This is the sort of thing The Onion should be covering, but there it was today at Inside Higher Ed, a story titled “Ignoring the Pope?” Faculty at two Catholic colleges in California are upset that their administrations have dropped coverage for elective abortions from the employee health plans. After all, hasn’t the pope himself famously said that Catholics should be less “obsessed” with such matters?
The real scandal, of course, is that Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara University ever offered coverage for abortions in their health plans in the first place. It is high time this grievous injustice was rectified, and it could not matter less who sits in the Chair of Peter when the right thing needs doing.
But the Schadenfreude of my title concerns the liberal faculty quoted by IHE. University faculty are supposed to be professionals when it comes to “critical thinking,” close attention to texts and contexts, and skepticism about conventional wisdom, particularly as propagated by big media corporations. So did they really think that Catholic doctrine about the intrinsic wrongfulness of abortion (or, in another episode reported in this story, about the true meaning of marriage) was being changed unilaterally by the pope in the course of a couple of magazine interviews?
Notwithstanding the guff disseminated by the New York Times, Washington Post, and Associated Press, Pope Francis has not changed the doctrines of the faith one iota, nor signaled an intention of doing so. Properly understood (and here William Doino and Robert Royal are invaluable guides), he has not even told Catholics to lighten the burdens many of them have shouldered in the struggles to preserve life, family, and freedom. (If anything, he has asked them to do more.) Much less has he informed Catholic institutions that it is now okay to betray the morality the Church consistently preaches.
Still, if you are going to be taken in when NARAL sends the Holy Father a valentine, you deserve all the disappointment a cruel world can strew in your path.