I am in a tricky spot these days. Our diocese is about to undertake a huge reorganization of parishes (still in the consultant phase) which is meant to cut the number of pastors in half, reduce the number of extraneous pieces of real estate, join parishes together in fundraising and Mass attendance, and reduce redundancies (aka... STAFF!). Suddenly a large part of my job is getting the word out about these plans (much more to it than I'm listing here) to our parishioners and gather feedback. So I find myself in this weird position of trying to communicate the possible future to people, all the while knowing that possible future might mean that my job is gone.
On top of that, last night in a meeting at the parish someone mentioned the conscience laws that are being challenged by the president, which would insist that all companies (except church/parishes) would have to provide insurance coverage for contraception. Already the law change would not apply to me or my fellow co-workers, and honestly I don't even know anyone who would want that kind of coverage from the parish for whom they work. But this week, the Cardinal published a letter with a threat included that if the law passes, the Church will be forced to either go against their own conscience or to STOP PROVIDING HEALTH INSURANCE TO ITS EMPLOYEES.
Remember, this rule already doesn't apply to me and my colleagues. In Fact, Cardinal Sean's threat is empty: it's against the law for Massachusetts citizens to go without health insurance, so if the Church doesn't provide it, its employees will have to turn to another source. By law, of course, any alternative source will have to cover things like contraception. Far from barring his employees from contraceptive coverage, Cardinal Sean will be forcing it upon us.
To me, it's a clear sign that the Cardinal doesn't trust that his employees, even if offered this benefit, wouldn't necessarily use it. (Of course, he's probably right about that!) And it's also a sign that he doesn't have any confidence in his ability to persuade his employees to do the right thing through teaching the Truth of the faith. He doesn't believe that what the Church teaches about contraception will bear any weight, and he doesn't believe that his word has any weight. He is only able to find persuasive power in threats. If he's right about that, then we are indeed in bad shape.
My husband and I will not be able to pay for our own health insurance, and will have to end our ministries in the Church. In fact, I don't know anyone who works for a parish who could pay for their own insurance for the rest of their ministerial careers.
So last night, there I was leading a parish meeting when this bill was brought up, and the parishioner who mentioned it urged us all to contact our representatives. Was it wrong for me to mention the Cardinal's threat? Or to urge them that while they're contacting the government, they might also call the Cardinal's office and remind him how wrong it would be to cancel the insurance and therefore the ministries of the employees who sat before them?
I don't know. I am not sure what my right response is to all this. And I do want to do what's right. If I'm going to lose this job, I want to leave it having fought for justice. I don't want to bite my tongue to keep my job, like I have done in varying degrees for so long. I want to do the Lord's work. I know that in this archdiocese, it's risky even blogging about this, exposing my own opinions. I guess we'll (pray) what happens.