Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, current president of the USCCB, contends that the dispute is fundamentally a matter of ecclesiological principle. In a recent interview with John Allen, the cardinal said that the disagreement with the Catholic Health Association over health-care legislation was “about the nature of the church itself” and was therefore a disagreement “that has to concern the bishops.” This was a disagreement about the nature, limits, and proper exercise of episcopal authority. But there is a second, closely related matter at stake—namely, the character of Christian participation in public life. It may be helpful to begin there.
Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College. His books include: Keys to the Council: Unlocking the Teaching of Vatican II (co-authored with Catherine Clifford, Liturgical Press, 2012), When the Magisterium Intervenes (editor, Liturgical Press, 2012), Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Orbis, 2008) and The Church in the Making (Paulist, 2006).