Last week, when I wrote about the stirrings of backlash on the part of some Catholic activists and Bishops over the Obamacare requirement that Catholic hospitals provide contraception and abortions, I expressed my doubt that mainstream Catholics really cared that much.
I got a few Catholics sounding off in my comment section that sounded a little more bellicose than I expected.
Chad the Elder over at Fraters – who is, unlike me, Catholic – is a lot less sanguine:
Many Catholics seem all too willing to erect their own wall between church and state and like to pretend that their politics has nothing to do with the Catholic Church and vice versa. The problem is that when the government breaks through that barrier and injects itself into the affairs of the Church by attempting to force it to accept policies that violate core tenants of its beliefs, the illusion of this happy little coexistence is shattered.
I’m not trying to be snotty, there – it’s a genuine question.
If people have little tangible investment in the practical results of religious freedom – if it’s more an intellectual and rhetorical parlor game than an immediate, vital part of their life – then will it “shatter” so much as “melt like stale jello?”
Well, at least it would be if the Church were more consistent and forceful in explaining exactly what is taking place and why it matters to American Catholics.
There’s that, too. Leaving aside that the laity themselves, to my observation, seem to think it’s an issue well above their pay grade, I have a strong hunch that a good chunk of the Catholic hierarchy is lukewarm on upsetting the progressive applecart.
For whatever reason, Elder’s observations seem to be in tune with mine:
My experience may not be typical, but so far little word of this current controversy has surfaced in our parish on any given Sunday. A few months ago, there was an insert in the bulletin that touched on it. Since then, nothing. No homilies, no presentations, no mention in the weekly bulletin. The only thing related to politics that has merited attention has been on the marriage front, with updates on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment appearing in the last few bulletins. But nothing on the Obamacare rules which are a direct threat to the freedom of the Catholic Church to exercise its religious beliefs.
In order for there to be action, there needs to be a call for it first. I fear that too many Catholic leaders are still reluctant to sound it.
And while I’m assured by many Catholic friends that some of the post-John-Paul-2 clergy is more conservative, I have serious questions as to whether that’s filtered down to an awful lot of lay Catholics and their immediate leadership. Chad’s observations don’t do much to dissuade me.
Of course, it’s similar in my own Presbyterian church (where, to be fair, the problem is opposite; an extremely liberal elected temporal leadership representing congregations that are frequently much more conservative.