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Will Obama really retreat over his edict that Catholic institutions must provide contraception? Probably not. And how will US Catholics vote then?

I suspect that the answer is deeply depressing

By on Friday, 10 February 2012

Why does one bother? In the wake of Rick Santorum’s recent hat-trick and the reports of his splendidly eloquent onslaught on Obama’s recent edict—that under his administration’s Health Care Act any provider of health care (including Catholic institutions) must be prepared to supply artificial contraception (including drugs which, though labelled contraceptive, are in fact abortifacient)—I came across, googling around, the following attack on me on an American website. The attack was provoked by my pointing out the absurdity of Santorum’s saying that the NHS had “devastated” the UK and that its economic effect was partly responsible for the collapse of the British Empire. I called this “deranged”: it might have been better to say simply grossly ignorant. However, I also made it clear that I rather liked the cut of Santorum’s jib (American politicians, after all, don’t need to know much about the UK, and rarely do). I also said what every informed US commentator also says — that he’s unelectable: I regard this as unfortunate, since the re-election of Obama, given the sheer awfulness of Mitt Romney (who everyone assumes will get the Republican nomination) is probably now an inevitable disaster, not only for the US but for all of us. This general assessment attracted the following, from an American website called QED:

Odd William Oddie

Catholic Herald UK had a hit-piece on Rick Santorum today where the author says that Santorum cannot win the election against Obama because he is too free-market, and is “deranged” {his word} about the National Health Service in Britain. Mr. Oddie seems to think that socialized medicine that kills people by delaying surgery is right in line with orthodox Catholicism, just as how most American bishops think destroying the American economy by flooding it with illegal aliens is right in line with orthodox Catholicism. The odd William Oddie seems to think a pro-abortion liberal like Romney or Obama, so long as they pay for your substandard healthcare, is preferable to a pro-life conservative who would have you make your own healthcare decisions.

I didn’t, of course, say Santorum was unelectable because he’s too free-market, nor indeed did I say almost anything else this person says I said (he seems to have just made most of it up): but what the heck? It’s just another loony blog, so what does it matter?

Meanwhile, back to Obama: he, unfortunately, is a continuing reality which does matter. There are now reports that he is trying to find a way of retreating from his anti-Catholic stance, fearful of losing the Catholic vote. One site, The Week, reports that “President Obama is taking flak from religious institutions and Republican presidential candidates over his decision to make employers, including Catholic universities and hospitals, cover contraception in their employees’ health insurance plans. Hoping to avoid a backlash, White House aides are promising to look at ways to make the policy ‘more palatable’ to religious-affiliated institutions”. That doesn’t mean, however, that Obama is going to change the ruling substantially, and I bet he doesn’t.

The fact is that if he does, he will offend US liberals, who also have votes, and actually rather like Obama’s anti-Christian, and especially his anti-Catholic, policies. The Week suggests the following four reasons why Obama’s birth control ruling “might actually help him secure a second term”: in other words why he couldn’t care less about what the US bishops, let alone Rick Santorum, have to say about anything:

1. It exposes Mitt Romney to fresh flip-flopper charges

Romney, Obama’s most likely Republican rival in the fall, has blasted Obama’s plan as an “assault on religion.” But that “wasn’t exactly Flipper’s position back in 2005,” says John Aravosis at America Blog. Back then, a strongly pro-choice Romney was already “demanding that insurance companies cover contraceptives.” Team Obama argues that “it’s the ultimate hypocrisy that Mitt Romney is hitting the president for the same birth control policy he oversaw and protected as governor” of Massachusetts….

2. Republican candidates are infighting over the issue

Instead of focusing on Obama, Republicans are wounding each other over the contraception mandate. Rick Santorum has used the issue to “level one of his harshest attacks on Mitt Romney,” says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. According to Santorum, Romney “trounced on the fundamental right to religious freedom” with similar measures in Massachusetts….

3. It could help Obama win over women voters.

Team Obama probably has good reason to believe that “any political damage will be limited” if the president says he’s “on the side of women’s rights,” say Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons at the Los Angeles Times….

