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Cardinal Dolan enters No Spin Zone.

Last night's O'Reilly Factor featured an interviewwith Cardinal Timothy Dolan about -- what else? -- the contraception mandate. The exchange was fairly unsurprising: Dolan doesn't want to seem like he's judging the president, or anyone else (but he is judging their policy positions and motives). Nor would he ever tell anyone how to vote (but the bishops did endorse the GOP's doomed legislation to rescind the mandate). And of course a noun, a verb, and "religious freedom."What I find most interesting about the interview is the nakedness with which Dolan presents the bishops' communication strategy:

Our opponents are very shrewd because they've chosen an issue that they know we're not very popular on. And that is why, Bill, we have to be very vigorous in insisting that this is not about contraception. It's about religion freedom.And I don't want to judge people but I think there would be a drift in the administration that this is a good issue and if we can divide the Catholic community because it's already divided and if one can caricature the bishops as being hopelessly out of touch these bullies who are trying to achieve judicially and legislatively what they've been -- been unable to achieve because their moral integrity has been compromised recently there is that force out there trying to caricature us.All right. But we can't back down from this fight because it's about religious freedom; it's close to the very heart of what the democratic enterprise that we know and love as the United States of America is all about.

So, according to Dolan -- and not that he's judging -- the Obama administration decided to pursue the contraception mandate because they knew the vast majority of Catholics remain unpersuaded by Humane vitae. (Otherwise, what, they would have gone for abortion?) And because the administration deemed the the bishops' moral authority sufficiently depleted by the sexual-abuse scandals. (Does Dolan really believe that bishops haven't been able to persuade Catholics on this issue because of the sexual-abuse scandal?) So it's precisely because the church's teaching against contraception is so unpopular, Dolan explains, that the bishops must insist that their opposition to the mandate is really about religious freedom. (Don't tell the bishops' press shop.)I have no doubt that those who devised the bishops' messaging strategy know how quickly an anti-contraception gambit would fail. That's why USCCB press releases emphasize that the mandate would cover first "abortion drugs" (never "emergency contraceptives that could act as abortifacients") then sterilization procedures, and finally prescription contraceptives. But at what point will the bishops explain how the proposed accommodation forces Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities to violate their religious beliefs? Will anyone clarify how Bishop Lori went from allowing Catholic hospitals to give rape victims morning-after pills to opposing their inclusion in the mandate because they're "abortion-inducing"? In other words, when will the Catholic bishops make a Catholic argument against the accommodation?

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When the administrative committee of USCCB met in mid Match and decided they'd take nothing but their view of acconodation, the gauntlet was thrown -no matter what the semantics.Interestin that Cardinal Dolan shows up on "fair and balanced" Is that preaching to the choir?Of course, he also has his blog and Bill Donahue.All of which is divisive, not the administration.But, so it goes.....

They don't have one - and Dolan showing up on EWTN and O'Reilly, etc. isn't going to change this fact.It is both sad and unfortunate that Dolan (don't expect much from Lori - his PhD in sacramental theology doesn't seem to prepare him well for discussing religious freedom) can't tap into his "alleged" church history expertise and make a comprehensive argument. His tenure to date is only embarrassing.

Grant - I don't think you're entirely correct in how you're recapping Dolan's views. I'd think it goes something like this:* The Obama Administration was surprised by the solidarity among Catholics of all political stripes in response to the original contraception mandate* It is in the Obama Administration's political interest to break up this solidarity, because for whatever political reason, the administration wants/needs the support of Catholics who are politically progressive (e.g., perhaps the administration believes it needs women to be motivated to vote for President Obama in order to win the election this fall)* Therefore, the Obama Administration's strategy is to emphasize contraception, rather than religious liberty, because it knows that contraception is an issue that will drive a wedge between progressive Catholics (women?) and the bishops* The Obama Administration is also calculating that the bishops' moral authority has recently been diminished because of the sex-abuse scandal. This is politically helpful for the Obama administration.* The bishops, for their part, perceive that the core issue here really is religious liberty, not contraception.I don't see any of this as particularly 'judgmental' on Dolan's part.

I didn't say he was being judgmental. It's simply a matter of fact that he is judging the policy positions and motives of those who disagree with him about the mandate.

Jim pauwelsDo you have some insider information about the Obama administrations strategy with Catholics voters, or are you like me inclined to speculate about motivations. If the latter, permit me to offer my thoughts. It seems to me that, since the USCCB ad hoc committee for religious liberty was established last fall, they were just waiting for an issue. That is their strategy to counteract the significant Catholic vote for Obama in 2008.

