My First Things column from today:
Through its mouthpieces, the administration has already begun to argue that “an institution does not have a conscience.” This is utter nonsense. The missions of the church are predicated on conscience, and conscience and mission feed and build upon one another. Conscience is what sent Catholic religious women to drag Civil War soldiers off the battlefields and into their hospitals, regardless of uniform; it is what put Catholic charities and hospitals and schools in place often before civil authorities thought to intervene; it is why the Vatican provides funding for adult stem cell research.
Institutional conscience is behind our government sending billions of dollars to Africa, to combat death by AIDS and malaria. Indeed, President Obama himself cannot deny the truth of it; he recently suggested that conscience is what animates his institutional policies.
Here is another truth: everything that rises must converge. Fractured ideology and theology are now rising and converging, and whether they raise our discourse or further divide will depend upon our ability to articulate and absorb sometimes subtle arguments without allowing our attention to be diverted from the central matter at hand: does the government have any business inserting itself into our religious conscience with the intention of commanding it? Should its reach extend into our theological musings as a means of effecting our eventual, and unsubtle marginalization?
You can read it all here
Meanwhile, Bookworm is firing off about the Transvaginal Ultra Sound as Rape narrative:
There’s a reason for Lithwick’s hyperbole, though, and it’s not because she’s upset about the Virginia law. Or at least, that’s only the smallest part. My sister, who is as uninterested in politics as can be, called me today outraged that Republicans generally, and Santorum specifically, are making contraception illegal. She was completely taken aback when I explained that Republicans are only trying to preserve a status quo that has been in place since 1965; namely, that contraceptives and abortifacients are freely available everywhere in the U.S., but that churches don’t have to pay for them.
The Democrats are not making contraceptives even more available than they’ve been before, which is an impossibility given their current unlimited availability. Instead, they are seeking to shift costs onto employers, including religious organizations and individuals who are doctrinally opposed to contraceptives and abortifacients.
My sister was receptive to the truth, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explain to her the entire story. She got that she was the victim of a Big Lie. Most voters, however, aren’t my open-minded sister and, even worse, they don’t have me sitting there walking them through the lies and smears. Instead, they’re begin manipulated into believing that Republicans and conservatives are depriving women of all access to contraceptives and then, once they’re pregnant, raping them. That’s the Big Lie, and that’s what Democrats think will win them the election in 2012.
Many commentators have shuddered at the way in which Republican candidates are stupidly making this election about women’s sexual rights. What they miss is that the whole abortion/contraception issue is a tar baby* that Democrats placed squarely in the Republicans’ path, so that it was impossible for Republicans to avoid.
Russell Shaw: A Series of Ugly Events:
If the bishops reject this deal, they don’t have a lot of options. Closing down thousands of Catholic institutions and programs isn’t likely. Remedial legislation pending in Congress has little chance of becoming law with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. As for simply refusing to obey the HHS rule, it’s a last resort.
That leaves litigation.
Josh Good: Last Thursday’s hearing was chilling
David P. Goldman: Memo to Jews: after they come for the Catholics, they will come for us
Mark Shea: The Mentality of our Ruling Class