More and more bishops are piling on, as the USCCB cranks up its Republican voting machine to try to use the HHS guidelines for contraceptive coverage to drive Catholic voters to the polls to vote "right" in 2012. Several Catholic journals have just published online pieces that provide updated information about bishops issuing statements to do their bit to get the Republican machine cranking.
One of these pieces is a Commonweal blog discussion to which I pointed readers a moment ago. But since I didn't mention in my previous posting that this piece specifically discusses recent statements of bishops calling for Catholics to protest the Obama administration's HHS decision, I'll note Grant Gallicho's posting about this topic at Commonweal again.
Gallicho reports something I hadn't seen elsewhere: namely, that the U.S. Catholic bishops' spokesperson Sr. Mary Ann Walsh has stated that the USCCB "provided a template [letter]" for individual bishops to use in this political crusade. This is, in other words, an orchestrated campaign that is emanating from the center of the USCCB's exceptionally well-funded political lobby. It's an overt, organized pro-Republican political campaign on the part of the whole body of the USCCB.
Also, at National Catholic Reporter Nancy Frazier O'Brien reports for Catholic News Service on various bishops who have now issued letters calling on Catholics to fight the Obama administration vis-a-vis the HHS guidelines. As I noted yesterday, these include Zubik of Pittsburgh, who claims the administration is telling his Catholics, "To hell with your freedom of conscience"; Jenky of Peoria, who wants his Catholics to pray to St. Michael the Archangel to combat "this unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our faith"; Olmsted of Phoenix, who says his Catholics are being "stripped of their God-given rights"; Aymond of New Orleans, who insists that his Catholics "must be able to live the message of Christ in the U.S. and follow our conscience," and on and on. Ad nauseam.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal Jan. 25, Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the HHS decision rejected the "loud and strong appeals" by "hundreds of religious institutions and hundreds of thousands of individual citizens" since the comment period began last August.
He said it is naive to think that contraception and sterilization will be "free" under the HHS mandate.
"There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception," he wrote. "There will be a source of funding: you."
And of all the wild, mendacious, over-the-top politicized claims the Catholic reverend gentlemen who have no shame and no moral credibility are now making to unseat a Democratic administration, that's perhaps the most despicable set of statements I've yet to read. From the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a cardinal-elect.
". . . You can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you." And as I feel absolutely sure Mr. Dolan knows very well, abortion has never been on the table in the HHS guidelines-discussion. Abortions are not funded by taxpayer dollars, they cannot be funded by taxpayer dollars per federal mandates, they have never been under consideration as discussion has been underway about providing access to contraception in health care plans.
Contraception is not abortion, no matter how loudly "pro-life" activists with no regard for the truth want to keep saying the two are the same. Mr. Dolan is unscrupulously conflating abortion and contraception to gin up hostility to the Obama administration among Catholic voters.
And though the lying and blatant pro-Republican politicking may keep him in the good graces of his rich friends in high places, they're hardly going to regain for him the moral credibility he and his brother bishops have squandered so freely in recent years, through their abysmal pastoral leadership of the American church.