Bishops hope to restart talks with White House over contraception mandate

Details:

The Catholic bishop leading the push against the White House’s contraception mandate says the bishops hope to restart contentious talks with the Obama administration, but cautioned that church leaders “have gotten mixed signals from the administration” and the situation “is very fluid.”

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who chairs the religious liberty committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Religion News Service that Catholics have to stay united if the hierarchy is to have any chance of prevailing in negotiations with the White House.

Ever since President Obama bowed to growing pressure and shifted the mandate to provide contraception mandate to insurance companies and away from religious employers, the White House has been hosting talks with various religious groups about a plan to modify the regulation.

Catholic institutions like hospitals, universities and social service agencies are most directly affected by the regulation because they are the biggest faith-based employers. They have also been much more amenable to the Obama accommodation than have the bishops.

Many bishops are upset with Catholic groups that have dealt independently with the administration, and some have also accused the administration of trying to divide the church.

“I think the hardest thing is that the administration deals with us in a segmented way,” said Lori, who has testified before Congress three times in opposition to the mandate.

“If there is really going to be a solution to things, we ought to all be in the room,” he said.

Lori said the bishops “do not have a monopoly on the church” but are nonetheless “responsible for a large part of how this works and for the Catholicity of all the institutions. So there ought to be an attempt to have an inclusive conversation with the Catholic Church, and not a segmented one. And I think that is in part why we are in a fairly unhappy spot right now.”

Lori and some 40 other leading bishops will meet in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 13-14) for discussions expected to focus on relations with the White House and, in particular, the contraception mandate.

Lori said that the bishops “are not looking for a fight with the administration.” The bishops, he said, “are painfully aware that it is awfully difficult, in an election year and in the culture we have now, to have that conversation” about birth control.

“Are we doing it perfectly? No, of course not. But that’s certainly our intent.”

Read more.

Comments

  1. I would think the Obama admin would want to restart talks with the bishops, but, either way works, I guess.

  2. This is a curious effort at a curious moment in history. Is Cardinal Dolan going to do the same with New York State, as the NY bishops have been paying for state-mandated contraceptive coverage since 2002? If not, then what’s the point of going after Obama?

  3. Might it be that one situation he inherited, but a new one he faces? Dunno.

  4. Ed,

    He inherited the situation in two ways:

    1. He arrived in New York seven years into the NY bishops paying for state-mandated contraception; so in that sense, yes, he inherited the NY situation.

    2. As the head of the USCCB, Cardinal Dolan presides over a body of bishops who have members in states such as NY that also mandate contraceptive coverage without religious exemption.

    This is a golden opportunity for the bishops to go after the state mandates as well. They’ll never have such an opportunity again.

  5. Good point.

  6. Never forget that the USCCB has never to my knowledge in their history had such a united front as on this issue. That also means that some of them while united, do not like being at odds with the Democratic Party when they preach in Democratic States. Many of them have made conscessions for years to actual Catholic teaching. I would suppose they are putting pressure on to find a way to peace.

    It is my hope that if they find a way, it ends with religious liberty being reestablished and not further damaged. The Bishops shoud also be aware that many on the Obama side have been bashing the Bishops authority in every way and that if they surrender, they do so with a loss of many who have tried to stay with them for years. This fallout, along with the further damage to religious liberty, should make a compromise very difficult for their future in the USA. They also have to face the fact that the Pope has not been happy with the Bishops not standing strong for the faith and liberty in this country for it has impacts around the world. Bishops have a tough job. They also need to be aware than any opening the door with precedent for the government to use for even worse evil in the future.

    It gets easier if one ties themselves to the solid teaching of the Catholic Church for in that you have Christ on your side and also have people willing to follow real leadership.

    We all need to pray for them and hope that God will help us find a way for the Church and the country.

  7. Mark, this is a serious question, not a snarky remark: what is your evidence that the Pope is unhappy with the US Catholic bishops over the state of religious liberty in the US? The Pope himself seems to have established a cordial relationship with President Obama.

  8. irishsmile says:

    I have difficulty accepting that the USCCB seriously believes that it has been in good faith negotiations with the White House over the Mandate. Today’s latest news story is that ‘Obamacare’ flat out funds abortion! The bishops have been lied to. The Kmiecs, Kehans, Pelosi’s, Sebeius crowd appears not to have a credible bottom line when assuring/reassuring the bishops. This requires a stronger response that Catholics in the pews signing petitions! The USCCB needs to deternmine the strongest response that can be made and do it before the church loses all credibility with Catholics inAmerica.