Jim P. --If you call someone a bully and say they are less than honorable, you think that isn't being judgmental? Take your blinders off. I'm on of the ones who think there is a religious freedom issue here, and I also think that Cardinal Dolan is a diplomatic disaster.

Helen --You might be right about the bishops' political motive, but I also think that they are tired of being dumped on because of the sex scandal and trying to get some respect back So they're trying to present themselves as courageous patriots talking back to the mean tyrant. So far Cdl, Dolan's performance just makes him look like a loudmouth. It will get him even less respect thn he used to have.

Ann Olivier: Because you "think there is a religious freedom issue here," please spell out exactly what the "religious freedom issue here" is?By the word "here," I assume you mean under the accommodation, to use the term that Grant Gallicho uses.

Cardinal Dolan and his confreres clearly laid out the current papal stategy in late 2009 in the Manhattan Declaration, a pact with some right wing Republican operatives and fundamentalist evangelicals. Please see http://manhattandeclaration.org/. Religious liberty was the "ploy". The Republicans would regain the presidency and Congress and keep lower taxes on the wealthy ideally, and the pope would get more Opus Dei leaning US Supreme Court Justices, as three 80+ year old Justices retire over the next four years.In the pope's fantasy, the US Supreme Court would then (1) reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision that legalized contraception and undergirds the Roe v. Wade decision, and (2) expand the bishops' "religious liberty" shield further to protect bishops from judicial investigations of, and financial liability for, their negligent oversight of priest sexual predators. Two weeks ago the US Supreme Court let stand a Missouri state court decision that shielded Dolan's old diocese of St. Louis from one such judicial inquiry, but not all courts have to follow this decision, at least until the US Supreme Court mandates this, which the pope apparently eagerly looks forward to.The pope can fantasize all he wants. The ineffectual Dynamic Duo of Dolan and Dohohue have been "out-Fluked" by a Georgetown student Joan of Arc, thank God. The pope's dream of an American theocracy will never be realized, Amen. The Founding Fathers shunned European state churches, both Catholic and Protestant, and opted for religious liberty and toleration, and rejected establishing a state church. That will not change, no matter what ploy the pope uses.

Helen - no insider info on my part, I'm just reading the tea leaves.There were a number of religious-liberty concerns prior to the contraception mandate. There were concerns about conscience protections for health care workers under PPACA prior to the contraception mandate. There were also issues of Catholic adoption agencies being required to place children in same-sex partnerships, civil unions and marriages.

Ann - I don't think Cardinal Dolan is calling anyone a bully. He's suggesting that he and his brother bishops are perceived as bullies who want to legislate their morality on the rest of the country.

Speaking of fantasy! There is, I believe, a case to be made against the bishops' position, but this isn't it.

I was responding to the comment at 3:29pm.

Grant Gallicho: You ask, at what point will the bishops explain how the proposed accommodation forces Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities to violate their religious beliefs?First, the Catholic bishops assume that all Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities want to appear to be in good standing with the Catholic bishops by appearing in public to support the Roman Catholic Churchs claim that artificial contraception is morally evil.Next, in accord with this first assumption, the Catholic bishops further assume that if these Catholic institutions were allowed to exercise their freedom of religion, they would prohibit contraception from being included in the insurance coverage that they offer their employees.Next, the Catholic bishops argue that Obamas accommodation plan will prevent these Catholic institutions from being allowed to exercise their freedom of religion to prevent contraception from being included in the insurance coverage of their employees.Next, the Catholic bishops seem to think that these Catholic institutions should be allowed to exercise their freedom of religion so that these Catholic institutions appear in public to endorse the Roman Catholic Churchs claim that artificial contraception is morally evil, because otherwise their claim to be Catholic institutions would be compromised from the standpoint of appearing in public to be Catholic institutions. Evidently, these Catholic institutions are regarded by the Catholic bishops to be something like super-persons who are supposed to appear in public as super-supporters of the churchs official teaching against artificial contraception.I do not agree with this line of reasoning. But it appears to me to be the line of reasoning that the Catholic bishops are following.But what do you think, Grant? Do you think the bishops are following this line of reasoning, or not?

