Month: June 2012

On Health Care: The Supreme Court and Subsidiarity (UPDATED)

By a narrow 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court today upheld the main provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The New York Times headline, “Health Law Stands” is likely to receive the bulk of the coverage. The decision hinged on Chief Justice John Roberts siding in part with the liberal justices. It is the “in part” that has enormous import. Much of the debate on  the bill hinged on whether the mandate for all to buy health insurance was constitutional. The Roberts opinion holds that it is… sort of. The chief argument in favor of the mandate was that the Federal government possessed this power under the broad power of “regulating interstate commerce.” Importantly, while the four liberal justices stated they would accept this interpretation, Roberts does not. Indeed, he states that such an interpretation would allow the Federal government to compel – rather than just regulate – commerce. So instead, Roberts maintains that the mandate is constitutional insofar as it is acceptable for the Federal government to exact a tax on individuals who do not buy health insurance. What is constitutional is the tax, not the mandate per se. Of course, what makes anything a mandate is that there is a punishment attached. The Roberts opinion makes it clear that the law per se does not “mandate” commercial activity – people are free to not buy insurance, and pay the...

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Occupy Catholics & The Fortnight for Freedom

The Fortnight for Freedom has begun and I would like to draw our readers attention to the activities of Occupy Catholics in NY. On June 21st, a group of Occupy Catholics held an event on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to engage in prayer, reflection, and as is the custom in the Occupy Movement – hold a general assembly. Beginning at 6pm, the group spent the night on the steps of St Patrick’s in a prayer vigil. In an Open Letter to Cardinal Dolanin advance of the vigil, they explained: Our purpose is to help ensure that ordinary, faithful people of our church can play a participatory role in this important campaign, especially in helping to define which freedoms matter to us most and speak to us as Catholics, Christians, Americans, and human beings — made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice. As you and the bishops have called us to action and anchored it to that day which, in 1776, the Continental Congress issued their Declaration, we feel privileged to exercise our rights of assembly and speech to discuss and debate the breath of our religious freedom. We write to inform you of our gathering, so you know that we gather as part of one church, in enthusiasm for the call to action that you have promulgated. Especially in light of the repression against the Occupy movement’s...

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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 1:13-15; 2:23-24 Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15 Mk 5:21-43 Christians have a lot of norms–things we are supposed to do and not do. It would be easy to see Christianity as a legalistic religion, and indeed, it does sometime descend into one. But Christianity can avoid legalism without sacrificing the importance of norms by seeing rules not so much as something to be obeyed, but as truths rooted in God’s order for creation, made explicit in Christ. Broadly, we might consider this a “natural law” approach to morality. Morality then is about using one’s freedom to maintain and restore God’s order. Although at first glance it may seem that there is not much of a connection between the readings for the week, I think it is God’s order that unites them. In our first reading from the Wisdom of Solomon (a deuterocanonical text accepted by Catholics and Orthodox but not by Protestants) we see the author showing how God’s order is connected to life and death. God created all things to live and “fashioned all things that they might have being.” Sin is disorder and death: “But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.” In v. 12 of this chapter which directly precedes our lectionary selection, we see the...

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The Hook Up Culture (cont): “It’s Like Pulling Up in a Really Nice Car or Something”

Are you a rich man looking to have sex and other companionship with a beautiful girl or woman?   Are you a beautiful woman looking to have your school, clothes, rent, and/or vacations paid for in exchange for sex and companionship?  Fear not, there are many options for you:,,,…and more. This morning at the gym I saw a story on Good Morning America in which they interviewed two people involved in this kind of arrangement.  Their explanations involved appeals to “choice”, “social status”, “fun” and the fact that what they are doing just reflects what is already happening in our sexual culture anyway. It is difficult to argue with them on the last point, at least. The exchanges between the reporter and Tommy, a 63-year-old thrice-divorced sugar daddy (who started “dating” sugar baby Monte when she was 19…around the same age as his two children), were particularly interesting: Reporter (voice over):  [The relationship with Monte] is cheaper than a marriage, [Tommy] says. Tommy:  When you walk into a room and you have a beautiful woman with you, it is complement to you…as a male.  It’s like pulling up in a really nice car or something. Reporter (to Tommy): So Monte is like a really nice car? Tommy: Shyeah. …. Reporter:  If there were no sex involved with Monte, would you still bring her and your other...

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