From Selena Zito at the Trib:
Roman Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania are urging the faithful to remember the church’s teachings on marriage, education and religious liberty when voting on Tuesday, calling this presidential election a “historical challenge.”Here's the statement.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference chose All Saints’ Day to issue its election statement reminding Catholics that “most urgent political issues — ranging from the economy, immigration and abortion to global security — raise profoundly moral questions.”
“Because politics is the place where competing moral visions of a society meet and struggle, our democracy depends on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square, yet doing so with an abiding respect for one another,” the bishops said.
And even though this is Zito is political reporter here, Zito the conservative columnist just can't resist the conservative spin:
The bishops warned against efforts to redefine the nature of marriage, to exclude parental authority in school choice, to encroach upon Catholic health care and social services and to erode religious liberty — an apparent reference to a Health and Human Services mandate on contraceptives and federal funding for abortion in Obamacare. [Emphasis added.]There is no federal funding for abortion (except for rape and incest and when the life of the mother is in danger) - the Hyde Amendment has guaranteed that for decades.
And if there's any question whether federal funds can be used in Obamacare, there's an Executive Order that answers that question:
The Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges. Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment, 42 U.S.C. 300a-7, and the Weldon Amendment, section 508(d)(1) of Public Law 111-8) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.How could political reporter Selena Zito not know this? And if she does, then it's simply dishonest to write what she wrote. (Again, which is it with these folks at the Trib? Incompetence or dishonesty?)
But let's move on to the Bishops' statement. When they write:
Religious liberty itself – “our first, most cherished freedom” – is no longer secure. At first glance, this may seem otherwise because religious freedom is so deeply ingrained in our national history. But democracy has no special immunity to losing its soul by little steps. As Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of early American democracy, observed more than 150 years ago, “it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life” – because the more the state provides, the more it inevitably controls.And:
Events have proven this true. In recent years a pattern of legislative and judicial actions has emerged in our country that undermines religious liberty and jeopardizes the contributions of religious bodies in the public realm. Government policies that seek to impose morally repugnant services on religiously affiliated medical providers...
Consider today’s aggressive efforts to redefine the nature of marriage, to exclude parental authority in the choice of the best education for their children, and to force Catholic healthcare and social services to end their ministries unless they violate their religious identities through mandated support of practices contrary to the very sanctity of human life. [Emphasis added.]Who do you think they want Catholics to support? Notice how they framed the issue. Now look at reality.
What's being discussed here is not The Church being forced to "end their ministries" in anyway. It's about access to insurance (that they're not paying for) for women (who may or may not be Catholic but who work for a Catholic institution) who want contraceptives. That's what the bishops oppose. And in doing so, they're imposing their own faith in the name of religious liberty.
Amazing how faith, yet again, gets in the way of reality.