I think that anyone who follows my Blog will know that I have frequently expressed a great deal of frustration at the fact that our only South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross, has repeatedly failed to provide any coverage regarding the HHS Mandate in the US. This despite the fact that I have repeatedly made an issue about the newspapers silence on this important subject and that I also appealed to the editor to publish an article on the matter.
Concerned that I was being unreasonable in my expectation of The Southern Cross, I wanted to determine if other newspapers, which are not based in the US, had also chosen to ignore this issue of the HHS mandate, as The Southern Cross had. So, over the last few days, I conducted Google searches for Catholic news media around the world, in every possible country. These included, amongst others, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, the UK, Nigeria, Kenya and many more. Each time that I came across one, and there were many, I conducted a quick search to determine if they had any articles regarding the HHS mandate. Without fail, every single one that I searched contained an article about the HHS mandate in the US.
So its seems that Catholic news around the world, regardless of not being based in the US, shares my sentiment that this issue is significant enough that, though it may not directly affect their Catholic readers at this time, it requires reporting. Who would have expected anything less? Surely, it is to be expected that, when the religious freedom of Catholics is being challenged in one part of the world, Catholics from around the rest of the world will naturally rally in support?
I was told, by the editor of The Southern Cross, that the reason for not publishing an article, was because the story of the HHS mandate was evolving too quickly and that anything The Southern Cross may choose to publish, would almost certainly be old news by the time the newspaper goes to print. Possible, but personally, I don’t buy this as a credible explanation. I believe that there is sufficient material regarding this HHS mandate, such as the reasons why Catholics are so outraged by it and what its implications are for Catholics, which has remained true and relevant for at least two months already, and therefore makes it possible for an article that would not be dated by the time the newspaper goes to print.
Yesterday however, while I was re-reading the editorial from last weeks copy of The Southern Cross titled, “The Catholic Conscience”, for another post on my Blog, it dawned on me that there may be another reason for not publishing anything about the HHS mandate staring me right in the face. In the editorial, Simmermacher very briefly, and I mean very briefly, touches on the fact that US Catholics had raised an objection to the HHS mandate. He then concludes his editorial stating that: “Catholics are right to object to it, but when we do, we must also respect the freedom of conscience of those who don’t accept what our conscience dictates.”
I believe that this closing line of the editorial may contain the real answer to my question. Is this last line perhaps Simmermacher’s way of saying: There are Catholics who don’t consider this HHS mandate, which forces Catholics to distribute contraception, objectionable and we should respect their position, including the right of these Catholics not to have to publish an article in the newspaper, contrary to their conscience.
I am of course only speculating. However, I have on a number of previous occasions observed that the continued silence of The Southern Cross, on the subject of the HHS mandate, does tend to naturally lead one to the belief that their silence is reflective of the fact that this newspaper does not object to the HHS mandate. Add this silence together with the above-mentioned statement by the editor, and it most certainly affirms for me that my speculations may indeed be correct.
Anyway, I don’t doubt that the answer from the editor is going to remain unchanged. I will almost certainly have to be satisfied with his explanation of a too rapidly evolving story. As for showing solidarity with US Catholics, I guess I must be satisfied that I at least did so on my Blog.
In closing, I think it would be remiss of me not to make one further comment regarding Simmermacher’s statement that: “Catholics are right to object to it, but when we do, we must also respect the freedom of conscience of those who don’t accept what our conscience dictates.”
Naturally, we must respect everyone’s freedom of conscience. However, true charity also demands of us that, where another Catholic holds a clearly erroneous belief, we must engage with them to correct such error. We cannot simply ignore the matter or dismiss it as their right to choose. That is not true charity. True charity requires that we present the truth to our fellow Catholics and not be silent, lest they continue in error.
In this instance, we know that any Catholic who believes that contraception is a licit means of birth control, is wrong, because we know that a Catholic’s conscience must at all times be subject to the authority of the Magisterium of the Church. Therefore, given the Church’s clear teaching on contraception, as contained in Humanae Vitae, all Catholics are required to accept the teaching that contraception is not a licit means of birth control.
“The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.”
If you would like to read more on this, including why it is that Humanae Vitae is to be considered an Infallible document of the Magisterium, please see my post titled, Contraception & Humanae Vitae – Document of the Infallible Magisterium.