From all of those of us who never indulge FOX News, thank you for doing the dirty work for us ...This encounter between Cardinal Dolan and Bill O'Reilly generates almost endless questions. So many questions, so little time:Can anyone now argue that Dolan is little more than a politician - albeit in a feudal oligarchy? Has Dolan the politician eclipsed Dolan the shepherd?Isn't Dolan's primary political constituency in the Vatican, and not among any discernible part of the American electorate? What is the primary motivation of the bishops? Why would the hierarchs choose a political wedge issue [i.e., contraception] that only further serves to divide and separate them from their own Catholic population? Are the bishops even interested in unity of the Catholic community?Is it possible that Dolan may be actually engaging in pre-conclave political maneuvering to perhaps promote his own candidacy as the potential candidate of the Vatican curia - especially if no white European papabile emerges with the necessary support? Is it Dolan's contention that Obama went looking for this confrontation with US hierarchs? Didn't the hierarchs have planning sessions with their media and political consultants at the USCCB plotting their "religious liberty" campaign? What possible motive would politician Obama have for potentially alienating one of his constituency groups?Is Dolan really saying that the hierarchs have been politically victimized by Obama because of their [the hierarchs] have a credibility problem with their own Catholic population? Did Dolan and his brother hierarchs underestimate Obama's political skills to turn the tables on their political gambit just when they believed they had wounded Obama politically in an election year?

I object to the cardinal's idea that the Obama administration thought this would be a good issue to divide Catholics. That gives the administration a) too much credit for deviousness it could never pull off and b) too little respect for what it is trying to do with a national insurance plan.As for a), you can continue to be paranoid, but I haven't seen much general competence, much less devious competence, there. As for b) every civilized country in the world (present company excluded again when the Supremes rule) has universal health care. I have tried, pretty futilely, to find out what countries like Switzerland (which has an insurance mandate) and France do about the issues that have our bishops upset. Germany, I know, automatically covers legal abortions. I haven't heard of bishops being jailed and churches shuttered by order of the state there. I honestly think the Obama administration knew it had to leave abortion off the list but didn't realize it would unleash Cardinal Dolan, FoxNews and Karl Rove if it included contraception.Dumb or uninformed I can believe. Deliberately advancing a secularist agenda strikes me as a delusion of grandeur by someone who thinks it is all about him.

John Page.. I agree.Jerry S thinks there ia an overall papal strategy to take over the US Gov morality police. .... Wrong.Dolan and Jim P think there is an Obama strategy to effect/put down the Catholic Church. Wrong too. The Democratic base and constituencies just feel BC is a good health idea. So give up your paranoia. Give up the religious liberty farce .. until Religious liberty advocates can propose a senario when and how a bishop dime is forced into the ACA basket... just one dime please..

Those who doubt Cardinal Dolan's analysis might find more credible the NYT's explanation of the White House strategy as reported on Feb 10. Of course the two accounts are not that different and certainly are not mutually exclusive:"For the White House, the decision announced Friday to soften a rule requiring religious-affiliated organizations to pay for insurance plans that offer free birth control was never really driven by a desire to mollify Roman Catholic bishops, who were strongly opposed to the plan."Rather, the fight was for Sister Carol Keehan head of an influential Catholic hospital group, who had supported President Obamas health care law and Catholic allies of the White House seen as the religious left . . ."The White House picked the deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle to talk to Sister Keehan about ways the rule could be made palatable. "http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/health/policy/obama-to-offer-accommoda...

Ed,Whether a bishop's dime is or is not involved is totally beside the point. Money does not define or determine morality. It may be one fact used in determining moral culpability but it is at best a secondary concern.Jim Jenkins,Contrary to you, I actually find Cardinal Dolan to be a quite compelling pastor in his sermons, writings and leadership.

Patrick Malloy:Based on reading some of your previous comments, I had come to believe that you consider the reporting of the New York Times beneath contempt. Clearly I was mistaken.

I think the timing is ironic. Not a single bishop has criticized the Ryan budget by name, and yet it throws pretty much every principle of Catholic social teaching out the window. When Catholics like Steve Schneck and Vince Miller rallied against the Ryan budget last time, they want on O'Reilly, who yelled at them and mocked them because not a single bishop would endorse their statement. I think we can safely declare the demise of the new evanglization. Well done, Cardinal Dolan. Great work, that!

