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US Catholic institutions at odds with bishops' leadership, Reuters notes

February 16, 2012

Analyzing the cracks that have developed in what was once a united Catholic front opposing the Obama contraceptive mandate, a Reuters news story observes that many Catholic universities, as well as Catholic hospitals, have broken away from the leadership of the US bishops’ conference.

Large Catholic institutions have considerable power to shape public opinion, the Reuters story notes. In theory these institutions would recognize the moral leadership of the Catholic hierarchy.

In practice, however, the bishops have little sway over Catholic institutions. Most Catholic colleges and hospitals are legally independent. They are supposed to follow ethical principles laid out by the pope and submit to the moral authority of their bishops.
Yet as the contraception debate exposed, they rarely face serious consequences when they flout those principles.


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  • Posted by: joecober6835 - Feb. 17, 2012 11:19 AM ET USA

    And then,there is 'us', the people who pray and want to follow the Pope.

  • Posted by: thx1688 - Feb. 17, 2012 7:58 AM ET USA

    The bishops always knew that many Catholic institutions in their charge were already providing contraceptives. "Our institutions should not be forced to do something they are already doing" is a rather odd defense. Regarding serial child rapists, widespread liturgical abuse, Catholic institutions in their diocese providing contraceptives, or pro-abortion and homosexual agenda supporting politicians bringing scandal to the Church, most did nothing. Their sin of omission has lead us here.

  • Posted by: filioque - Feb. 17, 2012 2:06 AM ET USA

    Forty-five years ago, led by the Jesuits and the Holy Cross Fathers, the largest Catholic universities and colleges in the country declared their autonomy from any external authority. The Land o' Lakes Statement was signed by more than 30 college presidents and the chairman of the bishops' Committee on Higher Education. Our bishops let our colleges go without a fight. Talk about sowing the wind.

  • Posted by: mrschips19308196 - Feb. 16, 2012 11:38 PM ET USA

    "...they rarely face serious consequences when they flout those principles.'......more's the pity.

  • Posted by: impossible - Feb. 16, 2012 10:39 PM ET USA

    As a noted Catholic author said, “When Church leaders blur the line between Catholic social teaching and partisan political opinions, they undermine their own authority and feed the flames of anti-Catholic bias.” 

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Feb. 16, 2012 9:37 PM ET USA

    This is a child's argument. I can sum it up in one sentence: "But, everyone else is doing it!" The fact is, this rule would FORCE the FAITHFUL institutions to become UNFAITHFUL. That's the problem. And this piece is nothing more than a dodge.

  • Posted by: Wolf of Gubbio - Feb. 16, 2012 8:15 PM ET USA

    And when the rod is spared, the child is spoiled.

  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 16, 2012 6:54 PM ET USA

    After 4-5 decades, the press has awaken to find that some "Catholic" organizations listen to the bishops, not that they helped the situation, oh no. Wonder what it will take for the bishops to stop selectively taking subjects to pound their fists at and realize that there are many they are REQUIRED to address (if not, resign)?