The bishops and the contraception battle
In a piece at Religion News Service today, I explore the internal challenges the American bishops face in their fight with the Obama administration over the HHS contraception mandate. Looking beyond the USCCB news releases, there are a number of difficulties the hierarchy must address in order to prevail — including figuring out what exactly they want, how to achieve that goal, and getting the bishops on the same page in order to get there. The bishops are often looked at as a single — and single-minded — organism with a unified focus and approach, and that’s not often the case, and not always a bad thing. But it can be a handicap in political struggles that require fast response times and a clear message.
You can read, and critique, my take here.
One development I did not include was the possibility, raised by Robert Bowen in this Washington Examiner piece, that the Catholic bishops could be losing their Republican allies as well:
Despite vowing to continue the fight, Senators Blunt and Rubio have changed their mind and are not going to bring the issue up in the Senate again this year.
Meanwhile back in the Tea Plantation, Speaker Boehner is now evasive about if and when the House will vote on its version of the anti-contraception coverage bill. No vote is scheduled, and the issue has been removed from the front page of the Speaker’s website where it had prominence for a couple weeks.
So, when times were good, Republicans had the Catholic Bishops’ back. When the times got tough, it seems they are about to cut and run. With friends like that, the Bishops don’t need enemies.
That would be a huge handicap, if true, and more fallout from Rush et al.