Jim PauwelsTrue, but this issue is perfect. Why? Most of the other issues involves states; this mandate comes from a federal agency. The PPACC, which validates the Catholic Church's longstanding interest in health care reform, is much too complicated to handle. This issue is easy to explain and understand. Aha, it's the perfect issue to take a stand on and besides we can show Sebelius we mean business.

Bruce now admits there is no bishops' dime. But thinks that if bishops moral ideas are not Gov. enforced their religious liberty is infringed..... un-believable! Except that is C.Dolan's exact position.

"I think the timing is ironic. Not a single bishop has criticized the Ryan budget by name, and yet it throws pretty much every principle of Catholic social teaching out the window. When Catholics like Steve Schneck and Vince Miller rallied against the Ryan budget last time, they want on OReilly, who yelled at them and mocked them because not a single bishop would endorse their statement.I think we can safely declare the demise of the new evanglization. Well done, Cardinal Dolan. Great work, that!"These histrionics are hilarious. Just this week David Gibson was telling us that Pope Benedict had pulled the rug out from under "Paul Ryan Republicans", yet now, the whole shebang is up in smoke.

Helen - I think my opinion of the ability of 300+ bishops to successfully pull off a political conspiracy is more modest than yours :-). The bishops were getting seriously out-generaled in the public relations battle throughout most of February and March. If the bishops have been positioning this as an easy-to-understand issue, they've fallen behind on their dotCom reading - the posts and comments on this issue have shown that the moral analysis is complicated and impossible to translate into sound bites and slogans.FWIW - When President Obama had his initial meeting with then-Archbishop Dolan, at which the President assured Dolan the latter would be pleased with the HHS regulations, I believe Dolan took the President at his word and came away hopeful that a new chapter in church-state relations had been established. I think the bishops were surprised and dismayed when the regulations were subsequently announced (and apparently, the President was, too). Everything else - the bishops' anger, the Obama Administration's divide-and-conquer strategy, the 'accommodation', the collapse in trust between the two parties - has flowed from that.

When President Obama had his initial meeting with then-Archbishop Dolan, at which the President assured Dolan the latter would be pleased with the HHS regulations, I believe Dolan took the President at his word and came away hopeful that a new chapter in church-state relations had been established. I think the bishops were surprised and dismayed when the regulations were subsequently announced (and apparently, the President was, too)I have spent a lot of my life negotiating agreements and if the other party said that he was sure that I would be pleased by the next draft they would present, I wouldn't count on that at all. Basically, it just means "now that we understand what your're hoping to get, we'll see if we can find a solution that will satisfy you enough to get you onboard and will also meet our other goals for this deal."What you see when you get "the next draft" will not necessarily be anything you would be willing to accept. It's just part of the negotiation.

Bruce now admits there is no bishops dimeActually Ed, I did not say that at all.

John, I totally agree.What you see when you get the next draft will not necessarily be anything you would be willing to accept. Its just part of the negotiation.But then why shouldnt the bishops be complaining loudly and asking for the world. That also the way negotiations work....

the Obama administration decided to pursue the contraception mandate because they knew the vast majority of Catholics remain unpersuaded by Humane vitae. (Otherwise, what, they would have gone for abortion?)Sure. If they thought they wouldn't alienate too many of their Catholic supporters, the Obama administration would be gung-ho about requiring coverage of abortion.

The language, the language, and the assumption underlying all..."our opponents" have "chosen an issue they know we're not very popular on." As if a president of the United States were itching to pounce on Catholic bishops! As if there's a war on. Clearly, Cdl. Dolan and many bishops (just how many would be interesting to know) signed on spiritually with the Republican party under Bush, which makes Obama the enemy. Everything's been self-fulfilling prophecy every since. Sigh.

Once again, Cdl. Dolan employs the strange rhetorical strategy he and his associates like --- first refresh the memories of all listeners of the opposition points before getting around to one's own. (e.g., Mar 14 - United )Each time he starts off by emphasizing contraception, he reminds Catholics and others of what so many Catholics honestly believe about contraception after decades-long campaigning by the Church authorities. If Dolan has a good argument about what freedom of religion is for all US citizens in 2012, it's curious that he doesn't start strong with it, expand, and hammer it home. It's hard to believe a powerful, rigorously detailed statement on the subject isn't ready at hand by now.

Studebaker:Re: your comment:"Sure. If they thought they wouldnt alienate too many of their Catholic supporters, the Obama administration would be gung-ho about requiring coverage of abortion."Not only Catholics.

