After the University of Notre Dame announced it would fund “simple contraceptives” in its insurance plan, one Notre Dame professor has criticized the move, calling it “a giant leap into immorality.”
“Now the University [of Notre Dame] is to be sole funder and proprietor of a contraception giveaway,” wrote Notre Dame law professor Gerard V. Bradley in an essay published Thursday at Public Discourse.
“What is solemnly declared for years to be morally impossible is, suddenly, the substance of Notre Dame’s free choice,” Bradley wrote.
In a Feb. 7 statement, Notre Dame's president Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, announced that while the insurance plan at the university will not provide abortifacients, the school will fund the use of “simple contraceptives,” which apparently include drugs that prevent conception.
In the statement, Jenkins noted that contraception is indeed “contrary to Catholic teaching,” while explaining that offering contraception to the school was a way to “respect” other religious traditions and conscientious decisions - particularly decisions made by those in the university’s community who rely on access to contraception through the insurance plan.
This step came as a surprise to many, since the university was one of the institutions which sued the United States over the 2012 Obamacare contraception mandate.
“In its lawsuit, Notre Dame cited chapter and verse of Church teaching,” Bradley recalled.
“The University said, basically, that, to remain faithful to its beliefs, it could not be involved in any way whatsoever with a process designed to provide contraceptives to its employees, its students, or their dependents,” he continued.
Bradley noted that “Notre Dame’s practice until just a few years ago exhibited all the ‘respect’ possibly due to those who want to contracept.”
The university “rightly did nothing,” he said, to make contraception available or cheaper, while at the same time, it “did not discriminate in the workplace against those who chose to contracept.”
While Bradley said the allowance for contraception will cause incalculable harm to “so many persons’ minds, bodies and souls,” he also noted that “Fr. Jenkins supplied a primer about how Catholics should make all sorts of morally important decisions that is not only mistaken, but catastrophic for the moral life.”
“Our moral duty to respect others’ choices does not have anything to do with giving them the means to do evil,” Bradley said, adding that “one should not respect another’s specific immoral choice at all.”
“Everyone’s immoral choices should be regretted, and their repetition discouraged, and their occurrences criticized appropriately,” he continued.
Bradley said he believes that Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the diocese where Notre Dame is located, will speak out against the decision, noting that he will “have no choice but to publicly do so” in order to “protect all the faithful in his care from this grave scandal.”
Bradley said that the rationalization behind Jenkin’s most recent allowance for contraception is a “crucial mistake” which violates the sexual and moral teachings of the Catholic Church, as delineated in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.”
“God does not want us to weigh up pros and cons of adhering to the moral truth,” Bradley said.
“And the greatest respect we can show others is to bear faithful witness to the truth.”
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