Bless Me Father, for I Have Disagreed

St. Stan's

St. Stan's

“As we approach the voting booth this Tuesday, keep in mind that the killing of the unborn is a gravely intrinsic evil that cannot be supported in any way whatsoever. Also keep in mind that the family is formed by a man and woman, whose natural physical union has the God-given capacity to bring forth life.” Thus said Fr. Anthony Buś in his sermon at Sunday morning’s mass at St. Stanisław Kostka Catholic Church here in Chicago, and in his “Letter from the Pastor” in the parish bulletin.

I love St. Stan’s, as it is affectionately known to its parishioners, and I admire the devotion of Father Buś. He is guiding the church through a magnificent restoration project that will bring the gorgeous interior back to its original beauty, a tribute to the Polish immigrants who built it in 1877-81. By 1897, St. Stanisław Kostka was the largest parish in the United States with 8,000 families, totaling 40,000 people. There were 12 Masses each Sunday: six Masses in the upper church and another six Masses in the lower church. St. Stan’s is considered the mother church of the many Polish parishes founded by Fr. Vincent Barzynski during his pastorate (1874-1899).

That’s what made it all the more disturbing that Father Buś delivered a pro-Romney political speech from the pulpit, in blatant defiance of the law. “The present Administration is forcing individuals and institutions, including religious employers, to sponsor and subsidize what they consider immoral; namely contraceptive devices, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization,” he concluded. He apparently believes that somehow Romney will be able to make all forms of sexuality illegal unless they lead directly to a pregnancy.

The Catholic Church is proposing that sexuality is the single most important consideration in how I should vote in the presidential election. The problem is that Democrat Barack Obama, the incumbent, supports the equitable availability of health insurance, and Republican Mitt Romney, a formerly pro-choice candidate who as governor of Massachusetts, has said that he also would protect a woman’s right to choose.

Father Buś wants me to believe that somehow Mitt Romney is going to oppose abortion and birth control and that somehow he will overturn Rowe vs. Wade and he will undo so-called ObamaCare, even though his RomneyCare plan for Massachusetts was the basis of ObamaCare. Republican “pro-life” President George Bush had eight years to make abortion and birth control illegal. He didn’t and he knew better than to try.

ObamaCare requires that all health insurance companies provide preventive services without cost but includes an amendment that allows for religious organizations that provide health insurance to their employees to opt out of any and all birth control coverage. The Obama administration added an accommodation for church-affiliated universities, hospitals, and charities so that they would not have to provide for such coverage. Instead, such coverage could be offered to women directly by their employer’s insurance companies with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception. What’s more, if an employee objects to contraception for religious reasons, why would they be asking insurers to pay for something they refuse to use?

I have had many an argument with liberal and conservative friends who believe that a woman’s right to choose is the most important issue in the election. Yet, both Obama and Romney, and most political candidates in recent memory, have deftly dodged the issues of abortion, contraception, and homosexuality—until this election when universal health care has turned into a religious debate that has dominated the campaigns for many Catholic Americans who are increasingly taking fundamentalist positions. Nobody remembers the debates in Masssachusetts between Romney, a Mormon, and Edward Kennedy, a Catholic, in which the polarization of American politics were overcome. Nobody seems to remember that “health care reform” is essentially a question of health care insurance reform and how long we, the American people, are going to allow insurance companies to dictate our health care decisions. The elephant in the room during all of these debates has been: Why are so many women getting pregnant who do not want to have a child?

Am I to believe that if I vote for Mitt Romney, abortions will be abolished and marriage will be institutionalized as a union between one man and one woman for life? There was a time when Catholics would have been appalled by the idea of a Mormon in the White House, and Mormons believed the Catholic Church itself was an abomination before God. And that’s not even mentioning polygamy, which mainstream Mormons have renounced but which nevertheless was a significant aspect of the development of the Mormon church in the 19th century.

All is also forgotten when it comes to the pedophilia scandals of the Catholic Church, which are far more recent. Catholic Church leaders have publicly blamed the media for the outrages committed by the male hierarchy, even though they have been forced to admit that pedophile priests were shielded and protected and moved to other parishes, rather than owning up to the church’s own special form of sexual perversity, namely celibacy.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control is firmly based in its insistence that human sexuality exists solely for the purpose of procreation. The only reason anyone should be having sexual relations ever is to produce a child. Period, end of debate. Once you have accepted this tenet you will defy science and social justice to have your way.

Once you have accepted that abortion is murder, for no matter what reason, then I suppose you will feel morally compelled to support political candidates who promise to take medical and religious decisions out of the hands of families and their religious and medical advisers and into the hands of big government, you can rationalize that women can be forced to bear children against their will and that pregnant women and medical professionals who perform abortions should all be tried for murder and sent to prison—or murdered themselves, as those who bomb abortion clinics believe.

Father Buś is wrong on two counts. First, Obama has never expressed any wish to change the law, only to uphold it. That is as it should be, since a president does not make laws. Second, ObamaCare does not force any Catholic institutions to practice anything that is in opposition to its religious beliefs. The Catholic Church has drifted farther and farther from its 20th century zenith as a leader in building medical and educational facilities that were as devoted to science and knowledge as they were to the mystery of faith.

I believe that it is indisputable that abortion ends the life of an unborn child and, as a lifelong Catholic, I could never counsel anyone to have an abortion–with the possible execptions of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. An abortion, or a miscarriage for that matter, is a horrifying thing for anyone to have to go through, but it defies logic and science to say that birth control is the same thing. And where does the Catholic Church stand on other forms of killing? Where is its opposition to war, for example, which regularly kills thousands of innocent children? Is the church opposed, as I am, to capital punishment? I never hear a word about it.

It’s a shame that the ruling class in the Catholic Church feels entitled to preach politics from the pulpit, especially the politics of sexuality. Forgive me Father Buś, but I have disagreed with you. And I would feel the same if I had been told to vote for Obama. Both Romney and Obama are powerless to turn Catholic doctrine into the law of the land, and that is as it should be.

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