Bishop Martin Amos has stated that requiring employers’ health insurance plans to cover contraception would compel Catholics to violate their consciences. My question is, which Catholics? Estimates are that 98 percent of Catholics use what the bishops refer to as artificial contraception. Casual observation of the average-sized family at Sunday Mass supports this estimate.
Most Catholics who use contraceptive devices do not consider this to be a violation of their conscience. I recognize the teaching authority of the bishops, but also understand that good teaching requires the ability to learn from others. For nearly 50 years, the people of the Church have been saying that the complicated issues of intimacy, sexuality and procreation within a marriage are best left to the couple joined together by God.
Most Catholic hospitals and universities employ people from many different faiths. Most non-Catholic faiths have no prohibition against the use of contraceptives. Indeed, people of different faith traditions may feel a moral imperative to have no more children than they are psychologically and financially equipped to handle. Many may be employed in low-paying positions such as housekeeping, food preparation, etc., and may not be able to afford contraceptive services.
Finally, it’s my hope that eventually the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will accept the fact that we live in a pluralistic society and that their job is not to try to get all laws to conform to Catholic teaching. Rather, that the bishops humbly, through their example, lead people to Christ.