Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON – Any time the Obama administration touches issues related to the Roman Catholic Church, it seems to get itself caught in a rhetorical and moral crossfire that leaves all involved wounded and angry. This is what’s happening in the battle over how contraception should be covered under the new health care law.

Partly because it mishandled the issue at the outset, the Obama team seems destined either to leave supporters in the reproductive rights community irate, or to put the president’s Catholic sympathizers in a much weakened position.

  • BarbMarkovich

    The Catholic Church needs to butt out of peoples reproductive lives.

  • Bill Murray

    One more time in history religion raises its ugly head. Why doesn’t the church stay out of government? If the church wants to control its own throng then so be it but stay out of government. A strong separation of church and state is mandatory for peace and harmony among all citizens.

  • harryw45

    The Catholic Church is behind the times just like it was when they Persecuted Galileo for saying the earth was not the center of the universe and in fact it loops around the sun. The Biblical Command of go forth and multiply is no longer applicable since we are approaching a population getting so large that it may soon destroy the earth as we know it and/or destroy most or all of the human race. God helps those who help themselves.

  • Ed1941

    Being a Christian I am not for birth control. But the bible is very specific where its says God gave EVERYONE free will. Because the Almighty has given His son Jesus Christ authority of the world then we must all be accountable to Him. So, therefor Jesus Christ has given us free will as well. We cannot judge, persuade anyone else to do as we do or feel, and worship as we do. That said, yes, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is again way out of line and members should read the bible and make their own choice!

  • Henry

    Speaking as a Catholic, I agree whole-heartedly with the views expressed in this article.

  • freethinker

    If the opinion is that the Church should stay out of people’s reproductive lives, then it is equally true that the State should stay out of people’s reproductive lives. Those accusing the Church of raising an ugly head are apparently conveniently overlooking the State’s fingerprints on society. You can’t have it both ways.

  • AlanEGross

    In many communities, Catholic hospitals well serve the general public (and receive remuneration from government and insurance for doing so). Non-Catholics and Catholics who choose to receive contraceptive service should be free to do so. On the other hand, Catholics or anyone who do not choose contraception should not be required to accept these services. The ideal of free choice (free of government AND religious dogma) when there is no obvious harm to others is an ideal worth achieving. The Bishops have done enough harm via preaching and moral suasion. Preventing non-Catholics who use Catholic services and their own flock from exercising choice is another good reason to build a wall around religious influence.

  • CharlesRichardEminizer

    Jesu Christ himself, is pro abortion!!!!!~~
    The problem is that no body ever reads the Bible, including the priests, ministers and preachers (let alone the congregation). Look for Yourself (i know You won’t read the whole Bible, so here, i’ll make it fast and EASY, for You) Matthew 26:24.

    There are many people who should NOT be born, (including hitler, william gayce, all bulklies ets), and especially people who should not have children (including the alley cat who had me!!!!!~~)!!!!!~~

    Da Doc

  • CharlesRichardEminizer

    i erred NOT “bulkies” but bullies and NOT “ets” but etc!!!!!~~

    Da Doc

  • NJExile2Tx

    Insurance should cover unexpected events and health problems. Contaception control satisfies neither. Intercourse leads to pregnancy so proper timing of the act is all that’s needed. Pregnancy is not a disease, unless the new born is considered a “carrier”. Consequently, insurance does not really apply. Its application to the situation is for pleasure only. What’s next, insurance for trips to Disney World?

  • sailor4165

    Difficult if not impossible to debate and reason with the Catholic Church because they own the moral high ground in any debate. They don’t pay taxes and should have NO voice in political matters. Better to ignore them, they won’t like that, but what else can you do. Put them in their place and remind them they have NO say in political matters.

  • Barbara Jones

    Reading the Bible I cannot recall Jesus sitting on a throne dressed in all the regalia belonging to
    the Roman Empire. Neither do I recall specific religions. Judaism and Christianity.Christ was born a Jew and Died as a Jew. The rules our Savior followed were the 10 Commandments. Nothing added or subtracted. Anyone who followed him with Love was not denied bread or wine. His love was universal. Most important God gave us free will. Just as Adam and Eve paid the consequence of free will, the burden of our choices belong to us.
    If we would only follow the laws of Christ and not add or subtract to have the best religion we would be following in our Lords footsteps.

