Bishops ‘dubious’ on White House contraception compromise

The nation’s Catholic bishops have again voiced doubts about the Obama administration’s plans to modify a mandate for employers to provide free birth control coverage, vowing to press a new campaign to rally Americans to defend religious freedom.

Despite their skepticism, a statement issued Wednesday (March 14) by leading bishops at the end of a closed-door meeting in Washington was notable for lacking the “war on religion” rhetoric that has characterized many of the hierarchy’s broadsides against the White House.

While the bishops called the proposal unveiled by President Obama on Feb. 10 “an unspecified and dubious future ‘accommodation,’” they also stressed that they are willing to “accept any invitation to dialogue” with the White House.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit at Georgetown University who follows the inner workings of the hierarchy, described the language as “strong and uncompromising” but not “inflammatory.”

“There is no talk of the Obama administration waging a war on religion or being anti-Catholic,” Reese said. “There is no talk of civil disobedience or canceling health insurance for their employees if they do not get their way.”

The White House is currently in talks with an array of religious leaders — many of them Catholic officials from hospitals, universities and social service agencies — on how to structure an acceptable compromise. [More]


The Washington Post