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HHS-Religious Freedom Battle Yields Unexpected Rewards


JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND

Source:
Nat. Cath. Register
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
4/5/2012

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ABSTRACTHHS-Religious Freedom Battle Yields Unexpected Rewards | Daily News | NCRegister.com Print Edition:  April 8, 2012   Donate Archives Blogs Store Resources Advertise Jobs Radio Subscribe Make This My Homepage Resources Christmas Music Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matt & Pat Archbold Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tim Drake Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Editorial Calendar Order Web Ad Order Print Ad Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Daily News Daily News HHS-Religious Freedom Battle Yields Unexpected Rewards (3575) Obama administration might not have anticipated it, but fight over ‘contraception mandate’ has given Pope Paul VI’s teaching new life. Share by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND 04/05/2012 Comments (10) Archbishop-designate William Lori – Archdiocese of Baltimore WASHINGTON — Could there possibly be a silver lining in the federal contraception-mandate controversy? For all the institutional disruption, political spin and vitriol generated by the mandate’s supporters, who have mischaracterized the bishops’ stance as a “war on women,” the crisis has yielded some unexpected fruits. Not only has it aroused the “sleeping giant” of Catholicism in the United States, prompting an energetic defense of the free exercise of cherished institutions, it has provoked a fresh assessment of Church teaching on contraception. “The main issue remains that of religious liberty. But this whole episode has provided a catechetical opportunity to speak about the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life in its origins,” observed Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Contraception has been touted as the best possible thing for women and society, while our experience over the past 40-plus years suggests the opposite.” “There is a new opening,” noted the outgoing bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. And while an increasingly toxic sexual culture has helped provoke a broader reassessment, young Catholics also have been inspired by Blessed John Paul II’s theology of the body, which offers a deeply hopeful vision of human life and love amid a culture that has witnessed declining rates of marriage and a rise in non-marital births. Not only are priests, in their Sunday homilies, offering a defense of Humanae Vitae , but the controversy has forced the media to provide a forum for Church teaching that has been ridiculed throughout the globe. This week, Politico posted commentary by Lila Rose, the founder of the pro-life group Live Action. Rose affirmed the First Amendment rights of religious institutions to resist a federal mandate that forces them to cover health services that violate their moral teachings. Then she countered partisan efforts to frame Catholic teaching as an attack on women’s fundamental rights, rejecting the suggestion that American women uniformly sought increased access to contraception. Speaking for a new generation that has adopted a more skeptical view of feminist ideology, she stated, “We are women for whom the idea of artificial birth control as ‘preventive care’ is deeply insulting.” “We don’t wish to take the country back in time; rather, we aspire to move it forward, beyond a time when women are treated as objects and pitted against their children and their religious institutions — and toward a time when truly emancipated women embrace their intrinsic dignity and, with it, their authentic womanhood,” said Rose. Unexpectedly, the headlines have even prompted some self-identified Catholic institutions to reassess the inclusion of contraception in their health plans. This week, Ohio’s Xavier University announced that it would discontinue its coverage of birth control for employees; Xavier’s president cited the mandate debate as the catalyst for the policy shift. Meanwhile, Catholic universities have begun sponsoring forums on the issue, drawing academics and activists like Lila Rose, and stirring a rich discussion about the Catholic vision of human love and sexuality among students. During one recent Catholic University of America panel discussion, Margaret McCarthy, a theology professor at the university’s John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, linked the religious-freedom debate with modern efforts to characterize Catholic sexual ethics as an unreasonable body of teaching that could result in the repression of human freedom. McCarthy suggested that the debate about the mandate provided a window into two competing.......