As a woman and a life long Roman Catholic, I would like to comment on the recent debate between U.S. bishops and the federal government on requiring birth control insurance coverage for employees of Catholic institutions. Despite what Republican politicians insist, Catholic bishops' refusal to provide such coverage relates to their stand on birth control, not to concern about denial of religious freedom.
I believe the bishops' statements are based on strict adherence to religious tradition rather than to any reasonable interpretation of Christ's teachings as applied to family life. This inflexible adherence to tradition involves a lack of understanding and appreciation regarding human sexuality which has evolved from decades of church leadership by men who have struggled all of their lives to remain celibate.
Voices from married laity, medical professionals, and from clergy who are sensitive to the role sexuality plays in strengthening marriages continue not to be heeded. This has led to the vast majority of Catholic married couples practicing birth control despite official church teaching. Such duplicity does not strengthen a church already damaged by the dwindling number of men willing or able to live with the burden of celibacy.