  9. Katie Angel says:

    The Church lost a lot of her credibility when she started advocating for specific laws to be enacted or overturned. At that point, she lost her voice as a moral compass and became just another lobbying group. This is not to say that she should not comment on the issues of the day – if fact, she should comment much more strongly than she does – but she should speak from the position of moral power and righteousness rather than getting involved with politics itself. Once the Church was seen as lobbying for or against bills being debated in the Congress, I think it became much less clear when she (and the Bishops) were speaking from moral authority as voices of God and when she (and the Bishops) were trying to pass or defeat a law.

    As an example – we need to speak out strongly and firmly on the sanctity of marriage and its role as the foundation of society, continuing to stand strong that marriage is between one man and one woman but we should not speak out in favor of DOMA specifically – to do so links us to the government and makes us appear as lobbyists and a special interest group. I believe this is one of the perception problems at the heart of the difficulty the Bishops are having in their conversations with the Obama administration. To the administration, the USCCB is a special interest group requesting relief from a law whereas to us, they are speaking out on an issue of morality and conscience.

  10. Bill Russell says:

    Catherine-
    In answer to your question: The Pope has increasingly been stepping his warnings about Obama’s threats to the Church and religious liberty.. The U.S. bishops would not be taking their strong opposition stand to Obama’s mandates without encouragement from the Holy Father. At the time of the imposition of the mandates, he spoke prophetically:

    WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops expressed praise and gratitude for the latest statement of Pope Benedict XVI on the need to protect religious liberty, which he delivered in an address January 19, to U.S. bishops gathered in Rome for their ad limina visits.

    “Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion,” said Pope Benedict. “Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

    “For bishops, the ad limina addresses are really a high point of the visits to Rome because the pope presents his pastoral vision to them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “Today Pope Benedict spoke eloquently and powerfully on the threats to the Church’s moral witness in public life.”

    “The bishops are thankful and encouraged by this most recent statement of the Holy Father on religious freedom,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chairman of the USCCB’s new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. “His words reflect the longstanding teaching of the Church, going back to the documents of the Second Vatican Council, that all people have a right not to be coerced to violate their religious beliefs.”

    “The pope urged all Catholics to recognize that a culture of secularism poses a direct threat to traditional American values of religious liberty and freedom conscience, and it is gratifying that he called upon the ‘engaged, articulate and well-formed’ laity to protect their right and the right of the Church to participate in the ‘public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society,’” said Philip Allen Lacovara, an attorney and consultant to the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

  11. Catherine says:

    I have been trying to find the news story that says that the health care reform pays for abortions. The only stories I can find are on right wing websites. These say that HHS regulations for the health care exchanges are imposing a “$1 abortion premium” per enrollee. To be honest, I am not sure that these stories are true — if they are, why do we find basically the same story on a bunch of ideological websites, but no real news reporting?

  12. Catherine says:

    Thanks, but the Pope doesn’t say he is unhappy with the American bishops — on the contrary, he notes that “many” of the U.S. bishops he was addressing have drawn attention to threats to religious freedom. I don’t see how much more vocal they could be than they have been in the past few weeks.

  13. Catherine says:

    I agree with you. I wonder if Catholic bishops in other countries have lobbying operations like the US bishops do. I tend to doubt it.

  14. Catherine says:

    OK, replying to myself here in order to post a link to what seems to be the source of all the other stories: http://www.lifenews.com/2012/03/12/obama-admin-finalizes-rules-1-abortions-in-obamacare/. To summarize my understanding of the rule, Americans who buy their insurance in state exchanges will get a choice of health care plans, rather as Federal employees do. They can choose plans that don’t cover abortion, in which case they do not pay anything towards abortion. They can choose plans that cover abortion, but, in that case, the rule provides that the purchaser will pay a separate fee, which the rule sets at $1 a month, to cover abortions. The rest of the insurance fee will be billed separately. Yes, this is an accounting gimmick — it certainly seems like $1 is a token fee so that it can be argued that abortion is being paid for separately. On the other hand, the stories that say “everyone” will be forced to pay the abortion premium don’t seem to be accurate.

