Interesting news

Following the news lately has provided a couple of reasons to pray for clarity and charity, and to hope:
• The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. Here a family-owned business says it has a religious objection to “morning after” contraception. Therefore, it shouldn’t have to pay for all contraception services in health insurance for its employees, as required by regulations in the Affordable Care Act.
Since a business is a “person,” according to an earlier court decision, the owners of Hobby Lobby should be able to claim a religious liberty exclusion from the law.
Allowing a business to discriminate on the basis of owners’ religious liberty claims would invite an explosion of legal business. It would also invite more official probing for the meaning of religious belief and its legitimacy in individual cases. Is this what we want?
Journalists discovered that Hobby Lobby’s investments include businesses that make contraceptive and abortive tools. Does this mean that the owners’ claim of being religiously impaired by the law is less than sincere?
Contraception in medical and legal practice includes interventions which work after conception — the joining of sperm and egg — to prevent implantation of the ovum in the womb. The Catholic Church says that human life begins at conception. Anything which prevents continuation of that life — “the morning after” — is an abortion. Should we insist that our understanding be accepted in law?
The administration of President Barack Obama had a fierce internal debate over mandating contraception coverage in the new health care law. The voices against it lost to the argument that women need it for equality with men. Contraception has nothing to do directly with health, but this is a way to weave it into the modern social fabric, where the meaning of sexual activity is only shallow, private, mundane. Women must have equal freedom with men from unwanted childbearing.
Isn’t it sad when young people are encouraged toward seeing less meaning in life rather than seeking more?
• Pope Francis and women. The pope has spoken more than once about the importance of women in the Church. They are the mothers, the catechists, teachers of prayer and personal models of love. We need more “space” in our theology and practice for the flourishing of women.
“Women in the Church are more important than bishops and priests,” he said once. “That’s what we have to try to explain better, because I believe we don’t have a way of making that explicit theologically.”
At the same time, Pope Francis doesn’t encourage the idea of women as priests. Not at all. He says he’s looking for more than institutional, corporate roles, “profoundly more, even mystically more….”
Well, yes, but here on earth the mystical must find an institutional, corporate body — some “flesh” — so it can be put into history. Isn’t that in the meaning of the Incarnation?
There has been some recent indication in Rome that the diaconate isn’t necessarily closed to women. That’s a step. Are more surprises gestating behind the scenes there?
Frank Wessling

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