WASHINGTON — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church’s legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama?
And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the tea party at prayer?
These are the issues confronting the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ administrative committee when it begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday. The bishops should ponder how they transformed a moment of exceptional Catholic unity into an occasion for recrimination and anger.
When the Department of Health and Human Services initially issued rules requiring contraceptive services to be covered under the new health care law, it effectively exempted churches and other houses of worship but declined to do so for religiously affiliated entities such as hospitals, universities and social welfare organizations.