Do Bishops Speak For All Catholics?

On Sunday, Syracuse.com published this letter-to-the-editor from Anita Ciannilli:

To the Editor:

I am a Catholic, and I support insurance coverage of contraception. I believe that I should be free to follow my faith and my conscience, and make the health care decisions that are best for me.

Some people are saying that it’s an attack on conscience or religious freedom if people who work for a Catholic hospital or university can get contraception through their insurance without a co-payment. That doesn’t make any sense. Individuals have consciences — institutions do not — and no employer should be able to prevent an employee from following his or her conscience. It is just not fair to deny some people access to affordable health care simply because their workplace or the school is religiously affiliated. That’s not religious freedom. It’s discrimination.

The bishops do not speak for me on this issue, and they do not speak for the vast majority of Catholics, here and across this country, who use contraception and have no religious objection to it.

Anita Ciannilli
Syracuse

Of course, I fundamentally agree with what Ciannilli has to say, and she makes her point in a clear-headed way.

But it also begs the question: If you don’t agree with what the leaders of your church are saying, why are you identifying with that church?

Maybe it’s something that is beyond my ability to grasp because I didn’t grow up going to church, so I don’t have that feeling of “Cultural Catholicism” that some people hold.  I understand that maybe she still believes in a lot of what the religion teaches that she holds to be true.  Maybe she still believes in the Communion, or that her sins are forgiven if she goes to confession, or that little babies are horrible, sinful little beasts until they get holy water splashed on them.

But I feel like the whole “don’t use birth control” deal with the Catholics is kind of a deal breaker.  I mean, it’s certainly been a popular discussion topic lately.  If you don’t stand with the church on that issue, than what else are you compromising on?   

Like the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in their open letter to “liberal” and “nominal” Catholics:

By remaining a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights.

What do you all think?  Is this woman doing something good by taking a stand against her church or is she deluding herself by remaining one of its numbers?

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Duke OfOmnium

    When a lay Catholic disagrees with a clergyman – especially a bishop – it is, at best, one of those “isn’t that cute?” situations, the same condescending attitude you’d give a child who’s trying out a new vocabulary word in the wrong context.   At worst, of course, the lay Catholic is blaspheming grossly (how dare she?!) and isn’t it a shame we can’t burn her at the stake anymore.  

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    So if I don’t agree with what my President is saying, or how my Congress votes, should I also stop identifying as an American?

    If you don’t agree with the position your union leaders take, should you quit?

    If you don’t like a resolution passed by your local atheist social club, should you stop being an atheist?

    The fact is, the Catholic Church won’t kick you out for disagreeing with them. Anita can freely make the statement she did, and will not be refused Communion. At worst, some people at her church may give her dark looks. But by her words, she incrementally pushes the Church towards change.

    When you’re part of an organization, there will almost certainly be policy you agree with, and policy you don’t agree with. Some organizations will kick you out simply for any vocal disagreement. The Catholic Church is not one of these. I assume that Anita has many ties with her church- social ones as well as religious and philosophical ones. To suggest she stop identifying with it because she disagrees with some policies makes little sense.

    • icecreamassassin

      “So if I don’t agree with what my President is saying, or how my Congress votes, should I also stop identifying as an American?”

      If you don’t think that a democratically elected government is viable or right, if you live in Southeast Asia, declare your home to be in Scotland, and recognize a monarch as your leader, then I would say you should stop identifying as an American.

      I think the root of the question is this: does there exist some threshold of shared belief that needs to be achieved for any individual to consider themselves part of a group?  If yes, how does one go about establishing that threshold?  If no, what *are* the characteristics of belonging to a group – is simple declaration enough?  Can I identify myself as Canadian even though I have exactly zero ties to Canadian soil, culture, ‘birth-right’, or even a funny accent?  Do I get to be part of the Nickelback fan-club even though I detest the band?  Can I call myself a member of the US Republican party and while having massive love for big federal government?  Can I be a Catholic and not believe in the existence of god?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        “Catholic” doesn’t just mean what the Pope or his bishops say it means, but also what people who identify as Catholics mean. I don’t think there are very many atheist Catholics, but someday there could be, just as there are many atheist Jews.

        For now, it’s a matter of opinions about points of doctrine- some arcane, some less so. And there almost certainly is a threshold- disagree with too much, and you may simply stop identifying with the Church. Disagree with only some matters, and you might reasonably decide to stay, and either ignore those things (most are practically unenforceable), or perhaps push for change.

        Either way, it’s a personal decision. I would not call a Catholic wrong (or foolish, or silly, or anything else) for continuing to identify as a Catholic while disagreeing with some decisions the Church has made. Nor would I have a problem with them leaving. Either way, it’s not my decision, and I usually wouldn’t even be comfortable making a suggestion one way or the other.

        I’m not happy with the FFRF “Leave the Church” campaign, because I think it’s ineffective and maybe even counterproductive. I’d rather see something that uses the points of Catholic doctrine that are internally divisive to help drive change. How about “Leave the collection plate empty until the Bishops start speaking for me”? I think a lot more Catholics will respond to things that offer them positive support for helping facilitate change than will go along with the suggestion to quit.

        • rickflick

          I respectfully disagree.  If you are a Catholic and do not believe in God, you are living a lie.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            How so? There may be aspects of the religion you like, even as an atheist. Or it may be a social outlet. You’re only living a lie if you fool yourself about why you choose to identify as “Catholic”.

            Anyway, as I said, I don’t think the idea of atheist Catholics is really an issue now. They are rare. But the Church changes, and it is likely to look very different in the future.

            • rickflick

              I don’t disagree.  I know several Catholics in various stages of separation.  My hope is that for all of them rationality and sciences prevails.

        • machintelligence

           I don’t think there are very many atheist Catholics 

          A fellow was driving across Northern  Ireland when he was stopped at a roadblock by some angry thugs. They demanded to know if he was  a Protestant or a Catholic, and his response was that he was neither, he was an atheist.  They next asked: “Well is you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?”

