« National Journal Blog - 14 February, 2012 | Main | "Brewed by Starbucks" »

14 February 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Pat I do not doubt that Cardinal Dolan will go to the mat on this issue. The President clearly miscalculated the reaction of the Church to this matter; the compromise which was proffered and immediately rejected by the Church, would have caused little blowback for Obama if offered in the beginning. As for the Catholic Church they would have found little support. Now the Church is in the driver seat.
Messers Mathews and Dionne may speak for a majority of American Catholics, however they badly misread the resolve of the church and its leadership to bring the American church in line with Rome.


I suspect that train has left the station. As I said before, this election will be about war and peace and specifically Israeli efforts to start a war between Iran and the US. It will also be about not impeding the economic recovery.

I am sure there will be plenty of side issues cropping up now and then, but I don't know if a rather important one will, which is what will happen with China?

I am happy to see that the discussion will continue, although I doubt much more can be said that has not already been said.



"I doubt much more can be said that has not already been said."

Sure there is. Wait until the Republicans decide to run even more on the issue of federal government coercion of religions and Obama's secret "kufr." pl

r whitman

A very basic question needs to be discussed. Are birth control pills recreational drugs or health issue drugs? Should they be considered in the same class as cosmetic surgery, orthodontia, Viagra and Cialis. Is our thinking about chemical birth control twisted by social propaganda.

The concept that a religious institution can and will interfere in peoples sexual behavior also needs to be considered although adherents submission to the organization is voluntary.

Morocco Bama

Santorum's soaring in the polls coincides with this contraception debate, so pl makes a good point. Could it be coincidence? Sure, but it could also be partly a result of this debate and people suddenly find Santorum more palatable without fully understanding why.

By the way, and I'm not being a kiss ass by saying this, I agree with pl's take on this.

FYI, I'm a former Catholic.

Yellow Dog

I would like to quibble a bit with your political analysis.

Certainly I do agree that there will be quite a number of faithful Catholics who will choose not to vote for Mr. Obama because of his "attack" on the Mother Church, but I suspect that many of these would not be inclined to vote for Mr. Obama anyway. For those that were, the recent "concession" may provide them with a way to rationalize a vote against the extremism of the Republican field.

On the other hand, I'd suggest that the greatest threat to Mr. Obama's re-election aside from the economy is the apathy of the young people who overwhelmingly supported him in 2008. I can't imagine anything that could motivate these voters more than the now explicit goal of the Bishops and their Republican allies to limit access to contraception. Unless the Obama team is both blind and stupid, that is.


I think the bishops and the republican leadership are badly misunderstanding the state of American opinion, and even the opinion of their bases. Gallup's polling suggests there has been no change of opinion on Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and Birth Control, even among Catholics.


Abortion is a widely contested issue. Birth control is not, even among many people holding strongly pro-life positions. This violates the conscience of Catholic bishops; it violates the conscience of very few Catholics, and again, I'm not convinced these are synonymous formations.

I know things got heated in the last discussion. But as I said, only 2 percent of Catholic women follow the bishops' teachings on birth control. This either means the highlands are cleared in order to make room for true Scotsmen--or, to put it another way, there are almost no "women" who are also "true" Catholics, and also, almost all Catholic men are involved in sexual relationships that aren't sanctioned by the Church, which means, there are very few true Catholic men. Or it means that the Church's teaching is irrelevant to the way the communion lives on this particular topic; that these are bishops without a congregation, on this issue.

And as I also said in the last post: I teach at a Jesuit Catholic University. Our healthcare plan already offers birth control. It would come as a very great surprise to the Jesuit who is our president, or the various Jesuits on the faculty and the administration, to learn that they are not Catholics, because they do not follow the Bishops' teachings. Catholicism is larger than its bishops, even if the bishops do not wish this to be so.


Yawn. Various groups of 'conservative' bishops have been periodically doing this since I was an altar boy in the 60's and so many of them opposed the reforms of those years. They know many of them are getting old, this pope was essentially a compromise and the next is not likely to share their views so this is their 'last hurrah' so to speak. I doubt it will be any more successful than any of their other initiatives.

