California Catholic bishop: Church getting co-opted by political right

Ted S. Warren AP Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks … Continued

Ted S. Warren


Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks in Bellevue, Wash., on June 15.

Are America’s Catholic bishops getting co-opted by the political right?

One day after a group of bishops sued the Obama administration over a mandate for employers to provide contraception coverage, a California bishop says he and some other bishops are worried that the church’s campaign against the mandate is becoming too political and could hurt the Catholic Church.

Bishop Stephen Blaire, of Stockton, Calif., said in an article in America, a left-leaning magazine published by the Jesuits, that a wider range of views need to be heard when the bishops meet next month in Atlanta. Said Blaine:

The article added that Blaine is “worried that some groups ’very far to the right’ are trying to use the conflict as ‘an anti-Obama campaign.’”

Thus far leading bishops have attempted to present a united front in their campaign against what they call a government assault on religious liberty. Church culture frowns on “brother bishops” criticizing one another, so it’s been hard to glean what the real range of views are. Thirteen of the country’s 195 dioceses were involved in the lawsuits filed Monday, as well as some prominent universities from across the Catholic spectrum.

Several key leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Cardinal Tim Dolan of New York and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, have made the religious liberty issues their top current priority. They have focused heavily on the mandate, which requires most employers to provide coverage of reproductive services, whether directly or by requiring their insurance companies to do so.

“The Catholic Church has not picked this fight,” Wuerl wrote in an op-ed for Wednesday’s Washington Post. “We are simply trying to defend our — and other faith groups’ — long-standing rights. While the administration wants to regulate religion, we are not trying to force anything on anyone.”

It’s unclear how far dissent over this issue will go. A recent editorial in archdiocese’s newspaper, criticized America magazine for not focusing enough on traditional marriage and not hewing more closely to priorities of the bishops’ conference.

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  • tony55398

    Finally a Bishop with common sense! It’s good to hear the other side for a change. The Church should not be turned into a political organization targeting whomever, it pleases.

  • PhilyJimi

    Just take away the church’s tax exempt status! That will stop all of this nonsense in it’s tracks.

    Why does the church’s religious view trump the religious rights of an individual to not have the religious views of a religious their employer/institution imposed on them? The short answer is we are all protected from having to bend the knee to any god or gods we don’t want to worship. If you’re a public/private business that employees people from the general public but happen to be owned by a religious organization then there are no special rules for that business.

  • usapdx

    The American RC bishops are always speaking on political matters that is why the US CONGRESS must repeal the TAX EXEMPT LAW or rewrite it to keep these bishops out of political matters other wise they can have their diocese file their income with the IRS and then have their total freedom of speech. Why should groups with large incomes and assets be tax exempt with this national debt of $15 TRILLION?

  • amelia45

    What the bishops and, evidently, the Republicans, don’t want to tell anyone is that employers have been essentially mandated to provide contraceptives since year 2000. The EEOC issued a regulation that year that required employers of more than (I think) 15 employees to include contraceptives in health insurance if other preventative medications or procedures were included in health insurance. The issue to the EEOC is to assure that women’s health issues are covered when men’s health issues are covered.

    The U.S. government has been involved in assuring access to contraceptives for low income women since 1970, under Title X. Since 1970, 26-28 states mandated contraceptive coverage in health insurance prescription drug benefit, just as states began to mandate coverage for women’s breast exams and mammograms.

    The result of Title X, the 1978Pregnancy Discrimination Act, actions by state regulators, and the year 2000 EEOC regulation, is that by year 2010 something like 98% of employees who received health insurance from their employers had coverage of contraceptives. Survey after survey has shown that something like 98% of women use contraceptives sometime during their child bearing years – and that includes something like 70%-90% of Catholic women.

    It is not just women using contraceptives that are at issue. It is families, husbands and wives together, who make the decision to use contraceptives to determine when they will have children and how many children they will have.

    As a Catholic, I believe that the decision of Catholics and non-Catholics regarding contraceptives must be a decision of individual conscience. That ultimate authority each of us has must not be undermined by economic coercion of an employer who refuses to include contraceptives in health insurance. Even more fearful, to me, is that if an employer can claim that the portion of pay an employee receives in benefits cannot be spent on contraceptives the employee may also choose to forbid an empl

  • farkel44

    Of course when the thousands of Social Justice Sistas cry and whine, march with Acorn, and pass monies within the spider web of professional non-profits….it’s not political. America Magazine…. of course is not political . Wink, wink… and how is saying that you think Obama’s mandate is more unlawful from the aspect of the church as a whole than individual liberties? That warrants the Headline place above the article?

  • farkel44

    …The article added that Blaine is “worried that some groups ’very far to the right’ are trying to use the conflict as ‘an anti-Obama campaign.’”….
    — And others including the author may try to use comments out of context to create a conflict out of whole cloth for a Pro-Obama campaign.

  • persiflage

    ‘Thus far leading bishops have attempted to present a united front in their campaign against what they call a government assault on religious liberty.’

    Regular assault on personal liberties has been an integral part of the Catholic Church agenda since the days when Gnostics and other ‘heretics’ were being persecuted in the early centuries of Christianity. The variously named Inquisitions were all about severe punishment being levied on Church dissenters.

    This ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy is part and parcel of
    Vatican thinking – which is being parlayed into political wedge issues by the American Bishops Council.

    The GOP completely understands the authoritarian mindset – and will manipulate any group that demonstrates sympathetic tendencies….including the Catholic Church.