          • Fatpie42

             I believe that story was originally in relation to Quentin Crisp. I don’t think it involved thugs at a roadblock. I was always of the impression that it was a rather more civil exchange, with the Irish Christians being mostly confused by the idea of a Westerner who couldn’t be shoved into one or tother category in the Protestant and Catholic divide.Bill Hicks tells a story that DOES involve Christians being threatening. He says that a group of Christians harassed him after a gig saying that, as Christians, they didn’t like what he said. His response was “then forgive me”.

        • icecreamassassin

          I’m not really sure it’s strictly a personal decision.  Inclusion into a group is beyond a personal decision, insofar as a *group* is involved.  If the Group of Severely Awesome People didn’t want me as a member, well by George it’s not really *my* decision to be part of that group.  I may very well identify myself as a member of the Group of Severely Awesome People, but my a) complete lack of awesomeness and b) rejection by the other members of that group have prevented me from establishing myself as a member of that group.  Again, I can say that I’m part of that group all day long, but I’m pretty much not a part of that group.

          This is why I find it hard to fault anyone for identifying themselves as Catholic regardless of how *I* would label them – I don’t have a good working definition of what being ‘Catholic’ means, so I’ve no basis to judge a ‘true scotsman’ or not.  Maybe it really is different from person to person, but at that point, the label is pretty useless.  We may as well start labeling *everyone* as Catholic, because there would be no discernible difference between being ‘Catholic’ and ‘non-Catholic’ aside from some claiming to be ‘Catholic’ or ‘non-Catholic’.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            This applies to some groups more than others. The Catholics aren’t going to kick you out if you disagree with them, or don’t follow all their doctrine. So there’s obviously quite a lot of flexibility in one’s personal identification with “Catholic”.

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          Um Judaism and Catholicism are not really comparable. Judaism is an ethnicity as well as a religion. 

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            And I know quite a number of Jewish atheists who participate in various religious holiday and rite-of-passage rituals. They attend synagogue, at least occasionally. They clearly see their Jewishness as more than just ethnic, and maintain it without apparent conflict with their atheism.

            • Petticoat Philosopher

              Right, because a lot of Jewish holidays and traditions are ethnic/cultural celebrations. Purim doesn’t even have anything to do with God. You can remove God from a lot of Jewish tradition and it’s still Jewish. You can’t remove God from Catholicism and have it still be Catholic. Jewishness is defined by a people. Catholicism is defined by a doctrine–it has to be, because Christianity was always a religion that was meant to be trans-cultural and trans-ethnic, as opposed to Judaism, which is essentially a tribal religion, specific to a certain tribe.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                Whether people can successfully remove God from their Catholicism depends on them, and on how their church evolves. More than a few hundred years ago it would have been unthinkable to Jews that they could separate their religion from God.

          • Pseudonym

            Judaism is an ethnicity as well as a religion.

            Christianity doesn’t look like an ethnicity because it’s dominant. But one could easily argue that in Israel, Judaism isn’t an “ethnicity”, it’s just the local culture.

            But if it helps, you can substitute “Irish Catholic” (or other ethnic equivalent) for “Catholic”.

        • Tomhoustn

          The
          question is a complicated one and it’s simply not useful to say what are the
          criteria for belonging to a “group”. It depends on the group and how
          it’s defined. Now “Catholic” DOES just mean what the Pope say(s) it
          means. There are other meanings for catholic, as in Anglo-Catholics, but for
          the common usage, it is holding to the faith of the Roman Church, which is
          defined by the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, Successor of Peter, etc. etc., and NO
          ONE else. That being said, denial of the Church’s teaching on contraception, is
          not apostasy. The teaching is not an infallible one. The teaching that the Pope
          alone defines the Catholic faith is, and denying that is a perfect example of a
          belief which puts you out of the Faith.

      • Fatpie42

         There IS a threshold of shared belief that needs to be achieved for any individual to consider themselves a Catholic. It’s called the catechism and it makes no mention of contraception. (I think the existence of God is made pretty clear in there though, but the author of the letter makes no attempt to deny that aspect of Catholicism anyway.)

        • bunderbunder

          Actually, the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifically mentions it more than once.  See CCC 2370 (everything but the rhythm method is “intrinsically evil”) and CCC 2399 (contraception is “morally unacceptable”).

    • bunderbunder

      I think, though, that this issue really does go beyond simple disagreement.

      The Church has repeatedly affirmed that its position on contraception is infallible.  It’s God’s incontrovertible law, it’s the law of Nature itself, and it’s something that is simply not open to disagreement or debate.   What’s also not open for debate is that the deliberate use of any form of birth control (even withdrawal) is a mortal sin.  Meaning it’s not just a kind of bad thing they don’t like very much – it’s an act which will condemn you to Hell for eternity if you don’t repent it.

      The church’s position on this is very strong, even extreme.  It’s also backed by very well-reasoned Biblical exegesis. Dissenting with the Church hierarchy on this position isn’t just disagreeing about a minor lifestyle choice.  It’s a grave act of heresy.  And maintaining that it is just a minor difference of opinion over a lifestyle choice, of no greater magnitude or import than the philosophical differences that atheists might have among each other, doesn’t just understate the case.  It implies that one disagrees with the Church hierarchy over the deepest fundaments of the faith itself.  Atheists, purely by virtue of being people who do not believe in eternal souls, simply cannot have a difference of opinion among themselves that’s anywhere close to as dire as this one.

      • Stev84

        You’re exaggerating greatly there

        • bunderbunder

          No, I’m simply refusing to trivialize.  An eternity in Hell is perhaps such a grave proposition that taking it seriously seems absurd.  However, one must take that idea – and all of its logical implications – seriously if one is to treat the subject of Christianity with any kind of integrity.

          The Catholic position is that the use of condoms is punishable by a punishment so severe as to be downright unimaginable.  The Catholic position is furthermore that this is right, good and just. Given the magnitude of that position, how can a disagreement over it be anything but schismatic?  Perhaps many who consider themselves to be Catholics would disagree, but not all opinions are equally informed.