The contraception game is settled. 98% of Catholic woman have used them at some point in their lives. They're not going to quit and they aren't leaving the church. You can see it in the story of two churches in my area. My 95 year old mother in law lives with us and is very devout. She likes to go on Saturday evening so someone in the family - either myself, my wife or one of our daughters makes themself available. Her hometown church (where my wife and daughters went to school) has a hard line priest haranging the parishoners on this subject. It's increasing full of illegals and is constantly looking for money (the girls won't go there). Our hometown church (about 10 miles away where my graddaughter goes to school) has a different type of priest and the place is overflowing with people - many of them young adults. It also has enough money.

The bishops have already lost and Obama was wise to bring this up in the campaign.

As for your assertion that the Republicans will run on the issue of federal coercion this has already been decided in the courts which is the reason 28 states have more onerous rules than Obama proposed. The majority opinion was written by Scalia who noted that generally applicable law is not subject to religious freedom. He said that if the country were to allow such a foolish thing then every man would be a law unto himself. Next we'll have citizens refusing to pay part of their taxes due to religious objections to all sorts of federal actions. That's a system thtat's doomed to failure.

The solution to this problem is not to follow the line of thinking of a group of bishops (it must have really irritated that group to finally admit Galileo was correct) but to take the health care problem out of the hands of employers and go to a single payer system where people have ownership of their own health care insurance.


A renegade bishop can e foundto sonsecrate the first of their bishops.

Are you suggesting a schism à la Lefèbvre? Maybe they can call it the "society of Alexander IV"?

I'm not sure why exactly "Rome" would oppose the latest version of the proposal. How is that different from European religious-affiliated organizations that pay taxes to a national health care system (which usually provides not just contraception, but abortions)?

Morocco Bama

I'm confused by your line of reasoning, tompaine. You say "Catholicism is larger than its bishops, even if the bishops do not wish this to be so." That implies that Catholicism is whatever the parishioners, in the aggregate, would like it to be. If not, where is the arbitrary line that you imply, drawn? All that being said, I'm sure the Bishops, being the business men that they are, don't want to lose too many of their paying customers, so they will only push this so far in that respect. Right now, though, I believe they're playing the odds. Most Catholics aren't going to leave the fold over this, and if the Bishops felt they were going to, they would quickly change their tune.

Oh, and contraception is not a women's health issue, and pregnancy is not unhealthy. If the secularists are going to argue this, that's a ridiculous argument to make, and rather insulting to all the women who see pregnancy as something wonderful and a privilege.


I have been inside the Catholic Church at the large Diocesan level. I can tell you one thing you can take to the bank. A politician does not want to really piss it off... I have witnessed first hand where it has influenced the outcomes of elections.

Bad read by the Obama Administration. Even Joe Biden warned of this....



You know as well as I do that Catholic institutions, such as Catholic Charities, Colleges and Universities and the Universal Church are two different entities are run and managed very differently. While a university can provide the coverage basically because it not all inclusive to the faith and in reality has a broken line of reporting to any Bishop, especially if its of a religious affiliation such as the Jesuits, who really take their orders from Rome. But now imagine those Church entities that are exclusive to the faith? That is a real live wire and problem here.



This is much more than a bunch of conservative Bishops going off the reservation....



Rome has little patience these days for the "wanderings" of the Society of Jesus. If their attitudes are as reported by Tompaine then they will, at some point, find the black pope talking about this to the real pope. pl


Agreed Colonel. But I will include that I believe Rome is at its melting point with the American Church in its entirety... The Orders? They have been given a ton of flexibility. But I believe Dolan will be coming back loaded for bear...



