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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church’s public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Obama, has had enough.

The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by 43 Catholic organizations, including 13 dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the administration requiring insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: That the vast majority of the nation’s 195 dioceses did not go to court.

It turns out that many bishops, notably the church leadership in California, saw the litigation as premature. They are upset that the lawsuits were brought without a broader discussion among the entire membership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and wanted to delay action until the Conference’s June meeting.

Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign aimed at highlighting “threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad.”

But in recent months, a series of events – among them the Vatican’s rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious encouraged by right-wing American bishops — have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a “Catholic spring” to challenge the hierarchy’s shift to the right.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., broke the silence on his side Tuesday in an interview with Kevin Clarke of the Jesuit magazine America. Blaire expressed concern that some groups “very far to the right” are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into “an anti-Obama campaign.”

“I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it [a] into political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops,” he said. “I think our rhetoric has to be that of bishops of the church who are seeking to be faithful to the Gospel, that our one concern is that we make sure the church is free to carry out her mission as given to her by Christ, and that remains our focus.”

Clarke also paraphrased Blaire as believing that “the bishops lose their support when the conflict is seen as too political.”

  • So here we have conservative Bishops going against the agreement. So, not only do we have the right-wing’s in politics, but we have bishop’s who went on their own as right-wings. The heirarchy of the bishop’s realize they will loose followers with this kind of attitude and political mood. The bishop’s who took this action are the conservatives of the church that decided to go on their own and not the way of the Conference of Catholic Bishop’s. By doing so they have now made this a political issue in the election campaign, how sad that they got involved in politics like this……

  • Where has the Media been on this story? If the Church leaders are not united on going to court, this could be one of the major stories, if not the major story of this year particularly as it affects how Catholic might vote in November. The more strident Bishops may end up with a catastrophe on their hands.

  • SaneJane

    When a church’s agenda becomes political rather than religious they are treading on thin ice. They are campaigning for the Republican Party and there should be consequences attached to this breach.

    • Ed

      Yeah, like paying taxes on church property and income taxes for the clergy

    • jimackermann

      I have NEVER worshiped a President. I am a simple “Based On Results” kind of guy. I see Nixon shot down for doing wrong and a worship of Ted Kennedy who is essence is guilty of manslaughter and a love for Clinton who shoved a cigar into personal places of one of his charges, then lied, lied and lied again (The word Ïmpeachment” was all over the place. Any you people respect these “Leaders”.

      I have been “hoodwinked” twice by the Democrats. I voted once for Clinton and as much as I hate to admit it, I voted for Obama. That mistake will not be repeated.

      You speak of “Agenda”. I do believe thay you are agenda driven and have no concern for people of faith.

      I am not agenda driven; but I do look to protect the rights of Americans. Having the Federal Government tell the Catholic Church how to believe is to me just another sign of the arrogance that this President has. I am extremely close to becoming Agenda Driven. When that happens, I will become a dynamo to defeat the setting President.

      I am not a Catholic. I do however, (unlike you) respect their right to practice their faith in any way they wish to. How be that the the Federal Government can overide the beliefs of a faith. I guess it’s fine if you throw yourself at a mere flawed mortal.

      To Obama, the Catholic Church has been around a lot longer that you have. And they will be around when you are long gone. Why would suppose that you can tell them that what they are doing is wrong?

      I will answer my question with one word. ARROGANCE. He is so full of himself that he believes that he can dictate the tenants of a following of billions of people.

      And so it is today, the arrogance of a President to tell a church that the almighty master in Washington is much smarter and know what is best.

      It is my belief that they are standing up for what they believe in; just like you are. Though not born a Catholic, today I am one. I will stand with anyone’s beliefs. And by the way, today I am also a Jew. Even if our President won’t stand with Israel.

      And as for almost a trillion dollars added to the American debt, “Based on Results”, how did that work out.

      I am so looking forward to June, when the Supreme Court will rule on Obama Care. (And yes, I did notice that a bill that would change the economy of the the country, that no one had read, should be passed. And this is Democracy?)

      You are sliding down a “slippery slope”. Some day the Republicans will be in office and all the rules that Obama will be placed on you.

      • joyscarbo

        There is NO WAR on religion! And while you’re so disappointed by political leaders- who are not, by the way, in any way “religious leaders”- you seem to conveniently forget about the failing of the catholic church and many christian evangelical leaders as well.

        What about Evangelical minister, Jim Bakker? A sex scandal led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce.

        How about Jerry Falwell? His home was raided and pornography and drugs were found. He supported apartheid in Africa and was a raging racist and homophobe!!So much for his leading the “moral majority.”

        And now to the catholic church. Did you forget about the many priests who had been reported over several years to have sexually molested small children?! Did this institution of God notify the authorities to investigate, charge and convict these raping felons? NO. In fact, these criminal priests were harbored by the church and protected by those at the highest level of authorities in the catholic church- bishops, cardinals and even the Pope. The catholic church’s response was to move these priests from parish to parish so that they could molest and rape MORE children!!! Many of them are FREE today!! And they have the audacity to demand the women of their church to NOT take birth control? Really? The majority of catholic women already take birth control.