          • Kaydenpat

            So why doesn’t the Catholic hierarchy excommunicate the millions of American women who use contraception if this is such an important issue?

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      No, if you don’t like what your president or congress is doing and saying, theoretically (obviously this works very imperfectly, especially these days), you vote out the people that are saying and doing it. Same thing goes for unions or clubs. All of those things have at least some pretense to being representative bodies. This is not the case with the Catholic Church. They are essentially a religious monarchy. Their leaders are in no way accountable to the laity and can do whatever they want without ever having to worry about their careers. There’s only one thing that could possibly scare the Church out of the Middle Ages and that’s if people start leaving.

      That is what I believe but that doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic to liberal and moderate Catholics. I am Jewish, not Catholic, but I grew up in a heavily Catholic area and I’ve witnessed the sense of community and identity that the Church can foster and I can understand why people don’t want to leave that. I think it is lovely and idealistic that so many liberal Catholics want to “stay and fight” in their Church but I also think that they’re fooling themselves if they think that that will work. What reason do the bishops have to listen to anything they say? What do they have to fear from them? That they’ll vote them out of office?

      I don’t envy the predicament of liberal Catholics. But there’s no way around the reality that the Church is not set up to respond to dissent within its ranks.

      As for the Church not kicking you out for publicly voicing disagreement, tell that to one of my old professors who was excommunicated for doing exactly that.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Excommunication does not mean you aren’t a Catholic. It only means you are excluded from Communion until you fix things. In fact, you’re still expected to attend mass even when you’ve been excommunicated!

        (And even excommunication is rare, and typically reserved for highly vocal and influential people, not normally ordinary members of the laity who go against doctrine.)

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          Well, that’s a load of crap. Why would anyone take that abuse? My professor was not interested in “fixing things” btw. Because he (and I) believed he was right. I thought we were talking about the possibility of the laity “fixing” the Church by staying in even when they disagree and speaking out about their disagreements. But it’s clear that the Church fixes you. Which was my whole point to begin with.

          I suppose my professor, being a professor, was an influential person in his community and he was certainly highly vocal in his opposition to the Church’s teachings on sexuality. I think he even published an article in something which attacked the local bishops’ teachings and actions. So they silenced him in the best way they could, using the absolute power that is afforded them.

          Tell me, how is that comparable to being a dissenting American again? Remember, in America we actually have freedom of the press.  America isn’t a dictatorship. The Catholic Church is.

          I’m not particularly concerned with whether or not excommunication makes you literally not Catholic in the eyes of the Church. My point is, the Church can squash dissenters any time they want and they do. They are in no way accountable to the people they supposedly serve. So I see little point in sticking around in a system in which you have no power. The only power you can have is in leaving. If the Church actually started losing members on masse, then they might start to re-think things, but they have no reason to as long as everyone stays.

          That being said, once again, I understand why that is so difficult for a lot of Catholics. But it is what it is.

          • Stev84

            The point is that since at least Vatican II, they don’t squash lay people anymore. They go after theologians, clergy or other higher ranking employees, yes. But they don’t give a fuck about whether an ordinary church goer believes doctrine or not. Coupled with the loss of prestige and authority of the priests, that’s why you see so much dissent about things like contraception and gay rights these days.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Of course it’s a load of crap. But it’s the way the Catholic Church operates. Any sane person who is excommunicated should want to walk away. But the Church still considers you Catholic, and plenty of excommunicated people have restored their standing in the past.

            • Pseudonym

              There is also no shortage of excommunicated people who were subsequently vindicated. A select few were even named as saints.

        • Fortuna Veritas

          Right, so how is a mother supposed to “fix” something when the reason for her excommunication is that her daughter was too young to carry a pregnancy to term and got raped?

          And how does that tie into the church respecting its members when it has a tool dedicated to doing nothing but using social ostracization and fear to control people that one views as one’s inferiors or children?

    • minnie
    • Steve

       Being an American is not nearly as optional as being Catholic. You have to live somewhere, in some country, and whatever country you live in will have a government, and that government is going to do things that you don;t like occasionally. But again: You have to live somewhere. You don’t have to be a Catholic, or be a member of any church.

      You should quit your union if its positions no longer reflect yours. It’s a matter of degrees: What position did your union take and how important is it to you?

      If you don’t like your “local atheist club,” you can quit the club, but you need not stop being an atheist, since simply atheism merely reflects your view that there is no god. Likewise, you quit Catholicism (indeed, you quit religion) and still believe in Christ.

      “The fact is that the Catholic Church “won’t kick you out for disagreeing with them.” This is false. It will, in fact, excommunicate you, if your disagreement is serious enough and you disagree loudly enough.

      But the question here is not whether it will kick you out, but why anyone wishes to remain in an organization whose values don’t reflect their own.

      Of course, atheists misunderstand Catholicism somewhat on this issue. Contraception is not that big a deal, really. The child abuse crisis was and is a far better reason to leave the church than a theoretical disagreement about the Pill.

      I think it’s fine to remain a part of the church despite not sharing ALL of its official views. Again, it’s a matter of degree. When you find yourself disagreeing more than agreeing, then I think it’s time ask yourself: In what sense are you actually Catholic?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        As noted elsewhere, excommunication does not mean the Church has kicked you out. They still acknowledge you as a member, and they expect you to do the same (although why any sane person would is beyond me).

        Otherwise, I agree completely. It’s all about where each person draws their own line. It is the suggestion (common in this forum) that anybody who has objections to Catholic doctrine can’t be a “real” Catholic and should leave the Church that I find problematic. People should leave the Church when they feel they should- not when other people feel that way. There’s nothing wrong with staying and fighting for change. The Catholic Church looks the way it does today because of hundreds of years of pressure from its membership.

