Will the Catholic Bishops help elect Mitt Romney?
The Holy Hour for Freedom at St. Jerome’s in Oconomowoc on July 2— part of the bishops’ campaign against the Obama administration’s inclusion of contraception in health care coverage — gave credence to such concerns.
In his 15-minute sermon, Father John Yockey of St. Jerome’s delivered a fire and brimstone message on “the many ways that the current administration has demonstrated downright aggression and hostility [to religious liberty], for the Roman Catholic Church in particular.”
The political message was saved for the end, when Father Yockey pointedly asked those gathered “to go out and engage in action that will turn this dreadful threat around.”
Prayer was recommended, as was talking to neighbors “who perhaps don’t understand the gravity of it all.” But Father Yockey’s most direct message was his ending admonition: “And we can vote Nov. 6.”
Having established “the current administration” as the enemy, Father Yockey did not need to connect the dots and mention Obama as the man to be defeated in November.
The St. Jerome’s gathering was part of the bishops’ nationwide organizing effort known as Fortnight for Freedom. The campaign ends with a mass on July 4 in Washington, D.C., and here in Milwaukee with a mass at St. Mary’s in Elm Grove.
A number of Catholics worry that the Fortnight for Freedom is leading the church down an unnecessarily vitriolic path where opposition to birth control trumps all other concerns and where the bishops have carved out little space for peacefully resolving a highly emotional and complicated issue.
“From stymying the needed health care reforms in 2010 to waging an all-out political campaign against the President over (of all things!) contraception access, the priorities of the Church in America are in utter disarray,” notes the liberal group Catholics United.
Even some bishops are worried. After 43 Catholic institutions filed suit last May against the Obama administration, Bishop Stephen Blaire of the diocese of Stockton in California argued that the move was premature and overly partisan.
Some groups on the “very far to the right” are turning the controversy over contraception into “an anti-Obama campaign,” Bishop Blaire said. [More]