  15. Catherine, how about their lack of teaching clarity regarding Humanae Vitae for the last 40+ years. If they had been the Shepherds they should have been over these many years, I dare say we would not find ourselves having this fight today. It is late, yet not too late. Prayer and sacrifice are what is needed now to bolster our Shepherds at this crucial time in our nations history.

  16. midwestlady says:

    If the Catholic church in this country ever gets real persecution, Catholics will be diving for the doorway out of the Church so fast you won’t believe it. We are weak, weak, weak and corrupt, corrupt, corrupt.

  17. midwestlady says:

    He has to have a publicly cordial relationship. They’re the heads of 2 different countries. It’s diplomacy.

  18. midwestlady says:

    Of course they have. We are an easy mark for political points. Since the child abuse scandals our reputation has been lower than dirt with the general population.

    Nevertheless, we have an opportunity here, of sorts. People respect people who stand up for what they believe. If we cave on this, our name is mud for the next 50 years, at least. We will be slime in the general population, and our bishops will be called everything in the book. Mark my words.

  19. midwestlady says:

    Catherine,
    Money is fungible. You pay a premium based on the cost of all the covered services. The fact that you have to pay an extra $1 is worse than just having to pay the premium that has abortion included in the services you’re paying for. It’s $1 more you have to pay that can be used for government spending. Wake up.

  20. midwestlady says:

    This is true. Sleep with the dogs get up with the fleas.

  21. midwestlady says:

    Correct. As big a problem as it is with Catholics, I should have heard homilies on contraception and abortion about once every 3 months, at least, since the early 1960s. Have you heard them. I haven’t.

  22. midwestlady says:

    Why? Does he need that politically? Think about it.

  23. midwestlady says:
  24. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-benedict-discusses-grave-threats-to-religious-liberty-with-u.s.-bishop/

    Here is part of it. Note that this discussion was with the Bishops from Washington DC and elsewhere in the region. I have two links. The second confirms this in case you see EWTN/CNA and is from the USCCB site..

    VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI warned today of a “grave threat” to religious liberty in the United States that requires American Catholics to respond with intelligence and courage.

    “It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States comes to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres,” he said Jan. 19 in an address to a group of American bishops visiting the Vatican.

    The Pope said he was particularly concerned with “certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion.”

    Pope Benedict’s address was delivered to the bishops from the Mid-Atlantic states region, which includes the Archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore. They are in Rome this week on their regular ad limina visit to discuss the health of the U.S. Church with the Pope and Vatican officials. The two bishops from the Archdiocese for the Military Services are also participating in the meetings.

    Pope Benedict said that over the past few days many of the bishops have expressed concern over attempts in the U.S. to “deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices.”

    Meanwhile, other bishops raised the “worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship” without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

    Here is the USCCB site. I was surprised this did not get a post from Deacon showing concerns of the Pope.

  25. midwestlady says:

    The US bishops doing their ad limina meetings as now, and this is the BIG topic. If you’ve been reading the statements coming out of those meetings, they’re getting read out for their poor performance, romanita style. It may be missed by many casual observers but you can see it if you read carefully & are aware of how romanita works. The bishops are aware of it. Trust me, if this whole thing wasn’t perceived as a problem, they’d be talking about something entirely different and much more academic in nature, like they usually do.

  26. midwestlady says:

    The UK, even though they’re not doing ad limina meetings, are getting the notice of the Holy See too. They’ve got a huge mess going on in the UK over homosexual “unions” and cross-wearing in public.

  27. Here is from the USCCB Secretariat of pro life activities showing concern on this new mandate of $1 to be forced onto everyone’s insurance for abortions.

    http://old.usccb.org/prolife/issues/healthcare/capps_102309.pdf

    This was the big debate that Bart Stupak allowed Obama to keep in the bill and to give them a fig leaf of the executive order which was a sham as everyone now admits. It holds not weight and thus this language is in the bill. Remember that Obama also gave the Bishops assurances that religious liberty would be protected as it always has been.

    Are you surpirsed the MSM is not covering this issue and creating the firestorm lie about this all being about birth control pills? It would seem like a story they would be attacking as lies on all the sites you call idiological if it wasn’t TRUE.