  • Pedro Lemos

    I guess it´s difficult for most religious people to separate their faith from their religions.
    Faith is what supernatural believes you have, it´s personal. Religion is the system that dictates what your faith must be like, it´s collective.
    Of course sometimes your personal beliefs are gonna conflict with your religion´s position on some matter. But for them it´s better to cope with it or try to fit the dogmas in what they believe, sometimes even trying to rationalize things, than realize they don´t actually need a priest/bishop/iman/rabbi/shaman/whatever to tell them what they must believe in.
    There´s also the cultural and social side of the thing. For some people, especially in small cities, religion cults are all social interaction they have, and they do this since childhood, with parents telling them it´s the right thing. Turning away from this is like losing a part of themselves.
    Not all situations are as easy as Anita Ciannilli´s, unfortunatelly.

  • Karen

    As an atheist and cultural Catholic, I do want to point out that there’s a lot people get out of a church community.  Your family and friends get together to worship, to visit, to support one another… and bishops and other church leaders seem far away and totally disconnected from your day-to-day reality.  Even back in the post-Vatican-II “good old days” when I was growing up Catholic, the sense that the Church as a hierarchy was a nuisance and a dividing force between good Catholics and their prayerfully informed consciences was strong.  I haven’t been to church in decades, but I suspect a lot of U.S. Catholics still feel the same way.  The bishops and the pope can go to hell; it’s the people’s church, dammit.

    • Paul Prescod

      I actually do belong to a church (not Catholic, obviously) where the members own the church, and the churches voluntarily associate into a national organization. Legally, the members own the church and indirectly control 100% of the funding of the national organization.

  • DavidM

    That thinking is anything but clear-headed:

    “Individuals have consciences — institutions do not — and no employer should be able to prevent an employee from following his or her conscience.” -  Two points: you think this is a matter of conscience?!? So according to this lady’s so-called conscience, it is morally wrong for her to not get her pills paid for by her insurance company? That’s ludicrous. She is not being forced to violate her conscience, she just wants free stuff. Second, OF COURSE institutions have a right to promote particular values. If some employee thinks she has a right to help herself to free office supplies, that doesn’t give her a right to do so, no matter what she claims her ‘conscience’ is telling her. Remember the recent unanimous SCOTUS decision on the Hosanna-Tabor case?

    “It is just not fair to deny some people access to affordable health care simply because their workplace or the school is religiously affiliated.” – Contraception is not health care! It’s a means of reducing a woman’s fertility that happens to cause breast cancer in many users (young women who have never carried a pregnancy to term) – it is not a means of protecting or promoting anyone’s HEALTH. FYI, infertility is not a sign of good health.

    • The Other Weirdo

       Right up until a Muslim family-owned company will tell non-Muslim employees they can’t have a ham sandwich for lunch. Which has already happened at least once.

      • DavidM

        I like that objection, but I think it’s unsuccessful. The appropriate analogy would be requiring the Muslim company to supply ham sandwiches for lunch, wouldn’t it? And that can’t be justified, can it?

        • Erp

           Actually it is closer to requiring the company to provide  food coupons for lunch (part of their wages) and preventing the company from restricting the coupons to non-pork items.   In addition the coupons with pork restrictions are more expensive then those without (the insurance companies don’t seem to be complaining about the birth control extra probably because providing birth control for dozens of women is still cheaper than paying for one unplanned simple pregnancy (and not all pregnancies are simple)).

          • DavidM

            Okay, nice objection, but it too has problems: Food insurance doesn’t make sense. We all have to eat, more or less every day. The point of insurance is to provide… well, insurance, for cases of unexpected or unpredictable expenses. That’s why there’s no reason for employers to provide food insurance, so the whole notion of requiring a company to provide food coupons in the first place is a non-starter – that’s what money is for, except in cases where we don’t trust people to spend their money responsibly. You’ll notice that health insurance doesn’t provide everybody with health coupons – that would be pointless.

            Anyway, again, pregnancy can be prevented for FREE, so your argument breaks down there too. Nothing’s cheaper than free.

            • Erp

              Perhaps health insurance shouldn’t be called health insurance then but rather a health plan.   Providers encourage fairly regular preventive medical care in order to limit the number of   unexpected or unpredictable expenses (of which an unexpected pregnancy is high on the list).   

              Pregnancy can be prevented for free monetarily but at a cost in other ways most people aren’t willing to pay (and it also doesn’t stop pregnancies due to rape, the Catholic church is also opposed to day after pills even in cases of rape).   I also suspect that the Catholic bishops are opposed to one partner in a marriage unilaterally deciding to give up on sex even if the wife’s life is at serious stake in another pregnancy.

              BTW how would you feel if a large part of your salary was paid in ‘food dollars’ which you could only use for vegan food, but, other people were paid in ‘food dollars’ that could be used for meat, fish, milk, etc. in addition to vegetables.   However if you wanted milk, you would have to pay far more in real dollars than in food dollars for it.   

              Personally I think we need to go to a single payer system not through employers (that way people wouldn’t possibly need to change how they get medical care if they change employers [or their spouse, parents change employers]). 

    • Ibis3

      Bearing 10-20 children is not good health. Having endometriosis is not good health. Having ovarian cysts is not good health.   So fuck right off and crawl back under your misogynist, medieval rock.

      p.s. having insurance paid as a compensation for one’s labour, or paying insurance premiums is not getting something for free

      • DavidM

        OCs fix none of those things. Women deserve more than to have their symptoms masked. Anyway, that’s all really just a red herring.
        p.s. You’re an idiot.

        • amycas

          They fix the not having children part. And they don’t mask the symptoms, they treat the symptoms. Other medication is used to treat the actual disease, but bc pills can and do successfully treat the symptoms caused by endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and a host of other female maladies. Treating the symptoms of these diseases and problems makes life more enjoyable and livable. Have you ever had endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, or anemia caused by heavy periods? All of the painful and dangerous (PID can lead to infertility if not treated) symptoms of these can be alleviated using birth control pills.

          Oh, and here are some other benefits of the birth control pill (specifically, the “combination” pill):
          protection against:
          bone thinning, acne, breast growths that are not cancer, ectopic pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancers, serious infection in the ovaries, tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency anemia, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, premenstrual symptoms, including headaches and depression, bad cramps, heavy and/or irregular periods

          But I guess women deserve better than protection against all of those things. Might you suggest a better, cheaper and easier alternative than one simple pill a day (that has the added benefit of preventing unplanned pregnancies)??