4. And many Catholics actually agree with Obama

While more than 150 Roman Catholic bishops have criticized Obama’s birth control mandate, a recent Public Religion Research Institute study found that says Lauren Fox at U.S. News & World Report. In fact, six in 10 U.S. Catholics support the requirement, making it even more popular among Catholics than in the general population.

That last assertion is what makes my heart sink most: is it true? There have been claims that whatever ilberal Catholics think on the issue of artificial contraception, all US Catholics are now standing shoulder to shoulder over what they see as Obama’s anti-Catholic attack and will therefore vote against him in the Presidential election: but is that true? Or is it just whistling in the dark?

Seen from this side of the pond, it’s difficult to tell. All I have to go on are the internet and Fox News (which though I find it terrifically enjoyable I suspect may not be entirely dispassionate). So I appeal for information from American Catholics: how will you all vote? Is it really true that US Catholics “overwhelmingly support the new rules”? If so, the re-election of Obama is the least of the Church’s worries. Life in this world will always be a vale of tears, one way or another, with Obama or without him. But what about the next?

  • Trish

    I totally agree with you, Alan.  Obama is just a man trying to do the best he can within his understanding of morality.  He is a practicing Christian of a different denomination (United Church of Christ) which accepts contraception.  His beliefs are informed by that faith, which is a mainstream Protestant one. 

  • Trish

    The choices are not so stark as people like to imagine.  Rick Santorum, when a senator, voted FOR a bill that would extend federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  When called out on it, he claimed that it was for contraception, and when that did not satisfy, he admitted that he did indeed vote to subsidise abortion at the federal level because it was “in a bill with a lot of other things.”  This man is very scant with the truth about his own record!

  • EndTimes101

     Er Trish, you seem to be taking your bible quotes very selectively to suit your own agenda (which is creating division and disunity). I simply don’t believe your the naive bleeding heart your appear to be. For starters the prodigal son was only welcomed back when he was SORRY, admitted his error and was ready and willing to make up for his mistakes. Judas made a similar error to Peter in betraying Christ, but was bitterly sorry and repented and became rock on which the church was built. Judas refused to repent and instead killed and damned himself FOREVER. No one is talking about stoning to death anyone for committing a sin or even rejecting Christ outright, but just as Judas would have been rejected UNTIL he repented in all sincerity, so also all faithful Catholics should reject and eject those (ex) Catholics from their midst who wilfully refuse to accept Church dogma.

  • EndTimes101

     Obama is AN antiChrist. FACT! Jesus made it quite clear if you are not for him you are against him. Any man that can single handedly veto a partial birth abortion ban like Obama did is a monster and is certainly setting himself again Our Lord. Stop pretending to be so stupid….

  • EndTimes101

     Your ignorance is unbelievable. Try looking up what happens during a partial birth abortion and then Obamas veto on the ban. Every human on earth knows this is MURDER!!! Your apologies for Obama utterly disgust me….

  • Lefty048

     then how would you know?

  • Trish

    So because I do not believe in our competence, as lay Catholics, to judge souls, I am here to sow disunity?  Well then, you may hold that opinion.  Now you say that no-one is considering stoning people for their sins, but you are demanding that they be excommunicated.  Which do you consider a worse penalty?  And yes, I do know the parable I cited, and yes, I do know that the Prodigal Son repented (although his repentance was  out of self-interest rather than out of love of his father) but my point is not so much about how the father behaved upon the son’s return, but about the attitude of the brother who was so totally resentful of his father’s reception of the wayward son.  You and I are not the father in this story. We are the brother, and we have a choice whether to wish for the ejection of our brothers and sisters from the Church or whether to wait, sorrowfully and prayerfully for their return when they take themselves from the Church.  If you wish to judge me for not joining in your hate-fest, then go ahead.  If you believe it is divisive not to share your opinion, you are entitled to think so, but it doesn’t make it true.  Again, judging.

  • Trish

    My ignorance?  Are you aware that Santorum supported a bill that would federally fund Planned Parenthood, when he was a Senator? 

  • Alan

    I take great exception to your tone, calling me a “prodigal son” who needs to “repent”.  Using words like “antichrist” about an essentially decent politician like Obama, however much we may disagree with him on abortion (most politicians support some legal abortion).  I would guess that you are one of those people who never liked Vatican II and would like nothing better than to return to the days of the Anti-Modernist Oath and “error has no rights”.  It is “your sort” (to use your own phrase) which kept me from joining the Catholic Church until the late 1960s.
    And, just for the record, I have always opposed all abortion, and objected to paying for other people’s contraception.

