What of the Catholic and other religious laity? Who speaks for them?
When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the years urged that the government install universal health care, they may have been working from what they perceived as Christian motives (corporal acts of mercy) but what they were really encouraging was government intervention in all aspects of an individual’s life.
Once the bishops finally realized that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) included language that allowed for government-funded abortions, they tried to stop the legislation’s passage but it was too late. Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, eagerly supported the legislation, along with other Catholic people religious, and for too many years, much of the laity had heard from the bishops how health care coverage was something the government should provide.
Obamacare passed, and now the bishops are upset that Catholic institutions will be required to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. They are right: requiring this coverage is an assault on the First Amendment (prohibiting the free exercise of religion) and a massive interference in how churches and institutions are run, but it doesn’t end there.
What of a Catholic or other religious layperson who owns a business who will now be required to offer this coverage to his employees? The owner will have to provide, and pay for, what he considers morally evil. The bishops do a disservice to all concerned laypeople when they regard the matter as settled if religious institutions end up exempt. Why are the bulk of church members left to fend off the government intrusion for themselves?
USCCB has forgotten the church’s own principle of subsidiarity, that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority–something the federal government definitely is not. In pushing for universal health care controlled by the government with exemptions for religious churches and institutions only, the bishops have left everyone else to fend for themselves in trying to oppose government mandates.
They may get their exemption, but we will not.