Contest!! Moderate Bishops Watch. Prizes!! Update!

Here's your chance to win a $5 Starbucks card (or one of those elastic bracelets they're selling to raise $ for a jobs program.)

We saw the remarkable near-consensus of the US bishops against Obama's original contraception coverage mandate. Now the administration has revised the rules: the bishops said they didn't want to pay for contraception coverage for employees of Church-affiliated institutions on grounds of religious freedom. "OK," the administration said. "You don't." Immediately there were howls of indignation from the right, saying that nothing had changed. Some folks just can't take yes for an answer. Meanwhile, other thoughtful Catholics, too numerous to name, have said "Great! Religious liberty is affirmed! What might have seemed to some to be too-close material cooperation is now clearly remote, and justifiable in light of the public health benefits--including fewer abortions--that contraceptive coverage offers." Waiting to hear from the moderate bishops. Keep in mind that many were already providing their employees with contraceptive coverage without serious qualms. Some MIGHT have ideas that while religious liberty is crucial, the revised plan reflects an acceptable position in a pluralist society, where Catholic doctrine does not determine the standards of medical care. Some, I have no doubt, believe in their hearts that the teaching on contraception is not well-argued, and agree with 98% of their flock (at least the women) on that score. Or is it the case that the remarkable consensus stands, and all but a few of the bishops disagree with the new mandate, too?So here's the contest: the first 4 people who can post here verifiable evidence (a pastoral letter, a video, whatever,) of an ACTIVE bishop (auxiliary OK, but not retired,) taking a PUBLIC stance in favor of the revised mandate, will win a Starbucks card or bracelet. (Not a great munificent prize, I agree, but come on, I'm a theologian, not a venture capitalist.) "Private conversations" with bishops don't count--has to be public. So no "outing" people who won't speak for themselves. The right wing has spoken, but the moderates are keeping quiet, at least so far. But I know they exist. Remember, what they're being asked to affirm is very remote material cooperation. That's all. They don't have to publicly challenge the teaching on contraception, though that would count for our purposes here if they connect that stance to the revised mandate. All they have to do is to refuse to cede the public voice of the Church to the Chaputs in their number. It also has to be direct support of the revised mandate, not a vague elliptical dance about "difficult decisions" and "we'll see."UPDATE: At the request of a commenter, the following expansion is now in effect: I'll add ANOTHER 4 Starbucks cards or bracelets to those who find PUBLIC evidence of presidents of major Catholic colleges/universities that endorse the revised Obama plan. (What's major? For lack of a better criterion, how about more than 2500 undergraduates, a number that includes most of the "top" Catholic institutions.) Comments come with an e-mail address: I'll contact you by that address off-line to see which prize you prefer, and where to send it. One prize per bishop, i.e., the first to name a given bishop/college president gets a prize, but others naming the same bishop/college prez won't.

Lisa Fullam is professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).

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