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The Return Of The Church Militant?

I believe I've made it clear on numerous occasions that I am no fan of the Catholic Church. Back during the pedophile priest scandal (when known child-molesting priests were covered for and shuffled around the country by Church officials), I thought a RICO investigation was more than called for. I think much of the Catholic doctrine (especially the bits about birth control) are utterly wrong.

That being said, I have to say that I find myself cheering for the Church now, as it rediscovers its spine.

And all it took was enough Catholic officials to rediscover the issue of abortion.

The Freedom Of Choice Act would write the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision into law, and wipe out several laws that currently impose restrictions on abortion -- laws that forbid partial-birth abortion and federal funding for abortions, just to name two examples. Other critics say that it would forbid any hospital that accepts any federal money from refusing to perform abortions.

That is where the Catholic Church is drawing the line. They believe that hospitals should have the right to refuse to perform abortions if they so wish. And this is far from an academic issue -- according to the Catholic Health Association, 12.5 percent of the nation's hospitals are Catholic, and account for 15.1% of all hospital beds. (Full disclosure here: I once spent four days in a Catholic hospital, and I owe them my life.)

The bishops who govern the Church in the US say that, despite all the other liberal social policies they embrace, they are absolutely resolute on the issue of abortion. They say that it is an intrinsic evil and utter anathema to any conscientious Catholic. During the last election, several of them forcefully took to task several prominent Catholic politicians who misrepresented the Church's doctrine on abortion -- most notably Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.

And now they say that if the Freedom of Choice Act passes and it requires hospitals to perform abortions, they'll shut them down entirely.

They won't even sell them off, on the fears that they might be then used to perform abortions. The instant the government tries to force a hospital to perform an abortion, the nation will lose, overnight, one out of eight hospitals.

I don't get the feeling that this is extortion, or brinkmanship. This is the Church -- finally -- drawing a line in the sand and saying "this is what we believe in, this is where we stand, and we shall not compromise on this principle."

The beauty of the Church's threats are that they have every legal and moral right to do as the ask. One of the essential elements of any Church is that it must have certain moral and ethical principles, and it has the right to demand that any would-be adherent abide by them -- or it can cast them out.

No one has the "right" to be a Catholic. And no one has the "right" to demand that the Church operate hospitals. Under the First Amendment, the Church can make these decisions and set these policies without any interference from the government.

And I am glad.

As I said, I'm no Catholic, and never will be. And I have no truck with much of the Church's doctrine, and even less tolerance for many of its practices.

But I will defend to the end its right to set its own rules, to issue its own doctrine, and police its own membership to see that it is obeyed -- under penalty of excommunication.

It's been a long time since the Church exercised its moral authority in the United States, and there were some damned good reasons for it. But now they're refusing to yield on what they believe are absolutely fundamental moral principles for their faith, and willing to go to the wall in defense of them.

Good for them.


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Comments (37)

Jay, it is great to see the... (Below threshold)
Captain America:

Jay, it is great to see the Church stand up for its main tenets. Don't know where they have been the past three decades.

Jay, Please tell me ... (Below threshold)

Please tell me I read this wrong.

No one has the "right" to be a Catholic.

I believe everyone has a right to be Catholic, or whatever denomination, or no denomination, if they choose.

Of course they have the rig... (Below threshold)

Of course they have the right to chose whether or not to be in business. Since the members of the church are about evenly split on the issue of abortion I wonder whether the bishops would follow through. I doubt it.

As a Catholic who at one ti... (Below threshold)
le combat:

As a Catholic who at one time considered being a nun and will die a Catholic, I am grateful to see the church stand up for its principles.

I understand the evil of pedophiles priests, but remember more children are molested by teachers. It doesn't make it acceptable. Evil is evil. Evil should be acknowledged, but very few admit that it even exists.

One should take heed to how today other faiths and sexual orientations are treated in the middle east. Gays are imprisoned or killed. Faiths other than Islam are non-existent or outlawed.

The Catholic church may not be perfect, nor fit into everyone's pov, but in its core it represents a basic respect for humanity and the love of God.

To quote the French poet Rimbaud:
"Spiritual battle is as brutal as the battle of men. But the vision of justice is the pleasure of God alone."

Though we may be angry at God for all the injustices we create, it will be God alone who weathers the slander and hatred of Him, but in the end He will experience the pleasure of justice.

ChipActually they ... (Below threshold)
retired miilitary:


Actually they dont have the right to be Catholic. The church can excommunicate someone and they are no longer part of the Cathollic Church.

If one wishes to call themselves a "praticising" Catholic then they should abide by the rules of the Catholic faith.

One can be a Catholic and will remain a Catholic even if they get an abortion. However, until they receive absolution they cannot receive the sacraments.

