Hypocrisy in the Bishops’ Objection to the HHS Mandate

Many Bishops in the U.S., over 100, are speaking out against the Health and Human Services Mandate that all companies and organizations, other than churches, pay for contraception, abortifacient contraception, and direct sterilization in their employee health plans. They are right to speak out strongly on this issue. The HHS is wrong to require us to cooperate in evil by paying for intrinsically evil and gravely immoral acts. However, there is a certain hypocrisy to the Bishops’ action in this matter.

Bishops Issue Letters Objecting to HHS Mandate

A large percentage of Catholic men and women have used contraception without contrition or confession; a large percentage of Catholics continue to use contraception. The use of abortifacient contraception among Catholic women who are married, or even unmarried and sexually active, is very high. Perhaps a majority of these women use the type of contraception that is abortifacient. The rates for abortions in areas of the nation with a high percentage of Catholics in the population are about as high as in other areas of the nation. Many Catholic women do not know that the procurement of a completed direct abortion results in the penalty of automatic excommunication. Many Catholics do not realize that it is the sin of heresy to reject the Church’s teaching that all direct abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, is always gravely immoral.

What is the Bishops’ response to this prevalence of grave sin and ignorance of magisterial teaching concerning contraception and abortion among U.S. Catholics? They are mostly silent. Sometimes they speak out against abortion, but not often enough and not loudly enough. They rarely speak against contraception and abortifacient contraception, and then only quietly, in a few places in a few documents. It is hypocrisy for the U.S. Bishops to speak out more loudly and more emphatically on the lesser (but still important) issue of PAYMENT for contraception and abortifacient contraception, and not on the issue of the very widespread USAGE of contraception and abortifacient contraception by Catholics.

When government tries to take away our freedom of religion, the Bishops should speak out, as they have. When Catholic misuse their freedom of religion to reject definitive magisterial teaching and to commit grave sins without repentance, the Bishops should speak out more loudly. They have not done so.

The Bishops should undertake a major effort to reverse the widespread use of contraception and abortifacient contraception by Catholics. Where is the Bishop’s Letter, to be read at all Masses, on the subject of abortifacient contraception? Why object only to paying for contraception and abortifacient contraception, and not to using it? Of course the Bishops are against the use of contraception and abortifacient contraception, but they generally refrain from preaching and teaching on this subject.

They should also make it very clear to Catholics that any type of procured direct abortion, not only surgical abortions but abortifacient contraception as well, includes the penalty of automatic excommunication.

Sinful secular society knows that the Church is against contraception, and that most married Catholic women and many unmarried Catholic women nevertheless use abortifacient contraception. To speak so strongly against paying for abortifacient contraception, while not even mentioning that using abortifacient contraception is a grave sin, is hypocritical. The Bishops don’t want organizations to be forced to pay for contraception or abortion, but they don’t say much if Catholics want to pay for it themselves.

By contrast, the priests at my current parish have repeatedly spoken, at Mass during sermons, against:
contraception,
abortion,
pornography,
masturbation,
sex outside of marriage,
divorce and remarriage,
gay marriage,
and other sins.

Most Bishops, the vast majority it seems, only speak against the most common sins infrequently, if at all. They prefer, for some reason I can’t fathom, to speak on moral issues that have a political dimension, such as voting for pro-abortion politicians, laws permitting gay marriage, and the HHS Mandate. I completely support the efforts of the Bishops to fight against these types of moral evil and against unjust laws. But I do not see why they speak out more frequently and more prominently on political moral issues than on grave sins that are known to be widespread within their flocks.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to Hypocrisy in the Bishops’ Objection to the HHS Mandate

  1. Carlos Perera says:

    Mr. Conte, you make excellent points, unexceptionable ones, in fact. Unfortunately, the time is long past when the clergy might have made an effective stand against sexual sin–including contraception and, most egregiously, abortion–without precipitating the final mass exodus of Catholics from the pews. The process of re-indoctrinating the faithful, I fear, must be subtle, gradual, and systematic (much as the de-moralization of what was once called Christendom has been, though the Enemy has now moved beyond the “subtle and gradual” phase).

    During the thick of the Sexual Revolution, in the 1960s and early 1970s, the institutional Church was busy undermining its own moral authority and especially its teachings on sexual morality, first by diverting its attention from the moral upheaval underway in the greater society, and then through the intramural conflicts and open rebellion against the Magisterium that largely comprised the implementation, not so much of the Council’s teachings as of he nebulous “spirit of Vatican II.” Just about any doctrinal travesty would be justified by reference to that hazy concept: I remember sitting at Mass in St. Augustine Parish (the Catholic student parish across from the University of Florida) during my undergraduate days, listening to the homilist declare that the “obsession” with sexual sins was “unhealthy,” and kept too many people from receiving the eucharist; he reluctantly conceded that adultery was _probably_ a mortal sin, but just about every other sexual transgression was at most a venial peccadillo, which did not have to be confessed before receiving communion; even college kids sitting near me, whom I knew to be quite libertine in their own sexual attitudes, were visibly shocked by this pronouncement from the pulpit. Mind you, the homilist’s boss, Bishop Paul Tanner of St. Augustine, was a thoroughly orthodox–some at the time even called him “reactionary”–prelate, but even he was unable–or maybe just unwilling–to rein in his contumacious priests.

    In any case, the kids who were sitting in those pews at the Catholic Student Center have gone on to have kids and even grandkids of their own, to whom they have passed on the “Catholicism Lite” they learned back then. I fear that the struggle to regain the orthodoxy that was lost during that period is likely to be long and arduous, with many a setback before the moral consciousness of the faithful is raised. But we do have Christ’s promise that the Church shall prevail in the end.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I agree with much of what you are saying. But I don’t think the gradual approach will work. Most Catholics are heavily influenced by the ‘moral teachings’ of secular society. Only a sharp correction will work. And the response? Most probably the great apostasy, in which most Catholics leave the Church.

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