A couple of months ago a friend of mine took me aside for a moment to say she particularly liked a column I had written about a media campaign featuring a pleasant Aroostook County couple advocating for the right of their gay daughter to get married.
She could relate to that couple, even though she doesn’t have a gay child, because the couple was so genuine — so normal — and they, like herself, clearly loved their child and wanted the very best for her.
Then she pulled me down closer to her face and whispered with a guilty chuckle, “and I’m Catholic.”
I suspect there is a fair amount of whispered confessions going on among a lot of Catholics of late as their church and its doctrine take a turn at the center of the ongoing debate over the state of our nation’s health care.
I have hesitated to write about this issue, which of course stems from President Obama’s proposed mandate that employers cover birth control for their employees, including Catholic organizations, and the immediate and strong response from some leaders of the Catholic Church, leaders of other religious faiths and the attorneys general of at least seven states.
Of course, the majority of Catholics most likely use birth control, but it is still an official “no-no,” and if you do a little research you’ll find that for the most part in this day we live in the issue is sort of ignored. It’s the Catholic Church’s version of the U.S. military’s inane “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, you might say.
I doubt there is a priest out there who doesn’t understand that the largest percentage of his flock whom he speaks to each Sunday is likely violating this principle, which at its base teaches that contraception violates God’s natural law, namely, that the purpose of sex is procreation and that any pleasure derived from it is an additional blessing.
I’m not Catholic, although I love and admire many people who are.
I don’t even think there was a Catholic church in the small town I grew up in.
I love contraception!
I shall go to my grave carrying the greatest admiration for Bangor’s own Mabel Sine Wadsworth, who devoted her life to the reproductive health and the reproductive rights of women.
One of my greatest pleasures as a reporter was getting to know her and spending time with her shortly before she passed away.
I also love the First Amendment, which prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press or interfering with the right to peaceful assembly.
Somewhere between all of that I became uncomfortable putting my opinion out to all of you about this contentious and oh so important issue.
I can assure you that I don’t come to this issue from the right or the left or with any political agenda whatsoever.
I certainly don’t come to it from the point of view of a devout Catholic.
But I am a woman who gave birth to a baby who is now a young woman and a baby who is now a teenage boy and my husband and I have tried to do our best to lead them intelligently and morally through this complicated and sometimes downright uncomfortable issue.
And that, I would argue, rather than the Senate floor or the front-row pew, is where real and true progress is made.