Where’s the Catholic rebuttal?

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Okay, so we’ve already looked at some other coverage of DC’s new law permitting same-sex marriage. A few readers sent an early version of the following story, which has been improved with an update later in the day. It’s about how the former chief operating officer of DC Catholic Charities vehemently disagrees with Archbishop Donald Wuerl’s decision to cancel new spousal benefits for employees of Catholic Charities. The move was made so that the church could comply with both DC law and church doctrine. We discussed previous coverage here and here.

The story is about the criticism from Tim Sawina, the former executive of the agency, so it naturally revolves around what he said and his perspective.

[B]y eliminating such benefits, Sawina said, Catholic Charities is driving current employees to look for jobs elsewhere, handicapping the group’s recruitment efforts and losing the respect of the D.C. community.

“Some, including the archbishop, have argued that by providing health care to a gay or lesbian spouse we are somehow legitimizing gay marriage,” said Sawina, a former priest. “Providing health care to a gay or lesbian partner — a basic human right, according to Church teaching — is an end in itself and no more legitimizes that marriage than giving communion to a divorced person legitimizes divorce, or giving food or shelter to an alcoholic legitimizes alcoholism.”

I think this is a great quote to include. It’s specific and pointed and intriguing. And, I figured, not an accurate portrayal of the Church’s position. I mean, I’m not entirely sure since the criticism is written in a somewhat confusing manner. For one thing, the issue isn’t provision of health care but, rather, a health care benefits package. And while the church does teach that health care is a fundamental right, I don’t think that means the church believes that Catholic Charities must provide health care insurance to an ailing sibling or live-in lover of an employee.

Further, I assume the church considers the administration of the sacrament to people (including those who have obtained civil divorces) to be a wholly different matter than how one of its charities handles employee benefits. And the fact that the church won’t commune Catholics who have obtained a civil divorce and remarried doesn’t really support Sawina’s position. I mean, my understanding of the Catholic Church’s teaching is that they basically don’t recognize civil divorce and consider it almost like a separation — the church considers the marriage still valid and only withholds communion if you caused the divorce and are publicly unrepentant about it, or you remarried or some other problem arises. And as for the help offered to alcoholics in need, I don’t know — I’d love to hear what Wuerl or other Catholics who support his decision have to say. So what do they say? We’ll look at how the Post described the Archdiocese’s response to Sawina’s objections in a second. But I was really curious when I read the story so I put a Twitter APB out at 11:00 last night and wrassled up a couple of Catholics who indeed had quick responses to Sawina’s letter. Here’s a tiny bit from one GetReligion reader:

The right to health care is basic, but the means by which that right is secured must be a matter of practical ethical reasoning. This means there is no one-size-fits-all method, and the provision of health care cannot violate other moral basics.

From my Catholic standpoint, affirming homosexual relationships would undermine sexual morality and cause scandal and confusion among the faithful — all of which are unjust acts.

There’s more, but I only quote to show that there are specific responses to explain Wuerl’s reasoning.

So how did the Post describe the archdiocese’s doctrinal views?

The archdiocese responded to Sawina’s letter Thursday, calling it an inaccurate portrayal of the Church’s position and saying that his appeal to the organization’s board of directors would have no effect, because the board can’t overturn the archbishop’s decision.

Yeah. Um. Thank you, reporters, for telling us that the archdiocese disagrees with the letter. That’s something we could have figured out on our own, probably. But what we could use some help with is learning a bit about why they view this as an inaccurate portrayal of the Church’s position. I threw out some ideas above but I’m not Catholic and I could be all wet. But there are tens of millions of Catholics in the country. Many live here in this archdiocese. And many of them can explain the church’s position or otherwise respond to Sawina. There’s really just no excuse for not including a rebuttal from . . . anyone.

Instead we get a lot of political discussion instead of answering basic questions. It’s a highly negative piece about the Catholic Church. For instance, chunks of Sawina’s letter are quoted where he complains that staff will be looking to leave. And I was thinking about how it would be interesting to hear from the archdiocese about whether they consider the needs of those they help or the needs of the staff to be more important when making a decision about whether to continue attempting to operate in the District. Or how they make decisions.

