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Column: New Pope Likely to Push Same Old Doctrine

VATICAN CITY, Italy – In all the hubbub about the new Pope, you may have missed some local Catholic related news of note. Earlier this week, Sioux Falls’ Bishop Swain publically voiced his disapproval of the Avera health system’s attempt to comply with the contraceptive care portion of Obamacare.

In case you are not familiar with what the law requires, insurers will be required to offer co-pay free access to contraceptive care in employer based plans. There is an exemption for religious affiliated employers, such as charities and private schools, who object to providing contraceptive care to their female employees.

The Avera health system is affiliated with the Catholic Church, but has a separate health insurance operation that operates under the Avera name. In an attempt to comply with the law, they are going to include contraceptive care in the plans that they offer to other employers, but not to their own employees.

This is not good enough for the Catholic Church. They see contraception as a sin, pure and simple, and any move by Avera to offer it to anyone as similarly sinful, even if it is a separate part of the organization from the church affiliated hospital operation. Bishop Swain wants Avera to play by his rules rather than what the law requires.

This is essentially the problem with the Catholic Church, and many other religious organizations, in a nut shell. They are not content to believe what they want to believe and just leave the rest of us alone.

Catholic doctrine holds that the Pope is infallible, that he is the successor of Jesus as key teacher of the Christian faith. Now, one could choose to believe that and shouldn’t be wronged for doing so, but let’s not forget that this is a belief, not fact. This is, after all, the same organization that thought the right thing to do with the child molesters amongst them was not to inform the police, but rather to shuffle them off to another city, where a fresh batch of unsuspecting victims lie in wait. Belief is just that; one could just as soon choose to believe in the flying spaghetti monster, but whatever one’s beliefs might be, they should have nothing to do with public policy.

In a week in which you couldn’t turn on the news without hearing about the new Pope, it is worth noting that Pope Francis is pretty unlikely to change the Church’s thinking about birth control. Despite the fact that we are talking about a man who has devoted himself to helping the poor, he gave up having a family life, and so did all the men who chose to elevate him.

Catholic leaders may have taken a vow of celibacy, but they have not taken a vow of poverty; they are comparatively well rewarded for their work. No disrespect intended, but without a family to take care of, they simply don’t have a clue as to how dependent family financial solvency is on the number of kids one has.

If reducing poverty worldwide were the number one priority of the Catholic Church, they would drop their concern about contraception and focus on distributing it to all those who would benefit from it. Whatever good work the new Pope does, and hopefully there will be a lot of it, refusing to budge on what seem like commonsense positions to most of us, including many Catholics, will only reinforce the image of the papacy as overly conservative and out of touch with modern life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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