Showing posts with label Contraception. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contraception. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2019

When Bishops embrace politics over pastoring

In January 2019, the diocese of Covington Kentucky, under direction of Archbishop Roger Joseph Foys, issued a condemnation one day after a viral video appeared to show high school boys harassing an older man at the March for Life in Washington. The archdiocese called the students' behavior "opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person" and issued an apology to the actual aggressor. The media had already politicized the issue, emphasizing race, and showing only a specious snippet of video that belied the story. The light-speed reaction of the archdiocese has left them embarrassed as subsequent footage of the incident revealed the older man to have been the aggressor. Even though the archdiocese openly condemned the students absent of further investigation, their most recent statement said it is "important for us to gather the facts that will allow us to determine what corrective actions, if any, are appropriate." Lexington Bishop Stowe originally called the students a, "contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest." Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz tweeted a condemnation of what he claimed were "the shameful actions of the Covington Catholic High School students." Other bishops made similar premature condemnations. They wittingly or not worked in concert with an unethical media, hostile to the Church and the pro-life movement. And, once again, they showed themselves perfectly capable of crying out in unison when politically popular, but painfully mute when needing to champion unpopular, but true, teachings of the faith.

In February 2018, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich responded in a week to publicly condemn and sanction a priest who burned a flag promoting homosexuality that once hung in his parish. Meanwhile, after two priests in Cupich's archdiocese were arrested for committing a public sexual act with each other, Cupich said he would wait for an investigation. Neither originally, nor over four months later, has any public condemnation come from Cupich. Cupich is also the Archbishop who responded within 48 hours to the first ViganĂ³ letter about clergy abuse by say saying the Pope should focus on "other things" and that addressing the letter was to go down a "rabbit hole." Vexingly, the Pope still appointed Cupich to the organizing committee of the February abuse synod.

In June 2018, news media drew attention to the temporary separation of family members crossing the southern U.S. border while screening occurred. Although these detainments were temporary and complicated by such matters as child sex traffickers often posing as a child's parents, multiple bishops, in a unified, simultaneous voice, condemned the policy in the harshest language. Tucson Bishop Edward Weisenburger referred to the practice "In light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues" and suggested the hierarchy consider "canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this". San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said, "To steal children from their parents is a grave sin, immoral (and) evil."  Brownsville Archbishop Daniel Flores said, "separating immigrant parents and children as a supposed deterrent to immigration is a cruel and reprehensible policy." Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said, "The forced separation of children from their parents, which is underway now at our southern border, is an unconscionable violation of human dignity." Chicago Archbishop Cupich also spoke out immediately (He did not wait for further investigation as with his priests in Feb. 2018), stating the policy was "nothing remotely Christian, American, or (sic) morally defensible..." These are just a small sample. But whatever one thinks of these detainment policies (the policy was since deauthorized), if the bishops were truly concerned about damage to families, where is their massive condemnation about ongoing issues that are destroying legions of families, in numbers no border detainments will ever approach? Where are the bishops' unified and sobering statements about family destroyers such as divorce, cohabitation, pre-marital sex, or contraception? These things have created a hemorrhage of destruction in the institution of the family. Obviously, the bishops have shown they have the ability to issue strong condemnations in a unified voice. Why not conduct a communication blitz on these other matters instead of something politically charged that does not even constitute objective immorality?

Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple by Quentin Matsys, 16th cent.
Public domain image acquired from Wikimedia Commons.
These incidents are some among many examples. Meanwhile, scandals among the hierarchy themselves persist. The faithful are left vexed. Stories of infiltration abound. Neither Pope Francis nor any other named bishops have been able to rebut the content of Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ³'s letters detailing cover-up of sexual deviance within the Church. Pope Francis has neither replied to the 2016 dubia issued by four cardinals on the matter of Communion. Stories of priests teaching heterodoxy from the pulpit persist. Bishops consistently react fast when making popular political condemnations, but react glacially slow or altogether silently when upholding Church teaching or when condemning ills coming from their own ranks. The current state of bishops is unacceptable.

What are the faithful to do? Foremost, there is prayer. Another consideration some Catholics have suggested is withholding Sunday giving in favor of other faithful Catholic and non-profit organizations. In this scenario, dioceses are withheld funds until the true doctrines of the faith are promoted and opponents from within the Church are silenced or expelled. However, there is opposition to that view, such as from Catholic radio host Al Kresta from November 2018. Phillip Lawler, who has been instrumental in journaling scandal within the Church, also has suggestions in his recent book, The Smoke of Satan: How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful...and What Can Be Done About It.

Further resources:
Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones, Psychology Today (2011)
Unprotected movie, Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries (2018)
Children falling short in school? Blame parental break-ups, Nicole M. King and Bryce J. Christensen (2018)
Kresta in the Afternoon, Jan. 25, 2019, hour 1, interview with Phil Lawler (on Covington Catholic incident)
The Patrick Madrid Show, Jan. 21, 2019, hour 1 (on Covington Catholic incident)

Monday, December 31, 2018

5 modern lies sold as truth

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

Detail of Prophet Isaiah in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
Acquired from Wikimedia Commons.

Today's culture, in plain sight, successfully sells lies that are often 180 degrees opposite the truth.

Birth control is "medicine," claimed Hillary Clinton in 2017. Planned Parenthood has called it "basic health care." Yet contraceptives used to prevent birth are the opposite of medicine—for their end goal is to cause a normally functioning body to malfunction. Birth control more closely resembles the medical definition of Poison: a substance that "may cause structural or functional disturbance."

Read more in earlier TCV blog post: "Birth control" is not medicine.

"It's my body!" shouts the 21st century feminist of enwombed offspring. Yet, in reality, the fertilized egg—the zygote—has its own unique DNA, distinct from the mother. A mother thus advances the culture's lie when she refers as "her body" to that which is not her body.

Additional resources: Science is clear: Each new human life begins at fertilization (Sarah Terzo, 2013); 41 Quotes From Medical Textbooks Prove Human Life Begins at Conception (Terzo, 2015); The Science About When Life Begins Makes Pro-Choicers Look Terrible (Dr. Donna Harrison, 2018)

During the years leading up to the 2015 gay "marriage" ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were three common slogans used to advance the idea of gay "marriage": "love is love," "same love," and "marriage equality."

Dialogue on this issue was minimal and even discouraged. Then-First Lady Michelle Obama declared: "In a country where we teach our children that everyone is equal under the law, discriminating against same-sex couples just isn’t right. So, it’s as simple as that."

Although the state declared marriage redefined by stroke of a pen, marriage was not the only thing their verdict "redefined." The censoring of discussion disguised this. Notice how each of the three slogans advanced the idea that men and women are interchangeable with no difference. One ingredient is equal to another. This was among the undiscussed, dangerous side effects of the formulations: "same," "equal," "A is equal to B." These were the Orwellian newspeak that tickled many ears.

The idea that Man+Man = Man+Woman is absurd on its face. The sale of this idea that men and women are interchangeable variables is also contrary to science, which shows the unique qualities brought to parenthood by mothers and fathers, as well as the obvious family structure innate in the male and female union. Any children raised in such arrangements are deprived of one or more of their mother and father. The idea also paved the way for society's next chapter, discussed below (Sex/Gender), in denying the significant qualities between males and females.

Additional Resources: Reengineering the Family (Heather Mac Donald, 2010); How Re-Defining Marriage Harms Society (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, 2012); Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, 2015); and additional social science resources in the endnotes at Same-Sex “Marriage”: The Victims. The Children (2015).

Modern transgenderism: It is the idea that a man can "become" a woman (or vice versa) either based on his own feelings and/or after a surgery alters some of his body parts. A significant portion of society is at the point where it cannot tell the difference between a boy and girl and even believes there are a multitude of sexes beyond male and female. This is the hypnotic effect that abusing truth has created.

