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“Catholic Nuns Back Obamacare Contraception Access”: It Isn’t Freedom When Women Are Held Hostage

The National Coalition of American Nuns has announced their support for women’s right to access contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the historic Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases. While the plaintiffs in these cases are Mennonites and evangelical Christians, opposition to the contraceptive mandate was largely spearheaded by the Catholic bishops. Several key cases of Catholic non-profits, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, are making their way through the lower courts and may well end up in the Supreme Court themselves.

“NCAN is dismayed that the Little Sisters of the Poor, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic organizations are challenging the Affordable Care Act. Spurred on by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops these organizations are attempting to hold hostage all women by refusing insurance to them for contraceptives,” said the 2,000-member group in a statement.

“This has gotten out of hand,” Sister Donna Quinn, head of NCAN, told RD. “It isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women. Now we have other Christian religions seeing what the bishops are doing and saying we will do likewise. It isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.”

The nuns are seeking support for their stand through an online petition. The Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute is helping NCAN coordinate the effort. “When I saw the brave stand these nuns were taking on the mandate, I started to think about what we could do to amplify their voices. So we launched a social media campaign asking people to ‘Stand with the Nuns’,” she said.

“We really need to counter the idea that faith is opposed to family planning,” said Haffner, who’s also helping to coordinate a Faith Rally at the Supreme Court on March 25, the day of the oral arguments for the mandate challenges. “All too often the media only shows a Catholic bishop to offer the faith perspective. More than 14 major religious denominations have statements supporting birth control and birth control access. People need to understand that this is not only an affront to women’s moral agency but opens the door to denying a whole range of services, from other kinds of reproductive health care to services to LGBT people,” she said.

NCAN has a long history of reproductive justice and Catholic reform activism. Quinn has volunteered as an abortion clinic escort and was one of the leaders of a delegation of women religious to Rome 1994 to hold a parallel discussion about the role of women religious during the bishops’ synod on religious life, which largely excluded women.

 

By: Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches, March 14, 2014

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Birth Control, Contraception, Obamacare | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Preserving The Status Quo”: Pope’s Butler Arrested, Nun’s Investigated, Which Is The Bigger Scandal?

Let’s face it — everybody loves a juicy scandal, especially when it involves the Vatican. And dear Animals, lest you think I veer from the topic of politics to which I am pledged while guest-blogging here, I can assure you that there is nothing in the realm of the Holy See that is not political.

From the Associated Press:

The Vatican confirmed Saturday that the pope’s butler had been arrested in its embarrassing leaks scandal, adding a Hollywood twist to a sordid tale of power struggles, intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of Catholic Church governance.

Paolo Gabriele, a layman who lives inside Vatican City, was arrested Wednesday with secret documents in his possession and was being held Saturday, the Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

At issue are confidential letters to and from Pope Benedict XVI regarding the Vatican’s financial dealings disclosed in the recently published book, His Holiness, by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi. The AP notes that the scandal “has seriously embarrassed the Vatican at a time in which it is trying to show the world financial community that it has turned a page and shed its reputation as a scandal plagued tax haven.”

So, in arresting Gabriele, the Vatican is doing what it does best with those who would challenge its sources and methods: putting the screws to them.

You’d think that the pope and his men might be so consumed with straightening out the Holy See’s financial mess, and penitentially finding the institution’s way back to the straight and narrow that they’d have little time to do much else. But, no, instead the pope has seen fit to focus his institution’s resources on a mission designed to bring U.S. nuns into line.

From Reuters’ Stephanie Simon:

The Vatican last month accused the leading organization of U.S. nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, of focusing too much on social-justice issues such as poverty and not enough on abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia. The Vatican also rapped the group for standing by as some nuns publicly challenged U.S. bishops on matters of church doctrine and public policy.

In a move that many nuns viewed as an insult, the Vatican put the nuns’ organization under the effective control of three U.S. bishops, who have the power to rewrite its statutes, its meeting agendas and even its liturgical texts. The board of the Leadership Conference is due to meet next week in Washington, D.C. to mull a response.

Those of a certain age may recall when, during a papal visit in 1979, Sister Theresa Kane, then president of the Leadership Conference, challenged Pope John Paul II to include women in the priesthood. At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict, was JPII doctrinal enforcer. He apparently holds a grudge.

Readers may also remember the Vatican Bank scandal of the 1980s, which involved all manner of financial shenanigans, including a counterfeiting scheme that involved the delivery of $14.5 million in bogus bonds to the Vatican. All told, the Vatican Bank scams amounted to a “$1.3 billion scandal,” according to the New York Times And back in the 1980s, $1.3 billion was real money.

In 2009, now retired from her office at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Sr Kane addressed a gathering of the National Coalition of American Nuns, just as the Vatican embarked on its investigation of LCWR. From the National Catholic Reporter:

“Regarding the present interrogation, I think the male hierarchy is truly impotent, incapable of equality, co-responsibility in adult behavior,” she said, not mincing any words. “In the church today, we are experiencing a dictatorial mindset and spiritual violence.”

A scandal, then, of epic proportions.

 

BY: Adele Stan, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 26, 2012

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Vatican | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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