Friday, July 22, 2011

USCCB Pushes NFP (Again), and They're Wrong. IMHO

In several of the discussion threads here lately, readers and I have talked back and forth about the proliferating use of bizarre acronyms that characterize the right wing of American Catholicism today.  To my mind, this growing use of our little in-house code jargon is a measure of how cultic American Catholicism in general is becoming--how countercultural in a cut-off, beside-the-point, inward-turned way--as the center keeps moving rightwards in our church.  

Catholics of the right, and an increasing number of Catholics in general in the U.S., love to throw around terms like SSA, SSM, TOB.  And in the discussions of this cultic use of acronyms in recent days, I had forgotten another in-house bit of jargon: NFP. 

Believe it or not, NFP (linked to TOB, of course, and opposition to SSM resulting from SSA) is back in the news--I kid you not--in the summer of 2011, as a hot, hot topic right off the press.  Catholics are up in arms right now (TPO, to be precise) because the IOM has recommended to the HHS that private health-insurance plans mandate provision of contraceptive services--including the morning-after pill.

And the USCCB is not happy.  This is a victory for PP, the nation's "single largest abortion provider."  And it violates the religious freedom of Catholics, their press agent Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, has informed the public.  According to Sr. Mary Ann (who is presumably speaking on behalf of the USCCB here, though she and they are committed to lives of celibacy and have no personal experiential investment in the issue of conception), 

Some ridicule the church’s stance on contraception but the spiritual truth is that contraception deliberately deprives human sexual intimacy of an essential part of its depth and meaning. A man and woman through their sexual union express total commitment and openness to each other, including openness to conceive and nurture a new human person.

My religious freedom demands that you not have the right or freedom to contraceptive services through your healthcare plans, even though you may not accept the premises of the preceding argument that governs my own understanding of contraception.  NFP is the way you need to go, in order to permit my religious freedom to be AOK.  

And because I think the Catholic magisterial teaching about contraception (and human sexuality in general, insofar as the teaching reflects a biologistic understanding of natural law) is simply wrong-headed, and I also find it astonishing that the USCCB and others continue trying to use the religious-freedom argument to block the rights and freedom of others, I'm very interested to read today Sarah Morice-Brubaker's lively (and humorous) discussion at Religion Dispatches of how NFP can go hideously wrong for those who choose that path. 

Morice-Brubaker notes that she supports the right of any and all married couples to decide how they want to handle questions of procreation and family planning.  She's not opposed to or ridiculing NFP.  She and her husband actually tried it, though wild horses wouldn't drag her down that road again.  What she's opposed to is the attempt of those who are oh so certain that they alone possess The Truth of their right to impose their truth on everyone else in the world.

And that's a lesson the USCCB and Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, would do well to learn.  IMHO.

(P.S. Religious Sister of Mercy Mary Ann Walsh reacted to the victory of marriage equality in New York--on behalf of the USCCB--by stating, "The defense of the traditional understanding of marriage is key to our understanding of a major unit of society.  [The New York vote] just makes it more important."

As the media mouthpiece of the USCCB, Sister is, you understand, all for MFM.  That's what marriage is.)

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