Bishops face internal challenges in contraception battle
In the weeks since President Obama proposed a compromise on his plan to mandate free contraception coverage, the nation’s Catholic bishops have appeared unified and galvanized in their thorough rejection of the accommodation.
For the hierarchy, it’s been an invigorating change after years of playing defense during the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
“What (Obama) offered was next to nothing,” a confident New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Catholic News Service.
Other prominent churchmen were even more derisive. They blasted Obama’s olive branch of having insurers — rather than employers like Catholic hospitals and universities — pay for birth control coverage under a separate policy as an “accounting gimmick.”
Though the White House has convened meetings with USCCB staff and consulted with various bishops in a bid to reach a final compromise, Dolan has accused the administration of negotiating in bad faith and said the talks are “going nowhere.”
Yet as the U.S. hierarchy stakes its claim as the first and final arbiter of the Catholic position in this hotly contested battle, the bishops are also facing a number of internal challenges. If not addressed, they could undermine the bishops’ position and weaken their future standing if they are seen as losing their face-off with the White House. [More]