No More Mother Teresa

Under the proposed Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring insurance to cover contraception, there would be no room for Mother Teresa. A so-called exemption for religious groups is so narrow as to render Catholic social service virtually meaningless. The corporal works of mercy, among which are care of the sick, hungry, homeless (“to harbor the harborless”) and captive, put no restrictions on those whom Catholic Christians are committed to serve. The proposed mandate does. It presumes, in effect, to re-define what the scope of a Church’s social service is, by limiting that church to serving only those of its own faith. This is absurd. In effect, it is government interpreting how a church is to practice its own teaching.

Under the new rule our institutions would only be allowed to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation if we were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics as Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. bishops’s pro-life committee, clearly pointed out. This represents an action of government hostile to the First Amendment rights of Catholics. It places an intolerable burden on the exercise of our core mission of charity to all.

Mother Teresa was once offered a facility by a local public official in Calcutta so that she could care for the poorest of the poor, as was the special mission of her religious community, the Missionaries of Charity. Word soon got out that this Catholic religious woman was “harboring” people in a neighborhood in which Christians were decidedly in the minority. The purported fear, allegedly, was of religious indoctrination although, one might suspect, the motives of some who objected were not free of politics. Mother Teresa calmly invited a number of observers into the center where they were permitted to question the inmates. One by one, from bed to bed, they discovered a similar story. One person would say I am a Muslim, and I have leprosy; my family could not take care of me. The next person might say, I am a Hindu and homeless. The next could be a Jain, or a Sikh, and so on, each with a story of abandonment, rejection or impoverishment. All they knew is that this kind woman and her sisters pulled them off the streets and gave then a bed. It mattered nothing to whom they prayed. God desires that everyone share in the fruits of creation — believer or not.

By the standards of the proposed regulation, none of the above would be lawfully welcome in such an establishment — only Catholics. Imagine how this restriction, multiplied in scores and hundreds throughout the country, would impede the mission of the Church to reach out to all people. And this has always been at the core of Christian service, not only among Catholics.

It is noteworthy that the guidelines are new, created in response to the 2010 health law, the implications of which are only gradually becoming more discoverable. Bishops and Catholic organizations across the U.S. have reacted strongly against the proposition for many weeks and urged the faithful to oppose the measure by contacting HHS before the Sept. 30 deadline.

Readers who have not already done so might find barely a thread of time to act but this is only one example of why all of us, people of faith in particular, must remain vigilant. As Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the military archdiocese observed on Sept. 23, “Never before has the government required private health plans to include coverage for such morally objectionable procedures as contraception and sterilization.” He concluded, “[i]n a free society, women and men of faith cannot be compelled to fund medical practices that violate their religious principles.” Or so we had thought.

Bishop DiMarzio went right to the core of the deficient moral reasoning underlying the contraceptive mentality which this regulation actively promotes and urged U.S. Catholics to send a clear message “that pregnancy is not a disease.” Not only is it imperative to insist that sterilization and contraceptives be dropped from the list of services the federal government is demanding but it is “especially important to exclude any drug that may cause an early abortion.”

2 thoughts on “No More Mother Teresa

  1. If you truly believe abortion is murder, it’s time for the Church to stand up and accept birth control. And in fact encourage it. Studies have shown that easy access to birth control causes a drop in the abortion rate. One study showed a 46% drop.

    If we’re really serious about decreasing abortions, we must make birth control universally available.

    If the Church refuses to support this, it becomes very difficult to believe it when it says abortion is murder because it is logically equating using birth control with murder.

    1. My parents had a family of 10 children – at the time of the “Humanae Vitae” encyclical I remember my mother saying that if the pope did otherwise it would have been a terrible betrayal of Catholics like her who made sacrifices.

      In fact, a sizeable percentage of Catholics always used birth control while in principle agreeing with the Church teaching regarding it. As a woman recently told me birth control had kept her away from the sacraments.

      Fact is white Europeans are at below replacement level and the Catholics among them have adopted the anthropocentric “values” of the urban liberal bourgeoisie — feminism, gay marriage, abortion, STDs/”AIDS Walks”.

      Interesting “New York Times” article that states:

      “It is Hispanics who are replenishing the Catholic ranks, Luis E. Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, said in a news conference.”

      “The gains for the Catholic Church in this country among Latinos, from immigration and higher fertility rates, are more than making up for those Latino Catholics, particularly in the second generation, who go to other churches or turn secular,” Mr. Lugo said.


      And a very interesting, well researched book “Catholics and Contraception” by Leslie Woodcock Tentler” – interviews with priests who were active in the 1940s/1950s, primary sources from that period, bears out the experience of Catholics in my parents’ generation:


      The “Birth Control Commission” which John XXIII set up in the unstable Vatican II period led many Catholics both priests and laity to anticipate a change in the Church teaching when there was no area of Catholic faith or morals that wasn’t questioned, attacked or rejected.