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The U.S. Government? Catholic Bishops Want to Shut That Whole Thing Down

March 19, 2013

As Pope Francis starts his papacy, polls show that American Catholics overwhelmingly believe the issue of clergy sex abuse must be his number one priority. As a Pew Research survey two weeks ago showed, while that crisis tops the list for 34 percent, neither abortion (3 percent) or contraception (2 percent) or any other issue even comes close for his American faithful. Nevertheless, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a different agenda altogether. As their recent letters to Congress show, the bishops want the GOP to shut down the U.S. government if their demands to repeal Obamacare's health insurance contraception mandate are not met.
As CNS reported Tuesday, over the past month Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore sent letters to House members demanding they attach H.R. 940 to "must pass" legislation needed to keep the federal government and the American economy going. That "must pass" legislation includes the continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding the government after March 27 and an increase in the debt ceiling that will be required come May. Terence Jeffrey explained how the bishop's blackmail would work:

If the Republican-controlled House were to agree to the request of the Catholic bishops and move this week to include H.R. 940 in the "must-pass" CR, the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama would have a choice to make. They could choose to preserve the administration's power to force Catholics and other Christians to act against their faith, reject the House-passed CR, and thus risk a shut down of the federal government...
If, instead, the Republican-controlled House fulfilled the Catholic bishops' request by including H.R. 940 in a bill to lift the debt limit, the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama would face a similar choice. In this case, it would be between preserving the administration's regulation forcing Catholics and other Christians to act against their faith and preserving the administration's authority to continue borrowing money to pay the expenses the government is now running in excess of its revenues.

Such a scenario would not only be unprecedented, it would be catastrophic. No less a figure than House Speaker John Boehner, currently being pressured by the USCCB to extort the repeal of the birth control mandate from the White House, has admitted as much. As he put it two years ago after picking up the Speaker's gavel:

"That would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on Election Day said, 'we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs.' And you can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt."

Of course, on Election Day 2012 a majority of American Catholics once again voted for Barack Obama over his Republican opponent. Nevertheless, their bishops apparently are determined to remain all Americans' gatekeepers to Heaven, even if they have to put them through hell to do it.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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