The matter of the Obama Healthcare reform bill has attracted, and for very good reason too, a great deal of attention from almost every single Catholic publication and blog that I have read in the last few weeks. The bill has however not only drawn the attention of Catholic publications. So serious is the matter that it has also attracted the attention of many secular publications and is, without any doubt, currently an important news topic for Catholics, not only those in the USA.
This bill is unconscionable because it will force Catholics to act against their beliefs and legally require them to supply contraceptive means to patients, including some contraceptives that are known to cause an abortion. Although an exemption clause has been included in the healthcare bill, the definition of who qualifies for an exemption is so narrow that most Catholic organisations will be unable to qualify for the exemption. These Catholic organisations will therefore be forced to either close down or will have to act against their conscience to avoid breaking the law.
This bill is considered by most to be a direct attack on religious freedom in the USA. It has drawn public condemnation from more than 90% of the bishops in the USA. In addition, politicians, in the presidential race, have made a point of addressing this flawed bill during their campaigns. Some secular newspapers have branded the bill as un-American.
The bill is serious not only for Catholics in the USA, but also Catholics throughout the world. If a country like the USA, which is supposedly the model for the preservation of human rights in the world, can permit such an oppressive law to be implemented, what can we expect in the future from those countries who are less inclined to focus on the protection of our christian rights.
Given the seriousness of this bill and its potential impact on both Catholics and religious freedom in general, I would have expected that our local South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross, would also have given this matter a great deal of coverage, just as most other Catholic publications throughout the world, not only those in the USA, have done.
To date I have sadly not come across anything regarding this controversial healthcare bill in The Southern Cross. Just to make sure, today, while writing this post, I conducted a search of The Southern Cross website, to try locate any article on this matter. Sadly, I found absolutely nothing that refers to it. It seems that South Africa’s only ‘Catholic’ newspaper does not understand the seriousness of what our Catholic brothers and sisters in another part of the world are facing.
It is interesting that the editorial, for this week’s edition of The Southern Cross, has focused on the recent allegations of corruption in the Vatican. These are only allegations at this stage and, while they clearly do require a mention, do not seem to me to be as critical as the matter of the Obama healthcare bill, which is a reality, not merely an allegation.
It was not just the editorial of The Southern Cross that focussed on these corruption allegations. The newspaper also carries an additional article, taken from the Catholic News Agency, regarding the corruption allegations. The amount of space that the editor of The Southern Cross has devoted to the corruption allegations seems to be excessive and, if you ask me, a bit vindictive, especially when compared to the lack of coverage of the healthcare bill.
The complete silence of The Southern Cross on this serious matter of the healthcare bill, while choosing instead to highlight the completely unfounded allegations against the Vatican, speaks volumes. At the very least, The Southern Cross should also have published one of the articles from the Catholic News Agency about the Obama healthcare bill, just as it did about the corruption allegation. (I counted and found that the Catholic News Agency had at least 12 articles available on the subject of the healthcare bill.)
It must surely now cause South African Catholics to begin to pose some serious questions about the content of their only Catholic newspaper, which seems intent on publishing any controversial content it can lay its hands on, such as the sustainability of the Church's view on contraception, the ordination of women, and, recently, the doctrine of Original Sin, yet has no space on its pages for this important challenge that the Church faces in the USA.