The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde is Bishop of Arlington and spiritual leader of Northern Virginia’s nearly half million Catholics. He recently commented on the decision by the Obama Administration to mandate sterilization and contraceptive coverage, including abortifacients, in health insurance plans offered by religious institutions, such as colleges and hospitals.
Here are my feelings on his statement:
1. Loverde asks us “…to be prepared to engage in a strong defense in the civil arena of the basic human right of religious liberty.” He adds that he “…will speak out consistently in the weeks and months ahead on this gravely important struggle for the freedom to practice our faith as full citizens of this great nation.”
But, I must ask: Whom do we engage, and whom is he speaking out to? The mandate is a policy created by an executive branch agency, headed by Kathleen Sebelius, a supposed Catholic and ardent abortion advocate. Indeed, Sebelius is so owned by the abortion industry that her recent opposition to over-the-counter sales of the Plan B “morning after” pill, in a unprecedented move overriding the FDA, was done only to protect abortion providers. Of course, her boss Obama was the most pro-abortion member of Congress.
If the mandate is to be reversed, it would take a change of heart by these two, and absent divine intervention, this will simply not happen.
2. One might ask what it takes for a notorious public sinner, such as Sebelius, who brings great scandal to the Church, to be excommunicated. Then again, why stop with her? There are several hundred nominally Catholic politicians, some of whom attend mass regularly, who openly defy Church teachings on marriage and life issues. They do so with impunity because the Church is afraid to act.
You are possibly unaware that Dr. James McMahon, a Los Angeles abortionist and inventor of the partial-birth abortion procedure, was given the sacrament of anointing of the sick and was buried “by mistake” with full Catholic honors.
3. For all the reams of statements issued by Church figures on Roe v Wade since 1973, the faithful are dismayed that Catholic justice William Brennan, one of the majority, was not publicly rebuked, let alone excommunicated.
4. Moreover, most American bishops have embraced the intrusion of the Federal government into virtually all aspects of our lives in the name of “social justice,” quite foolishly not realizing that with such intrusion comes control–secular control. Thus, their alarm over the present issue, while sincere, is far too little, far too late.
5. Gone is the masterful way in which Pius XII engaged the Nazis, saved lives, and still preserved the Church. One can only conclude that after World War 2, and certainly after Vatican II, this sort of Church Militant is long gone. These days, our leadership does little more than craven posturing, whereby Loverde’s statement represents an almost worst case scenario of preaching to the converted.
6. I am well aware of the boilerplate reasons for why the Church does not act. Washington Cardinal Wuerl is quick to say that the errant Catholic politicians must be disciplined by their home diocese bishops. How convenient. Likewise, we are told that overly aggressive actions by the Church could threaten its tax exempt status.
So, it’s all about effete legalisms and the dollars. The Pharisees would surely be proud.