We don’t need no stinking Bishops! – UPDATE

I guess this is like “smart” diplomacy, right? If you need to affirm your special relationship with the United Kingdom you ship back the bust of Winston Churchill, and if you are having trouble with Catholic bishops, you go talk to…anybody but Catholic bishops.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the Obama administration plans to issue a rule “in the near future” on its compromise plan on contraception coverage and is meeting with insurers, clergy and health leaders to get feedback on how to make it work.

“We’ve begun outreach. I have talked to Catholic health leaders, I’m reaching out to priests. We’re also talking to union leaders, we’re talking to our partners at labor who run the self-insured plans to figure out a strategy,” Sebelius told reporters at a conference in D.C. on Tuesday.

Okay, so that means they’re basically talking to Sr. Carol Keehan and, probably, some Jesuits. But they’re not talking to the bishops.

And, for some reason, they’re talking to self-insuring unionistas who — as Thomas Peters notes, “have had their self-insured plans exempted form Obamacare’s mandates through special favors and waivers, at the same time as a huge number of Catholic dioceses and employers who also self-insure are required to follow the mandate” — but they’re not talking to the bishops.

Amazing. I wonder how much longer the charade goes on. We’ve known since early 2009 that the concept of conscience means nothing to this president who is much more interested in asserting power, sidestepping the constitution and acquiring more power.

This thing has been a game from the start, one put in play last November when Mrs. Pelosi let slip about “this conscience thing” that Catholics bother the government with. It’s a game, but it’s one they want to win, and one we can’t afford to lose.

And this is why they’re not interested in talking to the Bishops:

“Only in the post-mandate world might it be considered ‘liberal’ for the government to coerce people into violating their religious beliefs; to justify that coercion based on the minority status of those beliefs; to intrude into the internal affairs of religious organizations; to crush out religious diversity in the private sector; and to incentivize religious groups to serve fewer of the needy.”

Yeah, they don’t want to hear it. They just want to get enough names and bodies for the photo-op.

When they did the “doctors meet Obama in Rose Garden to support Obamacare” staging, the White House at least supplied the lab coats for the photo. I wonder if this time they’ll supply their endorsers with miters, surplices and pectoral crosses?

I’m just saying.

Meanwhile, prepare to see “freedom of religion” defined down to “freedom of worship”

UPDATE: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh writes:

The Administration’s intrusive decision about what does and does not constitute religious ministry should make every American pause. What falls after freedom of religion? Freedom of the press? Will Caesar tell you what you have to print or air?
[…]
The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution makes freedom of religion the “First Freedom.” The Founding Fathers stressed that this freedom was sacred. George Washington in 1789 wrote to an annual meeting of Quakers that “The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be extremely accommodated to them.”

Certainly our government, wise as it is, can’t be expected (and shouldn’t purport) to know everything. It might well ease its burdens by leaving some things to the Almighty and rendering unto God the things that are God’s.

Sister Mary Ann is not out of line wondering about this administration and the future of the freedom of the press, and even the New York Times notes it

Related: Is Obamacare a contract killer?

More on that From Ed Morrissey

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About Elizabeth Scalia