It is impossible to consider this subject without considering the RC church's ban of "artificial" contraception. As David Gibson has pointed out, the RC episcopate's objections contradict their church's own moral theology:http://www.religionnews.com/culture/social-issues/are-bishops-ignoring-t.... If the prohibition of artificial contraception is as important as the RC bishops give the impression of thinking that it is, perhaps the time has come for dissenters to seek a spiritual home elsewhere. But large scale explicit departures over an issue so peripheral to the Decalogue and the Good News would undermine the RC bishops' pretentious to represent close to a quarter of the U.S. population.

I just watched the Dolan interview on Fox News which leads me to urge everyone to see this video. http://video.foxnews.com/v/1535398096001/timothy-cardinal-dolan-enters-t... major guffaw that Dolan makes is after O'reilly asks him whether he would tell Catholics not to vote for Obama. The Cardinal responded that this would probably get more Catholics to vote for the "opponent" and he goes on to say that even very faithful Catholics do not want their bishops to tell them who to vote for. The words Dolan uses exactly is that he "would probably be doing the opponent a big favor." Is that a mammoth Freudian slip or what? It clearly shows his political partisanship. Shame on him. Watch the video. There are other acute indicators of Dolan's confusion and lack of direction. None more serious than the above.

"The words Dolan uses exactly is that he would probably be doing the opponent a big favor. Is that a mammoth Freudian slip or what? It clearly shows his political partisanship. Shame on him."Yes. I had suspected as much for some time; then, watching this mandate "battle" go the way of the Affordable Care Act mess, I pretty much knew. Still, it's disturbing to hear the words spoken so casually yet loud and clear. At least now I know I'm not the only one who's noticed. Thanks for that.

Sure. If they thought they wouldnt alienate too many of their Catholic supporters, the Obama administration would be gung-ho about requiring coverage of abortion.Obama's a constitutional lawyer who's very aware of the divisions Roe v. Wade caused in this country and, like all public officials, doesn't want to "alienate" any of the many groups opposed to unlimited abortion, no matter how he himself may regard the issue.Regardless of how much Catholic bishops may oppose it, contraception is no longer considered controversial by any large constituency in the US. Most pertinently, the Institutes of Health categorized it as "preventive" care, and the Affordable Care Act is supposed to require insurance companies to respect these categories. Abortion is not so categorized, and isn't likely to ever get such a designation considering how strong many Americans oppose it.

"Abortion is not so categorized, and isnt likely to ever get such a designation considering how strong many Americans oppose it."strongly.

Jim P. -- You're right, and i apologize for the blinders remark. I misread Cdl. Dolan -- he wasn't accusing the administration of those sins. But it was unfair of him to assume what he has about the administration. There is simply no evidence that the President was dupllicitous when he met with Dolan. True, the adminstration obviously was mistaken to think that its first mandate would be acceptable to the bishops, but why wouldn't it think it was acceptable to them when at least a few bishops were already paying for employees contraceptives? The reasonable interpretation of those bishops' behavior was that the Church would go along with the first mandate the way those few bishops went along with their state mandates. Dolan is obviously accusing Obama of bad faith, and don't think he deserves the accusation.

Thomas Farrell --The religious issue is the bishops' claim that their own religious freedom is being curtailed by having to pay for the contraceptives of their employees. Granted, the people have a right to have the contraceptives supplied to them, but since they can get the contraceptives in other ways, the bishops should not be forced in effect to be the agents of the government. With the first manate they were not being told to simply tolerate the BC, they were being told they must participate in making the BC availabe.Granted, the revised mandate seems to overcome the problem of the first one (though I don't really understand the ins and outs of the new proposal). But since the bishops still are not satisfied that they won't have to pay, the issue isn't dead.

I watched the interview and I think Dolan comes across very accessible and positive. He is very New York in the sense that he is pretty aggressive and engaged. He isn't your boilerplate typical ecclesiastic leader, measured, nuanced, circumspect (also characteristics I admire). But I do think American Catholics should be pleased with him as a spokesperson for the hierarchy. He is an effective leader I think.That said, he has a tough sell. To make this into a religious freedom issue is a bit difficult because the first question that fair minded non-ideological people have is, what is the religious issue at stake here. And when he says covering contraception, I think most people would do a bit of a double take and wonder how that is a religious issue. An argument can be made but it is a tough one.Besides there are medical reasons, besides contraceptive, that the pill could be prescribed (regulation of periods, etc.). So, in practice, it is pretty hard to prevent the sale of a legal non-abortificient product.Ultimately, he (and Catholics in the public square) need to win their case by persuasion. But you need to choose battles wisely. I think the public prayer display case from Rhode Island that was discussed here a few months ago is a better example of erosion of religious freedom than this case.