  • sailor4165

    The biggest sin of all is to bring an unwanted child into an already crowded world. Abortion my not be pretty but institutionalizing a parent less child isn’t either. The world is crowded with unwanted people and we are doing a piss poor job of taking care of those already here without adding to the problem. So it is not a fact that I am right therefore that makes you wrong, it is a decision that unwed mothers, people that don’t want to be pregnant, and health concerns can eliminate the condition. Birth control in a crowded world is absolutely a necessity and for those that don’t support this, they should bare the expenses of raising the parent less children.

  • jwozniak

    One of the core moral issues for us Catholics is caring and compassion for the poor. How then can the Church through its weight behind the GOP, which is cultivating a genuine hatred of human life once it leaves the womb? Does a fetus, an inchoate lump of cellular tissue, have more value then a fully formed, living, breathing, thinking person? That’s absurd. I’m a progressive, flirt daily with excommunication, and seldom worry about it.

  • The Nurse

    The Roman Catholic Church is one but many religions in our country. Not all of the religions ban birth control as part of their teaching. To remove the contraception provision in the health care reform bill is to say that the beliefs of other believers and non-believes take a back seat to the Roman Catholic Church. This is simply wrong. The Catholic Church has not entered the modern world much less the post modern era. Besides, no one including the government should be taking advice on contraception/reproductive health from a group of sick bishops that allowed thousands of young children to be sexually abused by their clergy by covering it up to protect their own behinds.

  • mytwocents

    People harp that the church should stay out of politics but there is little said about politics staying out of the church. You can’t expect any religion to keep quiet while the government enacts legislation that undermines its doctrines. I am not going to provide a laundry list here, but just read the comments to see the issues presented.

    The first thing we must all acknowledge, like it or not, is that this country was founded on faith which is generally associated with some form of organized religion. Therein lays the basis for all of our laws that allows us the freedom to worship, the core of our pursuit of happiness. If you take that premise out of our government, you have undermined the very foundation of America. That is the simplest reason you cannot completely separate the two.

    I think what everyone wants in all of these issues is to allow those who wish to practice their faith the latitude of free expression with the same respectful tolerance that non believers wish to enjoy.

  • valszy

    I am so tired of religions trying to tell people not of their religion what to do. Any religion that tries to insert their religious dogma into law should lose their tax exempt status.

  • valszy

    The State is the people, or if you prefer, the representative 0of the people, all the people of the state. A religion represents only its own flock, should hold no sway over anyone not of that religion. So, since you state the state should stay out of reproductive lives of people, that must mean you are pro choice. Plus the State is not saying an individual must use contraceptives, only that insurance should pay if individual chooses to use them. The R C Church is saying nobody should be able to use them. Huge, huge difference.

  • rdwinla

    Nobody LIKES abortion. That said, again a group of unmarried men are telling couples when and how to have sex.

  • jobeman

    I’m not a Catholic, but I do feel some sympathy for the brickbats that get thrown at it by Americans. We forget that only 6% of the world’s Roman Catholics are in the U.S. It is a worldwide church—and the Vatican has to speak for and to the other 94% of their adherents, not just to us. Yes, birth control makes sense in this country where we actually have (barely, now) a sustainable population. In other parts of the world, advocating birth control would be a form of slow genocide—particularly if those parts of the world have a higher infant mortality than we do.

    Plus, the Roman Catholic Church is one that operates on the basis of what they believe to be revealed truth, and on established tradition. To tell them that they MUST go along with whatever happens to be the American beliefs de jour is to ask them to abandon the underpinnings of their faith. It would be the same thing if we Americans were asked, by outsiders, to ignore our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution (some current politicians might take note of that one) and our history. We wouldn’t like it—so why do we inflict the same attitude on others?

  • lmoran

    As a Catholic I disagree with the church on abortion, It is between a woman and her god. Howeever I think the church must back up it’s position and refuse government funding if it requires them to go against a tenant of the church. The church should also make known it’s disapproval of this administration to it’s congregation and allow them to decide, their support or lack of it are between them and their god.

  • davekzy1

    Whats worse than supporting someone who supports abortion? Supporting someone who claims to oppose abortion but does nothing when they could. Republicans claim to oppose abortion but say they need more justices in supreme court to change it, B.S.!!!! There was enough “conservative justices” to throw out the voters voice in Florida IN 2000 and appoint George W. Bush president! Also there was enough conservative justices to pass the atrocious citizens united act giving corporations and the rich the right to pay out unlimited funds to support or oppose anyone they chose with out disclosing their identity, which benifits the republicans. There are enough conservative justices to abolish abortion! They don’t because its their bread and butter issue to sucker people out of their vote. They will never change the law!