  • EndTimes101

     Again i don’t believe your genuine. Your certainly not sorry for having helped get Obama elected and keep taking pot shots at Santorum. You whine about not making ANY kind of judgement at all (twisting Our Lords words in the process) and then accuse me of conducting a ‘hate-fest’. Isn’t that judging by your definition? Our Lord meant don’t judge absolutely, someones soul, NOT that we can’t make any kind of judgement about someone at all. He said it only once, however he said admonish the sinner seven times, and you Trish are a sinner and should repent for having helped Obama and his anti Christian policies gain power.

  • EndTimes101

     Who is talking about Santorum? Two wrongs dont make a right. All you seem to care about is making cheap political points while i am talking about the horror of partial birth Abortion. You need to get your priorities right…..

  • EndTimes101

     I didn’t call you a prodigal son. If you refused to join the Church before Vatican II then one wonders what you think has fundamentally changed? I got news for you, nothing has fundamentally changed. What you hated about the Church pre vatican II is still valid. The loony liberals who made all the changes after vatican II are dying off and soon it’s going to be house cleaning time…..

  • Alan

    Plenty was fundamentally changed by Vatican II, as is proved by those people who hated it (Lefevre & co., SSPX).  And I didn’t “hate” the pre-Vatican II Church, there were aspects of it, mainly related to intolerance (“error has no rights” etc.), which I found unacceptable.  You sound as if you are one of those who hated it, in which case maybe you are the one who should leave.

  • Alan

    How dare you call Trish a sinner, merely for helping an election candidate.  What church law has she broken?  You should go away and take a good long look at yourself, before casting stones at other people, whom you don’t even know.  And do you seriously imagine that your attitude will cause people to move to your point of view?  It’s likely to have the opposite effect.  Just think about it.

  • EndTimes101

     That is your plan no doubt, have the faithful and true leave so you can finish the CH off. To destroy the best part of 2000 years of history. You will fail and destroy yourself in the process. Your time is short…

  • Guest

    Below is an insightful, explanation of the Church’s teaching on the issue of contraception.

    Personally, I think the Church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and the
    family is incredibly beautiful, dignified, and uplifting.

    Whether one agrees or disagrees, this short essay provides a succinct
    and powerful explanation of the teaching, while leaving the open-minded
    reader with a lot of food for thought. http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2012/02/contraception-and-catholicism-what.html

  • Brian

    From my perspective here in America, the oft-reported claim that most Catholics contracept is an indisputable reality. However, public opinion did turn against the HHS mandate when the issue was framed in the context of religious liberty.

    The outcome will depend on whether the USCCB can keep focus on Obama’s violation of the First Amendment. Meanwhile, the administration, the media, and liberal catholic organizations are doing all in their power to move the fight into the contraception arena–a battlefield where they know they can win.

    I share Mr. Oddie’s dismay over the widespread apostasy of US Catholics regarding contraception. The American hierarchy bears some amount of culpability for this sad state of affairs. Despite having attended mass regularly since childhood, I can count on one hand the number of homilies I’ve heard on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, or any doctrinal issue besides basic love of neighbor (which actually includes instructing the ignorant).

    It seems that most priests and bishops in the US long ago gave higher priority to retaining parishoners (and their money) than correcting those of their flock living in serious sin. Even more maddening is the American Church’s squandering of the repeated chances we’ve been given to mend our ways. Despite any number of warnings, Catholic authorities have failed to clearly present authentic Church teaching. Heretical Catholic politicians were allowed to scandalize the nation with impunity, and dissenting laypeople and religious were left in charge of major Catholic organizations.

    Only now that Caesar is striking at the heart of Catholic identity are our religious leaders moved en masse to defend the faith. I can’t help but think that, had ordained and lay teachers alike exercised their call to preach the Gospel these past years, we wouldn’t now be locked in an eleventh hour scramble to preserve our basic rights.

  • T_touchet

    So far, I’m leaning toward Rick Santorum also.  I did not vote for Obama last time and I will not vote for him this time.