Monday, March 5, 2012

The Scandal in Bishop Lori's Response

Bishop William Lori's response to the recent America editorial (in which America caved to the Obama administration on the HHS contraception mandate) contains this paragraph (emphasis added):

Many if not most church entities are self-insured. Thus, Catholic social service agencies, schools, and hospitals could end up paying for abortifacients, sterilizations, and contraception. If the editorial is to be believed, bishops should regard it not as a matter of religious liberty but merely policy that, as providers they teach one thing but as employers they are made to teach something else. In other words, we are forced to be a countersign to Church teaching and to give people plenty of reason not to follow it. The detail in question here is called “scandal”.

Yes, yes, we’re seeing the bishops speak out and say some strong stuff. That’s…good.

But I think they’re speaking out of both sides of their collective mouth.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but . . . wasn't it bishops who regarded Humanae Vitae’s teaching on contraception not as a matter of authentic religious doctrine but merely an individual's personal choice? Didn't they, in effect, voluntarily "teach something else" (either directly, or by omission)? And now the world is supposed to sit up and take notice because someone else is forcing them to do what they've been doing all along: being "a countersign to Church teaching" and giving "people plenty of reason not to follow it"? 

That’s not an isolated example. There’s the issue of the bishops’ past performance regarding the contraceptive/abortifacient “Plan B” drug, which resulted in a weak-kneed and limp-wristed failure to effectively fight laws requiring Catholic hospitals to provide “Plan B” to victims of rape. Where was cry of “religious freedom” and “conscience rights” then? Instead, the Connecticut bishops, for example, simply weasel-worded Church teaching and twisted it enough so that they could say things like this:

…Catholic moral teaching is adamantly opposed to abortion, but not to emergency contraception for victims of rape…

Now, what was that about being a “countersign to Church teaching”?

What about Catholic hospitals in general? (see my post “Catholic Hospitals Are …Not”) Bishops haven’t been too effective in their oversight of these Catholic institutions. The result is that hospitals which bear the name “Catholic” dispense contraception, perform direct sterilizations, counsel women to have abortions, and even, at times, have allowed abortions to be committed in their own surgical suites. How can the bishops say they are being “forced” to be a “countersign” by the HHS mandate when they’ve been a countersign for decades without any help at all from the government?

Here’s another “countersign” issue: homosexual behavior [see footnote]. How many bishops condone “gay” Masses in their dioceses? How many instruct their priests to turn a blind eye to the reception of Holy Communion by individuals leading an openly homosexual lifestyle? How many castigate a priest who does have the fortitude to deny Holy Communion to a self-professed lesbian? How many silence the priests who preach openly about the sin of homosexual behavior by removing them from their parishes and assigning them to some far corner of the diocese?

I could go on. We haven't even talked about Catholic schools and universities yet. But you get the picture.

Yes, I agree with Bishop Lori: "the detail in question here is called 'scandal'." What's truly scandalous is the failure of these same parties to recognize the scandal that they themselves have caused.

And that scandal is causing the loss of souls. Who cares if the HHS insists that Catholic institutions provide insurance coverage for contraception if the vast majority of Catholics don't even know why contraception is wrong?

Because of a lack of leadership and sound teaching by our bishops:

·         Many – if not most – Catholic couples use artificial contraception.

·         Individuals in active homosexual relationships consider the state of their souls fit to receive Holy Communion.

·         Couples with infertility problems think IVF is an acceptable remedy.

·         Many Catholics think abortion is okay under some circumstances.

·         And many, many Catholics fail to recognize failing to fulfill their Sunday obligation as the mortal sin it is.

·         Speaking of sin, many Catholics have not been to confession in years – and yet still receive Holy Communion on the Sundays they happen to attend Mass.

I’m not saying that people never committed these sins before Vatican II! But I am saying that the bishops have failed in their teaching office with regard to these issues. 

Some of them have failed due to their desire to be politically correctness; they are politicians themselves.

Some of them have failed out of a fear of being criticized for defending the Truth; they are cowards.

And some of them have failed because they themselves do not believe what the Church teaches; they are a stumbling block to the faithful.

So…I think Bishop Lori is only partially correct in stating that “the detail in question here is scandal”.

 I think the details in question here are integrity and credibility.

Footnote: I am referring specifically to the behavior, which is where the sin lies. See  the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

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