Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Serve Man

The President at Notre Dame
This past weekend, Monsignor Elvin Sunds, Vicar General of the Diocese, asked priests (and I assume ministers) to read this letter concerning the Health and Human Services mandate that religious organizations supply contraception, sterilization and abortion in their insurance coverage for their employees.

This is a truncated version of the original letter  composed a week earlier. The tone, since there was some compromise, has softened but the issue of conscience still stands as a right for religious institutions. The bishop's letter argues that this right has been violated. The letter also warns that the good Catholic institutions do and service we provide can be halted. Catholics do not believe that one can do evil to do a good. Allowing the destruction of innocent human life is such an evil.

I read the first letter the week before because it had appeared in the Mississippi Catholic. I also thought the letter had some authentic, near visceral, passion that came from the Bishop himself which was notable. A parishioner had visited a mission parish and remarked that the letter was read there and hoped I'd read it at St. John's. If it flew in the mission, I figured it would fly here.

Among things changed from the first letter to the current one is the bishop makes a statement against the "President Obama Administration" where in the second letter, no such accusations against a particular person or administration is made.

Maybe it was a good move to change that phrase.

For one, it doesn't directly make it personal which can come off as ugly and partisan.
Secondly, as one priest said in a homily down south of here, the biggest fault doesn't lie with the president but with his Catholic staff, namely Director of the HHS, Kathleen Sebelius
And finally, from the way back machine that is the Mississippi Catholic archives,there are several priests in the diocese who would like to have the president over for dinner (links below).
Maybe these guys actually feel a dinner would be the right setting to help change the President's thinking on abortion or religious freedom. But again, maybe they just like the guy and overlook "politics" and bask in his charm. So for them, to read the first draft, would come off as impolite to the dinner guest.
And maybe a little hard to swallow.