Action Alert!

Please, bishops; don't compromise!

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 10, 2012

The last few weeks have been exhilarating. The US bishops—nearly all of them!—have shown willingness to do political battle on a matter of principle. We've heard lots of brave promises, lots of line-in-the-sand rhetoric, lots of vows that Catholics will not accept the unacceptable. 

But now the White House offers a palpably inadequate "compromise"—a blatant attempt to defuse criticism without addressing the substance of the problem—and the first response from the US bishops' conference is that this is "a first step in the right direction." 

No, it's not! It's not a step in any direction at all. It's a gesture—and an empty gesture at that.

In recent days our bishops have rallied their troops for battle, more effectively than on any other occasion in my lifetime. The cause is just, the time is ripe, the people are ready, the lines have been drawn. Effective leaders seize such opportunities, and use them to change history. But let's be honest. At times like this ineffective leaders fumble away their opportunities, with devastating results for their causes.

So which will it be?  

Please, please reassure me that the US bishops' conference won't accept a phony "compromise" and leave their loyal Catholic followers in the lurch yet again.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2012 9:07 PM ET USA

    Let's pray that the bishops don't throw in the towel before the fight begins. They have not inspired confidence. Abp Dolan thought he had had a nice Albany chat with Gov. Cuomo; now he hopes to "work with the [Obama] administration." Will he stop laughing pleasantly, get serious, and come to realize that there really is a culture war going on in which he's charged with being a leader?

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Feb. 10, 2012 7:39 PM ET USA

    Phil, as I said over on the news article, my guess is that because Dolan is in Rome, he didn't have all the necessary information or people on hand to figure this thing out completely. I say we exercise some patience and wait till he returns with his red hat.

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Feb. 10, 2012 7:09 PM ET USA

    Watch the Bishops do "a Stupak." The President announces a "compromise" with great fanfare, showing how accomodating he is. Sr. Carol squeals with delight over its brilliance. The Bishops declare "It is good!" And the compromise is not worth the paper it's written on. The Church pays the insurance company a premium for "health care" for its employees that already has contraceptive and abortive costs factored into it and the insurance company pays for abortions and contraception. Wonderful!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2012 6:46 PM ET USA

    The lessons of the HHS power grab should be a no-brainer for the USCCB. When those who share your social policy objectives also zealously (fanatically) promote abortion, desecrate the Constitution and double-cross you in the process, perhaps it is time to reconsider both your thinking on social policy and your political alliances. And please note that the only legislation proposed in defense of the Church was introduced and co-sponsored almost exclusively by conservative Republicans.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 10, 2012 3:50 PM ET USA

    Can anyone be as morally stupid as the people currently inhabiting the White House?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2012 3:22 PM ET USA

    Will the same Bishops who painted themselves into a corner really have the courage and humility to face the mess they have gotten themselves into? The USCCB has been so interested in playing civil games and diving head first into prudential, lay-specialized social justice issues that when they finally get their cake, not only do they want to eat it too but they want to demand a redesign of the frosting. If only our bishops would go on a civil diet and leave the cake to the appropriate bakers!