If the U.S. Catholic bishops realize they're catering to a minority of American Catholic voters with their manufactured "religious liberty" crusade (which has just won their religious liberty guru Bishop William Lori a plum position as archbishop of Baltimore), why carry that crusade on? I've speculated previously on this blog that the bishops' clearly partisan crusade to defend a Catholic religious liberty that is not embattled has everything to do with a cynical political calculation that, if they can get enough low-information Catholic voters in swing states to vote Republican in 2012, they'll throw the election.
My own guess, for what it's worth: the bishops and their Republican and corporate-CEO handlers know that a majority of Catholics will ignore the bishops about the contraceptive issue when they cast votes in the fall. But these folks have calculated that, if they can peel off enough low-information Catholic voters with atavistic urges to do what Father tells them to do politically in heavily Catholic swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, as votes of minorities and young people are suppressed, they'll have a good chance of affecting the outcome of the elections--and the future of the planet, which does depend on what Americans choose to do politically, because of our influence in the world.
And now here's the horse's mouth speaking--this is His Eminence Timothy M. Cardinal Dolan speaking recently to Newsweek writer Peter J. Boyer:
Churchgoing Catholics do feel strong about the pro-life issues. They also feel strong about the economic issues. And from what we’ve seen in the last three months, they feel very strong about religious freedom. Could those churchgoing, committed Catholics be enough of a swing vote in important states where there is a heavy Catholic population to throw the election one way or the other? They could be, yeah.
As Andrew Sullivan says in commenting on this passage, Dolan is "all but endorsing the GOP in the current campaign" with these observations. In my view, he's also confirming what I've thought all along about the faux religious liberty campaign: it's a manufactured and highly partisan political maneuver thought up by the wealthy right-wing corporate handlers of the USCCB, who are calculating that if the bishops can herd just enough low-informaiton Catholic voters in swing states to the polls to vote Republican in the fall elections, they'll throw the election.
And this is why I have been and remain so impatient with the "liberal" centrist Catholic media commentariat and with their seeming obtuseness about what the bishops are now all about. The "what" that they're now all about is hardly bona fide pastoral leadership.
It's political. And it's political in the slimiest, least morally engaging way possible.