The idea of switching "genders" is again contrary to science:
In human embryos, the SRY gene encodes a unique transcription factor that activates a testis-forming pathway at about week seven of development. Before this time, the embryonic gonad is "indifferent"... (Genetic Mechanisms of Sex Determination, Nature Education 1(1):25, 2008)
Instead of simply admitting a boy with xyz feelings is still a boy who has these feelings, society fosters the lie that he's not a boy at all, or that somehow a new "gender" can even be created as a result of sexual proclivities.

But calling a boy a girl and a girl a boy is a dangerous inversion of reality that has led to regretful surgeriesharmful use of puberty blockers in children, and other personal and public damage, not to mention the instability caused to any other truth. In "redefining" marriage and what is a boy and girl, society has paved the way to other redefinitions, such as the recent effort to rebrand pedophilia under the moniker "minor attracted person (MAP)." The trajectory will result in future "redefinitions" of parenthood and more as previously discussed in 5 difficult issues human cloning will cause.

Additional resources: Transgenderism: Semantic contagion or biological fact? (Dr. Anne Hendershott, 2018); The Genetics of Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior (NCBI, 2010); The myth of gender-neutral parenting (Dr. Deborah Soh, 2017)

As previously detailed at length, modern atheists such as Sam Harris, Gad Saad, or Patricia Churchland have attempted to explain morality strictly as a function of biology and evolution. Harris goes so far as to say morality exists even though he believes free will does not.

But these efforts are as misguided as they are ironic. By assigning the label "morality" to biological instincts or automatic actions devoid of free will, morality's necessary feature of obligation is stripped from the equation. By reducing man to an automaton or animal obeying euphoric bodily chemicals, these atheists actually make the argument that morality doesn't exist.

The significance of these lies is not something to take lightly. They are prone to cause damage, whether to public policy, the innocent baby, the fatherless child, the sexually confused, or the very foundation of moral truth. We end with a relevant quote from a saint:
[Y]ou did well in urging me not to betray the truth, but to refute the slanderers, lest, by a success of falsehood against truth, many might be injured. (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Trinity, ca 375 A.D.)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Birth Control" is not medicine

On October 13, 2017, the federal government issued an interim rule which exempts religious entities from paying for objectionable services as part of their insurance plans. These include:
(FDA)-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures ... [including] certain drugs and devices that may not only prevent conception (fertilization), but may also prevent implantation of an embryo ... that many persons and organizations believe are abortifacient.
See here for several prior TCV blog posts about this issue.

Responding to this interim rule, Hillary Clinton tweeted: "Rolling back no-copay birth control shows a blatant disregard for medicine, science, & every woman's right to make her own health decisions."

Planned Parenthood, which is pacing at about 300,000 abortion victims per year, also responded. Their president, Cecile Richards, issued a statement saying exemptions for "birth control coverage" are an "attack on basic health care."

Many other celebrities and non-celebrities upset by the rule echoed similar sentiments.

But medicine is designed to fix an affliction of the body. Medicine's end goal is a body that functions properly. For example, medical remedies can come in the form of pills that directly fix a bodily problem such as antibiotics that attack or prevent bacterial infections. Medical remedies can come in the form of a surgery to repair a broken limb or remove a cancerous mass—any necessary part of that surgery could be considered medical care.

Birth control is not medicine. In fact, birth control's end goal is to cause a properly functioning body to malfunction.

One might try to argue something like anesthesia is not medicine, since, for example, it temporarily causes the patient the inability to feel—a malfunction of the body. However, this is only done as part of a larger goal of correcting the body. Body malfunction is not the end goal of using anesthesia. Something like an incision is similar. The ultimate goal isn't to scar a patient, but it can be necessary to ultimately treat the affliction. Contrary to these, the end goal of birth control is body malfunction.

In the case of oral contraceptives, an otherwise properly functioning ovulation cycle is stifled. Other oral contraceptives thicken an otherwise fertile uterine wall, preventing implantation of a zygote, thus killing it. Generally speaking, these are all forms of sterilization—which is a field of disease in itself. This is the product we are told must be covered by medical insurance. Forget for a moment any religious beliefs behind objections to the original mandate. Requiring insurance coverage of birth control can be opposed on medical grounds alone—specifically that birth control is not medicine.

In the earliest stages of this birth control/insurance matter, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo wrote on behalf of the U.S. bishops: "[P]regnancy is not a disease." 

In response to this latest rule, Lila Rose, president of Live Action, defended this concept in a tweet:
Abortifacient drugs are the antithesis of "healthcare." Medicine is meant to heal, not kill.
And she is exactly right. Medicine is meant to heal.

As in 2012, objectors immediately pointed out that some contraceptives can be used to regulate cycles or alleviate pains. However, in such cases, the product would not properly be called "birth control" because the drug is not used to prevent birth. Recall in 2012, Bishop Lori, speaking before congress, explained how the same medications typically used for birth control could possibly have other uses:
Blake Farenthold - The Catholic Church does not have a problem with contraceptives for medical purposes. So I would assume from that it wouldn't be morally objectionable to the Church to pay for those for medical purposes. I'm not trying to put you on the spot, I'm just trying to make sure I understand where the Church stands. 
Bishop Lori - That would be my understanding also.
Bishop Lori - I think Catholic moral theology is very nuanced. It recognizes that the same drug can operate in different ways and accomplish different things. If it is used to prevent birth, it is against our teaching.
The Bishop's principle can be seen in action, for example, at the University of Notre Dame's human resources page:
[U]nder the university’s plan, you cannot receive reimbursement for oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices or contraceptive implants, except when specifically requested by a physician based on medical necessity and for purposes other than contraception.
Insurance companies have made similar distinctions with other drugs. For example, Finasteride can be used to treat enlarged prostates but also to treat hair loss. The latter is considered cosmetic and insurance companies are not required to cover the drug in such cases.

Nevertheless, the original HHS Mandate made no distinction regarding coverage of contraceptive products. Contraceptives were required for medicinal as well as anti-medicinal purposes. The Church and other entities object to the anti-medicinal use of contraceptives, i.e. birth control.

You may have seen in reaction to this latest rule cries that requiring coverage for Viagra is hypocritical or misogynistic. For instance, NARAL, a vocal pro-abortion group, tweeted: "In case you were wondering, bosses can’t “opt out” of paying for Viagra." 

But what is the obvious failure of intellect in that statement? Viagra, which treats erectile dysfunction, is designed to correct a body malfunction. And, again, birth control, is designed to cause body malfunction. If NARAL and their peers were serious about finding a valid parallel, they would argue that something like OTC skin ointment should be covered since it is designed to fix a bodily affliction or mouthwash which is designed to prevent poor hygiene.

I should note, for the purposes of this blog post, I'm not arguing whether or not any drug/treatment should be "required" in medical insurance policies. Certainly there are reasonable discussions that could be had regarding coverage of only major medical expenses or to give market forces a greater voice in shaping insurance policies. The purpose of this post is focused on birth control and the nature of medicine.

You might have noticed at the beginning that this interim rule was issued on October 13, 2017, the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun. One of the central figures in this contraceptive case was the Little Sisters of the Poor who would have incurred severe fines under the original mandate had they not paid for birth control for someone else. Other religious entities faced similar burdens. Many prayers on this matter have occurred over the past 5 years. Participation in birth control, sterilizations, and chemical abortions are clearly a moral offense in the eyes of the faithful. This is why the matter of conscious rights took a prevalent position in this discussion. We saw in a previous TCV article the amazing rescue of Chilean miners on October 13, 2010. Might Our Lady have interceded for the faithful and little ones, to protect their consciences, lives, and souls?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The 21st Century Secular Inquisition

Secularists often point to the medieval Inquisition as the icon of what they believe religion, particularly Catholicism, to be––an interrogatory trial to force individuals to adhere to doctrines. For example, appearing in the Huffington Post, author Cullen Murphy condemns the Inquistion thusly: "The Inquisition was based on intolerance and moral certainty. It tried to enforce a particular view..." Even the recent "Cosmos" 'documentary' claims a monk of the Middle Ages opposed to Church doctrine fell into "the clutches of the thought police."