I’m going to be a bit dramatic here but just to make a point. The narrative on this story could be framed as one where the Catholic Church is doing everything in its power to be able to continue serving the poor here in DC against an oppressive government crackdown on religious freedom — even changing its benefits structure so that it won’t be in violation of church teaching. Instead, it’s basically framed as a choice that the Archbishop decided to make so as to mess with gays. The power to frame a story is huge and largely unseen by readers.

Finally, let’s look at this section:

One employee provided by Catholic Charities this week agreed to be named. Michelle Mendez, staff attorney for immigrant legal services, also described dismay about the spousal benefit reduction but said she remained committed to the organization’s work and mission.


Here’s what she actually said. I’m getting this from the previous day’s story:

“I disagree with it on a personal level,” she said. “I think it’s unfortunate to cut off benefits and worry about the effect it may have on employees’ families. But on a public level, I understand how hard the decision was and where the organization is coming from.”

As a Catholic believer, she said the church needs to keep to its tenets. But as an employee who might marry sometime and need health insurance for a spouse, she wishes the option were still there. “But at the end of the day, the reason we work at a place like this is to make a difference,” she said. “As long as we can continue doing that, that’s what’s most important.”

With all of this in mind, let’s look at how the story ends:

[Spokeswoman Susan] Gibbs said that the archdiocese is not surprised that workers expressed discouragement but blamed it in part on media coverage of the issue.

“Part of the problem is that they’re coming in hearing this stuff every day — not all of it accurate — about the organization they work at,” she said. “It’s been a tough few months for all of us. It was a hard decision but one that allows us to continue the important work we’re doing.”

I’ve got to say that Gibbs has a point.

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  • tipi tim

    a rebuttal would involve theological language which a reporter who frames this story as political probably wouldn’t understand or be able to convey very well anyway. it’s a side effect of the privatization of faith that faith/theological language is used less and people hold less vocabulary in common. that is, it’s harder to understand each other when we do speak because we use use the same words differently. i think dalea had a good comment on how the US Council of Catholic Bishops uses political language even though it doesn’t really work in the thread on the top 100 religion blogs.

  • Peter

    It’s too bad this letter came after the WP gave Weurl the opportunity to speak–largelly unchallenged– the day before in its pages explaining the Church’s rationale for yanking spousal benefits. Maybe they just consider this the needed rebuttal to the Weurl interview.

    As the spokeswoman said, they are in the midst of a PR disaster. BTW, if Archdiocese employees don’t agree with or understand the Church’s position, that’s not the WPs fault. That’s a HR and ministry failure, not just bad press.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Mollie:

    Remember those inconvenient things called facts? They get in the way of the alternative narrative about “an oppressive government crackdown on religious freedom.” There’s nothing out of the DC story that even hints about a government crackdown on religious freedom. We’re not talking about China or Saudi Arabia or Burma here.

    The crux of the story is this: Catholic Charities takes government money to run its program. By doing so, the organization agrees to play by the government rules. But the Church, for legitimate reasons of doctrine, does not agree with the new DC law about gay marriage. The archdiocese wants an exemption from the law. The DC government said no.

    The archdiocese is still free to exercise its religious liberty. It can refuse to take government money. Instead, they believe that taking government money is more important than offering insurance to employees spouses.

    That’s also an interesting frame to look at. The church, in essence, is saying that money is more important than treating employees fairly.

  • MarkAA

    I’ll state the obvious. It’s clear the point with this story was to show the Catholic Church to be the homophobic, health-care-depriving bad guy because it is actually sticking to its meanspiritied, centuries-old hidebound doctrine.