  • teachersome

    Mr. Dione has identified a very real problem in the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act. That problem is further exacerbated by those who are pushing the so-called Personhood Amendments. The failure of this law to pass in Mississippi was not the end of this debate; it was just the opening salvo. See

    — Some Teacher

  • AnnaSolomon

    I thought that was a fundamental right for everyone in this country and when some religion that I don’t belong to tells me I cannot have access to contraception like a man can for viagara then they are interfering with my right to chose. No one has the right to force a woman to bear a child she doen’t want. Our foster care programs are filled with children that no one wants, our schools are filled with children who have dead beat dads who don’t support their mothers, our welfare system is flooded with single parent families who can’t afford to raise thier unwanted children.

    These children grow up feeling unloved and unwanted, abused, neglected and end up in the system themselves. Lets stop this insane cycle of abuse and neglect. Lets love the children we have and only add to our population children that will be cared for by their parents and nutured into loving human beings.

    It is time in our cultural evolution to let go of the myths of religion and the control they have on our lives. To make sane and informed decisions on the future of humanity.

  • sparks

    The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” There should also be an Amendment that says “No religion shall have any authority respecting the establishment of law or government policy, and shall be prohibited to prevent the free exercise of personal rights provided by the government!”

  • DUKE1979

    I agree wholeheartedly with E.J. Dionne’s article on the Catholic Church and Obama. The pro-choice supporters have gotten 70% of what they wanted. Reproductive choice services will be widely available. There is no need to force the Roman catholic Church to do something they find morally apprehensive. I would hazard to guess that the teachings of the church in other social justice areas match the beliefs of most pro-choice supporters. Single issue politics never do progressive forces any good. Compromise, respect, humility and a willingness to listen are much better approaches to arguments such as these. As to the Church’s right to speak or to quote be involved in politics. The church has the right to voice its moral concerns and to ask its members to consider them when they (that is Catholics who vote in public elections) vote. Every citizen has the right to consider what information they chose in making their electoral decisions to include making decision on who and what they vote for. If they choice to make their decisions based on their faith beliefs that is their right. The church has the right to say to the faithful these are the teachings of the church.
    Respectfully submitted.

  • Catherine T McConnell

    As for those who say that the Catholic Church should have no say in matters of politics, it is important to know that the Church is the members, who by the way, do pay taxes. We pay for our own school system and also pay taxes for the public system. We run schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations that contribute to the welfare of the entire society. We receive those who come for help without discrimination. The fact that our institution does not pay taxes does not mute our Catholic voice as citizens who do. What a creative way to silence the voice of all the Christian Churches! Go ahead and ignore us, because we still have the right to vote, and we are very disappointed with how the health care bill is shaping up for Christians and other people of faith. We counted on good faith and now wonder if the Christian right was not correct about the intentions of this administration.

  • TsaddiyqNM

    I am in total harmony with your assertions. I am also a Christian who does not have a favorable view of birth control. I really just wanted to share the following (soemthing I wrote to another blog long ago) with you and also with the world.
    For all you Bible-thumping, pseudo-Christian conservatives (and some liberals) out there. Stop trying to forcibly impose your dictatorial will upon other people. What you hypocrits should do is read, study and adhere to the tenets set forth by GOD ALMIGHTY in HIs Word. And HIS WORD clearly indicates that the greatest gift that GOD gave to man is that ability, privilege and right that sets man far above all the rest of HIS creations, which is the ability, privilege and right to engage a free will; to think for himself; to govern himself; to decide for himself; to act for himself.. And ultimately to reap the rewards or bear the sufferings that are consequent to those thoughts and actions. Who are you those try and force a mode of behavior upon another; how much would you truly appreciate it if you were divested of all power to think, decide, and act for yourself? GOD ALMIGHTY, Himself does not do that; HE advises us to do right; HE urges us to do what is good; HE warns us of the consequences of doing wrong; but HE STILL LEAVES THE CHOICE TO US. Oh HE will discipline and punish those that choose the path of unrighteousness and sin (and properly so), but HE does not and will not force us down the road to righteousness; he does not and will not forcefully bend us to HIS will. Instead He simply, lovingly, parentally begs us with the words: “FOLLOW ME.” So, if a woman chooses to kill the unborn person in her womb (and yes, I believe that a person becomes a person at the moment of conception), as heinous as it may be, allow her to be able to exercise her own free will and to commit such a wrong; for she will eventually have to explain herself to the GREAT JUDGE OF US ALL, while GOD will not allow that unborm person whose life was so wrongfully, wretchedly terminated to be deprived of the opportunity to one day live in a society of free-willed souls.

