A recent question posted in Reddit by an atheist asked about Catholic feelings regarding the healthcare mandate (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).Â Most of the responses dealt withÂ why the Church is against abortion or how they feel individually aboutÂ the law or paying a tax that goes toward something evil.Â I would like to take a different direction.
I am tightly bound into a Body in a mystical way: the Body of Christ, whom I love. In forcing the Church to participate in Abortion or other evils, we believe the government is forcing Jesus to go against His conscience, or at least dragging him along. It makes God an accomplice to evil, which is unacceptable. Imagine the person you admire most being forced to assist in what you consider a great evil.
My taxes have been used to fund all kinds of evils perpetrated by the government, although often to pay for things I consider pointless and foolish. This does not require my consent for the wrong done, and I am compelled under force of law to render unto Caesar. In fact, Jesus himself gave this command. But under the mandate, Catholic institutions must participate in evil in a more direct way, and these institutions are an extension of the Body of Christ, very visible and very active. For a Catholic institution to provide contraceptives or abortions is a scandal, in that it promotes evil from a teaching and authoritative position. It is certainly a scandal that Catholic politicians are forcing the Church into this position.
This is the objection: not as much that we are concerned about taxpayer funding of abortion, as that the Church is being forced to publicly accept and very nearly endorse what we believe to be evil. And because we are the Body of Christ, it (in a sense) forces God to participate in evil.
For the rest of this matter, we have seen it before, with Henry VIII of England or the Holocaust. The bishops can choose to fight and lose, compromise, obey under protest, agree, or willingly surrender all Catholic institutions that serve non-Catholics to business or the State. In the eyes of most non-Catholics, the bishops (and the Church) lost all moral ascendancy in the molestation crisis, so there will be little sympathy regardless of their decision. The majority of Catholics are Democrats (2008, previous), and bishops have individually supported Democratic candidates in quiet (or not so quiet) ways, just as Wolsey supported Henry VIII, and Innitzer supported Hitler in 1938. In the end, a pact with the devil does not end well. The institutional Church is at her weakest when aligned with power, whether kings, congress, business or wealthy patrons. We have not yet learned from history, and therefore must repeat it.