          • DavidM

            You’re right, they treat symptoms, but mask the underlying problem. The problem is – and I know this from listening to real women – that the little pill is often the only thing done about some of these problems. It’s the quick easy fix, and then we can just ignore all the downsides. Anyway, I’ll repeat, this is still just a red herring. Medical insurance can cover OCs prescribed for medical reasons. The conscience objection is with regard to having insurance pay for contraception, which has nothing to do with caring for anybody’s health.

            • amycas

               You completely ignored what I said. Using the bc pill to treat the symptoms is not masking the problem. Nobody said that bc pills cure those things, it clearly says that they help with the symptoms and make daily life easier, and I listed a whole host of problems that bc pills help to prevent. More than 50% of women use bc pills for health purposes, not always only for health purposes, but it is a reason given for using them. Contraception is part of health care. Pregnancy and child birth affect a woman’s health. Preventing unplanned pregnancies is health care. Also, insurance that only covers bc pills for medical purposes is notorious for taking too long to respond to the medical problem, forcing women to prove that they are using the pill only for medical purposes. Often, it takes too long to cut through all of the “medical purpose only” red tape, and women suffer in the mean time because they can’t afford to pay for it out-of-pocket. Meanwhile, men can get their ED medication with virtually no trouble at all. All they need is a prescription.

          • DavidM

            And yes, women do deserve better than cheap and easy – they deserve real HEALTH care.

            • amycas

               I’ll ask again: what is your alternative for treating the symptoms/preventing the following problems:  bone thinning, acne, breast growths that are not cancer, ectopic
              pregnancy, endometrial and ovarian cancers, serious infection in the
              ovaries, tubes, and uterus, iron deficiency anemia, cysts in the breasts
              and ovaries, premenstrual symptoms, including headaches and depression,
              bad cramps, heavy and/or irregular periods

              The bc pill is basically hormone therapy which can be used to treat many maladies and has the added benefit of giving women control over their sexuality. How is that not real health care?

              Also, don’t come on here and blatantly lie about the bc pill causing breast cancer (when it can actually help prevent it) and infertility (when it is commonly used to treat Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which actually can cause infertility if not treated).

              • DavidM

                Of course I ignored a lot of what you said – most of it was pure red herring. I’m not going to go through each condition you list and detail possible treatments for each one. Don’t be ridiculous. Your accusation of blatant lies is also ridiculous. OCs do increase the risk of breast cancer in the group I mentioned – that’s what the research indicates.

                • amycas

                   It’s not a red herring. You said oral contraceptives are not health care, I gave a long list of health reasons why women take the pill. Can you explain more about this increased risk? Because I can’t find it anywhere. I did find this however: http://www.canadianmedicaljournal.ca/content/167/7/782.full

                • amycas

                   I just found this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8656904
                  But it’s from 1996 (a little outdated) and even it says that the risk found is minimal and disappears after women stop using it, and that more study is needed to actually see what the relationship between oral contraceptives and breast cancer are.

                  And I found this: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives#r2

                  Which seems to suggest that the link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer is minimal at best and then goes on about how oral contraceptives significantly reduce women’s chances of getting other kinds of cancer. See those key words: minimal risk (if any) is used for breast cancer, and significantly reduce is used for the other cancers.

        • minnie

          You do not give a shit about women or little girls, no catholic does. Keep your child raping cult out of my life.

          Catholic Church excommunicates mother and doctors of a nine-year-old rape victim that had abortion – but not accused rapistRead more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/catholic-church-excommunicates-mother-and-doctors-of-a-nineyearold-rape-victim-that-had-abortion-ndash-but-not-accused-rapist-16163052.html#ixzz1yzGw8sNe

           p.s. You are a misogynistic catholic creep.

          • DavidM

            LOL! You are – here at least - an angry mindless idiot.

            • minnie

              Look at the catholic “MAN” saying laugh out loud in reference to an article about a little girl being raped and getting pregnant from the rape, I know it is a joke to every catholic man on the globe.

              I was sexually abused as a little girl, and I see just fine how you odious catholics feel about raped children, my rapist wanted to dictate my body and so does your child raping cult.

               Jesus Christ would never call someone an idiot, but you catholics do not worship Jesus Christ you worship child rapist.

              Mindless, I have enough mind to hate child rape catholics sure dont.

              Yes I am angry that a bunch of child rapist want to dictate my body, I have already lived that hell.

              You are a wonderful example of a christian man, mocking women and sexually abused little girls. You did because everything I said was true, and you are mad a woman who grew up being sexually abused would call your child raping misogynistic cult what it is.

              You want to be angry that women can get birth control, but women should not be angry that you want to dictate their vaginas, just like a rapist.

    • Patterrssonn

      Very informative Dave but you didn’t tell is what you do to prevent getting pregnant. Or are you just popping out the babies like a good catholic should.

      • DavidM

        NFP, actually. Look it up. It’s not always easy, but it’s good for us to take on challenges sometimes. Think of the fish! (Y’all know what OCs are doing after they get peed out and into our ground water? Not good.)

        • Patterrssonn

          The hell does that mean?

          • amycas

             “Natural Family Planning” it’s not near as effective or freeing as bc pills are, and it doesn’t treat any of the symptoms or give protection against any of the illnesses that bc pills do either.

          • DavidM

            NFP refers to any of the scientifically developed successors of the rhythm method. Is there a problem with antibiotics in our rivers and lakes harming fish? I’ve never heard of that. In any case, the issue would be completely different, since antibiotics are always used with the intention of treating actual diseases – they are actual ‘health’ care.

    • Bob Becker

      Condoms cause breast cancer?   

    • Stev84

      Hormonal contraception (aka the Pill) isn’t only used to prevent pregnancy. 20-30% of women use to to deal with health issues related to menstruation.

