Tuesday, May 15, 2012
In recent months, I've encountered a number of times the charge that the Bishops' emphasis in recent months on the importance of religious freedom, and on the reality of present-day threats to it, is really just an effort to re-brand their (that is, the Catholic Church's) opposition, on the merits, to legal abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception, etc. The charge is, I'm afraid, effective -- at least in some quarters -- but it's also quite wrong. So, I was sorry to see it endorsed, over at Commonweal, in this post by Lisa Fullam, who writes:
Gee, let’s see: when the bishops’ “religious liberty” initiative was seen for what it was–an attack on contraception that appeared to lots of folks to be an attack on women, the GOP got suddenly quiet. We’ll see how many high-ranking republicans stand next to bishops in their “Fortnight of Freedom.” And the public credibility of the USCCB takes another blow.
No, that's not what it was, or is, and no "scare quotes" are needed around religious freedom. This is not about contraception (though I know that some conservative critics of the Bishops' religious-freedom efforts think it should be) but about the integrity, character, and appropriate independence of religious institutions. The notion that the recent impositions and attacks (and "attack" is the right word for the Administration's efforts in the Hosanna-Tabor case) are regarded by the Bishops as simply convenient occasions to pursue an anti-contraception agenda strikes me as implausible, to say the least.