I have been alerted that I should have used "gaffe" instead of "guffaw" referring to Dolan's foray into partisanship politics. Certainly Dolan's guffaws are legendary while his gaffes seem to be catching up to his guffaws. A gaffe in a guffaw can be unseemly, repugnant and repulsive. Perhaps my Freudian slip is I see more gaffes in his guffaws. Or as the Imitation of Christ says: "Many times we should be crying instead of laughing."

I'm not sure Dolan was unfair to Obama. Despite the comment about negotiating strategy, the initial regs came out last summer. Then in the fall Dolan met with Obama, presumably told him the regs were problematic and Obama assured Dolan the latter would be pleased with the HHS regulations. And in January the final regs are published unchanged. I'm not sure how the President could have come to the conclusion that Dolan would be please with the HHS regs unless he just was not listening. If I had been in Dolan's shoes, I would have felt deceived given that fact pattern.

"contraception after decades-long campaigning by the Church"Jack Barry --"Campaigning" is exactly the right word! The bishops have not tried to persuade people with evidence and sound argument. They've cast the whole so-called "debate" as a war, and campaigned against it.But they do not seem to think that it is their duty as teachers to persuade. Indoctrinate is what they try to do. That might work in some seminaries in "formation" (why don't they just call it brain-washing?), but it won't work with the new, educated laity.

"Certainly Dolans guffaws are legendary while his gaffes seem to be catching up to his guffaws."Could he be entering the Mitt Romney school of politicking - with guffaws as an extra added attraction?

If the individual mandate is overturned , the hospital mandate that hospitals must treat the uninsured might be overturned too. This will close more Catholic hospitals more quickly then BC costs. I see a future of triage tents staffed with volunteers in hospital parking lots. No Bishops need apply.

Ann O,After the briefest foray into the modern world, where they heard talk of lay people having their own competence in matters that directly concern them, the bishops took a decided step backwards and slammed the door as hard as they could on that world. Persuasion is the discourse of equals. For ignorant underlings, commands are sufficient. Or used to be.Persuasion requires not only sound argument but a real effort to understand and address the other person's circumstances and needs. Slogans like "open to life" are not much help. Bishops may be wary of persuasion because they know deep down that they don't have much of a case to make on contraception. They barged into this controversy confident that they could beat down any resistance with the old methods, but they cannot. And once again, the misperceived need to protect the reputation of the institution overrides other considerations.

I'm with Morning about that budget. Catholics United has a petition going around asking the Bishops to defend the poor against the Ryan budget. http://www.catholics-united.org/

Perhaps the most notable thing about this affair is the bishop's attack on secularism whatever that means. If secular means anything it means worldly or concerned about material things. A subject in which the bishops seem to do quite well. They live in luxurious mansions with ample servants providing plentiful food and fine wine not to mention superlative health care. I guess Dolan does not call them "fat balding bishops" for no reason. With all the deceit and lack of truth the bishops have injected into this election year imbroglio it might be noted that the fat balding bishops remark might have been the rare truth proceeding from them. As for the people it is still "let them eat cake." That word secular needs another look.

Thank you, John Page (3:41pm) and Ed Gleason (4:09pm) for your ex cathedra dicta on my purported error (3:29pm). If I am wrong in my assessment, it will neither be the first nor the last time. But it will not be because of your naked infallible declarations. Please consider, for my possible benefit and that of other readers who may lack your intuitive reasoning skills, giving relevants reasons for your abrupt statements.

"The language, the language, and the assumption underlying allour opponents have chosen an issue they know were not very popular on. As if a president of the United States were itching to pounce on Catholic bishops! As if theres a war on."There is a war on - it's better known as the 2012 presidential election. It is shaping up to be a hard-fought and close election, with a handful of swing states, some of which have sizable Catholic populations (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida), determining the outcome. Both the Obama and, presumably, Romney campaigns will have hundreds of millions(!) of dollars at their disposal to win the White House. With financing and resources of this scale to pour into a handful of states, it's not far-fetched to suppose that Catholics would be in the sights of both campaigns. The Obama Administration would be remiss in *not* doing its utmost to prevent the bishops from influencing voters in these states.

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