Archbishop Dolan, president of the USCCB, announced the formation September 30 of a "committee for religious freedom" that will employ a lawyer and a full-time lobbyist. Lumping a number of Obama Administration policies into a pot of supposed "assaults on religious liberty," the conference leaders intend to jump early into the presidential campaign on the Republican side of a number of issues that prominently include a broad attack on efforts to legalize gay civil marriage. "This ad hoc committee aims to address the increasing threats to religious liberty in our society so that the church's mission may advance unimpeded and the rights of believers of any religious persuasion or none may be respected," said Bridgeport Bishop William Lori, chairman of the new group.
The problem with making this "a campaign to support conscience rights" is that Archbishop Dolan's efforts to exempt all Church-affiliated organizations from the basic health requirements of the Affordable Care Act are actually intended to take health decisions about contraception away from individuals who work for Catholic hospitals or other organizations--including non-Catholics. In other words, they seek to impose particular moral choices on individuals rather than leaving those decisions to the individual conscience. This is the kind of political double-speak that is a sad departure from the Catholic intellect tradition, and serves to undermine the Church's credibility with thinking Catholics.
For more information, read Dennis Coday's story in the National Catholic Reporter.