        How you can sit in judgement of our President, who has been not been accused of any crime and has only proven himself a good husband and father? He’s done his best with what was left of our country after Bush and his buddies left him. Our economy is slowing improving, NO thanks to republicans. Oh yeah…and Obama actually KILLED Osama Bin Laden when “W” said he wasn’t worried about the guy. Wasn’t it Bin Laden the guy who masterminded the 9/11 attacks?
        Oh yeah…and you forgot MANY more injustices perpetrated by republicans….
        What about the fake war Bush waged using FAKE intellegence? Remember that people died.
        What about Reagan and Bush, Sr giving weapons to Iran to make money to wage an illegal war in Nicaragua??
        Nixon’s sins seem trivial to his predecessors!!!

        You may not agree with Obamacare, but the architect of Obamacare was Mitt Romney. Ask Massachusetts. And that has nothing to do with religion. Your “religious right” and “conservative republicans,” which you seem to be convinced is doing the work of God is doing anything but!!!

        In fact, what would Jesus do? The life of Jesus Christ was protecting and caring for the poor, disadvantaged, elderly and disabled!
        The republicans will raise the taxes 60% to those making less than $20,000 per year!! Meanwhile, those making $1 million per year or more will get a 15% tax cut. Not very Christ-like.

        But don’t take MY word for it…

        What does the Holy Bible say about the rich?
        “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24).

        And what does the Bible say about the poor:
        Deuteronomy 15:7. “If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.”

        Who’s values better reflects these?

  • karlaw55

    Why in the world are people surprised that the bishops are getting involved in right wing politics? Please cite a time when the church hasn’t been involved in politics. From America to Poland to S. America, the church has always jumped into the fray when it suited their cause.

    • All the more reason to start taxing the church, if they pay taxes, then they have the right to weigh in, and engage in the political arena. Otherwise, they need to keep their mouths shut. The church can’t have it both ways.

  • ChristoD

    This is a tough one. Clearly the Pope has driven the church to be the most conservative posture in my lifetime but, there is a real issue vis-a-vis the Health Care law and contraceptives and basic church doctrine. Even though it is clear that the vast majority of Catholics use contraceptives, not using them is a cornerstone of the church. We have been taught that celebacy or ‘rhythm’ are the only acceptable means to avoid pregnancy and nothing else is permissable. I believe that the issue however, needs to be addressed between the church and its employees and not the Fed. If employees of the church choose to use the contraceptives coverage, then the chuch may be within its’ right to release them or possibly excommunicate them or both, I suspect. What is clear to me however, is that the church WANTS to pick a fight with the President. I base this on my attending Mass the Sunday after the church learned about the issues from HHS. It is my belief that the church took an unreasonable, and clearly premature, shot across the bow at the Fed. As a moderate Democrat I was literally outraged when a letter was placed in the Sunday bulletin AND read by the Pastor before Mass. My intital belief, which has been reinforced by actions taken by many Catholic Bishops across the US since then, is that they are treading on VERY thin ice vis-a-vis ‘church/state’ issues. It is my conviction that the political and religious right see this election as a clear opportunity to push their pro-life/anti-gay marriage positions via legislation IF the Republicans regain control of all three branches of he Fed. Forewarned is forearmed folks.

  • howa4x

    I wish they took that active an interest in child molestation by church clergy, which they were more intent to cover up then expose. That stain cast doubt of the bishops moral leadership. The really ironic thing is that the ultra right evangelical movement dislikes Catholics more than Mormons, so joining with them is strange. The chuch should get back to its core mission, helping the poor, runing hospitals and schools and stay away from the cynical nature of politics

  • Male_DV_Victim

    Time to take away their tax exempt status!!

  • ilady55

    Do not judge thus thee be judges. A group that judges and condemns other people and their choices should not cast the first stone. They, in fact, tried to hide their Pedophiles my moving them around to different churches. Causing more children to be hurt. That is the worst. Clean up your own house before making your demands on others.

  • As a Catholic, I would highly prefer the Church leadership would stop politicizing Church doctrine. It adds fuel to existing church related problems, and such political positions tend to discourage and divide active and passive Catholics.

  • Justin Napolitano

    Going to court. The last time I looked there was separation of church and state. The state has said that contraception, which is a legal and proscribed medical device, shall be a part of women’s health insurance and care should they desire it and or if their doctor recommends it. It does not say that women have to take contraceptives if they don’t wish because of religious beliefs nor does it say that Catholic institutions have to pay for such contraceptives. The state has simply said that a valid and essential drug needed and used by 98% of women, at some time in their lives, shall be a part of health insurance. No one is forcing women to do anything they don’t wish to do. But the Catholic church has decided that that is not enough and wants to force their religious bullsh* on women and tell them what they are allowed to do with their own health and bodies.
    I was raised a Catholic and I think the church has lost its direction and has moved to far to the right and interjected themselves into politics to the point that questions their tax exemption. If a church wants to be a political entity then they should pay taxes like all other tax payers.

  • Justin Napolitano

    Tax the Catholic church like all other businesses and the deficit will disappear. Also get rid of the tax deduction for contributions to Catholics institutions that have now become political organizations.
    I am offended by the Catholic church. Rise up women and stop letting men in dresses push you around!

  • joyscarbo

    Religion needs to stay out of politics. And politics needs to quit using religion to further their own agendas. I don’t see how or why so many “christians” are falling for the agenda of the right wing republicans. I don’t understand it. If condemning, damning and denying support to the poor, disadvantaged, elderly, disabled, women, children and homosexuals are core values of the church, then I won’t support the church.

  • joyscarbo

    I remember the 1980’s and 1990’s fondly. Why? Because my insurance paid for my birth control without confusing this with “religious freedom.”