Imposing Politics on the Mass

Today we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist. Except we were prevented from doing that. Many exciting and profitable homilies lay in storage instead of being gifted to needy congregations.

Instead, the USCCB decided that today we should watch a video on the Affordable Health Care Law and it’s requirement that people working at Catholic institutions be allowed to receive benefits which would be termed contraceptive in nature.

Let’s be clear. Catholic institutions, universities and hospitals mainly, employ thousands of people who are neither Catholic, or who are but have chosen to use contraceptive methods in their health regime. It should  be noted that fully 95% of all Catholics use contraception to manage their families. It should also be noted that various contraceptive methods which have nothing to do with avoiding pregnancy, but in fact are helpful in the cure or management of other conditions having nothing to do with family planning.

Let us also be clear that some 22 states required Catholic institutions to provide the ability of their workers to obtain insurance covered benefits for contraception long before the President and his health care plan came along. Funny, but I never heard any outcry, and somehow they have been handling the matter without the necessity of a call to arms as it were.

We would also note that Catholic institutions, apply for and receive vast sums of federal and state monies the same as private companies do. They whimper not about the “tainted” money they receive, money that in part goes to various policy implementation that they would consider immoral and/or simply wrong by their interpretation of scripture.

When the issue first came forth, the hue and cry raised by the now ultra-conservative bishops of the American church, caused the Administration to re-examine the issue and look for a compromise. They found one, when the insurance companies themselves agreed to absorb the additional cost for contraceptive care and not “charge” the Church any additional monies. They did this not our of some high-minded goodness, but because in the long run, it is profitable to prevent pregnancy from their standpoint rather than pay the expenses of a normal pregnancy, let alone those of an abnormal one.

The fact that religious organizations are tax-exempt is no small issue. It is enormously beneficial on its face, but it allows them to avoid “paying” for immoral wars and other practices it finds against the precepts of its faith. Somehow, accepting government funding is “okay”, which is just another way of saying that they have avoided thinking about that sort of participation in the body politic.

Which leads to this morning’s video. The priest who gave the presentation, went on with all the usual claptrap about how this was an assault on religious freedom. But he went much further. He insisted that the Church was being ordered to pay for something they found morally repugnant. He suggested, that the Obama Administration was imposing what amounted to a totalitarian society, with liberal use of the word “secular” as if it were some awful disease.

He called the President a liar, claiming that when Notre Dame had the bad taste (he pointed out that he was against it) to offer the President an “honorary doctorate of law” (as if the President has no such degree), the President promised to protect freedom of religion, and now we find that he has “utterly broken his promise.”

He claimed that Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers inserted a protection of religious freedom in the First Amendment, precisely to combat the totalitarian tendencies of democracy.

He urged all the parishioners to contact their representatives and do all they can to pass a “bill of conscience” which would allow every person the right to refuse equal treatment to all based on their own particular moral beliefs.

Well, I came to church to celebrate the feast of John the Baptist. He was barely mentioned by our newly ordained priest, who did his best to underscore the danger posed by the Administration, the cost of which would bankrupt the poor church. Instead I was subjected to pleasantly concocted web of lies, innuendo, half and mis-truth, in order to further the agenda of a small minority of controlling men.

It was a sad day in my church, and I expect it was in churches all over America.

Shame on the Roman Catholic Church which continues to avoid real issues of poverty, immigration, and corporate greed and the ensuing inequality it brings, while it concentrates on the only two things it thinks are important, contraception and homosexuality.

Shame on them.

Shame on us if we don’t speak up.

I pray as called upon by the Bishops. However, my prayer is simple: Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.



15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 15:52:05

    Oh, Sherry, this grieves me on so many levels, which I’ll abstain from expressing, as I’m not a Catholic. As I read this, however, I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus’s question: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?” (Luke 6.39)

    The ongoing politicization of this matter–which is really no matter at all, since as you say, a fair compromise was reached almost instantly upon the RCC and other conservative denominations’ protests–is tragic, in that it insists on blindness to what is readily seen and understood, both as faith and politics. It is spin, plain and simple, and one wonders where this compulsion springs from. Surely, the bishops and leaders of other denominations who continue to harp on this believe they have something to gain from doing so. But what can that be? Is it just that they despise our President to the degree they’ll misrepresent the truth to see him defeated? What of those they knowingly mislead?

    There is a ditch…

    I hold the RCC and others who follow its path on this issue in my prayers.