Interestingly enough, even before the medieval Inquisition period, the Church made statements such as:
[A Christian evangelizing a brother] does not drag him and force him, but leaves him his own master. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans, ca 390 A.D.)

The Lord is a just judge and orders no one unwillingly, or under compulsion, to come under the yoke of the Catholic faith. (Albert of Aix, account of the 1st Crusade, ca 1120 A.D.)
And even in the modern period:
It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man's response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will. (Dignitatis Humanae #10, Second Vatican Council, 1965 (EDIT to add quote 4/2/2018)) 
It would certainly be an error to impose something on the consciences of our brethren. But to propose to their consciences the truth of the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ, with complete clarity and with a total respect for the free options which it presents -- "without coercion, or dishonorable or unworthy pressure" -- far from being an attack on religious liberty is fully to respect that liberty, which is offered the choice of a way that even non-believers consider noble and uplifting. (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975)

Any approach to dialogue such as coercion or improper enticement that fails to respect the dignity and religious freedom of the partners in that dialogue has no place in Christian evangelization. (Pope Benedict XVI, Doctrinal Note On Some Aspects Of Evangelization)
Pope John Paul II even apologized for improprieties during the Inquisition, insofar as they were historically accurate. He wrote:
The prayer I then addressed to God contains the reasons for the petition for forgiveness, which is valid both for the dramas linked to the Inquisition as well as for the wounds they have caused in the memory. (Pope John Paul II, John Paul II Letter on Inquisition Symposium, 2004)
Suffice it to say, in spite of any medieval improprieties, along with secular critics of the Inquisition, even the Church acknowledges the right of persons to be free of coercion.

Make no mistake, the Church communicates tangible, identifiable doctrines as organized, for example, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is not a secret that the Church teaches, for example, that God is Trinity (CCC#232ff), Mary is ever-virgin (CCC#510), or that the Eucharist is sacramentally and truly Christ's body (CCC#1374). It is also not a secret that the Church has clear positions on hot-button issues of the day, such as that fornication is sinful (CCC#2353) or that abortion is the taking of a human life (CCC#2271). Since these are all matters of "faith or morals," they are recognized by the Church as truths, which means they cannot change. Any penalty, such as automatic excommunication, incurred by a member of the faithful for rejecting one of these teachings, is rooted in the fact that the Church's teachings are identifiable, and that Catholic Christianity posits certain beliefs for the faithful to hold.

In other words, Catholicism is a religion with certain beliefs. One cannot be a Catholic while obstinately rejecting dogmatic beliefs. Today, and through most of history, the only penalty for rejecting Catholicism was to cease to be Catholic. Makes sense, no? Consider an analogy. If I insist society should have an organized government, I can't really call myself an anarchist.

Many critics of the Church have expressed disapproval that the Church will not reverse some of her teachings. That brings us to the crux of this essay. Secularists who decry the Church for adhering to religious beliefs are themselves rigidly adhered to beliefs that are, practically speaking, "religious." However, unlike with the Church, such believers do not admit to holding religious beliefs. And the punishments for not adhering to such beliefs have proven to be quite severe in this 21st Century Inquisition for secular doctrine.

As we examine several modern examples, we can see that those who profess to be religion-free are themselves no less religious in the sense that they hold certain moral or faithful viewpoints just as a person who admits to religious beliefs. As much as many secularists cry for freedom from religious views or moral impositions, there really is no "neutral" religious or moral viewpoint. Often, when the State rejects one of the Church's teachings, it is not endorsing some "neutral" view that is nondiscriminatory to all beliefs. It is positing a particular view just as "religious" as the one it opposes.

Let's examine some of the secular doctrines and penalties in question.

The issue of contraception was largely covered here on TCV in posts tagged with HHS Mandate. That mandate by the U.S. federal government is iconic of the 21st Century Inquisition with regard to contraception. In its earliest form, the fed threatened institutions that did not provide in their health care plans coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs with the penalty of $2,000 per employee. This demand for businesses to embrace the secular doctrine suffered a narrow loss in the Supreme Court during the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case in 2014. Despite this, the mandate retains potentiality in other legislative forms and religious entities continue to spar for their religious freedom. Other religious entities, such as Priests for Life and Little Sisters of the Poor, have since suffered legal battles as well. (It it also worth noting, Catholic theology recognizes that taking a contraceptive drug for actual medical purposes and not as a contraceptive can be licit––thus the matter is not medical, but related to persons who want to live a lifestyle that causes their otherwise healthy and fertile bodies to malfunction.)

Next case. In 2011, the U.S. federal government defunded the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services, which provides refuge for victims of human trafficking. At that time, U.S. Archbishop Timothy Dolan revealed that the fed had insisted that they provide a "full range of reproductive services," meaning contraceptives or abortions. The Bishops did not comply with the Inquisition's demand. The charity was subsequently defunded.

Next case. This past February 2015 saw the California legislature initiate an "investigation," (i.e. an "Inquisition") against the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. The diocese recently included a "morality clause" in hiring practices which seeks to hire staff that will support Church teaching. The State demands that the Archdiocese approve the hiring of educators who reject Church teaching and embrace the doctrines of the Inquisition instead, including abortion, contraception and gay "marriage." The lawmakers defended their imposition by declaring that the Archdiocese's desire to hire personnel that will not thwart Church teaching is "in stark contrast to the values that define the Bay Area and it’s history." Apparently, the Bay Area's "values" include having the Church submit to the doctrines of the State. The legislators also called the Church's attempt to hire personnel who will not thwart Church teaching as "divisive." Apparently, the legislators believe "unity" is best achieved when others submit to their Inquisition. Archbishop Cordileone responded to the State. His statement included the correction of erroneous propaganda, such as "the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life." Then, after providing hypothetical scenarios clarifying the Church's position, the Archbishop ironically concluded his response letter to the legislators with, "I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you." One may be accurate to suppose that if the Church had told a politician that the politician must hire only staff that supports Church teaching, the Church would have been told some such or other about "separation of Church and State" or that the Church should not conduct an Inquisition demanding others embrace their doctrines. The penalties in this case, so far, have included political strong-arming and can be expected to include whatever demands are made by the State after the "investigtion," i.e. Inquisition.

Next case. In 2011, a British couple, Eunice and Owen Johns, were forbidden by a court from adopting children because they would not formally teach their children that homosexual behavior is good. The judges in question made no attempt to disguise their decision as anti-Christian. The judges stated:
It is important to realize that reliance upon religious belief, however conscientious the belief and however ancient and respectable the religion, can never of itself immunize the believer from the reach of the secular law.
Let us consider this statement from several angles. First of all, it is not only religious persons who do not condone homosexual behavior, thus the court's decision to reject the view simply because it is religious is faulty, not to mention bigoted. Second, the teaching not to kill is quite explicit in Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, yet the state does not reject this notion on the grounds that it is native to religion. Third, there is no "secular law" forbidding Christians to raise children. Fourth, the judge's opinion contradicts itself, because, as we are noting in this essay, a view such as endorsement of homosexual behavior, is itself equal to a religious view. They did not impose a neutral view. Their doctrine says that Eunice and Owen Johns would be harmful to children. For this, the judges were not able to substantiate cause. They gratuitously asserted that Christians are not suitable parents. The Inquisition merely lowered its gavel on the Christian and said, "Either endorse our doctrine, or pay the penalty of childlessness."

