The Personalist Project

Here's my question to the Bishops, who made a full throated defense against the Administration's effort to infringe upon the rights of Churches to teach and live their creeds--and to protect their institutional sister-institutions to be free of governmental infringement.

What about me, your Eminences?

I work for a secular institution that will enact the Administration's mandate requiring that my premiums pay for other people's contraceptions, sterilizations, and abortions.  So what if the Administration has said that insurers will be the ones who will be required to do this?  Isn't my compensation package inclusive of health insurance benefits in the form of my employer contributing to the amount I pay to insure my family as a portion of my freely negotiated salary?  If the law of the land says that there is NO SUCH THING as an insurer who will NOT follow the Administration's mandate, then what option do I have?  Either you've been outmaneuvered or you don't care about your flock.

Do I quit my job and go to work for a Church in order to avoid violating my conscience?  There is no exception to the "individual mandate" even though the Administration has cynically announced that there is no "individual mandate."  Yes there is.  In decreeing that insurers will be required to do what the Administration says regarding coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion, there is no practical "out" for individuals who do not want to pay for such services--except to forgo insurance altogether or violate our consciences.

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Comments (14)

Katie van Schaijik

#1, Feb 11, 2012 10:35pm

Amen, amen, Gregory!

Just a couple hours ago I sent Archbishop Chaput a note:

I am so grateful for the strong stand the bishops are taking against this evil and unconstitutional mandate.  But I am a little worried that virtually all of the attention seems to be on the problem it poses for Catholic institutions.  But it is not only religious institutions that are at stake, but individual consciences as well.  The law insists that every single insurance plan sold in the US cover contraception and sterilizations.  That means, Catholic businessmen who sell insurance plans will have to include it; people like my husband and I who buy our own insurance will have to pay for it...  
Further, we will be prohibited, in law, from not buying insurance.
This goes well beyond Catholic employers.   Our problem will not be solved even if the Obama administration agrees to exempt Catholic institutions.  
I'm worried that Obama will broaden the exemption and the bishops will be satisfied, though the moral law won't be.

Gregory Borse

#2, Feb 11, 2012 11:01pm

This effort by the administration uses abortion as a means to an ends, I warn you. It's not about abortion, per se.  It's about the relationship between the individual and the state.  This is truly paradigmatic stuff.  The Administration wishes to push the privately organized social entity out of the public square by making it impossible to offer any social services except by the dictates of the State.  Abortion and contraception is being used to get the Left to agree to the terms of their own future slavery.  Plain and simple.  Very clever.  It looks like a fight with the Church and it's really a way to co-opt the free will of the most ardent of its own supporters.  Why?  Because this ideology understands that the most dangerous thing in the world is a free-thinking and acting and independent person.


Katie van Schaijik

#3, Feb 11, 2012 11:06pm

The good news is that many lay Catholic leaders are up in arms, and lots of evangelicals and others with them. The bad news is that surveys are showing that even a majority of Catholics support the mandate! We are far, far gone in corruption.

And we are in for the fight of our lives.  I've already started mentally clearing the decks for fall, so I can give more attention than I've ever given to a political campaign to the one upcoming.

Gregory Borse

#4, Feb 12, 2012 12:07am

Please inform that that the fight they wage is not about abortion.  It's about the relationship between the individual and the state.  Of course, the Administration believes that it gets to define what it means to be an individual--but the ruse (and its ingenious) is that it will cocnvince its own supporters to support a definition of the "individual" that cancels out their own argument for being--since they will be arguing that the "government" (by majority vote) gets to define everything. They have already agreed that anyone can commit suicide.  What they don't notice is that they themselves are committing suicide right now and they don't even know it.


Katie van Schaijik

#5, Feb 12, 2012 5:48am

Phiilp Lawler has a good piece on this issue here.  He quotes an apropos passage from the Congregation for the Docrine of the Faith, issued in 1992.

Where a matter of the common good is concerned, it is inappropriate for Church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse legislation even if it grants exceptions to Church organizations and institutions. The Church has the responsibility to promote family life and the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values, not simply to protect herself from the application of harmful laws.

Gregory Borse

#6, Feb 12, 2012 2:11pm

Thanks for the link, Katie.  I'll check it out and respond/elaborate this afternoon.


Katie van Schaijik

#7, Feb 12, 2012 2:51pm

I received a note back from the Archbishop this morning, reassuring me that he is very much aware of the threat to individual consciences too.  He, and all those leading the resistance, need our help and support.

Gregory Borse

#8, Feb 12, 2012 3:25pm

I recieved a note from Archbishop Chaput as well--he encouraged me to write to my own Bishop (who does not advertise his e-mail) so I'm going to send him a note the old-fashioned way.  I encourage other Catholics to do the same.

Gregory Borse

#9, Feb 13, 2012 9:10pm

George Wiegel weighs in :


Jules van Schaijik

#10, Feb 13, 2012 10:48pm

Thanks for the link Gregory. That article gives one hope. It also brought me personally some clarity. I especially liked these lines:

This is not, in other words, a situation analogous to conscription laws, where a humane society makes provision for the pacifist’s conscientious objection to a just law. In the case of the HHS mandate, tweaked or untweaked, the law itself is unjust, and must be fought until it is undone. 

Gregory Borse

#11, Feb 14, 2012 12:04am

Agreed, Jules. 

Katie van Schaijik

#12, Feb 14, 2012 7:36am

Ross Douthat is also on the case.

Gregory Borse

#13, Feb 14, 2012 10:31am

Nice and perhaps more subtle addition to the conversation--it reminds of the conflicts that arise in the epic:  they are never "right" vs. "wrong"--they are always "right" vs. "right" (bear with me here).  In Epic, what comes to be clear is that at the tribal level, the argument between, say, Agamemnon and Achilles that forms the beginning of The Iliad, is between two men who make, from each point of view, arguments that are not merely logical, but right.  In Greek Tragedy, just so:  the requirement that Orestes avenge the death of his father, at the behest (i.e. according to the law) of Apollo is right.  The crime involved in following that law--an offense to the Furies themselves--the killing of a mother by a son is also right.  Hence, Athena, must craft a solution that is Solomon-like in its wisdom.  The current argument about the mandate has suckered good-willed people on the right end of the religious and political spectrum, into believe that it's a "right" vs. "wrong" battle they wage.  It is not:  it is epic--right vs. right.  What we fail to see is that the secularist view being propunded by the Obama Administration is a religious view.

Gregory Borse

#14, Feb 14, 2012 10:36am

The essentially religious war between the Left and the Right--between secularists and Christians (and Jews and Muslims, etc.) that George Weigel has elegantly captured in his book "The Cube and the Cathedral," has come to America in the form of Obamacare and its ramifications for individual freedom from state coercion, to be sure.  But, finally, the Left has subtly entered the fray with a new claim:  The State is the new religion and its claims are every bit as sacrosanct as the claims of the Church it wishes to replace.

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