The nationâ€™s Catholic bishops have again voiced doubts about the Obama administrationâ€™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 â€œwar on religionâ€ rhetoric that has characterized many of the hierarchyâ€™s broadsides against the White House.
While the bishops called the proposal unveiled by President Obama on Feb. 10 â€œan unspecified and dubious future â€˜accommodation,â€™â€ they also stressed that they are willing to â€œaccept any invitation to dialogueâ€ 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 â€œstrong and uncompromisingâ€ but not â€œinflammatory.â€
â€œThere is no talk of the Obama administration waging a war on religion or being anti-Catholic,â€ Reese said. â€œThere is no talk of civil disobedience or canceling health insurance for their employees if they do not get their way.â€
The White House is currently in talks with an array of religious leaders â€” many of them Catholic officials from hospitals, universities and social service agencies â€” on how to structure an acceptable compromise. [More]