With my tongue firmly in cheek, I declare Saturday, February 18th, to be a prayer and feasting day.
President Obama said yesterday that he is not budging any further on the contraception rule. He and the HHS fixed exactly what the Catholic bishops were complaining about so that Catholic institutions won't have to pay a thing toward any employee's choice to use contraceptives. It puts the decision solely in the employees' hands, exactly where it should be, and lets them work with the insurance companies separately in order to get coverage.
Even if I don't agree with the President on everything, I am glad that he has a backbone in the face of opposition from a small but vocal percentage of Catholics. The government shouldn't be used to try to impose one set of religious beliefs on their employees; freedom of religion doesn't mean one group has the right to abridge the moral agency and religious beliefs of other groups.
This means that female employees (and wives and daughters of employees) of Catholic institutions can get contraceptive coverage to treat any gynecological diseases. And if people decide that the more natural means of spacing births isn't for them, and they think that contraceptive medicines are right for them, then they can go right ahead and exercise their right and their religious beliefs that contraceptives are actually moral.
It's all great news, and we need to celebrate the progress we've made in health care issues and women's health issues. I'm celebrating because contraceptive use is linked to a lower abortion rate. I'm all for saving the lives of babies.
And yet, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal George, and many other bishops are continuing to rail against the compromise, saying it somehow still violates their rights to impose their beliefs on others. Cardinal George required all parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago to read a letter at Masses this weekend. In it, he said, "...we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored."
So, how about we commit ourselves to prayer and feasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, as it already has with the compromise? Let's pray and feast for religious liberty.
Why February 18th? That's Martin Luther's feast day. You know, that guy who stood up to some crazy bishops? Yeah. The one who protested the bishops' silliness. By feasting, we're protesting the Catholic bishops' silliness about all this, tongue in cheek.
And you know what the best way of feasting is? By sharing our feast with others. That's the whole point of the new contraception rule. We're helping others.
So, I ask you guys to provide food for the homeless in the street, either using Chicago Shares or giving them actual food. I sometimes pick up Subway sandwiches to give to the regulars near my apartment, or give them leftovers from my dinner. If you're nowhere near any homeless people, the next best thing is to donate to a food bank in your area, or even the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Join me in celebration by making Saturday a prayer and feasting day!
Filed under: Becoming Episcopalian