Bishops to ‘Bam: “Nice first step…” -UPDATED

Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia has it:


*New opportunity to dialogue with executive branch, obtain details :::

*Too soon to tell whether and how much improvement on core concerns:::

*Commitment to religious liberty for all means legislation still necessary:::

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

Emphasis mine. The USCCB is signaling that it is not backing down and that while the Obama administration spends the next months (up to and perhaps past the election) finalizing the language of this new “accommodation” the bishops expect to have input. This is a game of chess and they’re studying their next move.

Essentially Dolan has said, “yes, we see you have made a move; we acknowledge that you have engaged. That is a good first step.” Now, it’s going to get interesting. Right after Dolan gets back from Rome! :-)

And scholars and the universities are not fooled.

And so the story is not over, and no matter how much time and effort the mainstream media, the democrats and some of your own Catholic friends tries to tell you otherwise — it is not over. It is just going to recede to the backburners in the minds of many, while pressure is applied here and squeezes are put there.

We need to pray for our bishops in this time. And for the president, too, that his heart will be turned. They’re all certainly under pressure.

In particular, pray for Archbishop Dolan who is the head of the USCCB, and in the midst of all this is heading to Rome, for his elevation to Cardinal.

UPDATE Having had time to study the President’s move, the Bishops have issued a second statement: USCCB to Obama: Rescission of mandate only complete solution.

Too bad it’s a Friday night:

*Regulatory changes limited and unclear:::
*Rescission of mandate only complete solution:::
*Continue urging passage of Respect for Rights of Conscience Act:::

[The President] has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty. . .

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. . .But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services. [Emphasis mine]

We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.

Te-Deum blog has lots more including excerpts from what appears to be a leaked internal memo

But I’ll let you go find out what it says, for yourselves.

UPDATE II: “We were getting killed” – the inside story of the “accommodation”

For more check out The Shell Game and the Magical Thinking!

More Catholic reactions to today’s drama: in a roundup, here.

At Bad Catholic: A coolness that will be short-lived

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