Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not following suit

Bishop Blaire of Stockton
The count is up to 44 Dioceses joining the lawsuit against the Health and Human Services Department for the mandate that religious entities carry insurance for contraception, sterility treatments and abortifacients. The lawsuit seeks to protect religious liberty and the freedom of conscience.

The Diocese of Jackson has joined in the suit.

A priest of the Diocese was a bit perplexed as to what the gain in the suit was for us. I personally was a bit surprised as the administration of the diocese follows the Federal and State grant heavy, Catholic Charities and tends to be more favorable to the initiatives of the left. So, I wondered what we were up to as well.

It seems there are more asking the same question.

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton (Ca) proposes another measure of engaging the Obama administration. He was profiled in a current edition of America Magazine online:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is not a party to the lawsuits. Several were filed initially by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the most recent suits have been brought on behalf of 44, so far, Catholic dioceses, universities and other entities in 12 different federal jurisdictions in coordination with pro bono attorneys from the law firm of Jones Day.
Bishops Blaire acknowledged that “there is a concern among some bishops that there ought to have been more of a wider consultation” regarding overall strategy on the religious liberty question. “And I say that with some hesitation,” he added, “because the California bishops very strongly support whatever action has to be taken to promote religious liberty.
“The question is what is our focus as bishops and that we have opportunity to clarify our focus and that we are all in agreement on focus.” He said some bishops appear to be speaking exclusively on the mandate itself “that it is imposed … as a violation of [individual] conscience."
He said there are other bishops who see the crucial question as the religious liberty of the church itself and its freedom “to exercise her mission through her institutions.” He added, “I think that it’s important that there be a broader discussion of these issues [at the June U.S. bishops meeting in Atlanta]” so that U.S. bishops can clarify their message “and not allow it to be co-opted.”

The article also includes some suspicion of partisan politics:

Bishop Blaire believes discussions with the Obama administration toward a resolution of the dispute could be fruitful even as alternative remedies are explored. He worried that some groups “very far to the right” are trying to use the conflict as “an anti-Obama campaign.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops
More interesting are the comments to the article:
1.The suit is pre-mature. The government is still accepting comments on the regulations.
2.The Obama administration demonstrated it's interest in reaching some accommodation.
3.The hierarchy should use diplomacy and negotiate rather than pontificate.
4.The abortion issue is the best thing that ever happened to the  Republican party and  the only gain has been to swing Catholic votes into the Republican column and help defeat the Democrats on social justice issues like the minimum wage which the Republicans consistently vote against raising although it is not near a living wage.
5.For a Church that took about nine years and a lot of  acrimony and wrangling to change a few word in the mass and then come up with 'consubstantial' for little girls in their white communion dresses to recite, leaves little room for optimism. Posted By Ernest C. Raskauskas,Sr. | Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:31:39 PM

Since I am not (nor have plans to ever be) a subscriber to America Magazine Online, I can't get into a semi-troll war with Mr. Raskauskas. I will try to make a few points to his points:
1. The suit may be premature but I am not so sure if "accepting comments" is what will change the mandate. Unless Joe Biden comes out on Sunday and says, "Hey, I'm comfortable with Catholics being exempt from giving out birth control and abortion-inducing drugs", I don't see "comments" as helpful.
2. Dubious. Or at least it was cloudy. When Notre Dame who <3 Obama much comes out with a lawsuit, I think there's no accomodating.
3. The hierarchy negotiates all the time. The USCCB's opus, Faithful Citizenship is a masterwork of  negotiation and is summed up as the bishops teling the faithful ," Eh,welp, whaddyagonnado?"
4. Abortion is also a social justice issue. It's a shame that the Dems use abortion as a platform or orthodox Catholic voters would go over in a heartbeat. Did I mention Faithful Citizenship?
5. You went there? And it didn't take 9 years. It took almost 40. So...yeah.

I hate election years.