Earlier this week, I wrote a blog for Daily Kos outlining my discomfort around the Catholic Bishops’ attacks against the Affordable Care Act because of a mandate to cover birth control. Since then, I snail-mailed a letter to Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of Oakland, California, in the same contribution envelope I was sent three times — twice by his office and once by my parish.
Here is what I had to say to Bishop Cordileone:
Dear Most Reverend Cordileone,
After careful consideration and prayer, I am writing to let you know that I will not be donating to the Bishop’s Appeal this year. I work in social justice and after a series of moves by national Bishops that I consider to be unholy and unchristian towards women, I will instead make a donation to my local parish.
I originally outlined all my discomfort around some of the political activity that the Bishops have engaged on the national level, for which I strongly disagree. But to not take anymore of your time, I will say this: while I consider myself a Catholic Christian who attended Catholic school for nine years, participated in numerous lovely Mother Mary processions and am deeply devoted to Her, I cannot in good faith support the outdated ideas the Bishops have of women.
In my professional life, I am a writer who has been blessed to have the trust of my readers who often share their personal stories with me. When news broke about healthcare reform including a mandate to cover birth control, Teresa, a mother of seven in Ohio, wrote to me knowing that I am a practicing Catholic. She vented to me about the Bishops wanting to deny even non-Catholics birth control, even though Catholic institutions receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies. It seemed to her like the Catholic Church wanted the financial support, but not to have to “play by the rules” like everyone else.
It’s a good point. But this is the part of her story that got me: after having seven children, Teresa’s heart became too weak to give birth anymore. She was told by her doctors that if she had anymore children she would probably leave the seven that she already had without a mother. Yet, only until she changed health insurance companies was she able to attain life-saving birth control coverage. This is not reasonable — and it is cruel. I can assure you that Teresa, while she practices no religion, is more Christian than a lot of Christians I know. She is an excellent and loving wife, mother and grandmother. Where is the Bishops’ compassion for mothers like Teresa?
I really believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding me in my decision today. I just pray that some of our church’s leadership receive His guiding light towards genuine understanding and compassion for everyone. Thank you, Rev. Cordileone, for your time.
May God and our Holy Mother bless you,
Elisa Batista, Berkeley, California