  • ShawnThompson

    Who cares what a group of child molesters has to say. They cover up priests that abuse little boys and have the nerve to take the moral high ground. What nerve!

  • ladkraemer

    Catholicism is a choice a person makes and if they want to live in the shadows of that religion let it be. Baptist,Lutherans, etc. are against abortion. Look at my state (Ohio) that is trying to pass Life At Conception Act that will make it murder if you go dancing and you have a miscarriage because of it and NO one is fighting it.Mississippi is trying to do the same thing. So, who cares what the Pope says if you are not Catholic. Also, I’m getting sick and tired of the Catholic Bashing… Catholics are good people and just like Penn State, The Boy Scouts, etc. that tried to cover up their sex problems… The Organisations, in themselves, aren’t bad. This problem is in all Religions and organisations, not just in the Catholic religion. I’m Catholic and my religion has nothing to do with perverts… Now their are perverts in my religion just like there are perverts in all of them. The people running our church now are trying to do their best to weed out the perverts just like all the churches and organizations.

  • ladkraemer

    Abortion should be a personal choice. Everyone has the right to their religious beliefs and everyone has the right to choose. The ones that are trying to block Abortion are just as wrong as the ones having it in my eyes.

  • bcruder

    E.J. Dionne is legally, ethically and perhaps politically wrong.

    Half of all women use birth-control pills for medical, not contraceptive purposes. An employer cannot determine the reason for prescribing or consuming without violating HIPAA.

    Given that corporations chartered for doctrinal purpose already have dispensation, it is those chartered for non-doctrinal purpose who demand a financial benefit not granted to their competition. Benefit based on sectarian affiliation is an obvious violation of the establishment clause.

    Corporations have no “conscience”. Each must honor its charter and the will of its shareholders. Corporations such as Catholic Relief Services which file secular charters receive taxpayer money in expectation of shared secular benefit. Policy based on rigid sectarian dogma is unethical and generally illegal.

    Who are the corporate shareholders? Are they the broad church membership, a small list of board members selected by and enforcing the orders of a foreign autocrat or that foreign autocrat himself?

    Surveys showed that 75% of catholic couples use contraception and a similar proportion of practicing members favor their availability. The bishops pretend to represent every nominal catholic when votes are traded but grant conscience only to those who agree with the foreign autocrat on every issue. When they or their sycophants say that anyone who disagrees is not a catholic, they admit lying about the voter count.

    It is absurd to claim that progressive Catholics who oppose many misogynist policies would punish the President for opposing just one. One might also ask those “bishops holding the line” about the democratic politicians who repeatedly blocked the Affordable Care Act on “principle” but reversed themselves after special backroom deals. Money makes anything moral.

    Police officers now always arrest a battering husband because just calming the wife encourages her to wait for the fatal beating. The President should enforce the law on the batterer this time and encourage battered wives like Sister Carol Keehan to move on.

  • ConegoZ

    The level of anti-Catholic venom expressed in many of these comments is both shocking and saddening. The point that the majority of the correspondents seem to have missed (or ignored) is that the Catholic Church isn’t objecting to government-insured abortion ‘in general’ so much as being forced to provide such services in hospitals that are owned by the Roman Catholic Church– while the anti-Christian ranters seem to be arguing that the government has the right and duty to mandate what private organizations do on their own property. Yes, Catholic-owned hospitals receive federal funds. However, as has been pointed out by another correspondent, in many communities the only hospital is Catholic. Arguing that the Catholic Church must operate against its own beliefs because, as the only hospital in the region, it treats non-Catholics, seems like a fine argument… but what happens to all those communities if the hierarchy decides that the Church’s beliefs about the sanctity of human life should be paramount, and they stop accepting federal funding? How many rural hospitals owned by the Church will have to close, because the government insists that the Catholic Church must (in the eyes of Catholic beliefs) begin murdering unborn children?

    Will secular humanist organizations, or groups of atheists, band together to fund those hospitals? For all the bad-mouthing of the Church they do, it would seem that they should already be volunteering, but I’m not holding my breath. No, the only option to the Church will be the taxpayers, paying to build hundreds of government-owned hospitals all over the country… and solely because the liberal left doesn’t believe that a religious organization should allow its religious values to affect its actions– religious values which built those hospitals in the first place.