In fact, I saw one priest who told parishoners that if they voted for Obama than in his opinion they needed to receive absolution prior to receiving communinion again or in his opinion they were in danger of violating the principles of the church. He didnt ask if they had voted for Obama and left it up to them to voluntarily comply with his statements.

But no. Noone has a "right" to be Catholic. It is a privilege the same as it is a privilege to be a Baptist, Mormon, etc.

Chip, I think he means from... (Below threshold)

Chip, I think he means from the perspective of the Catholic church, not the state. Anyone can be excommunicated, and no one has a "right," per se, to be part of the church.

JFO, the church doesn't base its decisions on whether or not its members agree with doctrine. It tells them to abide by the doctrine. The church is a guide, not a politician. They don't make decisions based on polls.

That said, any bill that forces private hospitals to perform abortions will not pass. I agree that we should legislate freedom of choice (as I think abortion should be legal but I don't agree with the legal reasoning behind Griswold and Roe), but any attempt to force private hospitals to perform such procedures (except, of course, for when the mother's life is immediately threatened), is wrongheaded.

Having read the bill, though, I don't see how it would be read to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.

JFO, the church is not a de... (Below threshold)

JFO, the church is not a democracy (thank goodness).

Well duh in that context I ... (Below threshold)

Well duh in that context I would agree. From the view of the Catholic Church no one has the "right" to be Catholic.

Excuse my misunderstanding, and thanks for the clarifications.

I would agree wholeheartedl... (Below threshold)
Ken Hahn:

I would agree wholeheartedly. Even though it would cost my wife her job. I am not Catholic or is she. But she works for a Catholic hospital. If that is the cost of preserving the first amendment, so be it.

I'm with you on this one, J... (Below threshold)

I'm with you on this one, Jay Tea. It's quite simple: Abortions are elective procedures... therefore no hospital should be forced to perform them.

(slippery slope: all procedures can be viewed as elective)

Problem is that if the chur... (Below threshold)

Problem is that if the church stands firm on the abortion issue those RICO charges won't be far behind. Just my prediction.

One of the clearest goals o... (Below threshold)

One of the clearest goals of liberalism I can think of is to force liberal value judgements on other people. It's a central theme of much what you hear from lefties.

With that in mind, the Democratic party, with its near-absolute power over every aspect of government and, more to the point, you, will not allow this kind of disloyal behavior to go unchallenged. They'll find a way, either by executive order, regulatory fiat, legislative trickery, or some other means, to impose the real will of the chosen people on the crackpot religious zealots within the Catholic church. After all, tax exempt status is a gift from the government, and as such, it can be revoked at any time at the government's pleasure.

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

On the other hand, <a href=... (Below threshold)

On the other hand, this sort of thing helps to drive people from the Catholic Church:

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."
BobdogEven with th... (Below threshold)
retired miiltary:


Even with the threat of force or loss of tax exempt status the Catholic Church will not relent on this matter. This doctrine has been made very clear.

Obama can do a lot but if the govt starts trying to impose its will on religous doctrine that may not be a road they want to go down.

JT, I'm not a Catholic eith... (Below threshold)

JT, I'm not a Catholic either but I think the media focus on the molestation scandals in the church are similar to its focus on the "evils" of the United States. The United States has its share of problems but, overall, is a great force for good. I think the same can be said for the Catholic Church. People from all organizations do bad things. As le combat mentioned above, kids are also molested by teachers. There have also been attempts to cover up those cases on occasion.

I'm glad to hear the Catholic Church is taking a stand for what it believes. Decades from now, churches and other organizations that go along will be blamed for the incredible tragedy of abortion. Although many stood up against the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust the majority of writings I've seen focus on the complacency of Christian Churches during that time. A Wikipedia article even goes so far as to describe Hitler as a devout Christian. It would be nice to see all churches come together on a subject as clear as the killing of the most helpless so those whose philosophies lead to the unimaginable tragedy can't blame "Christians".

This "culture war" is reall... (Below threshold)

This "culture war" is really going to heat up. Because obama won, the far-left thinks they can control everything. I think it is a wake up call for people in this country who are not far left. The people wanted obama..thinking he would be better for the economy (how voting for a socialist is suppose to be better???) Well, folks you got obama...and all the crap that comes with him.
Beware for what you wish for.

mantis,And the pro... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


And the problem with this is...what?

The New Testament teaches that unrepentant (those who refuse to turn away from their sin)sinners are supposed to be removed from the Church. It is something the church should do more of.