      And if you think insurance is about getting free stuff, you don’t know how insurance works. Even if the employer pays the entire insurance package, it’s merely compensation. Just like your salary. Your employer doesn’t get to dictate how people spend their money, so why should they get to dictate what they use their insurance for?

      • DavidM

        That would be a good point, except that in cases where there is a real medical issue, the OCs would be covered – despite the fact that they don’t cure anything, they just mask symptoms (not an ideal approach, medically speaking).

        There is no reason for your employer to be compelled to pay your wages partly in porn videos, just because that’s how you want to be paid. If it’s really just compensation, why not make it cash? – then it’s truly up to your merry little conscience what you spend it on.

        • Patterrssonn

          It’s simple really. If the RCC doesnt want people getting OC’s on their health benefits they should stop offering benefits. That way they needn’t have this compulsion to break the law. Or stick their dirty noses into the sex lives of their employees.

          • DavidM

            LOL! Everything’s simple if you just stick your head in the sand and ignore all the real issues.

            • amycas

               Much like you’re doing when it comes to how oral contraceptives are part of women’s health and preventable health?

              • DavidM

                No, I really think that’s what you’re doing. Take endometriosis. Women with this condition (my wife, for example) usually just get the pill. Yippee! The symptoms are more manageable. If the condition cured? No. And most doctors just don’t care – why? – because they’ve given you a band-aid, which, however ignores the root problem. Now again, I’m not going into a lengthy discussion of every health issue you list – that’s a ridiculous demand and its mostly all red herring. But I invite you to read the following and think about it some more:

                http://liveactionnews.org/media/i-think-its-cute-how-much-jezebel-loves-being-wrong-about-things/

                Maybe you’ll find it easier to be receptive to a woman saying these things who has personal experience with these issues.

                • amycas

                   Why would you assume that I would treat arguments from a woman any differently? I’m receptive to evidence-based arguments. Provide some of those.

                  Just because one person had one experience with a few doctors, doesn’t mean that’s the experience that is most common, or even prevalent. I’ve been to many doctors about some of these problems and they all go through every treatment option available. They show the benefits and side effects of each treatment plan, as well as the costs. However, I don’t assume my experience is the same as everybody else’s so: If they don’t do this, then there are agencies to which you can report them so that it will be investigated, if they don’t go through all of your options, ask them to. Ask them about specific side effects, costs, other options. But thanks for sending me to a “pro-life” writer who characterizes oral contraception as an “abortifacient.” That alone should be enough to discredit her claim that she has studied the scientific research. Not to mention the fact that she completely mischaracterizes how employer-based insurance works, and that the “medical purposes only” line only manages to delay needed treatment. This isn’t an over-the-counter drug, you have to have a prescription for it. If she had paid attention to what Sandra Fluke was actually saying, she would know that she was going to describe a situation in which a woman she knew was delayed needed medical treatment (oral contraception) and ended up losing an ovary–all due to “medical purposes only” lines in the student health policies.

                  “Now again, I’m not going into a lengthy discussion of every health issue you list – that’s a ridiculous demand”

                  I didn’t ask you to do this. I specifically asked if you knew of any other treatments that were able to provide so many benefits, and treat so many problems at the same time. You don’t need to go into every single one in detail. If there is such a treatment out there, just direct me to it. If there isn’t a treatment out there that can do the same thing then just say so.

                  Again, I never said oral contraception was a cure for anything, but it does make the symptoms manageable and your daily life more livable. Many of those things are not diseases that could be cured, many don’t have other treatments that are as effective.

                  I really don’t know why you have such a problem with a treatment that is characterized as “cheap and easy.” Anytime somebody mentions that, you seem to assume they mean “cheap” in the sense that it is inferior. Cheap in this sense means cost effective, you get a lot for your money. Health care is expensive and if I can take one pill that successfully manages the symptoms of two or three chronic problems, then I consider that a win.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      I have been amazed to see how many people in this debate don’t know how insurance works all of a sudden. People keep throwing around phrases about the taxpayer having to pay or the employer having to pay, just so this woman can have things for free.
      Idiot. She’s paying for it! She’s paying for the insurance, so she should get the coverage. Why pay for insurance if the insurance company refuses to help you out?

      If you don’t think contraception is healthcare, perhaps you are not aware that a pregnant woman is risking her life and her health? Pregnancy can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, permanent weight gain, eclampsia, anemia, blood clots, depression, and more. Does that sound healthy?

      • DavidM

        So simple question: If I force my employer to provide a pornography plan so I can watch all the porn I want, is that cool? If my employer objects, do I just tell her “Get over it – I’m the one paying for it!”? Do you really not see how dumb that is?

        Pregnancy is not a disease. Sure it can have health risks associated with it, but so does obesity. By your logic employers should be forced to pay for my lean cuisine or my herbal magic, if that’s how I choose to address the health risks associated with pregnancy.

        In any case, pregnancy can easily and effectively be prevented for FREE, so it’s stupid to insist that someone else pay for your chosen method of pregnancy protection. It’s like insisting that the government buy me bottled water when I can get perfectly good water for free from the tap. That’s just stupid. 

        • DavidM

          sorry – second paragraph should end with the word “obesity,” not “pregnancy.”

          • amycas

            NFP, the method you advocate, is not easy or nearly as effective as oral contraception. It may be easy on the guy, but for the woman it requires a lot of extra work every day to determine when she is fertile. I don’t see what the point is for your pornography analogy. Health insurance plans have long been considered part and parcel to your compensation for work. Most people in the US get their health insurance through employment. The company isn’t paying for your medication, they are partially paying for an insurance plan (at lower cost than individuals can get them), and employees pay into the premiums. Employees are the ones who have to pay the co-pay for doctor’s visits and prescriptions, so the employer is not paying for that at all. 

            Nobody said pregnancy was a disease, but it does have a sever affect on a woman’s health. Pregnancy is more expensive for insurance companies to deal with than oral contraception is. Also, why doesn’t the Catholic Church object to insurance for pregnancy care for unwed women? Wouldn’t that also be against the Catholic Church’s beliefs? Shouldn’t they insist that unwed women who get pregnant not be covered by their insurance, because they shouldn’t have to pay* for the women to have sex and get pregnant?

