There’s no love lost between me and the Catholic Church, heaven knows (pun intended). But I think we can all agree, Catholics, lapsed, non, and otherwise, that what Obama did this week was beyond the pale. If you somehow missed it, he is forcing them to provide & pay for abortion, contraception, and sterilization. Quite apart from whatever you may feel about any one of those individually, it’s the principle being threatened that’s of deep concern here, and Peggy Noonan nails in WSJ today. Here’s an excerpt:
“…The Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can’t be Catholic anymore… There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology. The conscience clause, which keeps the church itself from having to bow to such decisions, has always been assumed to cover the church’s institutions… The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principles and beliefs; it is an abridgement of the First Amendment…
They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States…
(Even) Catholic liberals, who feel embarrassed and undercut, have also come out in opposition. The church is split on many things. But do Catholics in the pews want the government telling their church to contravene its beliefs? A president affronting the leadership of the church, and blithely threatening its great institutions? No, they don’t want that. They will unite against that.
The smallest part of this story is political. There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. In 2008 they made up 27% of the electorate, about 35 million people. Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54% to 45%. They helped him win. They won’t this year. And guess where a lot of Catholics live? In the battleground states.
There was no reason to pick this fight… There was nothing for the president to gain, except, perhaps, the pleasure of making a great church bow to him.
…You have awakened a sleeping giant.”