    Much love and grace,


  2. Shannon
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 16:36:37

    Sheesh. The stuff that goes on in some parishes/dioceses. Not a whiff of that stuff where I was this morning. I talked briefly with a woman after mass as we both noted the number of “refugees” from other parishes who have found their way to our place. Come for a visit. You’ll be welcome here.


    • Sherry
      Jun 25, 2012 @ 17:07:30

      Oh gosh I am so glad to hear this. I am so sad to learn that the Church here is so conservative. But I am happy that others are resisting this ugly political crap. I hear of wonderful parishes around the country and know how much you must value it. As usual, the ultra conservatives regarding Catholicism, seem to rule the internet and so us dissenters are offered the door by most. They so desperately want to purge us from the church. But that will not happen.


  3. Thomas
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 17:37:03

    I wish the Catholic Church had found the Mid-East Wars as “morally repugnant” as they do birth control. They were oddly silent on that monstrosity.


  4. Cheryl Kraus
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 18:38:27

    We had a lovely sermon on John the Baptist & those in our lives who haved helped us along our paths towards following Jesus – I am so sorry you did not…perhaps not currently having a bishop helps – who knows!


    • Sherry
      Jun 25, 2012 @ 17:00:02

      Well I am very happy to learn it was not universal. We pray for a new bishop, but of course, we have no idea what we might end up with. Sigh…..I hope there is no more of it.


  5. Jay Landar
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 09:22:59

    I’m sorry you were distracted by politics! I put up a small midsummer/St John’s meditation on my website if you care to take a look. We have to return to the source of our belief wherever possible..


  6. Michael Bowes (@ahartforgod)
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 07:57:57

    Hi Sherry,

    First off, thank you for commenting on my blog (, when you have time, please revisit, there are a few replies awaiting your response.

    I was a bit taken ‘aback’ by the factual errors in your blog regarding many of the blanket statements that you asserted as being fact.

    1. Your first major error is your claim that a full 95% of Catholics use contraception. The source of this information likely came from the Guttmacher Institute which is own by Planned Parenthood. Real convenient to have such a high statistic, don’t you think? The Institute of PP goes on to explain that its survey was restricted to women aged 15-44, so that cuts out all women who were older than 44 at the time of the survey. And a footnote explains that a rather significant chunk of women were excluded from this figure of “all women” — namely, women who are pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant.” A later footnote says that the only women who had sex in the last three months were included in this group. Finally, included in this ridiculously high figure of current contraceptive users are the 11 percent who report no method.

    So I guess we could say that among women aged 15-44 who had sex in the last three months but aren’t pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant, 87 percent of women who identify as Catholic used contraception. It’s worth pondering just who is left out of this 87 percent, other than, you know, everyone who doesn’t use contraception. Great stats designed to mislead the public and those that are uninformed. The study was designed to find only women who would be most likely to use contraception. And it did.

    2. Regarding your statement about 22 states already that have laws forcing Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive healthcare. You said “Funny, but I never heard any outcry, and somehow they have been handling the matter without the necessity of a call to arms as it were.” — Sherry, I don’t know where you have been hiding or if you just avoid news in general but there has been a HUGE fight in all of these states against this unjust law FORCING Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive and abortion coverage to their workers and students, if that is not disgusting then I don’t know what is.

    (New York) New York Catholic institutions — including the Archdiocese of New York, led by Archbishop Dolan, and the Diocese of Brooklyn — chose to self-insure rather than pay for contraception after New York State adopted a requirement in 2002 that any insurance policy with a prescription drug benefit provide coverage for birth control. The requirement has a narrow exemption that applies to policies provided by houses of worship, but not to most other religiously affiliated employers.

    (California) One of the most contentious laws was approved in California in 1999; the measure effectively provided an exemption to churches but not to religiously affiliated hospitals, universities or social service organizations. Catholic Charities of Sacramento unsuccessfully challenged the law in court.

    “It was pretty much a useless exemption, because the large employers are not churches,” said Carol Hogan, a spokeswoman for the California Catholic Conference. She said many large Catholic institutions in California, like hospitals, have since elected to sidestep the law by insuring themselves.

    (New Jersey) In New Jersey, which enacted a requirement on contraceptives in 2006, a number of religiously affiliated hospitals have also opted for self-insurance. “Consequently, we are not mandated to provide birth control coverage to participants under the plan,” said Sister Patricia Codey, president of the Catholic HealthCare Partnership of New Jersey.

    *** Do the lawsuits from these states not count as an outcry for you? ***

    Sherry – The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion.

