t get himself out.

Before I go, one of Ken’s arguments has me fascinated.  It’s this: “The hierarchy doesn’t like the U.S. government telling them what to do. The Catholic laity . . . has refused to allow the hierarchy to tell them what to do.  What works for the hierarchy, . . . works for the [laity].”  Which I find as mysterious as a papal encyclical.  Can’t a good editor do better than that?

— Jim Bowman


Mandate at Ascension

It takes a hot and heavy discussion sometimes for realizations to seep thru, such as last night’s forum at Ascension-Oak Park, where Bob Gilligan, exec director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, was the speaker and took many questions.  Seeped-thru realizations:

* Some or many Catholics are shocked to see the bishops going to the mat on the birth control mandate (taking it that seriously), when they have heard nothing on the matter for decades.  Not that they thought the prohibition had been lifted.  They just hate to be reminded of it, and like gays seeking affirmation, not just tolerance, they are desperate.

* The Obama admin is trying to pit Catholics against their bishops, taking sides in a longstanding internal dispute, which is disgusting.  The pitting them vs. bishops, not the split, which historically is only a grade-B one, whatever we hear (I think). 

The admin got 250,000 letters complaining about the mandate in the months before it was announced, Gilligan said.  Dwarfing other such protests.  Obama and his people knew quite well what they were doing: sticking it to the bishops, which as I say, is disgusting.  Who’s next on the hit list?

* On the other hand, the mandate itself is made clearer with this particular case. If we didn’t quite get it before, when it was mandate-as-such, we do now when we see this startling application.  Obama is a madman to poke us in our collective eye.  Politically, the only sense it makes is that it stirs up his social-issues base. 

Note well: It was quite a well-attended session, btw, in Ascension’s Pine Room.  The pastor Fr. Larry McNally having urged attendance on his boisterous flock, which, btw, was quite obviously split on the b.c. issue, or rather on the b.c.-first, religious-liberty-second issue.  A spirited discussion, and credit is due McNally for organizing.  And a creditable performance by Gilligan, an excellent rep of the bishops’ positions.