Continuing saturation coverage, I refer you to a new poll from Pew Research Center with some interesting numbers on how Catholics view the dispute over the federal mandate that health insurance cover contraception for employees of religiously affiliated institutions:

While 55% of Catholics who have heard about the rule support an exemption to it, opinion varies considerably by frequency of church attendance. Among Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week, 63% support an exemption while 25% say religiously affiliated institutions should have to cover contraceptives like other employers. Among those who attend less often, opinion is evenly divided (48% favor an exemption, 49% oppose one).

About one-quarter of Catholic churchgoers (24%) report having heard about the issue in church. Among Catholics who report attending Mass weekly, 32% said the rule was brought up recently by their priest or other church official.

One caveat: President Obama revised the rule on Feb. 10, in the middle of the period when the poll was taken, Feb. 8-12. So the full effect on Catholics of that move is not clear. It doesn't seem, at least from these numbers, that Obama's decision had a strong influence on regular churchgoers. Those who attend weekly Mass continue to support the bishops' position by a wide margin, even as they reject the church's teaching that artificial birth control is morally wrong.Setting aside the legal and moral issues dealt with elsewhere on dotCommonweal, this hints to me that Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan's approach of framing the issue in terms of freedom and conscience remains pretty good politics. But that could change; a poll is a snapshot, not a live video feed.In any case, I recommend a look at the full Pew poll.

Paul Moses is the author, most recently, of The Italian Squad: The True Story of the Immigrant Cops Who Fought the Rise of the Mafia (NYU Press, 2023). He is a contributing writer. Twitter: @PaulBMoses.

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