Catholic World News

Bishop Lori rips America editorial on HHS mandate

March 05, 2012

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport has joined Cardinal Timothy Dolan in criticizing an America Magazine editorial on the Obama administration’s mandate that contraceptives, sterilization, and some abortion-inducing drugs be provided free of charge under most insurance plans. Cardinal Dolan has called the editorial in the Jesuit publication “hardly surprising but terribly unfortunate.”

“The March 5th Americaeditorial takes the United States Bishops to task for entering too deeply into the finer points of health care policy as they ponder what the slightly revised Obama Administration mandate might mean for the Catholic Church in the United States,” Bishop Lori said in a letter. “These details, we are told, do not impinge on religious liberty. We are also told that our recent forthright language borders on incivility.”

“What details are we talking about?” added Bishop Lori, who chairs the US bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. “For one thing, a government mandate to insure, one way or another, for an abortifacient drug called Ella. Here the ‘details’ would seem to be fertilized ova, small defenseless human beings, who will likely suffer abortion within the purview of a church-run health insurance program.”

Bishop Lori continued:

What other details are at issue? Some may think that the government’s forcing the Church to provide insurance coverage for direct surgical sterilizations such as tubal ligations is a matter of policy. Such force, though, feels an awful lot like an infringement on religious liberty.

Still another detail is ordinary contraception. Never mind that the dire societal ills which Pope Paul predicted would ensue with the widespread practice of artificial contraception have more than come true. The government makes the rules and the rules are the rules. So, the bishops should regard providing (and paying for) contraception as, well, a policy detail. After all, it’s not like the federal government is asking bishops to deny the divinity of Christ. It’s just a detail in a moral theology—life and love, or something such as that. And why worry about other ways the government may soon require the Church to violate its teachings as a matter of policy?

“If the editorial is to be believed, bishops should regard it not as a matter of religious liberty but merely policy that, as providers they teach one thing but as employers they are made to teach something else,” Bishop Lori added. “In other words, we are forced to be a countersign to Church teaching and to give people plenty of reason not to follow it. The detail in question here is called ‘scandal’.”

Bishop Lori concluded:

And didn’t President Obama promise adequate conscience protection in the reform of healthcare? But maybe it’s inappropriate for pastors of souls to ask why the entirely adequate accommodation of religious rights in healthcare matters that has existed in federal law since 1973 is now being changed.

Oh, and as Detective Colombo used to say: “Just one more thing.” It’s the comment in the editorial about when we bishops are at our best. Evidently, it’s when we speak generalities softly and go along to get along, even though for the first time in history the federal government is forcing church entities to provide for things that contradict church teaching. Maybe Moses wasn’t at his best when he confronted Pharaoh. Maybe the Good Shepherd was a bit off his game when he confronted the rulers of his day.

But those are just details.

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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Mar. 07, 2012 8:14 AM ET USA

    For an order that supposedly lives and dies for the papacy, the Jesuits are treading on thin ice. If they are to survive themselves, it might be time to reign in these eggheads.

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Mar. 06, 2012 1:31 PM ET USA

    I thought that those who lean left applauded "speaking truth to power." (PR hint to USCCB - start using that phrase :-))Sounds to me like that is what Bishop Lori is doing.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 06, 2012 7:28 AM ET USA

    Good for you, Bishop Lori; no mincing of words here! It's time to purge the USCCB of left-wing radicals, or disband and form anew. And anyone unfortunate enough to have a subscription to America, cancel it, please.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 06, 2012 12:31 AM ET USA

    It is wonderful to finally see Church Leaders like Bishop Lori who are finally speaking out publically against the anti Catholic forces of secularism, both external and from within the Church itself. It is hard to comprehend how any well informed and well meaning Catholic could downplay the danger to the Church from the current HHS mandate. That the Jesuits apparently don’t see this, and effectively want the Church to bow down further before Caesar is very troubling and shows how far the corrupting influence of American secularism has spread. It is time for the USCCB to fully realize the danger and to take bold and decisive action. It appears that they have started to do this with Bishop Lori’s (and Cardinal Dolan’s) strong responses. If verbal rebuttals do not work however, then the USCCB must take fast and final action - to remove the renegades from their positions of power before they can do further damage to the Church.

  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - Mar. 05, 2012 11:46 PM ET USA

    I don't see how the editors of America could say that the bishops' campaign fails to acknowledge the claim to religious liberty may collide with the right to health care...Since when did contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs constitute health care? When was fertility considered a disease? Or pregnancy a malady? And where in the Constitution does it say that health care provided by the government is a basic right that it trumps the right to freedom of religion?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2012 10:18 PM ET USA

    Will the bishops finally become real Roman Catholic bishops ? For this we pray !

  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 05, 2012 6:26 PM ET USA

    Bishop Lori deserves our praise for his efforts. He needs to direct the same vigor toward reforming the politicized USCCB.

  • Posted by: Duns Scotus - Mar. 05, 2012 5:25 PM ET USA

    When did the editors of AMERICA ever complain about the Bishops' getting too involved in the details of policy on social justice, immigration, nuclear weapons, welfare, taxes, war & peace, foreign policy, and, of course, health care? Hypocristy, thy name is the editors of AMERICA.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Mar. 05, 2012 1:47 PM ET USA

    Congratulations and a pledge of support to all of our bishops, and especially Bishop Lori, their spokesman. AMERICA is a Jesuit magazine. Surely, someone can communicate through the Holy See with the Father General of the Jesuits and remind the editor and staff of the magazine of their vow of obedience to the Supreme Pontiff. Hopefully, that is being done even now...

  • Posted by: - Mar. 05, 2012 10:15 AM ET USA

    Confronting America magazine was absolutely the right thing to do. It seems that we are now paying the price for a decade of dialogue and silent compromise within the Church. Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Lori along the all the other bishops need to reassert their pastoral authority over Catholic theologians, universities, hospitals and publications if they are to maintain their Catholic designation.

  • Posted by: gop - Mar. 05, 2012 8:09 AM ET USA

    Bishop Lori, Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking America magazine and some Jesuits to task. Thanks for saying it so clearly. Card. Dolan should be more forceful in speaking about how some church pastors are and have been WRONG.