Joe Willis' letter, "Real Catholics abide by rules" raises an interesting point: Does a Catholic remain a practicing Catholic if he/she does not follow every teaching of the church? Does letter writer Anne Harter's support of insurance coverage make her less a Catholic or no Catholic at all?
The Catholic Church's leadership has often lagged behind the Catholic laity on matters of Christian morality. Historically, the Catholic hierarchy refused to condemn slavery. The leadership in condemning slavery was provided by Quakers, some Protestant denominations, Catholic priests, nuns, laity and others with higher moral values. The same can be said of the Catholic hierarchy's leadership on women suffrage, equal rights and other moral values we take for granted today.
So then, what about the 98 percent or 99 percent of the Catholic laity who believe, contrary to hierarchical teaching, that the use of contraception can be the correct moral position on family planning? What about the more than 50 percent of Catholics who presently believe women called to the priesthood should be ordained priests? One hundred years from now the hierarchy will see the morality of the laity's position on these (and other) matters.
The Catholic hierarchy are men of good will who make mistakes, are loathe to admit their errors and are at times politically motivated for their own self-interests -- just like the rest of us.
If we understand this, we can follow our consciences formed by the Gospels and remain good practicing Catholics.