Sheik, (#17)For my... (Below threshold)

Sheik, (#17)

For myself, I think that the disciplining of church members should be a bit more private. I'm not that familiar with Catholic doctrine, so I have to speak from my own background. There should be private meetings (plural- first one-on-one, then with deacons, etc., then moving on up the chain of command if it is necessary)to allow for more honesty, openness, and less of a ganging-up feeling. Remember to speak truth in love.

However, I agree that there is a need for stronger discipline in a lot of today's churches.

It's one thing for the chur... (Below threshold)

It's one thing for the church to say they would close the hospitals, and another to do it.

If they close them and don't sell them off, they are stuck with white elephants that will drain their funds. Even if they "moth ball" them, they still have to provide security and some maintenance.

I suppose they could convert them into some sort of extended care facility but I wouldn't count on it.

I think it's great that the... (Below threshold)
Mark L Author Profile Page:

I think it's great that they are taking a stand, but why would they shut down the hospitals? They can still remain open, take no federal funding, and not perform abortions. Much like the people who can choose not to be Catholic, these hospitals can refuse subsidies.

Don't tell me the Catholic Church can't afford it either, it provides subsidies to its own schools every day.

RanceActualy it wo... (Below threshold)
retired miiltary:


Actualy it would probably save them money. How many hospitals actually make money? Especially without govt assistance and you can bet if they dont do abortions any govt funds would be cut off.

They could easily turn them into retirement facilities or even orphanages which would really piss the proabortion crowd off.


You are supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. The decision to excommunicate someone is not done lightly and all avenues to have the person rejoin the church should be exhausted. That is one reason IMO why the proabortion dem politicians who are Catholic are still in the church.

Though I wouldnt be hurt to see Kerry, Pelosi, Reid and Kennedy be excommunicated. It is wrong of me but such is life.

mantisBelonging to... (Below threshold)


Belonging to a Church is an elective. If you believe, then you believe. It isn't like belonging to a political group where you get to pick and choose which beliefs you want. If you elect to give yourself to Jesus Christ as a Christian and as a Catholic, then you accept the teachings of the Church.

If someone is driven away because of your example, then they were not true believers. They were social Christians. A Christian Church shouldn't adjust their beliefs in order to attract membership. It is the person joining the Church who adjusts THEIR beliefs.

Mark L,It may not ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Mark L,

It may not be so easy to not take Federal funds. An argument can be made that if hospitals accept Medicare or Medicaid funds, even for services provided to patients, that they are taking Federal funds.

Many Catholics 65 and older rely at least in part on Medicare or Medicaid. It would be real hard for Catholic hospitals to turn down Catholics who are most in need of medical care. The answer, of course, is to not force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. It's not like it's the only place a woman can get the procedure done.

Tho we're supposed to b tal... (Below threshold)

Tho we're supposed to b talking about the Catholic Church here, FOCA is really Force Our Choice [on] America. And its a bad choice. I'm no Catholic, I don't go to church and I stopped reading the Bible for inspiration a few decades ago. I think abortion is wrong. It is evil. It is murder. Glad to see the Catholic Church hasn't lost all its testosterone, and that its at least partly being directed in a constructive manner.

Shame and sadness for all the folks who still think it should be a legal "choice" for a mother. Should I have the choice to off my parents if I don't want to take care of them in their failing years? If they are bed bound and senile, what's the difference functionally from a fetus?

It may not be so easy to... (Below threshold)

It may not be so easy to not take Federal funds.

Hold on a minute... the right has argued that organizations that perform abortions should not receive federal funding. If it's so easy for those organizations to not take federal funds, why is it not easy for organizations that refuse to do abortions to not take those funds?

The right says "I don't want organizations that perform abortions funded with my tax dollars." What's wrong with the left saying "I don't want organizations that won't perform abortions funded with my tax dollars"? Goose, gander, etc.

The right says "I ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
The right says "I don't want organizations that perform abortions funded with my tax dollars." What's wrong with the left saying "I don't want organizations that won't perform abortions funded with my tax dollars"? Goose, gander, etc.

The difference is that the right doesn't want to pay for abortions or for oranizations that promote abortions. The left is saying they don't want to pay for vaccinations, pediatric care, urgent care, emergency care, or even family medicine unless abortions are also done. The right targets abortion, the left wants to hold the health of everyone else hostage to force the performance of abortions.

If taking Medicare / Medicaid patients constitutes accepting Federal funds for the purpose of the Free to Murder Act, then one sure way to make this backfire on democrats is for private and religious hospitals to not accept Medicare / Medicaid patients. Wait until all the retired folks and those who care about them start calling up democrats complaining about not being able to get medical care near their homes because of some stupid law that forces hospitals to murder children if they take Medicare / Medicaid patients. 2010 could be a bad year for democrats.