    I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I can recognize absurdity based in anti-religious prejudice when I see it.

  • faultroy

    Great Article and wonderful comments. However, what has not been discussed is the issue of whether the Feds have any business in mandating or supplying any monies related to Concraception or Abortion. One fact not noted is that Americans of all religious persuasions must actually finance these services. It should be noted that Catholic and Christian Services as a rule is a good deal for the Feds. The reason for this is because on average Catholic Services are 30% cheaper than similar secular services. So for all those “liberals” demanding that the Catholic Church undermine its core principles for the benefit of the “poor,” they really should be stepping up to the plate with money. Funny, almost all of these liberal voices refuse to do this. They seem hell bent on demanding the “goverment” provide services–they just don’t want to be the ones to pay for it. So in the ultimate hypocrisy, these same liberal advocates are doing exactly what they accuse conservative Christians of doing–muddling “church and state” in the sense that it is THEIR personal values that they are demanding that government embrace. So, if they have personal values related to these issues–it is okay since their’s is not a “religious tinge” however, when one chooses to make a decision based on ones spirtiual beliefs, that is “bad” and crosses the boundaries of “church and state.” Am I the only one that sees this as the ultimate double standard?
    Regardless as to how you feel about Aborton/Contraception/state-religious separation, the reality is that this should be handled on a statewide level, and the Feds need to get out of the discussion completely. The Obama Administration should block grant states and let them deal with issue. California should not be held to the same standard as conservative Alabama and vice versa. Lets get the Feds out of these pernicious divisive discussions and let the States handle it. Thatway, if you are so concerned about you and your neighobors’ secular rights, you can resolve the problem very easily in your own state–just vote for tax increases to pay for the services. By doing so, we can give everyone a true voice by allowing those states that are willing to pay for these secular beliefs to actually pay for the services by increasing state taxes–and allowing those individuals that don’t agree with these proposals to vote–with their feet–by leaving the states.

  • rcclimbhigher

    All the religions need to butt out what women do regarding reproduction. The President and the Congress should defend the Separation of Church and State. We have freedom to choose our own religion OR not to choose a religion. We hold this right to be absolute. I refuse to accept pressure from ANY religion and will defend anyone against such pressure.

  • lkpfeifer

    I am a practicing Catholic and strong Obama supporter. Obama and Democrats should emphasize their agreement with the Catholic Church in the areas of social justice for the poor, compassion for immigrants, and care of the environment. These are all things that affect the public good. Abortion and birth control are private matters and should not be controlled by one church, especially in a country that reveres the separation of church and state. (Ironically, the majority of Catholics do practice birth control and many have, unfortunately, had abortions. Maybe if the Church supported the use of birth control, there would be a lot fewer abortions.)

  • dj012001

    I remember way back when, then Sen. Obama campaigned as a moderate….who talked about when life began as “above my paygrade.” I am Jewish and not for abortion as a method of birth control. I have close Catholic friends since grade school and I am in my 50’s. I have known many Catholic Priests, Nuns and Religious over the years and every one of them has been a really good person who I wish I was more like.
    I have a few questions for the angry responders to this deliberately incendiary article.
    1. What label do you put on the life growing inside a woman when she is pregnant? Is “it” alive? Dead? In suspended animation?
    2. If you label this bundle of cells “alive” when is it okay to kill it? If you label it “dead” is it okay to kill other cells in a woman’s body? A liver? A lung? An arm? If not why not?
    3. Why is it moral interference when an admitted religious group speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves and it is “speaking up for a woman’s civil rights” when an admitted secular group states it is okay for a woman to take out of her body what many call a living human being?
    4. The Catholic Church is the largest Church in membership in America and in the world. When there is an official pronouncement on a moral issue we should listen, not necessarily agree, but still listen thoughtfully and respectfully. Whether you or I like it or agree, the Catholic Church is the largest organization in this world speaking out for morality, ethics, justice and fairness to all. While it is certainly not perfect, its statements and actions on protecting the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all human beings is really very good.
    And to those who speak about the Priest scandal, I too am disgusted and disappointed. We would all do well to remember the number of abusers was very small and the people who perpetrated that evil were, sadly, very productive. So their impact has a wide ripple effect. Sad, sick and perverted. However, we can not let that evil take away from the overwhelming amount of good the Catholic Church has done and continues to do in American and all over the world.
    Let us all continue to work for more moral and ethical thoughts, words and actions from all of us – especially me.
    May G-d bless and keep you and your families always.