Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kevin Clarke Comments at America on H.H.S. Guidelines and Politics

It goes without saying that as an editor of AmericaKevin Clarke argues that the Obama administration made a wrong decision about the HHS guidelines.  Even so, he frames his commentary about the HHS debate with the following telling observations:

The U.S. bishops this week continued a scorching rhetorical response to the recent H.H.S. decision to maintain a narrow religious exemption for contraception requirements in new health insurance plans, but some reporters have noted a small problem with all the outrage. Primarily its absence in previous years as Catholic employers grappled with state requirements regarding contraception and health insurance. At least 28 states require that contraception be included in health plans; of these 19 states offer some form of a religious exemption and/or secular pass on contraception. What many people are wondering now is exactly what have Catholic institutional employers been doing in states without exemptions. Are some perhaps not even aware of what is in the fine print of their health plans? (I would not be in the least surprised.) Have some come up with strategies that could prove workable at the national level or have they simply acquiesced to state regs as the lesser of two evils? 
This issue appears to have flown under the radar for a long time, leading some to suspect that the outrage worked up by the bishops this week derives more from a general antipathy to Obama than fury at H.H.S. It could be that many bishops simply weren’t aware of the laws regarding contraception and health insurance in their states until the federal involvement brought the issue to their attention.

I commend Kevin Clarke for his honesty here.  I also maintain that it would be equally honest--and would serve the purpose of keeping the Catholic conversation about these issues as honest as possible--for Catholic media spokespersons commenting on this controversy to begin talking honestly about the 90%+ of fellow Catholics who have long since rejected magisterial teaching about contraception.

And why they're making this choice.  And what the choice portends for the bishops' manufactured moral-political controversy.

The conversation in Catholic circles needs to be far more honest than it is right now about these matters.  It needs to aim at honesty if only because we're not even beginning to talk about the real issues if we keep floating above the reality of faithful Catholics' rejection of magisterial teaching about contraception and other sexual ethical issues and if we pretend that that rejection is just not there.  

And it needs to aim at honesty because sound and compelling moral positions are never promoted by dishonesty.

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