  28. That is what this is all about Katie and Catherine. What is happening here is a further attack on religious liberty. If this is not changed, we lose our rights given to us under the first amendment. One form of speech is to be able to have programs within our own religious organizations that meet our own religious concience. This is having the government come in and say that this right is now being changed and the government will tell you what you have to do in life as a faith orgainzation.

    Once they have that on the books and accepted, the government can then do whatever they want. the $1 buy in option can become a new mandated part of all insurance plans including those provided by religious organizations. it can mandate the Church furnish condoms for gay sex partners or killing grandma because she is too expensive.

    Frankly, even above religious freedom, this is a massive issue with all our freedom to have the federal government come in and tell you what product or service you have to purchase. The lie is exposed in that legally they are now calling this a tax for the battle in the supreme court which they did not want to do prefering to call it a required purchase of insurance. If the courts do not strick this down, we all become slaves to the next mandate which could well come in the future from a very conservative president using everything the left likes in this bill. How would that make you feel about giving the president this type of power then?

  29. Catherine, you seem to forget that the USA has something called the Constitution which is unique to this country and that Obama and all the congressmen took an oath to obey that document.

    That document gives the bishops and all of us some very special protection.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    They can lobby or petition or protest the actions of government. Government has a wall around it protecting religion from goverment in every way. Obama is prohibiting the free excercise of our Catholic faith. If this gets to the court before Obama backs down, I predict he will lose 9-0 like the other attack on religious liberty was recently ruled.

  30. Catherine, I can give you a number of quotes going back to when we was Cardinal Ratzinger. He is certainly putting an emphasis on the need for them to stand firm and united because this is a very important and essential issue around religious liberty. The Bishops being interviewed after this exchange made it clear that of the need to stay firm and united this time.

    But your comment wanted to convey that the Pope has a great relationship with Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth. His pushing the bishops very openly shows what that relationship is with Obama.

  31. midwestlady says:

    Correct. There are several issues that the Supreme Court will be tackling on the 26-28th of this month. The first of those is whether the fine for not buying insurance is a penalty or a tax. The law says it’s a penalty, very clearly, however, the administration says in their legal briefs that it’s a tax. But the administration’s budgeting department says it’s not a tax but a penalty. What it really can be classified as is enormously important to the Supreme Court case, and also to the re-election campaign.

    1. If it’s a penalty and not a tax, the Supreme Court can rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare immediately. If it’s a tax, they have to decide whether they can or not. (There’s an old post-Reconstruction law on the books about taxes that might be dragged out.)

    2. However, if the Supreme Court says it’s a tax, then the Obama campaign can be hit & hit HARD for egregious increases in taxation, particularly taxation on poor people. These fines are enormous.

    IN a sense, either way, we win. It will be better for us if the fine is considered a penalty and the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare or part of it, since the most questionable part legally is the individual mandate, but if they don’t we have the other alternative of defeating Obama at the polls.

  32. midwestlady says:

    BTW, based on the kinds of increases in the cost of insurance coverage that they saw in states that have universal insurance like this, the cost of insurance is going to be massive. The fine will also be massive. It’s hard to say which will be more expensive. I’m surprised people aren’t betting on it like a horse race; maybe they are; I don’t watch handicapping and so on.

    The poorest perhaps will be able to get government grants to cover the cost, which will make the insurance companies very rich, however, the working poor will probably not be able to do this. They will be absolutely destroyed financially. And then they will become poorest too. Therefore, the government gets more powerful, the Democratic party grows, and the insurance companies make an absolute windfall mint. See the picture?

  33. midwestlady says:

    It’s all about managing people to get them to shut up and obey, and regard the government (and the Democratic party) as their Savior, who gives them so many things, even life and health.

  34. midwestlady says:

    This is why we have to let the lesbian lady in Maryland issue go. Perhaps it’s a test case by someone to see what will fly here? Perhaps Cdl Wuerl, in his recent actions, is acting to divert attention from it because we’re on the HHS mandate thing and the re-election thing right now?

    This mess doesn’t need to get any bigger……

  35. midwestlady says:

    “Perhaps we should look to the president for the last word regarding whether the individual mandate constitutes a tax or a penalty. The Obama administration claimed in court in this case that the $750 penalty was a tax. This is a direct contradiction of what President Obama represented to the American people during consideration of the health care bill. In response to a question on ABC News from George Stephanopolous claiming the provision was a tax, Obama responded: “That’s not true, George,…[It] is absolutely not a tax increase.””
    http://ricochet.com/main-feed/ObamaCare-Tax-or-Penalty
    So which is it: A tax or a penalty?

