In an unsigned editorial the Jesuit magazine America steps away from the Catholic bishops encouraging them to focus like pastors, not on the religious rights of Americans but on nuclear war and the economy. That, muses the editors of America is what Americans want.  Forget about preaching fearlessly in season and out, forget about scandal. Forget about hypocrisy. None of that matters to the editors of America.

America’s editorial view of the disagreement centers on how certain prudential considerations work out between the ruling class and the governed and how the multiple factors such as who pays for insurance and who pays for contraception are to be balanced in this case. The answer is already clear: the Church, should it comply with even the revised mandate of February 10th would be knowingly involved in culpable material cooperation with evil. Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities, exist not only to serve the needy but to testify in the world to Catholic truth. It is this testimony that the Administration is interested in silencing, this witness it wants to dilute.

Purchasing or providing contraceptives mutes and dilutes the Church’s message. It is not about who pays for a relatively cheap and common white pill.

America neglects to consider that if the cooperation of Catholic employers is not technically culpable, the objecting employers would be cooperating only because they are being coerced into doing a morally repulsive act. Such a law is morally objectionable even if the coercion involved makes complying with the law morally permissible in a strict sense. However, it is akin to not paying the hit man, but buying him a $1000 bullet to use instead, presuming he will use it to target shoot.

The fundamental problem with the mandate – ignored by the editors –  is that it coerces some people into doing what they think is wrong, and this problem remains regardless of whether the governmental coercion excuses  in part the moral actions of the people being coerced.

Professor Janet Smith weighs in at Catholic Vote with a higher level, blistering analysis.