Who’s funding the Catholic bishops’ religious freedom campaign?
On Thursday (June 21), Catholics across the country will amplify what is an already loud outcry from the hierarchy over the federal government’s so-called contraception mandate.
With rallies, marches, lectures and special publications, the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Fortnight for Freedom campaign will seek to galvanize Catholic opposition to President Obama’s proposed mandate to require employers — including religious institutions — to provide free contraception insurance coverage to employees.
But while Catholic leaders frame the events as a fight for religious liberty, critics see signs of political partisanship and electioneering. Questions over the financing of the bishops’ campaign have caused those suspicions to multiply.
“The activities around the Fortnight for Freedom cost money,” said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington. “What groups are paying for this, and what’s the accountability for that money?”
Those kinds of questions were asked of key Catholic leaders like Baltimore Archbishop William Lori last week as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Atlanta.
Lori, who heads the bishops’ committee on religious liberty, told reporters that gifts “from Catholic groups and foundations” would help sustain the campaign. “The generosity we’ve experienced has been heartening,” he said.
The campaign, Lori said, “is not in any way partisan, either in its spirit or in its funding.”
But he has not been specific about all the outside groups providing financial resources, or how much they’ve contributed. [more]