Next is a series of related cases. The United States recently has seen a barrage of Inquisition incidents against business owners. First, let's recall one of the sales pitches for gay "marriage." Last year, one of the gay "marriages" across the USA include Lake County, Indiana's Michelle Davies and her partner. Regarding her "marriage," Davies declared, "It doesn't affect anyone but us." In February, Nickson Chong, a writer for SMU's Daily Campus, chastised Judge Roy Moore for suspending gay "marriage" licenses prior to the Supreme Court's engagement of the subject. Chong declared: "Their love and marriage doesn’t affect you in the slightest way." He concluded with the universal order: "And if you still remain steadfast in your arrogant hate for same-sex marriage, then don’t get one."

Unfortunately, the idea that gay "marriage" affects no one but the couple in question is not true. First, the lexical definition of the term "marriage" has been amputated from any recognizable notion of sexual complementarity and fertility which is plainly native to the two genders. It requires no religious person to perceive this. Placing the onus of defining truth on the legal system is not a sound apologetic. This attitude toward malleability of truth is the same tradition in America that perceived blacks as 0/5 of a person on one day, 3/5 of a person on another, and 5/5 of a person on yet another. It attaches institutional definitions to cultural whims and fads. The movement is built on as shaky a ground as the emotional propaganda at its base. A reasoned apologetic related to nature, the human condition, and the concept of marriage is lacking.

Second, there are already multiple legal victims of the gay "marriage" movement, about which we were sold that no one would be affected beyond the couple. This is where the Secular Inquisition returns to impose its doctrines.

In 2014, Ireland's Ashers Baking Company, owned by a Christian couple, declined to bake a cake inscribed with "Support Gay Marriage." The "Equality Commission for Northern Ireland" then spearheaded the Inquisition against this couple and demanded they embrace the Inquisition's doctrine or face legal and financial consequences.

Going back to 2006, Christian photographer Elane Photographers in New Mexico declined to photograph a same-sex "wedding." New Mexico courts have since declared that the owners must subordinate their views to the State's doctrines. Hence, this Inquisition demands that the owners cooperate with a gay ceremony. Their failure to do so has earned them over $7,000 in fines from the State, as well as any legal costs and difficulties that continue to this day.

Stories like these two are common in recent years. The State and its accomplices attempt to treat this as an "equality" issue. You see the Orwellian term "equality" invoked in these Inquisitions regularly. And so, a person may ask him or herself, "Isn't this like not serving someone because of race? And thus a matter of equal treatment?"

The answer is no. Two other cases illustrate this clearer.

In February 2015, the owners of the 111 Cakery in Indiana closed shop. In 2014, they had declined to bake a cake for a gay "wedding." Subsequently, they endured a barrage of social media protests, as well as an in-person call for boycott, accusing them of "hate," "homophobia," and the like. However, the McGath's explained on their own social media page: "[T]his week we told a man that requested a cake for a same-sex ceremony that it was against our policy, but we would be happy to help him with anything else."

Keep that in mind as we look at our second case.

Recently, the State of Washington ruled against florist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers. In 2013, she declined to make floral arrangements for the gay "wedding" of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. In February 2015, the State of Washington declared her guilty of discrimination. As a courtesy, this Inquisition offered to drop the case against her if she paid $2,001 in fines and also embraced their doctrine by participating in gay "weddings." Stutzman responded, saying her morality was not for sale and compared the "deal" to Judas betraying Christ for 30 pieces of silver. But what is key in understanding this case, is that Stutzman knew Ingersoll was gay. And Stutzman had served Ingersoll for almost ten years prior to him asking for her to participate in his wedding.

You see in the previous two examples, there was no discrimination based on the sexual orientation of the customer. Both vendors willed to serve those customers, the latter having actually done so for almost a decade. This issue is not comparable to segregation, in which a business would simply not serve a person of color. No, customers like Ingersoll were served without incident for years. The trigger in these cases was asking a person who does not believe a gay "wedding" is moral to be a willing participant in that ceremony. If a heterosexual customer had entered their businesses and tried to hire them to serve the same gay "wedding," the results would have been the same. The business owners would have refused. The sexual orientation of the customer was not a determining factor in refusing the business.

The Inquisition has thus committed the fallacy of equivocation in their verdicts, confusing a characteristic of a person with a controversial activity. A comparable analogy would be if a klansman demanded a black baker make a cake for a Klan rally, or if an animal rights photographer was demanded to film a pig slaughter. The offending request is not rooted in some arbitrary characteristic of the customer, but in the nature of the activity the customer is attempting to have the business cooperate.

The bottom line in these "wedding" cases is that the powers-that-be exhibit all the qualities of an Inquisition. They force a religious doctrine on the victim, in these cases business owners. If the victim will not embrace the doctrine, the penalty is inflicted.

Next case. Let's look at this Inquisition from one last angle.

In March 2014, a number of pro-life students at the University of California-Santa Barbara held pro-life signage. In a stroke of irony, they were standing in the campus "free speech zone." UCSB Associate Professor of Feminist Studies Mireille Miller-Young took offense at one of the signs. She proceeded to accost the students and steal the sign. When the students followed her, she attacked a 16 year old female, drawing blood from the young lady. At one point, Miller-Young told her, "I may be a thief, but you're a terrorist." Miller-Young eventually plead no contest to assault and, by a court, was assigned probation, community service, and anger management. What was the University's response through all this? In response to the professor's attack, UCSB Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael D. Young circulated a letter to students. In the letter, he places full attention on the pro-life students, saying they are "evangelical types," "self-proclaimed prophets, and provocateurs," "anti-abortion crusaders,"  "proselytizers hawking intolerance in the name of religious belief," and "outsiders coming into our midst." There actually is no criticism of Miller-Young in the letter. In fact, she's not mentioned at all. To this day, there has apparently been no sanction on this professor who robbed a student, physically assaulted her, and destroyed the stolen goods to boot. But, as the dean's bombastic and doctrinal letter reveals, the pro-life student is the enemy at UCSB. The dean associates their views with "outsiders." In this case, the violent professor had embraced the Inquisition's doctrines. She fought heretics of the Inquisition. And so the Inquisition's penalty is avoided.

The crux of this essay is to point out the religious quality of the State's and its allies' culture views. These views are not neutral, but doctrinal and, practically speaking, religious. Just because the State has not publicly declared they are imposing a State religion does not mean it has not practiced as much in the form of imposing specific doctrines. And we are seeing before our very eyes the 21st Century Inquisition against anyone with a different belief.

More resources and information on contraception: "Birth Control"
EWTN "What the the Church teach about birth control?"
EWTN "Contraception: What's allowed?"
Jimmy Akin "NFP vs. Contraception"
Catholic Culture "The Contraception Misconception"
Catholics, Contraception, and Feminisms?
Humana Vitae
The Catholic Voyager: Myths about Church teaching on contraception and the religious liberty at stake
USCCB Natural Family Planning (NFP) resources 

More resources and information on abortion: "Abortion"
The Catholic Voyager: Notre Dame professor's flawed argument for abortion
Catholic News Agency Abortion Resources
Local resources for pregnant mothers include such organizations as Waterleaf Women's Center in Illinois or Elizabeth's New Life Center in Ohio. One can also do a web search for pro-life pregnancy centers in their local area. Such organizations can help with finances, adoption, and more.

