Have the Bishops Become Tea Party Republicans?

Deal W. Hudson
November 24, 2014

“Since most of the Catholics in Congress are both Democrat and pro-abortion it will be a hard sell, and the dissident Catholics in Congress are not used to getting the hard sell from USCCB lobbyists.”

I’M SURPRISED at how few Catholics pundits have noticed the recent letter sent to members of Congress from the USCCB asking that Congress add “must-pass funding legislation” language to the upcoming continuing resolution that would fund the federal government until its next session.

In other words, the Catholic bishops are willing to risk a government shutdown in order to bring about a showdown with the Obama administration and the Democrats on the funding of abortion.

This strategy, needless to say, sounds both Republican, and dare I say it, the Tea Party.  These are hardly associations that most bishops, and especially the USCCB, have usually avoided.

At the time of the Obamacare debate, the Catholic bishops, speaking through the USCCB, urged defeat of the legislation because of its abortion coverage, a fact disputed by the Obama Administration along with Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Administration; Sister Simone Campbell, president of Network; the Nuns-on-the-Bus; and the National Catholic Reporter.

The voice rather tepid voice of the bishops was hardly to be heard over the media attention given to Sisters Keegan and Campbell.

The bishops voice could have been louder, but was not due to two factors 1)  the bishops had advocated some form of universal care for over 20 years, and 2) USCCB staff such as John Carr were very cozy with the White House and trusted Obama’s promises regarding abortion funding made to then USCCB president, Cardinal Dolan.

Cardinal Dolan, to his credit, was the first to speak publicly about the broken promises when it became apparent to everyone but John Carr and company that Obama and the Democrats has no intention to forsake the abortion funding demanded by its constituency.

As reported by LifeSite News, the reason for the sudden change in tone and tactics is what’s about to happen in — surprise again! — California, headed by that Jesuit-trained elderly statesman of the Catholic left, Gov. Jerry Brown.

“The California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately. Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.”

California’s decision is being challenged in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The letter sent to Congress noted that the state of Washington and some other states are moving in the same direction, creating an “the increasingly urgent need for Congress to protect rights of conscience with regard to the taking of innocent human life.”

The bishops point out correctly that California’s action violates the Weldon Amendment which has been approved by Congress annually since 2004 forbidding “governmental bodies receiving federal funds from discriminating against those who decline to take part in abortion or abortion coverage.” Since enforcement of Weldon has become so lax, the bishops urge Congress to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) passed by the House in 2002.

Over the past two years, new leadership has been put in place at the USCCB, both at the staff level and that of the bishops themselves. It will be interesting to see whether there will be any serious effort on the part of the USCCB to persuade members of Congress to add “must-pass funding legislation.” Since most of the Catholics in Congress are both Democrat and pro-abortion it will be a hard sell, and the dissident Catholics in Congress are not used to getting the hard sell from USCCB lobbyists.

My guess would be that we will not hear much more about it — but I hope I am dead wrong.

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