    It’s a shame, frankly, that D.C. didn’t think about the consequences the new law would bring IF organizations, some of which employ thousands of people, stuck to their values and stated doctrines. Christian charitable organizations take the government money — yes they do — but they efficiently provide a very valuable service for a far larger number of people than a government agency of equivalent size could; that’s why government allows them to have the money in the first place. The existing status quo until now was based on a decades-old situation where with a certain level of government funding, the Catholic church could provide a massive amount of help. The law changed, and the church faces the immediate problem of whether to stop taking the money and have to massively downsize its organization and level of services, or keep taking the money, at least for now, and find some other way within its doctrines to keep functioning at current levels. It’s a crackdown in that the church is forced to make extremely hard choices because of a change in government policy based on a social issue. I applaud the Catholic Charities for finding a way to adapt and keep operating, serving poor kids, single-parent households and others in dire need.

    Misrepresenting church teaching the way Tim Sawina does is classic bearing of false witness … only in the most preposterously far left-socialist reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church could you find that “Providing health care to a gay or lesbian partner — (is) a basic human right…” There ought to be a Get Religion law that says highlight all comments by anybody identified as a “former” anything clerical, because it’s a sure thing that what you’re going to hear is a misrepresentation of the truth, whether it’s former priest, former nun, former Sunday school teacher, former pastor or former elder. Dead giveaway that it can’t be trusted at face value, and you need to find an additional or different source.

    My suspicion, based on its placement, is that WaPo left in that identifier SOLELY to give him a semblance of theological credibility to make the doctrinal interpretation given in the paragraph, and if they hadn’t felt that need, readers never would have found out from the story that he’s a former priest, and the only title we’d have had for him was former executive director for the organization.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Peter,

    If Wuerl had spoken against some particular person or entity in that previous day’s story, you might have a point.

    Bob,

    So when Catholic Charities said they wouldn’t be able to continue feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, etc. in the manner they’d been doing in DC, the Washington Post’s party line was that the Catholic Church was “forsaking the homeless.”

    And now that Catholic Charities say that they’ve figured out a way to continue feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, etc. in the manner they’d been doing and that all they had to do was make themselves a less desirable employer now the frame should be “Catholic Church says money is more important than treating employees fairly”?

    I think I see a pattern here. One that goes: Catholic Church must always be framed as bad guy!

    Anyway, from my personal political and theological perspective, I think that this story shows why the government is almost always a bad partner for religious groups. But from the perspective of the Catholic Charities, this is definitely a crackdown on religious freedom.

    Anyway, I think we all know that there’s precisely one way the Catholic Church could get good media coverage out of this story. And it doesn’t involve holding fast to their principles.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Bob — I should also point out that I preceded my “dueling narratives” with a note that I was going to be dramatic. Besides skipping right over that, I wonder why no lecture about my other narrative being factually inaccurate?

  • Bern

    Bob, you’re right: this is not about “oppression” of religion by the government. It’s about a clash between secular and religious authorities, in one of the realms where those two forces meet. Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this.

    I recall stories from earlier in the year indicating CC would simply stop offering the social services the city of DC previously paid for, if they were not granted an exemption from the rule that gay spouses were to be included in health insurance coverage. That was widely criticized as abandoning the city’s poor and needy. Now the Archdiocese has decided instead to cut the benefits for CC employees rather than the services to DC’s people.
    This is also not fair.

    As a Catholic myself, I disagree with the Archdiocese’s take that offering health insurance coverage implies approval, endorsement, or moral support of any activity a person covered might be involved in, and the CC employees are the ones left holding the bag, so to speak. That’s not right, but I have to say that depriving people of needed services would be worse.

  • Peter

    Mollie, Weurl was given a command performance interview to explain/ defend his position on yanking spousal healthcare with only token rebuttal. In that sense, it would have been nice to have this letter.

    FYI, the WP was sympathetic to the Archdiocese and encouraged a compromise on it’s editorial page. But when the church decided to play hardball and rejected the Gtown approach, things changed.

  • Dave

    But from the perspective of the Catholic Charities, this is definitely a crackdown on religious freedom.

    I think this is a bit dramatic. The reduction in religious freedom — the right to selectively withhold spousal benefits from same-sex couples — is real but marginal. “Crackdown” is not justified.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Peter,

    I’m sorry, I guess we’re talking about different stories. I’m talking about the one I reviewed earlier in the week. Which one are you talking about?

