Catholic Bishops Take on Obama


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ABSTRACTCatholic Bishops Take on Obama | The Weekly Standard Monday, April 23, 2012 Login Register About FAQs Subscribers Only Contact RSS Loading Advanced Search home magazine April 30, 2012 Vol. 017, No. 31 ( Download Digital Edition ) Editorial President Romney Unwarranted Prize Negotiations That Matter Features The Businessman vs. the Professor From Blessing to Curse Articles The Battle for Wisconsin The Issue Mix No Rule by Decree Here We Go Again Waiting for the U.N. Oil and Trouble Books & Arts Fab Foreign Adventure Safety First The True Facts People of the Book Who Was George Schuyler? Scrapbook Prize Duds Casual Maddy and Daddy Parody Putting the Bang in Bangkok blog video politics & government Foreign policy & national security books, arts & society cruise store newsletter subscribe You are here: Blog / Catholic Bishops Take on Obama Hot Topics: 2012 Elections Congress Foreign policy Iran Mitt Romney Newt Gingrich Rick Santorum Syria The Blog Catholic Bishops Take on Obama 7:05 AM, Apr 23, 2012 • By VINCENT PHILLIP MUñOZ Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts Alerts Hide Get alerts when there is a new article that might interest you. Send me alerts for: Bill Kristol Fred Barnes Jay Cost Your e-mail address: Confirm e-mail address:   Please sign me up for The Weekly Standard weekly newsletter.   The Weekly Standard reserves the right to use your email for internal use only. Occasionally, we may send you special offers or communications from carefully selected advertisers we believe may be of benefit to our subscribers. Click the box to be included in these third party offers. We respect your privacy and will never rent or sell your email. Please include me in third party offers.       The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a bold stand for religious freedom. In a recent statement, titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the bishops call for repeal of contraception coverage mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The clarified position sets up a dramatic confrontation with the Obama administration—and would, if the bishops prevail, help preserve the religious liberty of all Americans. Barack Obama listens to a question from a guests attending the Health Care Summit. The HHS mandate requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization services. It is, according to the bishops, an “unjust law.” They write: “It cannot be obeyed and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.” The statement is a rebuke of President Obama and the so-called accommodation his administration proposed in February. It also raises the stakes between the president and the leaders of America’s Catholic Church. The bishops call on Catholics in America, “in solidarity with our fellow citizens,” not to obey the law. They implicitly compare the HHS regulation to a segregation-era statute, and even cite Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In a not-so-subtle manner, the bishops tell the Obama administration that they are willing to go to prison rather than comply with the mandate’s provisions. In doing so, the bishops are ruling out the possibility of a compromise that might preserve the mandate by expanding possible conscience exemptions from it. Most discussion had been over how far the religious liberty exemption should extend—but with the bishops calling for repeal, that all could change. Related Stories Obamacare vs. the Catholics Obama Admin. Pushes Forward with Abortion Pill & ... Happy Hour: Step It Up On the Left, the Obamacare Debate Continues Obamacare on Trial: The Individual Mandate More by Vincent Phillip Muñoz The Virtues of Conflict Over War Powers The Obama administration was not against an exemption per se, it just wanted a narrow one that only covered church employees serving members of their own faith with jobs pertaining to the inculcation of religious belief. The Catholic bishops, it seemed, wanted a more robust exemption that covered institutions of faith, including hospitals, universities, and other social service providers. Now the bishops have made clear that the contraception mandate must be rescinded, because, in their view, even a more expansive exemption cannot sufficiently protect religious freedom. The bishops did not have to take this route, but all those who cherish religious liberty should be glad they did. If the bishops settled for a more expansive accommodation, they might have been able to get an exemption for their hospitals and universities (including my own, Notre Dame). That would have been the easy way to “preserve” religious liberty while also retaining the mandate. But what, then, would the bishops have said to business owners who likely would not have been covered by a more expansive exemption? How could church leaders say that it’s wrong for church institutions to pay for contraception and abortifacients, but that C.......