More resources and information on Gay "Marriage": "How to Make the Case for Marriage (Using Non-religious Language)"
The Catholic Voyager: Replies to gay marriage arguments 1
The Catholic Voyager: Replies to gay marriage arguments 2
An atheist identifies "the central problem with the gay marriage agenda"
Christian Anthropology And Homosexuality
Unintended Consequences: The Flaws in “It Doesn’t Affect Anyone But Us” Argument in Favor of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage by Marianne M. Jennings, J.D. 

More resources and information on myths of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages:
Inquisition by Dr. James Hitchcock "Inquisition" more articles
Timewatch - The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition (BBC 1994)

Monday, December 23, 2013

4 ways pre-marital sex is harmful

The Marriage Feast at Cana by Juan de Flandes, 1500 (acquired from Wikimedia Commons)

There are many resources demonstrating the various harms that pre-marital sexual activity often induces. This post is intended to collect a few. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

All other harms of extra-marital sex should be supplementary to the moral harm done. The moral detriment to the individual can never be altered by any future technology or medicine. To recognize the moral quality of the sexual act, one not even need to be overtly religious, although, certainly Jesus Christ spoke to the proper order of marriage between the "male and female" and as it was "in the beginning" (i.e. Adam and Eve). (Matt. 19:4,8)1

But as was discussed in a prior post, What did the Church teach about marriage, men and women in 1880?, the very nature of the human body supports the idea that one man and woman belong together in the sexual order. One example is that a female egg naturally closes itself to receiving sperm from more than one father.

This is further fortified when we recognize the body's release of certain chemicals, which will be further addressed below, that tend toward attachment or even "addiction" to the recipient of a person's sexual attention. In other words, the body itself wants to move toward monogamous permanence when engaged in sexual activity.

These kinds of things are what belong to the natural law. For example, if someone came up to you and punched you for no reason, you would would rightly cry foul, that it was a violation of some kind to be struck unjustly. If you were at a restaurant and laid your wallet on the table for a moment and someone snatched it, you would rightly cry foul, as they took something that belonged to you. These examples speak to the sensibilities we have that human beings possess certain dignity and that it is morally wrong to violate that dignity.

In the same way, the various signposts of sexual activity toward committed, one-man, one-woman relationships communicate proper use of our human gifts, including our sexual faculties. Outside that committed relationship, persons engaged in sexual activity violate their own humanity and that of anyone else involved in the activity, whether or not they "feel" violated at that moment.

As I said, one needn't even be "religious" to draw such conclusions. But, certainly, if Jesus Christ is truly God, rose from the dead as witnesses attest, and taught his disciples about eternity for those living in accord with his teaching and damnation for those opposed, then the issue of proper sexuality is paramount.

As stated above and in a prior post, during sexual activity, various chemicals are released by the body, such as oxytocin, vasopressin, and endorphins, which cause attachment to the recipient of sexual attention.

A clear example of this, even in secular studies, is seen when examining pornographic addictions. When someone is looking at pornography, the chemical releases present tend toward attaching that person to physical imagery. This is one of the great harms of porn addiction, that it compromises a person's ability to see the beauty in a real person beyond the surface.

In a similar way, when these chemicals are released in the body outside of a committed relationship, the involved persons will tend toward that other person due to the physical bond they have exchanged. However, when those individuals move toward a decision for or against marriage with their partner, they may well make a decision induced more by chemicals rather than an objective analysis of their compatibility. This is not to say no couple that engaged in pre-marital sex could have a lasting, monogamous, or happy marriage. The point is rather to say how that potential is compromised by pre-marital sex.

The data supporting this is plenty. For example:
Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage...and who cohabitated before marriage.2 
[M]arriages formed after cohabitation are rated as less stable and result in more divorces than marriages not preceded by living together. Cohabitation thus "does not seem to serve very well the function of a trial marriage... (Popenoe, 1993)."3
After marriage it was about 3.3 times more likely that a woman who had cohabited would have a secondary sex partner. ... If a woman has a previous history of multiple sex partners, the likelihood of her having a secondary sex partner during her current relationship greatly increases. This is particularly true for married women.4
Study results also indicate that out of divorced women, 81.8% had engaged in pre-marital sex as opposed to 17.8% who remained abstinent and did not cohabitate.5 Studies also indicate that once the number of sexual partners a person has exceeds one, so does the risk for marital failure.6 Divorces can be a detriment not only to the couple, but to any children who may suffer the consequences of the dissolution.

You can see the pattern here that the virgin bride and groom have the statistically and significantly superior advantage for a successful marriage. Reason alone communicates that this is so because the virgin bride and groom have not developed those physical attachments to another person that could otherwise cloud their appraisal of a lasting mate. To boot, there are numerous testimonials and studies indicating that sexual activity is more fulfilling when exercised in marriage alone.

It does not take a great intellectual leap to realize that sexually transmitted diseases (or infections; i.e. STIs) are significantly reduced in persons who are abstinent. They are likewise reduced in a permanently monogamous relationship, i.e. marriage. As the Mayo Clinic puts it, "The more people you have sexual contact with, the greater your overall exposure risks."

Secular culture responds to this with the promotion of various contraceptives. However, this "solution" does not only not always solve the STI problem, but can perpetuate and even foster the other chemical and moral problems described. Contraceptives also instill a mentality toward the sexual partner that tend to objectify that person. A man who is closed to conception with a woman and contracepts with her will view her differently than if he had to consider her as a mother and a partner with whom to raise a child. One tends toward objectification, the other considers her more completely. (For resources on contraceptive information and on child regulation in accord with Catholic teaching, see some of the resources below.)

In reviewing all of the above detriments of pre-marital sexual activity, we can see how this would harm society at large. Working our way back up the list, if extra-marital sexual activity contributes to the spread of STIs, persons facilitating or engaging in that behavior are contributing to that spread. And a variety of STIs are currently on the rise despite all the medical remedies and solutions which foster promiscuity.

As well, if greater pre-marital sexual activity clouds one's judgment toward identifying a marriage partner, then those persons have in some way contributed to the normalization of that behavior, and hence, the resulting marriage failures and STIs.

And finally, the moral decay resulting in the spread of pre-marital sexual behavior, supported by the emotional and physical data, literally de-humanizes us. That is one reason why proponents of abstinence before marriage invite everyone to embrace the beauty of reserving the sexual faculties for the marriage bed. The more individuals who embrace sexuality exclusive to marriage grows the pool of available mates with that disposition, and in turn, will result in more solid marriages. Such a movement could also help current practitioners of abstinence, who have the call and self-giving disposition to serve a spouse, in finding a suitable mate they may otherwise have difficulty finding.

Those who may not have practiced abstinence outside of marriage should not be discouraged by the data. It's never too late to practice a moral virtue. Such persons could be considered particular kinds of heroes of society, along side those who already practice abstinence, by embracing a virtue against what the pressures of a sexually addicted society might impose. See also the previous post, On Reconciliation: Can virginity be restored?

Even if such a person has already married, it is never to late to encourage others to practice proper use of the sexual faculties, teaching their children or others. Plus, simply learning about humanity can help married couples "see" each other for the unique beauty instilled in each other, and the unique value and societal pillar extant in the stable foundation of a family.