    Of course, it’s not just hospitals. The Catholic Church runs over 7500 primary and secondary education schools in the US (where over a third of students are non-Catholics), educating more than 2.5 million students. Thanks to a near-blanket moratorium on vouchers, taxpayer money doesn’t get used in teaching these students in a system that has a 99% graduation rate and a 97% success rate at placing students in college. Based on an average student cost of $8000 in public schools, Catholic schools save taxpayers about $20 billion dollars a year.

    Perhaps with schools, though, the notion that Obama wants to crowd out private enterprise in favor of the public sector makes more sense. How about charities? Catholic Charities would also have to close its doors if the bishops refuse to comply with the HHS mandate. In 2003, the latest data available, they provided emergency food services to 6.5 million people, temporary shelter to over 200,000 people, and a range of other assistance to another 1.5 million people, including assistance in clothing, finances, utilities, and even medication. Those efforts would disappear overnight, along with schools and hospitals.


    Sherry, this is WHY the Bishops and Priests are talking about this very real reason. Already Catholic adoption centers have shut down in PA because the govt forced them to give gay couples children and since that is against the moral doctrine of the church and our conscious, they would rather shut their doors than to violate that. If the HHS mandate is going to pass and go through and the Catholic Church will be forced to provide this abomination, they will shut down all the hospitals, clinics, healthcare, adoption, ect instead of risking souls by allowing these things to take place!

    3. Regarding Notre Dame and the President issue, I will let Cardinal Burke do the talking “The proposed granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our president, who is so aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is rightly the source of the greatest scandal. What those who were so enthusiastic about the strong message of hope and change delivered during the last election are now discovering is a consistent implementation of policies and programs which confirm and advance the culture of death.”

    Considering that Obama opposes the ‘Born Alive’ law that states that a child that is born through a failed abortion should receive full recognition as a human being and receive healthcare. He voted against this bill and further voted that the child should be left in a metal bin to die without any medical treatment or health care. If your not upset about that, then you need to have a serious ‘Come to Jesus’ moment and think about the implications this man is letting pass by in the name of ‘womens health’. Furthermore.. Since we allowed this man to come to Notre Dame, we should in the same sense have no problem allowing Hitler to get on the stage, receive an honorary degree, tells us about how he is advancing humanity and all the while we can just pretend that he is slicing and dicing jews in a cold hard metal tub.

    In conclusion, sadly I think it will be reversed when you stated “Shame on the Catholic Church”. The finger is pointing right back in your direction Sherry. You call the Church out for a ridiculous claim that it isn’t doing enough for poverty, immigration, and social justice. Have you no idea that the Catholic Church is the largest charity in the entire world, not the nation, the WHOLE world! And you claim it is NOT doing enough?! Then your upset and you make terrible comments about the Church and that good young Priest of yours who made a stand against a law that is about to change the entire nation in the war on freedom of religion and freedom in general.

    Shame on you for giving a bad example of a Catholic. Go to confession and repent.

    In Christ through Mary,



    • Sherry
      Jun 29, 2012 @ 16:35:58

      The statistics don’t come from PPH. They come from Pew which has been compiling religious statistics for a very long time. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t accept that figure. And your personal opinion of my Catholicism is noted. Judgmentalism seems the province of the extreme right wing of all churches. Catholics alas are no more generous than the bible banging evangelicals. Enjoy living in your dream.


      • Michael Bowes (@ahartforgod)
        Jun 29, 2012 @ 17:52:08

        The statistics are the Pew are just as wrong as the other sources because they are searching for people who fit their criteria, just as the research I posted above states and proves. There are plenty of people who do not accept that figure, I for one am not part of the band of ‘sheeple’ that are walking off a stereotypical cliff of what-might-be’s or I-wish-be’s regarding the Catholics who are using contraception.

        Unfortunately you are the one that named yourself regarding your own view on Catholicism when you called out the Catholic Church for things you did not agree with and you were the one that said “Shame on You” to the Church. So, don’t think I am judging you based upon the words that came out of your own mouth. As the bible says so clearly, “You shall know them by their fruits”. You are a self professed ultra liberal Catholic who professes a faith and belief contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. And what is worse is that you took it a step further by calling out the Church publicly and saying they should be ashamed for what they are doing.

        If Christ were to appear to you today, would you try to stone him when he told you that homosexuality is an abomination and contraception is not only wrong, but in many cases it is murder?

        How can you expect charity for yourself when you mock, ridicule, and hurt the Church in such a way with your venomous words?

