Around the country this past week, Catholics were treated to their bishops manfully decrying Health and Human Service’s announcement that the Church was to be forced to violate its principles and support the funding of contraception and abortion.  Three examples:
 
·        “[The Obama administration] has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good—including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals—from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees. …When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.” [Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Wall Street Journal, 1-25-12]
 
·         “We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.” [Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Diocese of Phoenix, Letter read at Sunday Masses, 1-25-12]
 
·        “This is government by fiat that attacks the rights of everyone – not only Catholics; not only people of all religion.  At no other time in memory or history has there been such a governmental intrusion on freedom not only with regard to religion, but even across-the-board with all citizens. It forces every employer to subsidize an ideology or pay a penalty while searching for alternatives to health care coverage. It undermines the whole concept and hope for health care reform by inextricably linking it to the zealotry of pro-abortion bureaucrats.”   [Bishop David A. Zubik, Diocese of Pittsburgh, “To Hell with You,” 1-27-12]
 
One reads these words with a mixture of sad pride and incredulity: dear bishops, you sound shocked about the current state of affairs.  Did the beast you’ve been feeding all these years turn and snap at you?
 
Feeding it?  Why, yes.  For Over 40 years you’ve been funding, via the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, community organizations with progressive political agendas that convinced you your religious world and your public policy world were two separate entities.  You wanted universal health care?  Well, so did they…never mind the pesky little business of abortion and family planning funding.  But here it is, back at you!
 
Oh, wait.  Not only have you been funding these guys to see that fellow progressive organizers like themselves got put into political office – think Obama – but you’ve been systematically reeducating your Catholic people to understand “social justice” in terms of precisely such organizing, with all the lovely compromises that entails.  And now you’re surprised that it’s threatening your charitable activities? 
 
I’m wondering where these Alinskyian organizations that you’ve nurtured for so many decades are right now.  I’m not finding press releases on the websites of Interfaith Worker Justice, the Industrial Areas Foundation (busy about “inventing and establishing new social realities”), the PICO National Network (“unlocking the power of people”), or Gamaliel supporting the Catholic Church against threats to Her conscience.
 
Dear bishops, I appreciate that your moral outrage is sincere.  You have been stabbed in the back. 
 
It’s just that it’s hard to understand how you didn’t see it coming. 

Spero columnist Stephanie Block also edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper.
 

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