    And this scathing column is a pretty good example of how “sympathetic” the Washington Post was about the issue early on:

    Catholic officials shouldn’t forsake D.C.’s poor in gay marriage fight

  • Peter

    I’m speaking of your post yesterday about the Weurl interview with Post reporters and editors. Also, Dvorak is a Metro columnist, not an editorial board member or on the editorial page.

  • MikeD

    Bob,
    If they stopped taking the government money, how many of the employees would have jobs with Catholic Charities, much less the insurance benefits for themselves those jobs provide? The diocese may believe that offering services to the poor is more important than offering benefits to employees’ spouses. By doing so, they may also be freeing up more money to provide more services to the poor, which is their primary objective, and still maintain doctrinal integrity. Sounds like a win-win to me.

  • Martha

    People, the crux of the matter is “spousal benefits”. It’s not “health care benefits for domestic partners/civil partnerships/person with whom you are cohabiting”, it’s “spousal.”

    As in “spouse”. As in “married”. As in “this says that gay partnerships are the equivalent of heterosexual marriage.”

    Does anyone else see why the diocese might object on these grounds?

  • Jerry

    I think that this story shows why the government is almost always a bad partner for religious groups. But from the perspective of the Catholic Charities, this is definitely a crackdown on religious freedom.

    To some people, health care is something easily dismissed as unimportant because offering money to the poor is more important when, in fact, health care may be all that is keeping someone from being destitute.

    A clear solution to this issue is, of course, a single-payer health care system run by the government. That would immediately remove the controversy this situation highlights by separating secular health care from religious groups.

    And, as well, the point about those who take government money being required to play by government rules is very apt. As the old saying goes once you have paid him the Danegeld, You never get rid of the Dane. In this case, it’s once you’ve taken government money, you need to play by secular government rules.

    But there’s a bigger issue that Mollie reminded me about. Calling this a “crackdown” is true only in the sense that our government stops very traditional Muslims from enforcing gender unequal religious doctrine and much much more. I think this even handed view of what government really does for us is missing when one’s own ox is gored.

    As usual, the more well-rounded issues such as linking this story to single-payer health care and how this would impact other religion’s organizations is not covered well if at all in the media.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    MarkAA –

    There ought to be a Get Religion law that says highlight all comments by anybody identified as a “former” anything clerical, because it’s a sure thing that what you’re going to hear is a misrepresentation of the truth, whether it’s former priest, former nun, former Sunday school teacher, former pastor or former elder.

    Having seen quotes from “former atheists”, I think your idea’s a good one, but “anything clerical” is a bit too limiting.

  • Lymis

    because it’s a sure thing that what you’re going to hear is a misrepresentation of the truth

    That only follows if you assume that the people currently in place will always tell the truth. It is certainly valid to look skeptically at such sources.

    But in the real world, you can’t do that. You have to look at why they are a “former” whatever, and what the claims are.

    Usually, this is brought up when a former adherent makes doctrinal claims that disagree with official dogma. As in when a former Catholic claims that they are speaking for the Church but when it disagrees with the Catechism or Vatican statements.

    However, someone who resigned in protest and speaks out about what was going on in the organization is not automatically misrepresenting the truth, any more than someone defending their organization against accusations of misconduct is automatically telling the truth.

    For that matter, objective outsiders may well be able to see truths that insiders don’t. That is supposed to be the whole point of journalism as distinguished from simply printing PR releases. And yes, it is equally important to make sure that the outsider doesn’t have an ax to grind.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    The “former” designation most in question in the piece looked at above is that he is the former head of Catholic Charities rather than a former priest, I think. Did he leave on good or bad terms? Did Wuerl ask him to leave? I think the reporters did a good job of at least noting that he was both a former priest and former Catholic Charities official — although perhaps it should have been higher up that both sides had signed a non-disclosure agreement about why he’d left? I don’t know.

  • Bob Smietana

    Mollie:

    I know you were being dramatic, and you make a good point in the post about the power of narrative.

    However, Tim Sawina is not just a former executive of Catholic Charities or an easily dismissed disgruntled Catholics. He’s the former chief operations officer of the agency–a credible source who says that the diocese’s actions are at odd with church teaching.

