EDITOR:I must point out several factual errors in Mr. Carli's letter "Contraceptive coverage."
Mr. Carli states "we all pay for practices that violate our consciences" and then lists various examples such as war, torture, executions and tax breaks.
The problem is this contraception mandate is not a tax, but private dollars, and therefore this argument is not applicable.
In fact Catholics already do pay for contraception for the poor in the form of taxes into the Medicaid program. Catholics may object that tax money goes toward contraception, but they have no right to not pay their taxes as we all must "render unto Caesar."
Tax money does not belong to the individual, but to the state and the individual has no rights over that money. If the government uses that money in ways objectionable - unjust war, torture, executions, contraception, abortion - that sin is on the government.
In this very different case, the contraception coverage is a direct payment from individuals who would object to their dollars being used for such a purpose. Again, tax dollars already cover contraception for the truly poor. This new mandate would force employers and employees to directly pay for contraceptives, along with sterilization procedures and abortifacient drugs, for the middle-class and wealthy.
Mr. Carli references 28 states that have a mandate already in place. This claim has been investigated and it was found that in each state, an employer can exempt themselves from contraception coverage simply by not providing prescription drug coverage. (See Larry O'Donnell, MSNBC). The fact that some Catholic institutions do provide this coverage is simply their choice.
Now on to the statements made on Humanae Vitae, or HV.
HV does state that if one must take medicine to cure a disease, and that medicine impedes procreation, it is not illicit to use that medicine. This is due to the "principle of double effect." Mr. Carli states "this would seem to imply that contraceptives for health purposes would be allowed."
His choice of words is inaccurate because what is "allowed" is not contraception, but more accurately hormonal medication. This is not illicit, provided that the impediment to procreation is not directly willed. I, and many others, would not object to covering this kind of medication for truly medical reasons, and it should be noted that specifically Georgetown University does cover hormonal medication for diseases like endometriosis.
Mr. Carli is incorrect when he writes that HV states "with good reason you can separate the unitive and procreative purposes of sex if you use the natural rhythms of the body."
On the contrary HV states: "married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained."
Using the infertile time of the cycle, which constitutes most of a woman's monthly cycle, in no way separates the two meanings of sex.
Does a couple past childbearing age separate the two meanings of sex when they engage in marital relations? They do nothing themselves to block the life-giving aspect of sex.
It is God who gives that period of infertility.
Similarly women of childbearing age are infertile three weeks out of four, a period of time that comes from God himself. Couples who use contraception actively block out the life-giving aspect of sex, no matter what God wants; they separate - by their own hand - what God has joined together.
Just because an outcome may be the same, doesn't imply the means to that end are the same. I can get money by earning it or by robbing a bank - same outcome but not the same way of getting there.
Finally, Mr. Carli lists quotes from various Bishop Conferences' responding to HV.
I would like to focus on the one from the Canadian Bishops where in 1968 they wrote "couples may be safely assured that whoever honestly chooses that course which seems right to them does so in good conscience."
Although the Canadian Bishops never formally renounced that statement, they later stepped back from it and clarified their remarks and in 1973, in their "Statement on The Formation of Conscience." they wrote "to 'follow one's conscience' and to remain a Catholic, one must take into account first and foremost the teaching of the Magisterium. When doubt arises due to a conflict of 'my' views and those of the Magisterium, the presumption of truth lies on the part of the Magisterium. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul. This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. And this must be carefully distinguished from the teaching of individual theologians or individual priests, however intelligent or persuasive."
Our conscience isn't "what we feel is right"; it's what we judge to be right based on what we know of the teachings of God and the church.
Conscience is called to discover the truth of what is right and wrong and to submit its judgments to the truth once the truth is found.
Monica Calo Shampo