E. J. Dionne: Not all bishops agree with the USCCB’s religious-freedom strategy
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There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church’s public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Barack Obama, has had enough.
The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by forty-three Catholic organizations, including thirteen dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the administration requiring insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health-care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: That the vast majority of the nation’s 195 dioceses did not go to court.
It turns out that many bishops, notably the church leadership in California, saw the litigation as premature. They are upset that the lawsuits were brought without a broader discussion among the entire membership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and wanted to delay action until the bishops’ June meeting.
But in a letter to the bishops conference that has not been released publicly, lawyers for California’s bishops said the lawsuits would be “imprudent” and “ill-advised.” The letter was not answered by the national bishops’ group before the suits were announced.
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