    The bigger issue here isn’t religious liberty but religious accommodation. Religious groups like the Catholic Charities have for years been given special exemptions when taking government money. They get the money, and they are also allowed to discriminate based on church teaching–in hiring, in their governance, etc. Church related universities for example, can take government funds while still refusing to hire people who won’t sign on to their statement of faith.

    In this DC case, the rules have changed. That’s the big story.

  • Jon in the Nati, non-Catholic

    MOLLIE:

    Your words refer to Sawina as a former executive of the agency, while the article quoted refers to him as a “former priest.”

    This immediately sent up flares for me, as I instantly had visions of this man defrocked. I would really appreciate some clarification on this point. Is he a former priest? If so, was he defrocked? Is he the former head of CC? If so, under what circumstances did he leave?

    Thanks so much.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jon in the Nati, non-Catholic:

    The article describes him as a former priest and a former executive of the agency. But he only left the agency last year and it says that neither side would discuss the terms of his departure.

    I have no more information.

    However, I really didn’t get the feeling he’d been defrocked. Maybe more like he’d once been a priest and was no longer a priest but still active in the church and its work?

  • Michael Pettinger

    I don’t get the outrage here. As I understand it, today’s WaPo story revolves around Sawina’s letter, not the original decision of the Archdiocese. The story includes a link to an article of March 2, in which an Archdiocesan spokesperson was quoted as saying “This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city’s new requirements and remain faithful to the church’s teaching.” So the point that the Archdiocese says it is doing this to maintain doctrinal integrity has been already been noted and is available one click away from today’s story.

    And as Peter states above, Archbishop Wuerl has already been given ample opportunity to explain and defend his stand.

    There might be flaws in Sawina’s logic (he should have stayed away from the sacraments and stuck to the point that dulea made in yesterday’s post, namely, that the Church seems to have done nothing to penalize divorced and remarried employees who are also in clear violation of Church teaching).

    I take strong exception with arguments that WaPo should have somehow qualified Sawina’s remarks because he is a “former” priest (has he actually been laicized?) And as a Catholic myself, the last thing I want is to have journalists adjudicate a dispute about doctrine between baptized members of the Church.

  • Michael Pettinger

    Molly, I pressed “Send” and then saw the exchange above about Sawina’s clerical status. “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchisedech.” Unless he has been formally laicized,d he remains a priest, though he might have left/been released from active ministry.

    It is interesting that both he and the Archdiocese have agreed to keep the details of his departure from the agency confidential. And interesting that the question was broached in the media.

  • Carlos

    1) Once a priest, ALWAYS A PRIEST! You can freely stop practicing your vocation as a priest. the Roman Catholic Church can order you to stop administring the Sacraments. However, according to Church Theology, once a priest always a priest.

    2) I find amusing the person that said that the Church is taking money to help the homeless, thus it needs to abide by government laws. If the Church stops taking in government money, it would not have the financial means to help the poor and individuals like Bob would be desperatly attacking the Church for failing to help the Church.

    This is one of those matters in which Civil Authorities have put the Church in a position of, “damned if you do or damned if you don’t” of course in the eyes of human beings.

    The Church, like any private entity, has the right to give healthcare insurance or not. There are countless of private and public universities around the United States who receive Federal money and yet do not comply with all of the Federal, State or local mandates. 9 times out of 10 the authorities or enforcing powers turn a blind eye for various reasons. Interesting to know that people only care when the Church is involved.

    3) For too long there have been way too many liberal leaders within the Roman Catholic Church in the USA running organizations like Catholic Charities. Priests, nuns, bishops, laity who claimed to be Catholic, but did not want to follow in full the teachings of the Church.

    there is a big push by the Pope and other Bishops for the Church to return to its teaching and to stop accomodating the liberal push that was going on inside of Her.

    There have been bishops in recent months who have pulled the Catholic name from “Catholic” hospitals which refused to stop handing out contraceptives or performing vasectomies, tube tyings, etc.