  36. Catherine says:

    Midwest lady, I am awake, thought just barely. I could use more coffee. I know money is fungible, and I said that this rule is “an accounting gimmick.” However, I think we need to recognize that the extra premium will be paid by those who voluntarily select abortion coverage, not by every citizen who buys health insurance through the state exchanges. That insurance will be private, so the money does not go for “government services.” People will have a choice of policies, and won’t have to select one that covers abortion. I myself have long been reliant on employer coverage, now retiree coverage, and I get no choice of policy. That is the case for most Americans, I believe, so the people buying through the exchanges will have the luxury of choice in this matter, and others. This is why I find the stories appearing on various websites to be inaccurate. They imply that every citizen will be forced to pay an abortion premium under the Affordable Care Act, which is not the case. In debates like these, I think we should be careful to stick to the truth. I also think, as another commenter said above, that the bishops should be dealing with this and other issues as evangelizers, not as lobbyists parsing legislation.

  37. Catherine says:

    I don’t forget it at all. I’m sure the system will take care of this problem, whether in the courts or elsewhere. On the other hand, the Church in this country has gotten very involved in lobbying on the federal and state level, and has been the beneficiary of way too much government money. I vividly recall sitting in church some years back, listening to a letter from our then Cardinal which asked that we all lobby to overturn cuts in our state budget. I would suggest that what the Cardinal should have said is “we are going to lose government funding for our charities, and your taxes will be cut, so I need you to dig deep to help the needy.” Similarly, at another Mass, we were all given cards and told to fill them out to lobby for private school vouchers. I think that the perception that the USCCB is the bishops’ lobbying arm has helped create the situation we are in.

  38. Deacon John P. Coffey says:

    President Obama is an unrepentant disciple of Saul Alinsky, the Marxist socialist who seduced Catholic Parishes in Chicago to prostitute classic Catholic social justice to the aims of class warfare. Following his mentor and the guidelines of Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” the President has surrounded himself with the quislings of our community, pro-abortion Catholics like Kiemec, Pelosi, Sebelius, and Biden. Biden, to his credit at least tried to warn the President against a war of constitutional religious liberties. President Obama is also a disciple of the racist Margaret Sanger, who opened her first birth control clinic in Harlem and said: “We do not want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” True , the American have been weak in the past, but if we do not fight for our religious liberties, the Obama adminsitration will move to taake away other liberties.

  39. Catherine says:

    I didn’t say they had a great relationship, but I think it is cordial, and I would bet that the Pope does not want the Catholic Church to be a political football in the U.S. That’s not the way he approaches things. I think he wants the bishops to evangelize their own people. I also think he realizes that the abuse scandal has been a millstone around the neck of the U.S. Church, and an impediment to getting people to listen to the Church on moral issues, which is why he made such efforts to clean things up both before and after he became Pope.

  40. Bill Kelly says:

    The Catholic Church is weak and spineless when it comes to our Political Leaders. All relegious in the Catholic Church should be encouraging the congregation to vote this heathen out of office and all his lying Catholic staff. We need to elect people who will not only stand up for the Catholic Church but for ALL faiths. Stop holding the presidents hand and making nice. The church does not need to tell people who to vote for, just be sure that the entire church knows who we DON”T want in office.

  41. I have heard loads of sermons on abortion, but I don’t remember any on contraception, and I’ve been around a long time. What I would like to hear is more sermons on why people should go to confession regularly. That, along with good confessors, would take care of a world of problems.

  42. midwestlady says:

    Catherine,
    Your insurance policy may already cover abortions, many do. Also, the economics of the situation that Obamacare has set up are such that the exchanges are designed to run the regular policies out of business. Here’s a description of just one of the dynamics causing this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2011/12/12/obamacare-mandate-kicking-insurance-agents-to-the-curb/

    In addition, government health mandates concerning communication of information & standardization of methods in Obamacare will cause the cost of insurance to increase dramatically. Don’t expect that you will be able to keep your insurance indefinitely, and don’t expect the price to stay stable. It’s not going to do so.