            If employers want to stop providing insurance plans for their employees then fine, they can go lobby congress for some sort of single payer system so that everybody can afford it on their own. Either way, it’s none of my employer’s business how I use my health insurance.

            *Even though they’re not actually paying for it, as was discussed in the first paragraph.

  • Gus Snarp

    The answer to your question of whether she’s doing a good thing or deluding herself is: Both.

    I think when you are raised in a Church there can be a lot more preventing you from leaving than there is driving you to leave, particularly if you only disagree with it over one thing. I would love for the combined weight of all the problems with Catholic teaching to eventually drive people from the Church, but we can’t expect it to happen overnight, or to everyone. I don’t begin to understand why anyone who disagrees on any matter on which the church is publicly active would convert to Catholicism from outside, but I can see why they stay in if they’ve been raised there. The truth is that the Church’s sharp tilt to the right probably is costing them adherents, but it’s a slow trickle, not the flood I would like it to be.

  • rickflick

    Do Bishops Speak For All Catholics?…
    Only if that Catholic wants to relinquish her independence. 

  • SJH

    This is not a black and white issue in my opinion. You can have disagreements with the Church and still call yourself a Catholic but at some point you do have to ask yourself “do I disagree enough to leave the church?” This is generally left up to the individual to discern. I do think birth control is a pretty heavy issue but does not necessarily fall under the heading of something you should leave the church over. It really depends on the other issues and how much your beliefs as a whole coincide with the Church. We are all on a journey. None of us are perfect and we are all working to be the best we can be.

    As for her comments about the HHS mandate, institutions are made of people who have consciences. If those people feel that a particular action is morally wrong then they should not be forced to support it. Quite frankly, I do not even know what else to say about this issue since it is so obvious that the mandate is a violation of religious liberty. A person’s religion says birth control is wrong therefor he/she does not support birth control and he/she doesn’t think people should use birth control so therefor he/she should not be forced by the government to provide birth control. They are not calling for birth control to be illegal they are just stating that they should not have to provide it. What is the difficulty here? Please clarify.

    • Stev84

      Get this into your tiny, tiny brain:

      Employers never provide birth control or any other medicine or medical procedure. They provide insurance. And just like don’t get to decide how people spend their salary, they don’t get to decide what that insurance is used for.

      • DavidM

        So big-brain, you’re saying that the provision of a particular insurance plan is no different from the provision of cash? Wow… that’s just so… dumb. Sorry.

        • Patterrssonn

          Why is that dumb? What’s the difference between giving cash to an Insurance company and giving cash to an employee? Other than the church seeing this as another opportunity to control the reproductive rights of women.

  • GregFromCos

    Sorry, pet peeve. But it does not “beg the question” it “raises the question”. Begging the question is a logical fallacy and means something totally different.

    • bunderbunder

      The other meaning for the term has been in popular use for so long that it regularly shows up in dictionaries nowadays.  The time to pick that fight was decades ago. At this point it won’t be long before it’s right up there with criticizing the use of ‘you’ as a singular pronoun.

      • GregFromCos

        This has not been a huge issue for a decade. Maybe a year. And it’s in our best interest to avoid changing the meaning of logical fallacies in attempt to sound smarter.

  • Greg_Peterson

    I used to have enormous respect for Catholicism because it had produced so much great music, art, and literature.  But it comes at way too high of a cost.   I now think that it is past time that every single person of conscience leave the Catholic church.  Its corruption is too great and its bigotry too entrenched.  The leaders have decided that misogyny, homophobia, and a twisted view of reproduciton oare the hill they are willing to die defending.  Let them.  Come out of her, that great whore.  Come out.

    • Pseudonym

      FWIW, I think something similar of the military-industrial-special-interest-lobbyist plutocracy that currently dominates the US government. I wonder why more people don’t emigrate.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    The fact is, in a very real sense, the bishops don’t speak for the Church. The official role of  the church magesterum is not to make up doctrines and present them to the people whole cloth. Within Catholic theology, even the Pope can be a heretic (and there have been heretic Popes). The Church is the Church, and is made up of all the people in the Church. Catholic theology is whatever Catholics say it is. The Magesterum is supposed to reflect that, formalise it, and teach it, but the beliefs themselves come from the Church at large, not from the inner circle in the Vatican.

    So we can say that the Magesterum is actually wrong on this one. We can say that Anita Ciannilli is more in step with “the teachings of the Church” than the bishops are.

    Of course, since Vatican II, the Magesterum has taken on more of a leadership role, with the Pope telling Catholics what they should believe (sometimes, even, infallibly). But that’s a modern anomaly.

    TRiG.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    “Is this woman doing something good by taking a stand against her church
    or is she deluding herself by remaining one of its numbers?”

    Both.  I admire her for standing up to them but like so many of those “change them from the inside” types I think she’s deluded if she thinks they’re ever going to evolve on such matters.

    • Pseudonym

      Or she might know her church history well enough to know that the church is in a constant state of evolution. Unfortunately, it tends to evolve slower than people would like, but that could also change.

  • Sheila G

    I did grow up in a church; not Catholic but fundamentalist literal Bible Christian, the Church of Christ; I was surrounded in it, immersed in it, went to church 3 times per week AND attended a Christian university ((shudders)). And I agree with you!  Once I (finally) realized, past 40 years of age (sadly) that the Bible could not possibly be literally true, I was done with it!

    Yet I have a Catholic friend who claims he doesn’t believe any of it but participates because his Mexican wife is a believer.  I just don’t get it; HOW can he give one precious cent of his hard earned salary to such a group of hypocritical, child abusing, misogynist, anti-gay, anti-birth control, anti-abortion for ANY reason, criminals?

    All I can figure is that these types are too tied to getting along with family, and to tradition (the church is a place to have grandchildren christened, get married, have a funeral, etc) to dispense with it.  In other words, they don’t have the moral fortitude to stand up for themselves.

