Is this a power grab by the bishops?

Deacon Joe Bell

James Carroll has written an opinion piece in the Boston Globe in which he claims that the Church’s current objection to the HHS Mandate requiring religion institutions to provide contraception in their insurance policies as simply a power grab of the US Bishops.

Given that this is an opinion piece it is full of, well, opinion.  The author does a good job stating some of the facts, but goes on to assume that he knows what was in the mind and what the motivation of the Pope was over 30 years ago.  

For instance, in writing of our Bishops the author says “Such deluded lust for power would be sad…”  If one were to take a look at how the Bishops have behaved toward this administration one could hardly call what they’ve done as a lust for power.  That may be the author’s opinion, but there is little to back it up.  

Again the author writes “in 1964, the new pope, Paul VI, diluted the papal commission by expanding its membership to 72, almost all clerics, including 16 cardinals and bishops (and only five women). This stacked the deck against any change in church teaching on contraception.”   He uses the word “diluted.”  From a different perspective, it may be that Paul VI realized that a six member committee to explore a topic as important as contraception was rather small indeed.  

It is difficult to see what the Bishops are doing as a power grab.  Indeed, concerning the latest HHS Mandate, the American Bishops have been concerned for the religious liberty of all Americans.  The argument of the Bishops is that if the government can mandate what is against a religion’s basic beliefs,  that same government can mandate whatever it wants to whomever it wants.  One should consider which institution is really grabbing for power.

 An opinion piece is simply that; an opinion.  And inflammatory opinion pieces get more readers.  And more readers, read more ads.

Be that as it may.  I would suggest that anyone who questions the sincerity of the Church or of Pope Paul VI read Humanae Vitae.  In it the Pope explains why he came to the decision he did and he makes some rather prophetic statements about where  contraception would lead, especially paragraph 17.   I would also suggest comparing the tone and rhetoric of James Carroll’s article to the tone and rhetoric of Paul VI.  Had Carroll read Humanae Vitae, he would perhaps see the Pope and the Bishops in a different light.

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