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USCCB Administrative Committee Statement (updated)
Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 7:08 PM

Strong stuff from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

[Resistance to the HHS mandate] is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds. This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the Bishops’ somehow “banning contraception,” when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.

Read the whole thing here (HT Rocco Palmo at Whispers). One thing that’s worth noting is that this statement includes concerns for private individuals:

The HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values. They, too, face a government mandate to aid in providing “services” contrary to those values—whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves—without even the semblance of an exemption.

Many Catholics running small businesses or working in the health care professions have had grave concerns that the Catholic leadership (as well as others leading the fight) would be content simply to protect religious institutions like hospitals and universities. Here we see they haven’t been forsaken.

HHS: Cynical Ploy Failing
Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 5:20 PM

I don’t mean to post about politics frequently, preferring theology and cultural issues, but as the State’s reach into life grows ever longer, it is hard to avoid.

Now, the recent HHS mandate requiring health plans to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient medications (e.g., “ella”), is perhaps the most cynical ploy in recent American political history (and that is of course saying something). The Administration is populated with people from head to footsoldiers who advance the culture of death in service of their disordered version of the common good with zeal and abandon, so we shouldn’t doubt for a moment that Secretary Sebelius meant her mandate to advance an ideology. But the politics and rhetoric are cynical, for the Administration’s members are not only zealous but wickedly smart.

Or are they?

Hi, I’m Leroy
Monday, March 12, 2012, 12:34 AM

As I value Touchstone highly, I am honored to have been invited to blog at Mere Comments. Allow me to introduce myself.

I am an ecumenically-minded Catholic convert of traditional bent, formally received into the Church last Easter. I now serve as Director of the Christian Leadership Center and Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. Prior to my appointment at U-Mary, I taught New Testament at Wheaton College from 2006-2011. I received my Ph.D. from Duke (2006) and my M.Div. from Princeton Seminary (2001), and spent a year teaching and writing at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, Germany (2004-2005).

More importantly, I’ve been married to my beloved wife Kari for shy of fifteen years, and we have two wonderful munchkins, Hans (3) and Miriam (18 mos). We’re both native North Dakotans, and glad to be home after years away.

Aside from Bible and theology proper, my interests concern the interplay of intellectual, religious, and cultural history in the making of the crisis that is contemporary modernity, particularly with reference to life and family issues. Theologically, I identify deeply with Ratzinger although I also have Thomistic tendencies. Politically and economically, I suppose I’m something of a distributist. As regards cultural issues, Rod Dreher’s crunchy conservatism has been a great influence upon me.

I write from time to time for First Things. You can also find me on Facebook as well as Twitter (@lhuizenga). I keep a tumblr blog of significant quotes on religion, culture, and the State at Contra Mundum.

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