  43. midwestlady says:

    And in fact, there are many challenges in the courts at various levels against Obamacare. Some of them use existing laws on privacy rights to challenge Obamacare, which has aggressive & intrusive information policies in it.

  44. midwestlady says:

    It’s not about contraception. It hasn’t been about contraception since the beginning. It’s just being spun that way to drag in more people and create a lot of confusion. It’s easier to set up ill will and controversy with a lot of confusion and that’s exactly the strategy the administration is using.

    Obamacare is really about a dramatic increase in government intrusion into our lives, for the purpose of getting more people onto the government payroll and making more people dependent on government. It is the belief by some in government that people on government assistance are more likely to vote for Democrats to protect their monthly checks. It’s an old attitude from the 60s.

    We also have a lot of governmental utopians who think that force is the best way to make society run.

  45. midwestlady says:

    Trying to directly usurp the Catholic network of charities is another way to create direct government dependency. This is one of the reasons why we have the HHS mandate directed against Catholics. Note that the Amish got a complete exemption. But they don’t do the “faith-based” programming that we do; they don’t have a network of hospitals, schools and so on like we do. For them, everything is handled locally; they are no immediate threat to governmental utopians who think centralization and force are the way to run a society.

  46. midwestlady says:

    I’ve heard very few homilies on abortion, and none on contraception. BTW, Catholics don’t call them “sermons.” We call them “homilies.”

  47. midwestlady says:

    The church is not a political football in the US because we willed it. It has happened because we have been attacked by the current presidential administration and the Democrats.

  48. midwestlady says:

    Correct. And that’s the job of faithful Catholics like you and I. This persecution of religious membership needs to stop now. This country was founded as a haven from religious persecutions. This is why the very first article in the Bill of Rights contains prohibitions against the erection of a government religion, and protection for religious rights.

  49. midwestlady says:

    Correct.

  50. midwestlady says:

    It will be in the interest of private companies to drop their employee coverage, and also their retiree coverage once Obama really gets going, if it doesn’t fall in the Supreme Court.
    There is also the possibility that only part of Obamacare will fall in the Supreme Court, and no one really knows what will happen in that event.
    I wouldn’t plan on having that comfy retiree insurance plan for longer than a couple more years if I were you. The price is also going to start going up soon, and that price increase will certainly be passed onto you because neither your former employer nor insurance company is going to absorb it.

  51. midwestlady says:

    Job one: Pray that the Supreme Court takes down Obamacare.
    Job two: Pray & work to get a new president in office, any one else than the one we have now, who victimized us.

  52. Catherine says:

    Midwestlady, I’m writing to reply to your various replies to me on this thread. I don’t have a cushy retiree policy — my employer has been cutting back for a few years, for reasons that have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. I’m lucky I retired when I did, because the following year, my employer ended retiree coverage entirely, and now just gives everyone an inadequate lump sum. I have colleagues who have been let go since then, have seen their health insurance run out, and have no hope of retiree coverage to tide them over until they are eligible for Medicare. You seem to be very strongly opposed to the Affordable Care Act for reasons that have nothing to do with abortion. I worked in health care policy for decades, spending a lot of time studying foreign systems, and I support the ACA. I’m also a longtime Republican. I think the ACA is likely to improve our healthcare system, so we will have to agree to disagree. I do want the contraception mandate changed to allow Catholic organizations to act on their conscience.

  53. Catherine says:

    Midwestlady, I don’t seem to be able to reply to the remark above where you say that Catholics don’t say “sermon” — I’m a Catholic who dates back to pre-Vatican II days, and I’ve heard plenty of Catholics use the term “sermon.” I have certainly heard homilies on abortion, many times.

  54. This is just to say thank you to Catherine for being such a sane, articulate voice here. There is tremendous fear-mongering on both sides of this issue, and it ends up feeling extremely, uncomfortably partisan. I admire you for trying to steer a path guided by the facts and not the fear.
    Those who are urging the bishops to be a voice of conscience rather than a lobbying group have the right idea, I think. As midwestlady says below, if you like down with dogs, you will get fleas.
    Politicians are driven by political concerns, and when the bishops align themselves with specific politicians and against others (rather than for or against principles), faith takes a distressing slide towards ideology.
    Just my view – I realize that others may not agree.

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