How could he not be? Do the neo-Lutherans here think Benedict is counseling surrender to the lay authority? If the bishops do not have teaching authority within church connected institutions then the Church as we have known it is finished in the US. That appears o be the goal in this. pl

Morocco Bama

You have to love those Jesuits, don't ya? Honestly, though, I did like many of them. A great many of them really get outside the box...and they challenged me to do the same. I'll never forget my first undergrad theology course where Father Viscardi (he was a real lady's man) told us "we're going to help you challenge your faith, and you will either lose it, or be a stronger Catholic." Of course, he left out one option, and that was most couldn't care less and basically skated through the "challenge" and have remained "Catholic" to this day. They didn't lose their faith because there was no faith, but yet they're still considered by their religious peers to be "Catholic" because they appear to be, and because they espouse to be.

My wife and I, well, we lost our faith, and I don't begrudge the Jesuits for that, but rather I thank them. They have freed me from my previous bondage and allowed me to pursue lines of thought and reasoning that previously would have been anathema and heretical. I believe I better for it.


On the contrary, those "Church entities exclusive to the faith" always had an exemption under Obama's proposed rules. The bishops and republican leadership have deliberately tried to elide the difference between "churches and church-affiliated institutions," as though the rules applied equally to both. Churches, monastic orders, nunneries, etc, were never required, at any step of this process, to provide contraceptives; always at issue was whether Catholic Universities would be required to do so.

Moreover, Marco Rubio's new language argues for an exemption *for all employers,* regardless of religious affiliation or secular/sacred status, allowing them to withhold any coverage that violates the management's "conscience." They're raising the ante: according to this logic, Hassan Q. Public, employer of 5000 men and women at his firm, will now be able to deny any coverage that allows women to visit male doctors; and to deny any coverage that allows men and women to visit the same waiting room or hospital facility. What's good for the Rome is good for Mecca. I will very much enjoy watching Mitch McConnell defend the constitutional right for all employers to impose Sharia if the CEO so chooses.


I'm not sure I have an answer for you, on your first point, Morocco Bama. I don't know where that line is drawn--and it isn't much my business to draw that line. I'm simply *observing* the fairly profound disconnect between what the Church hierarchy teaches on some things, and how those teaches are interpreted, lived, and experienced among self-described Catholics. And as far as I can tell, the bishops haven't always acted as rational agents, with the best interests of broadening their communion, and keeping "paying customers" in the fold. The episcopate did tremendous harm to its standing and moral authority with its handling of the sexual abuse scandals, here and in Ireland, over the last three decades; it seemed much more interested in maintaining its authority over an ever shrinking pool of dead-enders, than in genuinely dealing with the problems confronting it.

I think this contraception argument has a similar demographic purchase. It plays well among hard-core true believers; it ensures there will be many fewer hard-core true believers later.

scott s.

Maybe you should check out "The Jesuits" by Malachi Martin.


Colonel... Agreed ..You know as well as I do that the Bishops do have teaching authority with in Church connected institutions. But the USCCB is so conflicted its not funny. I do now also believe that Rome is now sending Dolan in as its enforcer to make its point.


If the GOP wants to add contraception to the long list of things they do not like, they are welcome to it. The Supreme Court ruled about 20 years ago that the State can make demands regardless of religious objections and prevail. Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the majority.

I still maintain that there will be more important issues dominating this election and I doubt a majority of voters will find any religious persecution by the government.


No, it isn't. Why did they not 'go off the reservation' when 28 states implemented similar rules? Why did they not 'go off the reservation' when Scalia shot them down in court? Why did they not 'go off the reservation' when European health care systems implemented similar rules? That crowd couldn't even get off their reservation when all of these pedophiles were found in their midst. In fact, most of them are the same crowd that tried to cover for the pedophiles.

As a Catholic I'm thankful to Obama for showing all the world the hypocrisy of that crowd. The sooner they're gone the better.


LOL. Rome needs the offerings of those 98% of Catholic women who have used contraceptives to pay off the victims of the pedophilia in its midst. Dolan will be sent packing before Rome allows him to run all those women and thier husbands off.

Tim Vincent

More Obama talking points.
Twist the discussion around to birth control.

This whole mess is one more nail in the coffin of freedom.
Or, where is "mandate" mentioned in the Constitution?
By what authority does a bureaucrat decide what type of insurance coverage a private employer offers (and pays) for their employees?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

May 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad