Contradictions

We are in the middle of a summer of contradictions. Most recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose to grant the 2008 Summer Olympic Games to Beijing, China. The decision was criticized by those who believe China's deplorable record of human rights abuses should have precluded it from being selected. Indeed, China's history of forced abortions, repression of religious expression, crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrations and the recent hostage-taking of American military personnel cause one to wonder: If none of these, what human rights abuse would have been appalling enough to cause the IOC to select another country to host the 2008 summer games? The Catholic Church is not allowed to exist in China. A "patriotic church" is the puppet church created and approved by the Chinese government. True Catholics worship in an underground Church and face reprisals from the state if they attempt to live their faith in a public way. Many are, to our frustration but to their great credit, martyrs of our modern era. Yet the director general of the IOC was quoted as saying that "it is not up to the IOC to interfere" in the human rights debate, and that "we are taking the bet that seven years from now, we sincerely and deeply hope we will see many changes." The validation of such hopes should not take seven years. China must begin immediately to manifest the sort of "face" it suggests the world will see at Olympics time. And all continuing persecution against the Church should be exposed as relentlessly as the abuses themselves. And while an oppressive nation gets a free pass, a religious group with a ministry of aiding those in need gets oppressed. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California's law mandating contraception coverage in health plans applied to Catholic Charities of Sacramento. Ironically, the way the law is written Catholic Charities would not be forced to provide the coverage if the people the organization serves primarily were Catholics. But Catholic Charities serves people of all religious backgrounds or no religious background. In effect, Catholic Charities is being forced to violate some of its religious tenets (those relating to artificial contraception) expressly because it is living some of its other religious tenets (those related to aiding those in need). The mandatory contraception coverage law, promoted in California by Planned Parenthood forces Catholic Charities to decide its next move, which could include either appealing to a higher court or curtailing its employees' health benefits in total. In a summer of contradictions, China basks in the glory of hosting the Olympic Games, while a Catholic charitable organization is made vulnerable to a serious compromise of its principles.

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