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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Churchâs liturgical calendar. No doubt you noticed many of us walking around with a smudge of ashes on our foreheads. This marks the start of Lent, the season of self denial, prayer and almsgiving leading up to Easter Sunday on which Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead thereby affirming his divinity and gospel. It also recognizes that we are mortal creatures and that complete happiness cannot be found in material things.
I found it somewhat ironic that President Barack Hussein Obama, who professes to be a Christian but is seldom seen going to a church, prefaced the Lenten season with a challenge to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. His message and rationale and the Churchâs response have been distorted by the secular press.
Back-to-back pieces in the stateâs daily newspaperâthe editorial âThe conception crisisâ that appeared in the February 14th edition and the snarky article by Robyn E. Blumner (âCatholic Church wants it both ways on contraception issueâ) that was reprinted from the St. Petersburg Times the next dayâboth illustrate this.
Common themes run through both pieces. First is the notion that because a majority of Catholic women use some form of contraception, the Church has no business denying them access to âfreeâ contraceptive devices through the health insurance offered to employees of âCatholic-affiliated institutionsâ. This includes an abortifacient âmorning afterâ pill and sterilization.
To start with, the teaching authority of the Catholic Church (its âMagisteriumâ) is based on moral principals and the ability to trace itself back to its founder, Jesus Christ, not on whether a majority of its members agree with the teaching or find it inconvenient.
To say that such insurance coverage is âfreeâ or that the insurance company is going to absorb the cost of contraceptives is nonsense. This is another illusion of the Obama administration. Blue Cross Blue Shield estimates that the cost of providing contraceptives will be $2.3 billion a year.
Next, the snide comment, âThe Catholic Church opposes any birth control except abstinence and ânatural family planningâ such as âthe rhythm methodâ.â is ill-informed at best. I have been a sexuality educator in marriage preparation program of the Diocese of Providence for over 25 years and have heard this comment a lot.
Since 1967, the Churchâs teaching is that, within the context of the sacrament of marriage, there are two co-equal purposes to the act of sexual intercourse. The first, based on natural law, is the creation of new human life.
The second is called the âunitive purposeâ which is a recognition that sexual intercourse within marriage is âor should be- the ultimate expression of selfless love, i.e. a giving of oneself to their spouse.
However, every act of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife must be open to the possibility of the creation of life. This is where natural family planning âwhich is not âthe rhythm methodâ- comes in.
NFP is a means of recognizing when a woman is capable of conception and the couple making a decision not to engage in sexual intercourse. It is as effective as any other method of birth control out there and does not rely on the use of chemical, mechanical or barrier methods all of which carry heath risks (just look at the labels). I suggest readers Google âthe donnaâ for more information.
Finally, I heard a congresswoman from Wisconsin argue that this coverage must be provided because pregnancy is a health risk to women. Therefore, contraceptives are preventative care and must be made available at no cost under Obamacare. Based on that reasoning coverage for couples unable to conceive (e.g. fertility treatments) should be prohibited.
It should be clear that this regulation by Obamaâs secretary of Health and Human Services (who professes to be a Catholic, by the way) is state interference with the practice of religion which is expressly and clearly prohibited by the First Amendment. The ACLU, which leapt at the chance to challenge a âprayer bannerâ on behalf of a teenager who claims to be an atheist, has been not-so-strangely silent in this case.
n The union of European socialist republics, led by Greece, is sinking fast.
David Brochu, a Conway, New Hampshire-based financial planner whom I have quoted before, recently wrote: âA month or so ago, the Federal Reserve, without the peopleâs knowledge or approval, extended a few hundred billion or so [to foreign banks] through the use of âswap linesâ. Swap lines are basically lines of credit extended in U.S. dollars to foreign banks in exchange for, you guessed it, sovereign bonds as collateral.
The foreign banks then use the money to buy sovereign bonds from their respective treasuries, driving down domestic interest rates and monetizing the national debt at the same time. Pretty neat huh? Not really such a trick for our Fed; theyâve been doing it here for years. In this case, however, it connects us to Europe in a way few think about. What happens to those assets on the Fedâs balance sheet when, not if, they are defaulted on?
We have far more exposure to Europe than most people realize. The disaster unfolding there affects us only slightly less than the Europeans themselves.
Too much debt creates too much consumption which creates too much stuff. When debt is paid off with more debt, a house of cards is constructed, which must inevitably fall. No magic will ever cause growth to outstrip borrowing when politicians can use the debt to hold onto their thrones.â
Blessed Pope John Paul II, who experienced fascism and communism in his native Poland, had this to say about socialism: âThe fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinatedâŠSocialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choiceâŠFrom this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private propertyâŠ[Socialism] makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community.â
If the European house of cards falls apart before November, we will have a new president-elect. If the economic chaos occurs after the election, Barak Obama will be enjoying a second term as President of the United States.
If the latter comes to pass donât be surprised if Mr. Obama and his supporters declare that he be granted dictatorial powers to handle the crisis. If you like this idea maybe you should move to North Korea and give living in a dictatorship a try.
Richard August is a North Kingstown resident and a regular contributor to the Standard Times. His opinions are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.