Posts Tagged Catholic Church

Pope watching

Pope Francis IIt’s amazing how the choice of one religion’s leader can still be a worldwide event. As I write this, congratulations and snarky comments are flying on Facebook over the election of Pope Francis I. Why do all of use non-Catholics care?

A few years ago, when Benedict XVI was elected, I was in the midst of the high school crucible known as AP European History, so I was happy to put everything I’d learned about Avignon and Ignatius of Loyola to work as a Pope watcher.

I guess there is an element of glamorous drama involved, the same thing that makes Americans want to watch the Royal wedding. After all, it’s not every day that they elect a new Pope.

This event was also unprecedented in many ways. Benedict XVI was the first Pope to step down with a waiting replacement in over 600 years, and his successor is the first Pope from the Americas and only the third Jesuit Pope.

The Pope is more than a celebrity, though, and maybe that’s why the election of a new Pope is still relevant to non-Catholics. After years of heinous scandals and the obvious hypocrisy of a primarily white European governing body ruling over an increasingly diverse religion, people want change.

These are matters that should be the concern of everyone, regardless of their religion. That’s what makes this more than a media spectacle.

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Freedom to choose

The recent debate over whether the Obama administration should mandate coverage of contraception under its healthcare overhaul is all about freedom. Obama’s opponents argue that letting women choose birth control would trample the right of Catholic organizations, who don’t believe in birth control, but do employ non-Catholics, to practice their religion.

They have a good point, so I’ve made a list of all the freedoms that every party involved (Catholic employers, their employees, insurance companies) is being denied by the administration’s insistence on contraception:

Catholic organizations will have the freedom to practice their religion without persecution, and the added freedom to force those beliefs on non-Catholic employees and insurance companies.

Insurance companies will have the freedom to spend thousands of dollars per pregnancy, instead of being forced to save money and give their customers options.

The employees will have the freedom to choose pregnancy, or to not have sex.

If the employees do choose to have sex, they will have the freedom to care for a child regardless of their marital or financial status, or give the child up for adoption.

Either way, women will have the freedom to spend nine months pregnant, whether they want the child or not. That gives them the added freedom to possibly lose their job after they take time off to give birth.

If employees choose to keep their children, they have the freedom to choose where to work and live in order to create the happiest, most fulfilling life for themselves and their children. Except they won’t want to take any risks, like taking time off to finish college, or speaking up about unfair working conditions, because they could lose their job. They have a child to support, after all.

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