JFO:So Catholics are... (Below threshold)
Thomas Jackson:

So Catholics are evenly split on the abortion issue. I'd like to see you make that statement in my church this Sunday. I wondewr how long you could stand there in front of a howling mob of Catholics who don't find your bold and baseless assertion to hold any merit.

Perhaps buffet Catholics like Kennedy and Pelosi might agree with you but then again who calls them Catholics anyway.

I'm fairly certain from your comment we can tell what kind of Catholic you are, if you have ever stepped inside a church that is.

Keep in mind, while it is a... (Below threshold)

Keep in mind, while it is admirable that the Catholics are willing to shut down hospitals and lose money rather than abandon their principles, the government is not above declaring eminent domain and taking the hospital for their own use. They've done it with churches in the past. And thanks to Kelo, I think it was, can take any land that can be put to more profitable use. The Catholic Church would have to tear down the hospitals to keep them from being used if the property was taken from them.

Catholics who are not perso... (Below threshold)

Catholics who are not personally against abortion may very well be (and probably are) very much against being told what they must do. It's not at all as though abortions are not *available* after all.

The arguments that those who provide services *must* provide services against their religious convictions is insidious.

And... the government may well declare eminent domain and take over *properties* if the Catholic church decides to simply close doors... but a *property* is not a hospital.

the government is ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
the government is not above declaring eminent domain and taking the hospital for their own use.

First, the government must pay the market price for the facility. Second, the government in this case is the local or stated government run by local people and who have to face local voters. Third, it can take a decade in the courts if the church fights the take over. It won't be just Catholics who start pushing back against a growing anti-religious movement. Anyone think the democrats want to fall on their sword over trying to force people to murder children?

What other religious groups... (Below threshold)
A. Saadya:

What other religious groups have a strong stand against abortion? Do any of them operate hospitals? This could turn out to mean more than 1 in 8 hospitals at risk of closure.

Thomas JacksonI am... (Below threshold)

Thomas Jackson

I am a Catholic, have always been a Catholic and always will be a Catholic. I'm glad I'm not your kind of Catholic is about all I can say. Sheesh, what did Jesus say about judging other people Thomas? You're fairly certain what kind of catholic I am? You ought to revisit the scriptures about judging others Thomas.

What other religio... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
What other religious groups have a strong stand against abortion?

All Christians who believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. This would include Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians.

Do any of them operate hospitals?

I don't know, but they use hospitals and if Catholic hospitals close abruptly there will be a shortage of hospital beds nationwide with some communities losing the only hospital in their area. Even those who don't believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God use hospitals and many more support the separation of church and state.

All these people vote and this issue may rise to the top of the list for many of them by 2010 and 2012. Even many Catholics who voted for Obama won't support the party that causes them to lose their hospitals.

The quickest way for democrats to lose power is pass a bunch of left wing laws, all of which will be repealed when voters put republicans are back in power.

JFOMy fellow Catho... (Below threshold)


My fellow Catholic, or at least by your declaration, my fellow Catholic;

I am a Catholic, have always been a Catholic and always will be a Catholic. I'm glad I'm not your kind of Catholic is about all I can say. Sheesh, what did Jesus say about judging other people Thomas? You're fairly certain what kind of catholic I am? You ought to revisit the scriptures about judging others Thomas.

It is none of my business except for the concern of one Catholic for another. I do have to ask in that light; Are you in a "State of Grace?" Have you confessed your support for the taking of life? Have you received absolution? I do doubt either because you appear to remain unrepentant.

Just guessing, it could be that you do NOT support abortion but you do support politicians who support abortion. You haven't said.

You do recognise that the Holy Father has spoken on the subject, right?

If you believe in the Church JFO, then you must believe that murder is murder and a mortal sin.

To answer those who ... (Below threshold)

To answer those who asked, likely the near majority of hospitals have connections to one or more religious faiths, from Methodists to Baptists to Presbyterians to include Mormans and Quakers.

The degree of actual control by a given religeous faith varies. The Catholics tend to maintain more strict control than others.

In Dallas, for example, religeous affiliated hospitals are the vast majority.

LarryYou're right.... (Below threshold)


You're right. it is none of your business. I refer you to my comment to Thomas about judging others - particularly when you assume you know what I believe. Try reading the scripture about that Larry. And then continue to mind your moral life and I'll mind mine.

It's particularly interesting that the two of you are so quick to judge me when I said absolutely NOTHING about my views on abortion. I made a political observation and posed a political question.

Nothing peeves me more than folks assuming to know what I may believe in and judging me for it. What would Jesus about that Larry?

If you are using the Bible ... (Below threshold)

If you are using the Bible as a divining rod, the answer is quite simple.

"Therefore, anyone who knows what is right but fails to do it is guilty of sin." James 4:17






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