Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jesuit magazine schools bishops on contraception fight

The national weekly America is the flagship periodical of the Jesuits in the United States, and was longtime home and host for writings of John Courtney Murray, SJ, who did more than anyone in Catholicism to bring the church in line with modern notions of religious liberty and church-state matters.

In other words, they have cred on issues like the current brouhaha over the contraception mandate and religious freedom.

That history likely won't inoculate them from criticism over the magazine's latest editorial, of course, but the editorial is powerful and persuasive, and takes to task those bishops and their allies who might be overreaching after President Obama's compromise on the birth control issue. The America editors conclude:

By pushing the religious liberty campaign to cover the fine points of healthcare coverage, the campaign devalues the coinage of religious liberty. The fight the conference won against the initial mandate was indeed a fight for religious liberty, and for that reason, won widespread support. The latest phase of the campaign, however, is essentially an effort to bar healthcare funding for contraception. Catholics legitimately oppose such a policy on moral grounds. But that opposition entails a difference over policy, not an infringement of religious liberty. It does a disservice to the victims of religious persecution everywhere to inflate policy differences into a struggle over religious freedom. Such exaggerated protests, likewise, show disrespect for the freedom Catholics have enjoyed in the United States, which is a model for the world—and the church.

You can disagree, but this presents the argument as plainly as I've seen.

Photo: John Courtney Murray, SJ on the cover of TIME, Dec. 12, 1960

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