For the last month, the media have been filled with a conflict which is usually framed as a conflict between the Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration. Three of the Republican candidates picked this up and accused the Obama administration of waging war on the Catholic Church. We are certainly witnessing a clash in values on this issue between the Administration and the Roman Catholic moral traditions but calling the differences “a war” is a cheap political shot.
The Administration made a terrible political blunder and lately is trying to correct it. The issue is that new directives are demanding that all employers must provide insurance that would cover contraceptives and some form of abortion. The bishops are not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is a faith community of approximately 65 million members divided into every imaginable subgroup, but what unifies most of them is the appreciation that the United States has always guaranteed them and all others freedom of religion. Millions of those Catholics are now very angry and unless the present impasse is adequately corrected, it will have a measurable effect on the November election.
An editorial of the National Catholic Reporter said it well. “Catholics of all stripes have voiced their deep concerns. The opposition to the decision runs across all the usual divides – left and right, conservative and liberal, orthodox and progressive – all have made it clear: we might disagree with our bishops and each other over the issue of contraception but this ruling seeks to force our church to violate its conscience on a serious matter. Some of the voices that spoke the strongest words and risked the most on advocating healthcare reform now see a threat to the church inherent in the roll out of the reform.”
I understand that.