- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2000

The specter of hypocrisy and intolerance haunts the District of Columbia these days. It's not a Ku Klux Klan revival or book burners or those who want to reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. It's the Roman Catholic Church. Virginia Rep. Jim Moran, for one, isn't going to take it anymore.

This month an irate Mr. Moran went to the floor of the House to complain about the church's attempt to block legislation that would require it to insure its employees for the cost of contraceptives. Mr. Moran happens to like the proposal. The problem is that church teaching, as Pope John Paul II and the Archdiocese of Washington have pointed out, holds the use of contraceptives is sinful. To require the church to fund condom handouts, therefore, would force it to violate its own doctrine. To many people that sounds like a violation of religious liberty.

Ostensibly this legislation is about public health: More condom use means less HIV/AIDS transmission during sex, or so some argue. But the reality may have more to do with political spite. The pope condemned homosexuality in remarks following a demonstration by homosexual activists in Rome, a pronouncement that spurred Ward 1 District Councilman Jim Graham to seek passage of the legislation mentioned above.

Apparently reasonable people cannot disagree with Mr. Graham. Said Mr. Moran, "Having been educated in Catholic schools all my life … if I were a gay man, I would feel the same sense of frustration and disappointment that Councilman Jim Graham expressed on the D.C. Council. And that disappointment, and the intolerance and, yes, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church as an institution towards homosexuality ought to be addressed."

Exactly what Congress or the D.C. Council should do to "address" the church's errant views, the congressman didn't say. Given that the Bill of Rights rather limits what government can do to interfere with people's rights to assemble and worship even those of Roman Catholics one wonders what he had in mind.

Evidently, the congressman himself wasn't sure what he meant. On second thought, one of Mr. Moran's aides hastened to remove his not-so-veiled threat from the text of the Congressional Record, the official transcript of congressional proceedings. The new version read: "Having been educated in Catholic schools all my life, I understand the same sense of frustration and disappointment that councilman Jim Graham expressed on the D.C. Council … He expressed disappointment with the Catholic Church as an institution because of its position towards homosexuality." Gone was the language about the need to "address" the intolerance and hypocrisy of the church.

As it happens, it is a violation of House rules to change the substance rather than, say, the grammar of one's statement, and Mr. Moran had to put the offending language back in. The question remains then about how Mr. Moran plans to "address" Roman Catholic "intolerance" and "hypocrisy." Here's looking forward to hearing the answer during his re-election campaign this fall.

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