    If that sounds harsh?  I do NOT apologize!  I have dealt with, and am dealing with, the consequences of my actions in breaking ties with religion; I’m nobody special for sure; if I can do it, so can anyone else.  They just do not want to; they are intellectually, theologically, lazy.

    • Pseudonym

      To be fair to your friend, mainstream Roman Catholicism (or, for that matter, any other variety of mainstream Christianity) isn’t even remotely like the “fundamentalist literal Bible Christian” stuff you grew up with.

      That church probably spent a lot of time telling you (both explicitly and otherwise) that if everything in the Bible is not literally true, then Christianity is bunk. When you discovered that everything in the Bible was not literally true, you concluded that Christianity is bunk.

      The vast majority of Christianity is theism (deity-worship), not bibliolatry (book-worship). To Roman Catholics, for example, the Bible was written by the Church, and hence is subordinate to it. Lay Roman Catholics didn’t even read the Bible until quite recently in history. (Why should they, when they had the Catechism?)

      I’m very happy for you. You’re clearly in a far better place than you were, and I hope you have a long and happy life as an atheist.

      Having said that, not everyone is like you, and not everyone has to feel the same way that you do. And that’s okay.

      Vive la différence!

  • rlrose328

    The Catholic Church has so many dealbreakers for women, I do not understand why it attracts so many or why so many stay.  Contraception is necessary in contemporary society, with family sizes busting through ceilings we never imagined before, and the right of single women to enjoy their lives (yes, even their sex lives) but be responsible in the process.  I even believe the sex trade should be legalized, which really caused a rift between me and my Catholic mother.

  • Patterrssonn

    Thanks for coming out as a pointless troll.

  • Patterrssonn

    ” know this from listening to real women?”

    Perhaps you could define real women for us Dave.

  • Patterrssonn

    Are you able to respond to anyone’s points Dave or are you just reduced to trolling. Sillu question I know, your usual routine is to make a couple of weak arguments and then when people knock them down just resort to mindless trolling

  • Patterrssonn

    Out of arguments are we Dave?

  • Patterrssonn

    All kinds of medical issues/diseases can be prevented for free, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be covered.

  • Patterrssonn

    Lots of drugs that contaminate groundwater, not just abx but anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers. And they harm not just aquatic creatures but lead to abx resistant organisms.

    And as far as abx being used just for diseases, that’s just bullshit. Besides OC’s are used to prevent one fairly nasty disease the unwanted pregnancy.

  • Amaramichaelle

    There is not one person who agrees 100% with every institution to which they belong. If you are a part of a sorority, fraternity, woman’s club, church, religious group, college, union etc… There will be a point where the individual will disagree with an aspect of the experience. This does not mean that they are compromising their principles or going against everything. I mean people love their family members even if they are horrible people. This issue is not as black and white as you are making it out to be. It is quite complex as women understand that some forms of contraception are used for other health issues and that is where the real issues come in. I will say that even if this young woman does not agree with the archbishop, it doesn’t make her a bad Catholic. She like anyone who believes in God works to cultivate and maintain her own walk, experience and relationship with God. Just like someone who works for a company, they may not agree with a boss or higher up but it doesn’t mean they do not hold tight to the vision of the company.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    If she ever has tithed or otherwise given money or manhours to the church, you better believe they do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.mclaughlin.564 Tom McLaughlin

    As a former Catholic who used to teach Religion at a
    Catholic high school, I understand and accept that some people find within the
    Catholic Church essential elements to support their spiritual journeys. Many
    devout Catholics experience God directly in the Eucharist because of their
    belief that the bread and the wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus.
    This encounter feeds their souls in ways that they would not be at services of other
    Christian denominations where the bread and wine broken in communion is
    symbolically Jesus’ body in church. For these Catholics, their encounter of God
    in the Eucharist is more important than any doctrinal or theological difference
    they have with the bishops. What I cannot understand, however, and am
    struggling to accept, is how any Catholic woman or man can still put money in
    the collection baskets when their bishops have yet to take full responsibility for
    what they did and failed to do, what they said and failed to say that
    facilitated the rape of children by a relatively small but voracious number of
    Catholic priests, brothers, and nuns. I am no longer Catholic and no longer
    teach high school Religion. I left both for two main reasons: theological
    differences – I am an eclectic pagan who reveres Jesus a buddha – and my
    inability to align myself with an institution whose leadership is largely
    morally bankrupt. My challenge to devout Catholics who need the Eucharist is to
    continue going to Mass, but withhold your money until the bishops fulfill the
    spirit of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see
    paragraphs 1450-1460), and to obey the command of Jesus to reconcile with those
    you have harmed before laying your gifts upon the altar (Mt. 5: 21-26). Any
    argument that bishops have disclosed the full extent of their collusion in this
    holocaust and repaired the harm they inflicted is laughable when one considers
    the agony that many survivors continue to endure. The bishops may have admitted
    their sins to brother priests in the secrecy of a confessional, but they refuse
    to tell the whole story to the victims who are desperate to hear it. In telling
    the whole truth, bishops could aid victims to break free of their recurring
    nightmares. The refusal of these leaders to be humble, courageous, and faithful
    in this matter may not preclude healing for victims, but it abandons the
    wounded ones to break their chains alone.  

  • Kaydenpat

    “But it also begs the question: If you don’t agree with what the leaders of your church are saying, why are you identifying with that church?”

    The Letter Writer, I presume, like many Christians, pick and choose their battles.  She goes to her Catholic church, enjoys the ceremony, enjoys the fellowship, enjoys the rituals, but does not agree with all of the dogma.  Sounds reasonable to me.  She probably grew up in a Catholic home, received a Catholic education and is thoroughly indoctrinated.

    I have Catholic friends who are pro-choice, use contraception, pro-marriage equality and roll their eyes at some Catholic dogma, but they’re still faithful, staunch Catholics.  May seem puzzling to you, but most Christians have difficulty with some of their denomination’s doctrines, but aren’t willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.


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