Wherever Two or More Women Are Gathered…

…the Catholic Church seems to find “radical feminist” ideology.  Even if the gatherers are cookie-hawking tweens.  And members of a non-Catholic organization.  Not affiliated with the Church in any way.

To the ever broadening category of Catholic Church vs. Women, we add today’s entry:  the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has formalized it’s disapproval of the Girl Scouts of the USA with an official inquiry.  It’s hard to not giggle at the USCCB following up its harassment of the women religious with the tweens with badges, but there you have the church’s priorities clearly demonstrated.

The Washington Post, via an AP article by David Crary, quotes Girl Scouts’ spokewoman Michelle Tompskins:

“For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,” Tompkins added. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”


Read more on the Girl Scout inquiry here, and here. Continue Reading →

Daily Links: Big Fat Tolerance Edition

Russian gay extremists; Patronizing employers; A Brownback woman; Jesus’ juice; Milquetoast Patel; Other, the world’s 12th religion; Liberty wolves; ideology-smashing samaritan; Damn anarchists; Government by any other name (like the presidency); Tolerance ponies. Continue Reading →

Birth Control! For Everybody!

Ashley Baxstrom: Ladies, let’s celebrate! Check out this breaking blog post from Think Progress: Obama administration approves rule that guarantees near-universal contraceptive coverage, by guest blogger Jessica Arons, Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at American Progress. She writes:

Today, in a huge victory for women’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles.

Twenty-eight states already require employers to provide some coverage; but now, full coverage will be required in all.

Wowza! You know what that means – yup, Viagra no longer corners the coverage market. (Cuz, you know, Viagra has been fully covered for years. Good for men. Sucked for women who thought they should have equal rights or fair treatment or whatever.)

Besides that, it means that even most religiously-affiliated organizations have to comply. Obama decided to “maintain the narrow religious exemption that it initially proposed. Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt.” Continue Reading →

Daily Links

Laura Larson writes at States of Formation about the business of making monsters:

Through political rhetoric and sensationalized reporting, “monster” has been branded – on the cheap – into the American narrative and its everyday parlance.

On Tebowing*:

Dangerous territory”? Seriously? Let’s start at the beginning. Whenever Tim Tebow takes a knee on the field and thanks God, he is engaging in a very conscious act of moral grandstanding. I write that with no judgment whatsoever. Tebow is saying, “Look at me,” just as surely as Deion Sanders doing the pigeon wing in the end zone was saying, “Look at me.” He is saying, “Look at me and gaze upon my prayerfulness,” and he is saying that because he is an evangelical Christian, and evangelical Christianity is a religion built on conspicuous faith. He is bearing witness, right there on the hashmarks. He is spiking the Gospel.

“Another Tibetan Nun Burns Herself to Death Over Repression of Religion”

Outlining how to get away with bullying,” and calling it religious freedom.

It’s a worthy question:  How does the USCCB influence lawmakers when their opinions are so outside even mainline Catholic thinking?

Bellah’s Huge Project:  “Where did religion come from?”

*h/t Nora Connor Continue Reading →

The Bishops, Proving Me Right

I shouldn’t take any credit for predicting the actions of the most predictable institution on the globe, but I’ll take it anyway.  I made the case at The Nation last week that the USCCB’s recent statement on aid in dying would lead to broader crack-downs on end of life rights, privacy, and awareness.  I was right.  According to a new report at Crisis Magazine and a press release from the bishops today, they’ve targeted Catholic professors at four universities:  Georgetown, Marquette, Santa Clara and Boston College.  How did the bishops identify the academics they wanted to discredit?  Writes Patrick J. Reilly at Crisis:

The professors’ efforts came to light during a Cardinal Newman Society investigation in 2005, following news reports of a legal brief filed by 55 bioethicists in opposition to “Terri’s Law,” a Florida measure that empowered Gov. Jeb Bush to ensure that the comatose Terri Schiavo received water and nutrition. As reported in “Teaching Euthanasia,” an exclusive report in the June 2005 issue of Crisis, multiple professors at Catholic universities had taken positions on end-of-life issues that seemed to conflict with Vatican teaching.

Continue Reading →

Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise:The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests

by Frances Kissling

This past week, criminologists at the John Jay College of Criminal Law released a numbers crunching, statistically dense, spiritually troubling 144 page report which aimed to identify the causes and context of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests between 1950 to 2002. The report was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who have developed a partnership with John Jay College in their efforts to understand and prevent the sexual abuse of children by priests and sisters subsequent to the Boston Globe’s 2002 expose of the extent of sexual abuse and the inaction and cover up of the abuse by church leaders. It cost somewhere between 1.4 and 1.8 million dollars, half paid by the bishops’ conference, the other half underwritten by religious orders and Catholic organizations. Continue Reading →

Extreme Adultery

In case you Twilight fans were wondering, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ Office for Film and Broadcasting has posted their review of the new Robert Pattinson movie, “Water for Elephants.”  They warn, “While artfully conceived and well acted, director Francis Lawrence’s film accepts — and even glamorizes — adultery, albeit within the context of an extreme situation.” Continue Reading →

My Catholic Conscience

We’ve been here before. And no, it didn’t work then either.

by Jon O’Brien

Like others, I am deeply concerned about recent moves in Congress that would restrict access to reproductive healthcare services, especially for poor women. The situation reminds me of other experiments where a few people with extreme views sought to pass policy that impacted a significantly wider group of people—with devastating consequences. Below, I will recount how the hierarchy of the Catholic church hijacked a process that was on the verge of overturning the complete ban on contraception. But today, in the U.S. Congress, an antichoice cabal in the Republican Party is seeking to prevent poor women accessing federally funded family planning and other reproductive health services.  There are currently three bills that would do just that: the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (HR 3), the “Protect Life Act” (HR 358) and the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act” (HR 217). They, along with the budget which passed the House and did not include crucial family planning funding will severely impact the lives of millions of American families. As a Catholic, the fact that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has supported these attacks on healthcare services for poor women adds insult to injury. Continue Reading →

Separation of Church and Health Care

Francis X. Rocca of Religion News Service reports that the Vatican will write new guidelines for Catholic health care institutions in response to recent ideological clashes with the Catholic Health Association, notedly over the excommunication of a sister who approved an abortion to save the life of a woman and later the removal of Catholic standing for the hospital where she was treated.

Kevin Clarke at America Magazine (the national Catholic weekly) writes (rather rosily) that a series of communications and conference calls in January confirms that CHA and the USCCB are in agreement that the local bishop is the buck on ethical decisions at Catholic hospitals, but we suspect the clashes between the two organizations won’t so quickly be resolved. Continue Reading →