Michael Gerson in the Washington Post takes aim at the administration’s demand that all employers who provide health coverage must provide for abortion, contraception and sterilization in their policies and all hospitals must perform these services:
The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
Obama’s decision also reflects a certain view of liberalism. Classical liberalism was concerned with the freedom to hold and practice beliefs at odds with a public consensus. Modern liberalism uses the power of the state to impose liberal values on institutions it regards as backward. It is the difference between pluralism and anti-clericalism.
A Catholic poster at Just One Minute, Cathyf, explains why the Church cannot back off on this fight:
Something that I’m pretty sure that non-Catholics have no idea about, and Catholics are mostly ignorant as well is the latae sentiae excommunication. “Officially, a latae sententiae penalty follows automatically, by force of the law itself, when the law is contravened… A latae sententiae penalty differs from a ferendæ sententiæ (sentence to be passed). If one commits an ecclesiastical offense for which a ferendae sententiae punishment is prescribed, the penalty will only take effect when imposed by the competent ecclesiastical authority.” In other words, a normal excommunication requires a Church trial, where you can mount a defense, get off on a technicality, bribe or threaten the judges, blah-blah-blah. But with the automatic excommunication, there is no judicial process, no requirement to get caught, no one but the person who committed the offense has to even know that it happened — boom — game over.
And paying for an abortion (“procuring an abortion”) is one of the eight automatic excommunication sins.
Obama, being a politician, believes that he can convince, bribe, threaten, etc. the Church into going along. But, sorry, there is no way a bishop is going to excommunicate himself for Obama. But, simultaneously, there is no way that a bishop is going to risk the shutting down of every Church school, hospital, social service agency, etc. in order to score debating points.