Effects of Cohabitation Research Summary
Premarital sex and greater risk of divorce
What does the Church teach about Birth Control?
The Harms of Contraception
What a Woman Should Know about Contraceptives

1Some writers and commentators like to talk about a confusing message in the Bible, going so far as to say the Bible endorses polygamy or divorce. Yet there is are no such passages making such moral definitions. Typically, those who claim the Bible supports polygamy will point to examples of characters in Scripture practicing it and interpret that as a moral endorsement, which does not automatically follow. This is especially so when one realizes that the events and figures of the Old Testament are often an inferior form to that which is to come in the New Testament. This is basic Christian typology. Something in the OT reflecting the natural law, like thou shall not kill, remains in the moral order. The behavior of any individual may or may not be proper.
2(Heaton, Tim B., Factors Contributing to Increasing Marital Stability in the United States, Brigham Young University, 2002) 
3 (Smith, Tom W. American Sexual Behavior: Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior. National Opinion Research Center University of Chicago. March 2006)
4(Forste, Renata and Tanfer, Koray. Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women. Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Feb. 1996) p. 43, 46)
5Teachman, Jay. Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, And the Risk of Subsequent Marital Dissolution Among Women. Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (May 2003): 444–455
6The National Survey of Family Growth. 1995. Cited at The Wintery Knight.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

3 false mantras intended to silence the Church

In today's entry, I examine 3 mantras or buzz terms extant in today's media and culture, each of which are logically flawed arguments, and each of which are intended to gather support for the censorship of the Church. Sometimes these statements are made by non-Catholics, and sometimes they are made by those who claim to be Catholics in good standing.


This type of argument is perhaps most commonly seen in news story comboxes.

An ABC News commenter writes: "As soon as the Catholic Church cleans their own moral house – they can tell Catholics and Non-Catholics how to live their lives." A Minnesota Minnpost commenter writes: "Until the Catholic Church can clean up there own sins, [they don't] have any right to talk about any law." In another paraphrased echo, a Nov. 2012 CNN blog responder writes: "The catholic church needs to clean up their own pedophile-filled sewer before they try telling anyone else how to think."
Admittedly, comboxes are havens for high emotion and bombast. But this mantra is extraordinarily prevalent and not exclusive to comboxes. I distinctly remember 670 The Score host Mike North, prior to his departure from the station a few years ago, make the exact same argument in response to some public statement from a member of the clergy.

But all of these comments have the same basic demand. The Church must remain silent as long as sin exists within it. The problems with this argument are multifold.

To begin, these arguments, all recent, are founded on the myth that the Church does not address sins within the Church, particularly with regard to the pedophilia scandal of recent years. The folks over at have cataloged a number of statistics on the improvement in Church self-policing in the last 10 years, in addition to stories often overlooked, such as false accusations that have falsely nourished the myth of universal sex abuse or other scandal in the Church. The Church has also permitted third party investigations, including the vast and recent John Jay report last year. The Church has called for seminary screening to include psychological tests in an effort to prevent infiltrators from abusing the priestly office. Early in the exposure of the scandal, the American Church brought in Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI agent to remedy the situation. The Church's response goes on and on. To argue that the response could be "better" or not is beside the point. Those who argue the Church doesn't address these matters are simply advancing falsehoods.

Secondly, these comments calling for silence are often addressed to priests or bishops who are by all accounts innocent of any scandal. What justice is there for my local priest, innocent of the crimes of a minute percentage of his peers, to suddenly forfeit the entire purpose of his ministry and refuse to teach morality from the pulpit? The demand is nonsensical on its face.

And third, imagine the following analogy. Mr. & Mrs. Smith have two sons. The elder son is caught taking harmful and illegal drugs. The parents have a talk with the elder son. But soon after, he acquires the drugs again, and is involved in an ongoing drug problem. Meanwhile, Mrs. Smith finds out that Mr. Smith has a certain addiction to visiting strip clubs. This has caused an obvious additional rift in their marriage and in the family. Finally, the youngest son decides to become a petty thief. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a talk with the younger son, explaining to him that it is wrong to steal. The younger son back-talks to his parents, to those in charge of "shepherding" him. He tells his parents they have enough sin to deal with in their household. The parents admit their problems and their ongoing efforts to solve them, but the younger son ignores the concession. He says "until" they "clean up" their sins, he will go on stealing. The younger son demands the parents' voice be silenced.

At the end of the day, where does the younger son fail? Do the parents have problems in their home? Yes. Do they admit the problem? Yes. Are the parents still the parents? Yes. Does the younger son ever confront the idea that stealing is wrong? No. That is where the younger son, the one who attempts to silence those who love him, fails. Stealing is right or wrong independent of the parents' personal problems. The association made by the youngest son is therefore flawed. And regardless of their ongoing issues, loving parents retain every right and obligation to articulate the immorality of thievery.


Another method to avoid confronting the teachings of the Church is to accuse the Church's positions of being archaic or old-fashioned.

Raymond Gravel, an openly dissident Canadian priest, is quoted: "The leaders of the Catholic Church...have locked themselves up in their archaic and obsolete doctrines...they refuse any re-definition of marriage that would allow homosexual couples to legalize their union." Pamela Haag, appearing in the Huffington Post (whose erroneous, anti-papacy material I addressed previously) writes in defense of abortion and modern "sex": "Without access to affordable, reliable, convenient birth control, heterosexual men's and women's sex lives are effectively rolled back to the pre-Griswald 1930s." Following the Pope's recent utilization of Twitter, an anti-Catholic cartoon caricatured the Pope as saying: "This 21st century technology is great for spreading my 15th century views on gays, women and contraception!"
What is perhaps most peculiar about this line of argumentation is the insinuation that if an idea has an older or ancient pedigree, it must be wrong. Again, the accusation is nonsensical on its face. My eyebrow of suspicion is especially raised at the lack of similar accusations against modern scientists who continue to advance Isaac Newton's 17th century views on gravity and physics. Or where are the opponents of the applicability of Shakespeare's 16th century philosophies on love and other realms? Let's not even mention those professors who keep using Pythagoras' archaic 6th century B.C. mathematics!

The main point, of course, is that this "appeal to modernism" (argumentum ad novitatem) logical fallacy fails to confront the substance at hand. Consider abortion. For example, if the Church teaches abortion is wrong because it kills a person in the womb, then attempting to confront that claim by calling it "archaic" neither defeats the Church's position nor supports the arguer's position. It doesn't tell you anything about the validity of the argument. It instead treats it like a style of clothing. It says, "The Church has been pro-life for 2,000 years––you wouldn't want to support that any more than bell-bottoms, right? You'd be out of fashion!"

Secretly, the "archaic" line of argument defeats itself, for its logic defers to a future postulator that calls it old-fashioned.


Let's cut right to some examples:
Quoted in the UK Telegraph, a dissident group that rejects Church doctrine called the Church "mysoginist," "homophobic," and "intolerant." A gay rights group in England named Cardinal Keith O'Brien "Bigot of the Year," for believing same-sex unions are not "marriages." In May 2012, NY Times opiner Maureen Dowd wrote an article which warned in the headline of "the church's intolerance," and went on to claim that the Church is "intent on loyalty testing, mind control and heresy hunting. Rather than all-embracing, the church hierarchy has become all-constricting."
Let's forget for a moment about the 800-lb gorilla of irony who ghost wrote Ms. Dowd's column, and how her column is a test of the Church's loyalty to Ms. Dowd's views, is an attempt to influence the minds of her readers to her position, is an accusation that the Church has violated Ms. Dowd's defined heresies of "intolerance," and has constricted the Church's option on doctrine to the boundaries Ms. Dowd has set. I don't even know what to make of the "mind control" comment, but I pray I am not writing this with the spiraling eyes of a drone.

But what is the issue here, once again? None of these name-calling monickers confront the Church's actual position. They are strawmen or perhaps, more accurately, non sequiturs. If the Church believes that a sacrament, such as the priesthood, demands terrestrial representation of that which it signifies, and therefore maleness must be characteristic to depict Christ, the incarnate male bridegroom of the Church, then what productivity is there in simply shouting "mysoginists!" as a response? The same would apply to the Church's view of the complimentarity of males and females with regard to marriage, or the Church's view of life, etc...

If one refuses to confront the Church's position on the natural and theological plane and foundation from which it is taught, one can hardly seek refuge in name-calling as an adequate substitute. Instead many of the accusers have set up certain doctrines of their own. And those who do not comply are branded bigots of some sort.