    There is also talk about Bishops pulling the Catholic name out of countless “Catholic” universities that do not follow Catholic teaching.

    It is about time that Roman Catholics stand up for the real Catholic teachings and for these not to be watered down as it has been the case for decades.

    Bishops are starting once again to lead and stand up for what is Moral and Right. For this, the Church will suffer and She will be persecuted. But the Roman Catholic Church will survive as it has survive for centuries.

    This clash between the anti-Catholics and the Church has been long coming in the USA. I see that it is finally starting to come to a “war” sort of speak. I expect nothing less than verbal persecutions, countless of attacks on the Church by the press. Ex-Catholics coming to the attack of the Church.

    We already have a large voice in America of individuals who claim that religious point of views should not be part of the political dialogue. Sadly, good honest people fall for this trap after the anti-religious forces claim that accepting it would be no different than having a Theocracy.

    What is going on in Washington DC is but a microcosm of battles being fought by the Church all over the USA and in Western Europe. It is also, I believe, a sign of the coming larger war. Let us hope that it doesn’t turn to Christian persecutions like it is always the case—-Spanish Civil War, USSR, China, etc.

  • Carlos

    By the way, “news” organizations like the Washington Post, New York Times and countless others are not interested in the facts.

    They aren’t interesting in learning Roman Catholic Theology. Plus, they do not have the educational background to understand the teachings. They constantly misrepresent and/or out right lie about the Church’s stands, Doctrines and Dogmas.

    what they are interested in is attacking the Church.

    Many times, it is better for the Church not to reply and just to lead by example.

    The Church is standing up for what She knows is Moral and Right. The Washington Post is just interested in painting Her as homophobic. A read of the Cathechism of the Catholic Churchc by the reporter would have proven the whole article wrong.

  • dalea

    My understanding is that reporters need not be experts on everything they cover. So, claiming that they need to know more about Catholicism before writting about it is not factual. They just need to get quotes and present them accurately.

    I thought the article did a good job letting Sawina speak his mind. Googling Sawina brought up the fact that he is 58 years old and does not have a resume on line. Which suggests early retirement. Usually the details of executive resignations are not made public, so there is nothing out of the ordinary here. It appears to be an early retirement with some sort of severance, which may include medical details.

    Reading the comments on the WaPo story were interesting. A number of commentors suggested a line of reporting that would be interesting. Most commentors supported Sawina’s viewpoint.

  • http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com Karen Vaughan

    I wonder if the ghost isn’t more economic than theological. The cost of healthcare and other benefits is astronomical and difficult to afford in lean times. However it is difficult for a religious institution to cut those benefits in the presence of Biblical injunctions to heal the sick and feed the poor. The DC bill gave a plausible excuse to cut wages. Maybe I’m unduly cynical, but I haven’t heard of $10,000 raises being given to workers to cover the costs of the lost benefits.

  • JD

    As a Catholic myself, I disagree with the Archdiocese’s take that offering health insurance coverage implies approval, endorsement, or moral support of any activity a person covered might be involved in, and the CC employees are the ones left holding the bag, so to speak.

    I’m also Catholic, and I see it like this: Sawina’s comparisons are apples and oranges. The difference between this and giving a divorcee communion or feeding an alcoholic is that the divorcee and the alcoholic are not receiving these things as a direct result of their condition. The divorcee is not receiving communion because he’s a divorcee. And though the alcoholic may be in the position of need due in some way to his alcoholism, he’s not getting help because he’s an alcoholic. He’s getting help because he’s in need. A spouse, however, is receiving benefits because he or she is a spouse. The benefits are contingent entirely upon the condition of being in a marriage, and the Church does not recognize a union between two people of the same gender to be a legitimate marriage. Affording these benefits to a same-sex spouse would imply acceptance of the union as a legitimate one.

