By Dave Andrusko
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While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been joined by the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and the leaders of many other religious bodies in opposing the Obama mandate, it is also true that no one more forcefully explained what an attack it was on fundamental religious liberties than the USCCB. The Health and Human Services (HHS) requirement that religious-affiliated universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception, not to mention ordinary employers, has produced for many an irreconcilable conflict between conscience and the coercive force of government .
The Bishops, collectively and individually, have also done a sterling job educating congregants of the centrality of abortion. No one that I read did a more thoughtful job of illustrating the importance of each–and their linkage–than Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.
We wrote about an important interview that he gave to the Catholic News Service (portions of which can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaL176Wd70k&feature=youtu.be).
In that interview, Archbishop Chaput said abortion “is a very serious issue that requires absolute adherence on the part of Catholics,” an issue that requires of Catholics a “loyalty to the Church prior to their political party.” At that juncture he made a key connection:
“And if we don’t stand united on this issue, we’re bound to failure–not only in the area of protecting unborn human life but in maintaining our religious freedom.” Indeed, it is enormously dangerous when the government is in the business of deciding who is “religious enough” to be exempt from government mandates that would force the faithful to violate church doctrine.
Given that pro-abortion President Barack Obama was re-elected, the usual suspects feel even freer than usual to chastise the USCCB for being involved in “politics.” In fact, what they did is what spiritual leaders are supposed to do: educate their flocks about their civic obligations in light of what their church teaches them. They deserve praise, not criticism.
Our thanks to the Bishops for everything they did, individually and collectively, to warn the electorate to the magnitude of the issues at stake.