There was a time when anti-Church accusers would prop up the Inquisition as one of a handful of historical events when trying to establish mistrust in the Church. Their view of the Inquisition was that the Church forced people to comply with Church doctrines or face quantifiable persecution. Today, that same activity is taking place and now faces the American courts. Catholic or other religious institutions are threatened under penalty of potentially crippling fines to embrace the state's doctrine of the virtue of funding birth control, abortifacients, and other bodily dysfunctioning sterilization procedures. Those who do not comply are branded as bigots, intolerant, archaic, and told to clean their sins before fines or potential arrests to civil disobedience are administered. What is it but a 21st century "Inquisition"? Have the Church's critics gone so far as to become what they have purported to loathe?

In 1942, C.S. Lewis's book The Screwtape Letters was published. It is a fictional tale utilizing theological perspectives. In it we read letters from a master demon counseling his apprentice as to how to lead a certain man assigned to the apprentice to hell. Page 1 contains the following excerpt:
Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false", but as "academic" or "practical", "outworn" or "contemporary", "conventional" or "ruthless". Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.
And so when you see various false mantras assigned to the Church in an effort to silence Her, remember to ask yourself, what is the Church's actual position? Can I articulate it in a way the Church would recognize as Her own argument? Is dismissing the Church's position as "archaic" or "intolerant" an adequately reasonable or just response?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Myths about Church teaching on contraception and the religious liberty at stake

I thought it worthwhile to transcribe portions of the February 16, 2012 appearance of Bishop William Lori before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (View the entire hearing here.) I also included a quote from Rabbi Soloveichik. I'm sure all too few citizens watched the panel, so this may help dispel some of the ignorant comments out there about the Church. I'll throw in my own comments here and there, and bold emphasis is my own.

Blake Farenthold (to Bishop Lori) - The Catholic Church does not have a problem with contraceptives for medical purposes. So I would assume from that it wouldn't be morally objectionable to the Church to pay for those for medical purposes. I'm not trying to put you on the spot, I'm just trying to make sure I understand where the Church stands.

Bishop Lori - That would be my understanding also.
Notice in this first part something many people probably do not know––the Church is not opposed to contraceptive drugs, per se. The Church is opposed to using contraceptive medicine to deliberately compromise the sacredness of fertility in the marital act or to induce post-fertilization abortions, which the Church would consider the killing of a human person.1
Farenthold - And there are numerous organizations, both federally and private funding that make available free or low cost contraceptives throughout the country. I'm sure you're aware of that.

Bishop Lori - Yes, that's also my understanding.

Farenthold - So we've got a mandate here that really is a lot of much ado about nothing. If it were carefully crafted, the chances of somebody not able to get the care, or for that matter the optional contraceptives that they desire, is, for all practical purposes, nil.

Bishop Lori - Those services are very, very widely available and what we are talking about is a very narrow band. It is clearly a minority opinion, or a minority view. But we think it's one that ought to be protected.
The government's health care plan is by no means limited to contraceptive drugs for medical use alone. Medicinal use of otherwise contraceptive drugs, said the Bishop, is not against Catholic moral teaching.
Bruce Braley - A significant portion of women, 1.5 million, use the Pill exclusively for medical purposes other than contraception. They use contraceptives to treat severe menstrual pain, migranes, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. Oral contraceptives also help prevent ovarian cancer. ... Do your religious teachings prohibit the use of contraception for health-related purposes, such as treating ovarian cancer?

Bishop Lori - I think Catholic moral theology is very nuanced. It recognizes that the same drug can operate in different ways and accomplish different things. If it is used to prevent birth, it is against our teaching. And so we have operated with a considerable–– with a lot more nuance than we're usually given credit for. Also observe, by the way, that 90% of all private health care plans give access to contraception. We're talking about a very narrow band, and for very specific purposes here.
Later, congresswoman Rosa DeLauro asked a version of the exact same challenge again.
Rosa DeLauro - There are so many studies, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a scientist, but there are medical studies today that show––and we can give you other citations––that women who do take the pill have a much lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. ... I have to ask each of you, are you morally opposed to allowing women who work in your facilities, many of whom are non-religious, non-whatever the denomination, that were not hired for a religious purpose, are you opposed to allowing them to take a pill or to get an IUD in cases where their lives depend on it? When we know that it could lower the risk of ovarian cancer?

Bishop Lori - [O]ur Catholic moral theology, as I've indicated, recognizes that the same drug can be used for different purposes with different effects, and our plans reflect that. So we should be given credit for the nuance and the understanding that we have already brought to the table. All the more reason for the government not to move in and try to force our hand now.
Here, again, Bishop Lori dispels the myth that Catholic teaching says these drugs should not even be used for medical purposes. I found it telling that different challengers asked basically the same question to the Bishop––won't the Church even let women use these medications for medical, non-contraceptive purposes? Bishop Lori did well to stay on point. While the Church is opposed to the barrier of contraception into the marital, sacramental representation of Christ and His bride the Church, medicinal use of certain drugs may be accepted.

It may also be worthwhile here to point out one of the comments of Pope Paul VI in his famous encyclical:

On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 15)
So for example, if a life-threatening operation had the unintended consequence of sterilizing a woman or a man, such could not be considered immoral. Fr. Francis Hoffman from Relevant Radio also pointed out the prudence of avoiding sexual relations during times when one is using contraceptives for medicinal purposes.

If a person is taking the birth control pill for other reasons, then during the time they're taking the pill they must refrain from marital relations. Because there are no proportionate reasons to put a conceived human embryo in danger of dying. So can you use it as a medicine for other reasons? Yes, but you must refrain from relations during that period. (Fr. Francis Hoffman, Relevant Radio, Feb. 28, 2012, MP3 archive)
(EDIT 8/17/14 TO ADD: Fr. Grondin at Catholic Answers has a detailed answer regarding proportionate reasons in which he states: "the Church does permit the use of the birth control pill to treat medical/health issues provided that contraception is neither the intention nor means by which the good effect is achieved." Read more.)

See evidence for the abortive potential of oral contraceptives below. Other Church statements related to Humanae Vitae's #15 include:

Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available. (USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, 53)
An effect can be tolerated without being willed by its agent; for instance, a mother's exhaustion from tending her sick child. A bad effect is not imputable if it was not willed either as an end or as a means of an action, e.g., a death a person incurs in aiding someone in danger. For a bad effect to be imputable it must be foreseeable and the agent must have the possibility of avoiding it, as in the case of manslaughter caused by a drunken driver. (CCC#1737)

The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent's responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil. (CCC#1754)
I won't delve into specific case examples. Suffice it to say, I think this teaching surprised a number of the congressional interrogators, and probably would surprise many readers who think the Church perversely desires to deny women drugs even for medical purposes.

Also, notice DeLauro's appeal to certain contraceptives and their benefits to ovarian cancer. This amplifies the point I made yesterday (see U.S. government candidly admits oral contraception increases risk of cancer in women) about how the HHS' own scientific sources claim oral contraceptives reduce ovarian cancer risk, but increase breast, cervical, and liver cancer risk. Other studies warn of other medical risks to contraceptives. In December, Health Canada revealed a study that suggested that oral contraceptives containing drospirenone could greatly increase a woman's chance to develop a blood clot. Last year, doctors at the University of California claimed in their study that hormone-altering contraceptives contributed to memory loss. Last November, a study showed that persons in geographic regions using the Pill more often have a higher rate of prostate cancer, that men may possibly be exposed to the excess estrogen inducing the cancer. There are many, many articles and studies searchable online detailing severe negative side effects, short and long term, of using hormonal contraceptives. Regardless, even assuming the Pill was hypothetically totally safe, the Church could only condone its medicinal use, not its contraceptive use.

