by: John Tyrrell
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Two of the Vatican's items on the agenda for the recent meeting between President Obama and Pope Francis were:
- The right to freedom of religion
- The right to life
Superficially, there is no problem here. Looking at the words themselves, these are two different issues. But, we should recognize that "right to life," as far as the Catholic Church is concerned is just some code words for being against birth control and against abortion - and not just for Catholics, but something to be imposed by the state and applicable to everyone, regardless of their own religious belief.
Really, "right to life" means that potential life takes absolute priority over actual life; or in the words of Monty Python, Every Sperm Is Sacred.
If Catholics choose in their personal lives to follow the teaching of their Church on this matter, then that is simply a matter of them exercising their right to freedom of religion. I'm not going to tell any Catholic "you must use birth control" or "you must get an abortion", not just because it is none of my business, but also because I recognize their rights to freely practice their religion and follow the dictates of their faith.
But, by pressing for what they call "right to life" to be enforced by law, the Catholic church is telling everyone, Catholics and non-catholics alike "you are forbidden to use birth control under any circumstances" or "you are forbidden to get an abortion under any circumstances."
The Pope, the Vatican, and all Catholic clergy should recognize that if they are going to press for the right to freedom of religion, then that logically excludes lobbying to legally enforce Catholic dogma on non-Catholics.
It is none of their business.
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