    As both a Catholic and an American citizen, I believe that this whole situation is an example of the problems created when the state gets involved with marriage, which should be both a sacred and a private institution. Unfortunately, the relationship between marriage and the state is not likely to change dramatically any time soon. Politicizing “gay marriage” is an all-too-common tactic used to bludgeon and dehumanize the other side, this issue being Exhibit #534,216 offered as proof. And even sadder, it’s a tactic that’s entirely too effective.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Carlos –

    I find amusing the person that said that the Church is taking money to help the homeless, thus it needs to abide by government laws. If the Church stops taking in government money, it would not have the financial means to help the poor and individuals like Bob would be desperatly attacking the Church for failing to help the Church.

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” – Benjamin Franklin

  • JD

    “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” – Benjamin Franklin

    “The Church” itself is not a religion. It’s an institution. It provides humanitarian care worldwide and is one of the greatest forces for good in the world, if not the greatest. Catholicism, on the other hand, is a religion, and requires no monetary support, civil or otherwise.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The money issue is a red herring noone mentioned here. The real issue is the corrupt use of the licensing power of the state to enforce a particular ideology. In Mass. there were Catholic officials who said they could find the money to continue its ministry to orphans, but the Church–under the new pro-gay radical laws–would not be allowed a license.

  • David W. Cooney

    As a Catholic who has had to debate similar issues with fellow Catholics who don’t seem to understand the distinction, the is a basic and fundamental right to health CARE, which is why Catholic charities exist in the first place. However, the issue at hand is about health INSURANCE. Americans treat the two as though they are the same. This is hardly surprising considering the current “health care” debate going on in our federal government; a debate which is truly only about health insurance.

    The response you quoted above is exactly correct. Everyone, including homosexuals, have a basic right to health care. Catholic organizations do not deny them this care, and frequently offer it free of charge for those in dire need. That’s why they exist. There is no basic right to health insurance. Catholics have a grave moral obligation to charitably provide for those in need. However, the means of providing for them cannot itself represent a violation or repudiation of our faith.

  • dalea

    Americans treat the two as though they are the same. This is hardly surprising considering the current “health care” debate going on in our federal government; a debate which is truly only about health insurance.

    The press continuously reports as if the two were interchangable. And for many Americans they probably are.

  • http://newsbusters.org/ StewartIII

    NewsBusters: GetReligion.org’s Excellent Take on WaPo’s War on Catholic Church in D.C.
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2010/03/05/getreligion-orgs-excellent-take-wapos-war-catholic-church-d-c

  • Passing By

    Forgive me if this is not journalism related, but when did employer-paid health insurance premiums become a fundamental human right? I’ve been in the workforce for 35+ years; most of the time, my employer paid my insurance premium, or most of it. I know that some employers do pay premiums for families, but how did it become a right.

    Also, missing from the discussion is any mention of premiums for children. Is that not a fundamental human right as well?

  • Frank

    Given the news of the Vatican male prostitution ring scandal, which GetReligion is conspicuously avoiding, I’d warn the Catholic hierarchy that people who live in whorehouses shouldn’t throw stones.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Frank,

    Did you see any coverage of the Vatican male prostitution story that was particularly good or bad? If so, please submit it at the link. We usually only write about really good or bad coverage of religion news — not just religion news in general.

    Thanks.

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    Given the news of the Vatican male prostitution ring scandal, which GetReligion is conspicuously avoiding, I’d warn the Catholic hierarchy that people who live in whorehouses shouldn’t throw stones.

    I often amuse myself by reading the comments on news stories that involve priests or the Church and counting the number of comments before someone brings up the priest-as-pervert stereotype. Four or five is typical for a story that isn’t actually about fondling fathers. This story waited until number 35. But then, Get Religion usually has a better caliber of commenters and so the phenomenon usually doesn’t occur here at all.

  • Julia

    Whatever happened to “major medical” health insurance?

    The states have all incrementally mandated coverage of just about anything remotely connected to what used to be called medical care.

    I remember when my dad got paid in hams by some patients and we had tons of great Greek pastry, embroidered tablecloths, invitation to hunt at farms and other ways to pay for health care. What exists now is recent and governmentally mandated. Knowing that insurance would cover everything, people have gotten used to over-utilizing the health care system.

    Why is there no coverage of what has happened to how payment for health care has changed and how that has affected usage?


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