        Lastly.. although you think of me as some sort of freak over the edge right winged Catholic.. I’m still going to pray for you tonight and in the days that follow.

        God Bless,


      • Sherry
        Jun 30, 2012 @ 09:40:57

        Your remarks about Pew are silly. They are the accepted norm in polling and have been for decades. They are cited by experts across the country and on many subjects. Your desire to escape the truth is amusing to say the least. You claim to judge me from my own mouth, but it is your INTERPRETATION that causes you to condemn. I condemn your thinking, not your relationship with God. I would no more accuse you of being a poor Catholic than I would accuse you of being a lousy friend. I don’t have any basis for determining your relationship with God, and will never speak for God. You however seem to be sure of what Jesus and God believe and think. Your accusation that I would I would stone the Lord if he disagreed with me is absurd and cruel. Would you be so kind as to not reply? Consider my blog some place that you can only dirty your hands upon and avoid it in the future. Your kind of ugliness is unwelcome. And save the smarmy “I’ll pray for you” crap that is the Religious Right’s way of adding insult to injury. Your sanctimony is unwelcome. Let me and my readers return to the peace that you have so injudiciously disturbed.

  7. Tony (@KarateTony)
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 17:33:02


    1) It doesn’t matter how many Catholics use contraception. The Church has always taught that it is wrong. The fact that people ignore the teaching doesn’t turn it into a right. If enough people steal, should we tell the Church it should overlook it? Or perhaps we should order it to say its now a good thing?

    2) Michael is right in his assertion about the Church regarding poverty, immigration, and social justice. There is no institution that does more. I guess I am just surprised that you want the Church to focus more on doing good while ignoring evil? This doesn’t make any sense.

    3) Your faith is not a buffet lunch that you can pick and choose what you want to believe. Obedience and humility are supposed to be hallmarks of our faith.

    4) There is a difference between freedom of religion and freedom to worship. If the mandate is upheld, you’ll see that the hard way.

    I will add my prayers for you to Michael’s. I’ll also reiterate his call for you to go to confession and add a challenge of my own… pray the Rosary everyday. Allow the Blessed Mother to guide you.



    • Sherry
      Jul 06, 2012 @ 08:30:44

      It matters a great deal. When the overwhelming majority of your people refuse to follow there is a huge disconnect, and it is time to reflect and determine if indeed the teaching is correct. There was a great sigh of relief in the 60’s when it was understood that in the end, contraception was a matter of one’s own conscious. Of course, today the extreme right argues that this was misinterpreted, but indeed I remember it quite well. There is nothing in scripture that requires such an extreme measure, and there are horror stories galore from “faithful” Catholics who risk their very lives rather than follow their doctors advice on contraceptive needs. It is well known from the Hebrew scriptures that contraception was used and there seems nothing to suggest that it was considered wrong by anyone of the time.

      The church has indeed done much in the area of poverty. That is not to say it has done either enough or could not do more. They put no where near the same effort into opposing the draconian desires of the Republican economic policies as they do the seriously helpful policies offered to help achieve universal healthcare. There is nothing inherently “evil” about some of the things that the Church opposes.

      No one’s faith is a buffet table to pick and choose from, but in the end the catechism makes it most clear, one must follow one’s own conscious in matters of morals and cannot simply ignore one’s heart and mind and “follow.” If you understand nothing, at least understand that. It has been stated even by conservative popes such as JPII and Benedict.

      I have no idea what you mean by a difference between freedom of religion and freedom to worship. One cannot engage in the public arena, accepting the benefits of governmental protection and then claim that you don’t have to follow the rules set by everyone else. If there is only one pharmacy in town, and the pharmacist can pick and choose who to serve because it offends his/her “moral” religious sensibilities, then inequality is served. It’s all well and good when you are the one claiming you’re being forced to act against your morals but of course if you were refused service by some Jehovah’s witness who didn’t believe in some sort of medical remedy, you would be up in arms. That is why there must be rules. Would you suggest that those who don’t believe in blood transfusions be allowed to let their children die? Of course not. YOu support government intervention in the form of a lawsuit that orders the proper treatment.

      There is nothing more odious and snotty than to end a difference of opinion, with a “I’ll pray for you” slap in the face. Keep your “go to confession” to yourself, since they are meant only as insult. And as to the rosary, I pray one every day, and have for a very long time. Geesh, you extremists always think you have a corner on piety. Grow up, and learn a bit of humility.


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