A writer Feb. 2 says there is a conflict between my Catholic Bishop's Conference and the Department of Health and Human Services on requiring Catholic colleges and hospitals to give health coverage that includes contraceptives.
That requirement mainly violates the religious beliefs of my male, celibate bishops, who have no need for contraceptives. However, I am sure the ruling was wildly (but quietly) cheered by Catholic and non-Catholic employees, as well as students and patients who attend these institutions.
Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women have used contraception, according to a 2011 study. It can strengthen the bonds of marriage by increasing the opportunity for the exchange of the grace of sexual love and reduce abortions.
In 2008, about half of all pregnancies in the United States were unplanned, and 42 percent of those pregnancies were aborted. When the use of birth control went up, rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion fell ("Report on Women's Health," New York Times, Jan. 29).
On this and on many other moral issues, the judgment of lay Catholics significantly diverges from our bishops. We, like our Protestant and Jewish neighbors who use contraception, do not believe it is "immoral."
We do not see the severe consequences to society that the writer alleges have flowed from its use. Rather, we believe the flawed ban has led to a massive exodus of Catholics and a decline in numbers of priests -- both of whom no longer have confidence in our bishops' leadership.