Patrick McHenry - Is this ruling by HHS, do you view this as an issue of contraception and abortifacients, or an issue of religious freedom and conscience protections?

Bishop Lori - We view it as an issue of religious liberty. We view it first of all and primarily at the level of principle. It is a question of government reaching into the internal governance of religious bodies and making a requirement contrary to Church teaching.
Some have tried to make this a "contraceptive" issue, but such cannot be reasonably argued. As Bishop Lori also pointed out in his opening statement, the principle of religious liberty would still apply even if this was, for example, the government trying to force Jewish institutions to serve ham against their religious beliefs.
Edolphus Towns - I'm trying to understand exactly what problems the Bishop has with the Administration's policy. That's what I'm really trying to understand. It's not clear to me.

Bishop Lori - Yes, well, the problems are at the level of principle and at the level of practicality. The principle is the government's reaching in and forcing us to do something. We might disagree inside of the Church. We might have our problems inside of the Church. But it's not for the government to weigh in and be the arbiter of those things. And secondly, many Church entities, such as the diocese of Bridgeport, which I can certainly speak about, they're self-insured. And so as a result, I am not only am I the employer, but also the insurer. And so certainly at the level of practicality, the new rule does nothing to help. And also there are religious insurers, there are individuals who have conscientious objections, and the rules do nothing for them. So we have problems on all those levels.
Towns then asked if purchasing insurance that covered contraception or abortifacients would be against Church teaching. Bishop Lori said yes. And then the Rabbi added this:

Rabbi Soloveichik - My concern here, congressman, is not what one particular Jewish organization might say about a particular prescription or procedure or whether their tenets are violated when they're forced to provide that. My concern is when Congress, or the Administration, comes in and says well, I see that there are some members of one faith who say this, some members of the other faith who say this, so we're going to unilaterally side with these people and force everyone, even over their objections, to violate their conscience. In general, a religious organization or a religious community should be free to define what the tenets of their faith are, and they should be listened to when they are told that a particular demand or mandate by the federal government violates those liberties.
Congressman Elijah Cummings attempted an ad populum argument.
Elija Cummings (to Bishop Lori) - If there's a woman who's, say, working for the Catholic entity, and she comes to you and she says, I want contraception, and it's something that I want. I've read surveys that said 98% of Catholic women use contraception. I'm just curious, what do you say to her?

Bishop Lori - When somebody comes aboard to work for the Church to begin with, the teaching is clear, the mission is clear. The teaching of the Church and all of its nuance is set forth and the terms of the plan are clear. Let's be clear that contraception is available in many different ways. Sometimes a couple in that condition, in that situation, might access it through a spouses plan. But 90% of all health insurance plans include it, plus there's Title 10, plus there are clinics. It can hardly be said that this is unavailable. It is available very, very widely. The issue here is forcing the Church to provide it directly or indirectly in contravention with the Church's teaching. And that's what we don't want to do. It's one thing when tax dollars pay for it. It's another thing when Church dollars pay for it.
First, in case you didn't know, the "98% of Catholic women" figure cited by Cummings has been proven a false statement (link fixed 4/6/13) based on the study in question's own figures. Second, Bishop Lori dispels the suggestion that if religious institutions in particular don't offer contraceptives for any reason in their insurance plans, that will somehow prevent availability to contraceptives. Of course, the idea is nonsensical. Cummings also attempted to appeal to "Catholics" who might agree with his side as a tool to justify forcing opposed institutions to submit to the government's demand. He presented a list of "Catholic" colleges that offer contraception in their insurance plans. The problem with his reasoning was twofold: 1) Many of the colleges he cited either had been forced by local governments to do so or only offered contraception for the aforementioned medical reasons. He failed to grasp that contraception is the act of sterilizing the marital act, not taking a "contraceptive pill," per se. And 2) Rabbi Soloveichik had already pointed out the flaw in Cummings premise––the government can't intrude into religious internal affairs, pick a side, and force the other side to comply. The idea, as is the HHS mandate, a violation of the first amendment to freedom from the government's establish of and freedom of the people's free exercise of religion.
Mike Quigley (to Bishop Lori) - Do you support this same policy that you have as it relates to the private sector? In other words, do you think that a fast food restaurant person, because of his moral objection, say to his employees, I'm not gonna provide birth control as well, or a larger corporation?

Bishop Lori - You know, if there is real religious liberty in our country, then churches, even if there is disagreement within those churches, have the God-given right to run their own institutions and their own internal affairs according to their teachings. And if there should be discussion within that church, or even dissent within that church, it is not for the government to reach in, and to decide or weigh in for one side or the other. ... The fact of the matter is, a lot of people like to work for the Catholic Church, it's one I can speak for, and because they like to work for mission. And because they understand that when they sign up to work for a diocese or a Catholic school or for Catholic charities, what the teaching is. We have an organized Magisterium with the Pope and the bishops. And sometimes people agree with it, sometimes they don't, but they love the mission, and they come and work. We have no trouble retaining and attracting people to work for us. We provide great healthcare plans. But you know under these rules, we might have the best healthcare plan in the world, but if even one of these so-called preventive services were not in our plan, we'd be fined $2,000 per employee.

Quigley - Bishop, getting to the question, do you believe that a private sector company, if the owner or the board have moral objections, the same moral objections you do, which I respect, do you think they have the right to deny offering contraceptive services?

Bishop Lori - I think that that freedom obtains right now. It already obtains. They can already do that.

Quigley - We're talking about legislation, Bishop. There's legislation right now [presumably the Blunt amendment that since lost a 51-48 vote in the Senate] proposed right now that would extend this to the private sector.
[If I understand correctly, it would actually not extend the right to the private sector to not offer contraceptions in their health care plans but preserve that right already extant in the private sector]

Bishop Lori - We're saying that this legislation should not do so [i.e. I think he means take away that right]. We've been able to have that freedom now and the world has not fallen in upon itself.
Here, I'd just like to point out Quigley's concern does not even begin to address the concerns of religious liberty brought by the panel. The Church's teaching on birth control long antedates even the existence of the United States. To argue that basic, First Amendment freedom, should be taken away on the basis that a non-religious institution may follow suit failed to grasp the issue of freedom altogether. Quigley's premise is that all contraceptives are "medical" products necessary in all insurance plans, but he did not substantiate that premise.
Ann Marie Buerkle - So let's establish that for the record, despite this accommodation [she raises quoted fingers here], the rule hasn't been changed. And it was a verbal as you mentioned. Nothing was put in writing which is always of concern. But I want to now ask each one of you, how would you see this rule, that has not been changed, that violates conscience rights, how do you see that affecting the missions of each on of your churches?

Bishop Lori - First of all, it [i.e. the "accommodation"] does not remove the mandate and as a result it's still a great intrusion to the freedom of our churches. And besides that, we think it violates The Religious Freedom Restoration Act because it substantially burdens our religious freedom by forcing us indirectly, but nonetheless forcing us to provide the so-called preventive services in violation of our teaching and it also is simply unworkable because many religious entities are self-insured, and as a result, we are not only the employer but the insurer, and so then it directly involves us in providing the prescribed services.
1For example, the FDA information sheet on the oral contraceptive Ella (ulipristal acetate) describes its mechanism of action this way: "When taken immediately before ovulation is to occur, ella postpones follicular rupture. The likely primary mechanism of action of ulipristal acetate for emergency contraception is therefore inhibition or delay of ovulation; however, alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy." Essentially, that means one of the effective mechanisms of the drug is to alter the uterine wall such that the fertilized embryo, which the Church considers a human life, cannot implant into the uterine wall, thus killing it and expelling it from the body.