Catholic Charities and the California Courts


Most of you probably have heard about this already, if not, check it out:

California Court Rules Catholic Group's Insurance Must Cover Birth Control

The California Supreme Court has ruled that a Catholic group must provide coverage for birth control in its health insurance plan, regardless of the fact that contraception is contrary to teachings of the Catholic Church. The decision sets the stage for possibly forcing Catholic and other Christian groups to pay for other immoral activities such as abortion or assisted suicides, if legalized.

The basis of this ruling is that Catholic Charities:

  1. is not itself a "church" - just a related organization
  2. offers secular services
  3. serves a predominantly non-Catholic population

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Catholic Charities is affiliated with every diocese in which it operates. It is not - or at least ought not be - just another "social service organization." It is fundamentally different from the Boys and Girls Club, the United Way and other secular organizations in that it's mission is - or at least ought to be - identical to that of the Church: to proclaim Christ. The Church proper does this through distribution of the Sacraments and the handing down of the Faith; Catholic Charities does this by heeding Christ's command to care for the poor by carrying out the corporal works of mercy.

Constitutional lesson-time:
This is exactly the kind of thing that separation of Church and state is supposed to prevent. By a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court of California has decided to stick it's nose into the business of the Church and tell Her how to carry out Her mission.

Christ commanded us to lead no person astray, and informed us that anybody who does so is in deep eternal doo-doo. These six judges have just told Catholic Charities that they cannot obey this command. This is plainly, without doubt, a direct contradiction of the First Amendment.

The implications of this violation of the Church's Constitutional rights are staggering. What about Catholic schools? They are not "Churches" per se, they offer the secular service of education (secular in the eyes of the court, that is) and a great many Catholic schools serve a predominantly non-Catholic population. All it would take is some bird-brained judge to apply this as precedent and here come condoms, liberal sex ed and abortion referrals into our Catholic schools (I know, I know, they're there already, but that's a totally different issue).

What about Catholic hospitals? They've already lost a lot of their rights to actually be Catholic, and now this ruling subordinates the Christian mission - which is (or ought to be) at the core of a hospital's healing ministry - to the secular service of medicine. Again, all it takes is a simple application of this ruling and Catholic hospitals lose all right to refrain from any service that the courts deem to be a "right."

The last result is that from here it's about a half step to forcing the Catholic Church to pay for abortions.

Well, I'm a Catholic, and as such, I have to believe that there is a ray of hope in all dark situations. Fortunately, it's not that hard in this case to find that hope. It goes without saying that Catholic Charities ought to be Catholic - but the court doesn't see it that way. The opportunity for grace here is that the Church's various institutions need to look at themselves and assess the degree to which their mission identifies with that of the Church. I'm not just talking here about Catholic Colleges teaching liberalism, relativism and femi-Nazi-ism, it goes without saying that that is a contradiction. I'm referring here to organizations that have a good heart but no sense of mission.

My favorite definition of a "fanatic" comes from Fr. William McNamara. I think he lifted it from someone else, but I don't know whom. Anyway, he defines a "fanatic" as somebody who, having lost sight of the end, multiplies the means. How many of our Catholic charities, schools and hospitals are fanatic? The fundamental mission of each of those entities is to proclaim Christ in some way or other - that is their end. Yet many of those institutions, having lost sight of this end, multiply their means. Think of the Catholic high school where 1/4 of the kids do drugs, health class consists of teaching "safe-sex" and not one kid knows the name of their bishop. The proper end here is to evangelize these youth and hopefully bring them closer to Christ. Instead, the school focuses on college prep, bake sales for Greenpeace, and recruiting the hottest eighth grade point guard to take the Catholic League hoops title next year.

Think of the Catholic hospital that employs abortion doctors, so long as they don't perform abortions at the hospital.

Let's face it: we're talking about California. Can we seriously doubt that many of the programs run by Catholic Charities out there don't exactly spring from the mission of the Church, and that many others are directly against it? Let's not lose sight of the fact that Catholic Charities has employees demanding contraception. Something had gone wrong before this decision.

The opportunity for grace in this situation is that Catholic Charities will have to assess its mission and prioritize accordingly. It is an opportunity for Catholic Charities to be emboldened with a true sense of apostolate. This ruling by six black-robed left-wing-wraiths is a challenge to all Catholic institutions to make sure that their work is essentially religious, essentially Christian, essentially Catholic.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on March 7, 2004 6:14 PM.

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