The Catholic Church is back. Has it ever left?
After suffering through one of the worse sexual abuses scandals in the history of the world, the Church as an institution (note, institution and not as a body of spiritual believers) has lost some of its moral authority and luster. To the vast majority of its US members, the Church's dogma seems stuck in the 19th century, yet at the same time the Church continues to do good, particularly in the areas of fighting poverty and speaking out against immigration hate.
This week, Catholicism in the United States is back on trial, with the news that the Obama administration is requiring that Catholic institutions such as hospitals and colleges provide contraceptive coverage to its employees. Granted, this policy, which is now the center of the "culture war," is already being implemented in states such as California and New York. In addition, the overwhelming majority of Cafeteria Catholics of the US (those who are part of the Church yet don't follow EVERYTHING the Church's leaders say) use birth control. But today, Republican leaders claimed that the White House was attacking religious freedom while prominent women's groups fought back.
Our band of Rebeldes has been debating internally about what we should be posting about. We wouldn't say that we are divided on the issue, but we all offer some different perspectives about it and what it means to this country. Here is what we are thinking:
Rick Rios, Rebelde: Both sides look at the separation of church and state from different view points. The church wants to conduct its religious and business practices separate from government control but religious ideology is not a legal basis to deny basic benefits. Ideology doesn't prevent Catholics from demanding basic benefits from their employers and that's how Obama is viewing this. Every employee is entitled to basic benefits, regardless of who they work for unless there's a legal reason to deny benefits, and religious ideology isn't it.
Belly Vida Letty, Rebelde: The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The separation of church and state should be upheld. No religious group has any right to make health decisions which impact women's physical well being. More than ever in this economy it is necessary for women to have access to preventative healthcare including breast exams, counseling, HIV screening and contraception. It's a misguided attack on women of lower income who cannot afford these services in the first place. If women can't afford $50 a month for contraceptives how can they possibly afford having a child?
Efrain Nieves, Rebelde: I agree with Letty. I don't understand why the Catholic church is getting involved given that 80% of Catholic women use contraceptives. Also, there are alternate uses for contraceptives. For example, it can be used to treat Endometriosis, which is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. Endometriosis leads to irregular bleeding, pain and a woman can have difficulty getting pregnant. I don't see why health insurers shouldn't offer birth control coverage.
Rodrigo Sánchez Chavarría, Rebelde: It's the utilitarian view of things. The greatest good for the masses. In this case contraception for everybody is the greater good. Religion is a personal thing. You can always deny not to get contraceptives. But deny everybody access to contraceptive because of religion does not benefit the greater good. Btw I am a catholic. I hope that answers the question…. Also when are they going to make a male contraceptive? Cuz I'll get some.
Odilia Rivera Santos, Rebelde: It seems to be a diversionary tactic. Romney's main compliant, posing as a message, was the dire state of the economy and unemployment rate. Now that the economy is improving, Romney is out to 'save American souls.' All conservative followers of religions are coming out of the woodwork with an attempt to legislate 'morality.' In their eyes, ejaculation without procreation is immoral. In Italy, there is a program that pays couples to stop using birth control and have children — they even provide free housing. The separation of church and state exists so that we may function as a cohesive society despite religious differences and follow codes of ethics not based on one group's religious beliefs. Birth control and gay marriage.. . are these matters that should still be argued about? Look at the number of adults who have no business having kids — that bastard who just killed his two boys and himself by blowing up his house. Gay marriage is good for the economy and hurts no one. The real issue is there is no one to oppose Obama in the election. #creatingdiversions101
Julio Ricardo Varela, Rebelde: Puerto Rican. Bronx Italian. My wife's family is Irish Boston. 12 years of a Catholic education, but thankfully the last 4 years were with the Jesuits, the original Catholic Rebels. This is about two issues: no one in the United States is denying the Catholic Church to stop worshipping. No one is attacking the Church and calling for their removal (although, personally, the Church as institution is so out of touch with its flock, the people who are the real Church). This is all about how the government is trying to provide basic health services to women. There are also employment laws in this country that require employers to provide health coverage to its employers. The Catholic Church as an institution is dying as a religious organization, for reasons I don't want to get into here, but I will say that if the Church is running multi-million dollar hospitals and is in the health care business, then it is a health institution too. Besides, several states already have these laws and birth control is readily available at Catholic colleges right now. This is an attack on hyperbole and the hypocrisy of it all proves why a small bunch of unmarried men shouldn't be dictating morality. Especially after what the Catholic Church in the US has suffered.