  • mikestech

    So, let me get this straight, 450 bishops consistently criticize the Obama administration for forcing the church to violate its own universal teachings, and the media is virtually silent. But when ONE bishop makes any hint that could possibly be construed as pro-Obama, the Washington Post jumps all over it like a fat kid on cake.

    No….this newspaper doesn’t have an agenda. No way.

  • cajd20

    I would like to point out that characterizing the bishops’ position as opposition to a mandate to provide “reproductive services” is frankly, terrible reporting. REAL reproductive services, as in, services that support reproduction, like Ob/Gyns, actual medicine for actual reproductive diseases, and ethical fertility treatments other than IVF ****have no greater supporters than the bishops***.

    The bishops oppose ABORTION, CONTRACEPTION, AND STERILIZATION. Those are ANTI-reproductive services. The Post really needs to stop trying hide the truth about this issue.

  • Marion_Mael_Muire

    Why should groups with large incomes and assets be tax exempt?

    Not-for-profit groups regularly speak out on political issues: on the topics of, for example, recycling, on protecting the environment, support for stronger laws protecting childrens’ lives; support for stronger laws against domestic abuse . . . all of these are “political” issues, and are addressed by not-for-profits ranging from Greenpeace to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

    Not-for-profits lose their tax exempt status when they support or oppose a particular *party* or *candidate*. Not when they speak oppose or support a political issue.

    Maybe if you had been paying attention during 10th grade Civics class, you would know that. (If you made it to the 10th grade.)

  • medic2010

    How interesting is the following quotation by Bishop Blaire:

    “I stand solidly with my brother bishops in our common resolve to overturn the unacceptable intrusion of government into the life of the Church by the HHS Mandate,” said Bishop Blaire in a May 24 statement.

    and then:

    “I contributed to and voted for this statement, and continue to support it, including its call for legal action as was announced on Monday,” he said.

    Bishop Blaire rejects claims of division over mandate lawsuits; Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News

    Don’t take my word for it… search it out on the net.

  • medic2010

    Exactly, Mike. No agenda whatsoever. Especially given the “clarification” issued by Bishop Blaire.

  • medic2010


    Hate bursting your balloon… but he’s not with you. The media got it wrong (now there’s a big surprise) and Bishop Blaire issued a statement saying so.

    Guess he had more common sense than even you imagined, eh?

  • thebump


  • carodoc57

    The Cardinal Archbishop of New York ought to return to Milwaukee where he would be greatly appreciated.

    On the other hand, maybe the movie “Baby Doll” will be re-issued in the Big Apple and the new Cardinal can play the role of dead churchman Spellman and rant and rave for his lofty pulpit. Those were the days when the Catholic Church really had something to rant about.

  • CharasmaticMegafauna

    There is an obvious questions whenever people start hollering about their principles, such as the bishops yelling about religious liberty:

    Are the bishops taking bribes?

    There’s certainly enough money available, and is there any effective oversight?

  • CharasmaticMegafauna

    >>450 bishops consistently criticize the Obama administration,
    >>but remain vitrually silent about their pervert priest problem.

    In other words “SQUIRREL!!!”

  • CharasmaticMegafauna

    Every conservative should welcome Catholic institutions chance to wean itself from the blatant Socialism of federal handouts and criticize their demands for federal handouts with no strings attached.

  • GerriM

    What are you talking about??

  • GerriM

    And your point is?

  • CharasmaticMegafauna

    WIngnut tries to deflect obvious point by playing stiupid

  • mary1961

    His point is that the “journalists” at the WP are mis-reporting facts, and writing headlines in conflict with what was actually said to suit their own perceptions and mislead readers.

    Bishop Blair has some concerns because in California they tried suing already and had no good experience with it — but the Bishop does not mention that California is basically so lost anyway… He also foretells how some will misconstrue the issue and misrepresent it — and he’s saying ‘we jhave to make sure they get it that it’s about religious liberty’ (I’m paraphrasing.

    What the good bishop does not understand is that the left will say whatever it wishes without regard to any truth. (You know, like the Washington Post).

  • budshi1

    Religions are a big voting bloc. Not just Catholics, but all religions. As the populations explode, so do all the various religions. In spite of their influence from sheer numbers, they must remember what Jesus said; give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is Gods. In all Religions, things are supernatural and you can promise to the mind. In the Real World, you can also promise to the mind, but in Reality, you need to deliver to the stomach. Since Jesus said; teach and spread the Gospel of the Lord. He did not expect the Teachers to enforce the laws of God with earthly laws. Jesus meant for everyone on earth to have a free will, and make personal choices. If each and every person on earth doesn’t have a free will, he would need to be excused of his sins because some Earthly Government or Earthly Church took away his free will. This is why we all need to examine Church and Government laws to see if they take away a person’s free will. A number of unfair or bad choices don’t constitute a true free will. It is either a free will to make a free choice or it is a manipulation of the free will with phone choices. I believe the Churches should stick to teaching and preaching and let people use their free will to right or wrong, depending on what they choose. The Government should continue to make laws to benefit all Citizens for their physical life and mental health and appreciate the fact that they have Churches teaching the work of God, hoping they become loving and caring citizens.

  • usapdx

    Marion_Mael_Muire,… I disagree with you. Why should groups with large incomes and assets be tax exempt in the first place when this nation has a debt of over $15,000,000,000,000? You should do the math and see where this country is going. Open you mind if you can.