Saturday, June 16, 2012

Catholics Reject Bishops’ Attempts to Redefine Religious Freedom

Note: The following media release was issued June 14 by Catholics for Choice, an advocacy group that "shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives."

“As Bishop Lori and his colleagues discussed alleged threats to religious freedom at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, Catholics in the US shrugged and went about their daily business of putting food on the table and keeping their families healthy and happy,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “The bishops just don’t get it.

“Catholics throughout the country have said that they do not appreciate the bishops’ attempts to influence public policy in this manner. The bishops’ warm-up events last week and in May were poorly attended, even by the low standards that the bishops set themselves.

“The bishops’ discussion of religious freedom in Atlanta was a travesty, consisting of patting themselves on the back about their campaign to have the right impose their beliefs on the entire American population. During the meeting, participants also made false assertions — which went unchallenged — about the Affordable Care Act.

“The discussion closed with a clear sign from Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, revealing just how much interest the bishops have in listening to dissenting voices, even those within their own ranks. He solicited support from the bishops for their campaign on religious freedom and pointedly called for the one bishop who publicly questioned the initiative, Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, to second his motion. As the bishops began to applaud, Dolan failed to even ask if anybody dissented.

“Many, many millions of Catholics outside the room would have loved to have had the opportunity to tell the bishops what they think of this sideshow,” said O’Brien. “But the bishops aren’t listening; they just don’t get it.

“Ironically, there were laments from the bishops and their advisers that the voices of the laity aren’t being heard, and a recognition that more and more people believe that the religious persecution meme is merely a political ploy by the bishops’ conference. As the bishops settled down to their breakfast this morning and read the local paper, they got their wish: the voices of the Catholic laity could not be clearer."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the text of a letter that has been signed by thousands of Catholics around the country under the headline, ‘We the Catholic People.’

The open letter, an initiative supported by Catholics for Choice and more than a dozen other progressive Catholic organizations, is a direct call for policymakers to listen to Catholics before they make pronouncements on family planning. The letter notes that the bishops are entitled to their viewpoint, “just as [Catholics] are to ours. Unfortunately, the bishops attempt to portray their views as representative of ours in public discourse. The bishops’ insistence on eliminating access to contraception does not reflect our view or the views of many of the 68 million Catholics in the United States. We have spoken with a near-unanimous voice: we believe that the use of contraception is a moral decision that should be made by individuals in accordance with their conscience.”

With the tagline, “If you want to know what Catholics think about contraception, ask us—not the bishops,” the open letter gathered almost 30,000 signatures in less than a week, with thousands more individuals signing on at

The letter concludes: “We stand together to state loudly and clearly to all that Catholic people diverge from the bishops on many issues. They do not speak for us each and every time they lobby elected officials or attempt to influence public policy. Our voices as Catholic people are an important component of policy debates and discussion and should be afforded the same respect.”

People may sign onto the letter here.

Read this press release and view the open letter on the Catholics for Choice website.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Yesterday's 'Religious Freedom' Rallies
Quote of the Day – June 4, 2012


  1. Hi, Are there any links to Priestly Celibacy? I, for one, am totally against it. Eugenia Renskoff

  2. Yesterday, Philadelphia’s Msgr. William Lynn was convicted of covering up sexual abuse by priests under his supervision. This weekend would be the perfect opportunity for the Catholic hierarchy to formally apologize for its role in the abuse scandal and to publically commit to preventing abuse in the future. Instead, the bishops have ordered all parishes to preach against Obamacare this weekend.

    Regardless of your views on abortion, this order threatens the separation of church and state and, more importantly, is a cowardly attempt to distract Catholics and non-Catholics alike from the hierarchy’s culpability in the sexual abuse of children.

    We need to send a message to the hierarchy. If you attend Mass on Sundays, skip it or at least refuse to contribute to the collection. If you don’t, show up and walk out during the homily. The hierarchy needs to gets its own sexual affairs in order before they have the credibility to dictate ours.

  3. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it Help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save live"!

  4. Catholics for choice?

    Several weeks ago, I spoke with a gentleman who tried to convince me that a child conceived in the womb was not a child, but a mass of water. For months I have seen the gentleman appear with his sign that, “abortion is not murder,” as a counter protest against those of us who attend mass every Saturday morning in front of Planned Parenthood and pray for the babies who will lose their lives within the walls of that facility and while still in the womb of their mother.

    While a variety of mass attendees would talk with and attempt to reason with him, he would continue to show up every week with his sign. I figured he was entrenched in his ways, so there would be nothing I could say which might help him change his mind. A few weeks ago, as I was walking to my car after the sidewalk mass, the gentleman engaged me with the argument that the first 40 days after conception the child is nothing but water.

    I tried to tell him that before conception an egg is an egg and a sperm is a sperm and they will never become more than that unless conception occurs. At conception, however, a human being is formed and the rest of what is to happen is a matter of maturity. I tried to reason with him that the conception of a child is the design of God; therefore, how is it we should have the arrogance to believe that the life which God allows is ours to take before it ever has the chance to see what God has created outside the womb?

    He continued to argue his position, and I realized there is nothing I could say or scripture I could present which would budge him from his belief, so I left it to the only thing I could do. I told him to take his position to prayer. I said, “It does not matter what I say, only what He says. If you ask Him sincerely in prayer, He will reveal the truth to your heart.” We have not seen the gentleman since.

    The attempts to deceive us away from the desires of God for the children of His creation have plagued men and women from the earliest of days. As people continue to argue about the culture of life and death, it is no wonder the Lord said we are a stiff necked people. If we do not understand what Jesus attempted to teach us through the two greatest commandments, then, we should take it to prayer and ask that He reveal to us the truth. If we do not trust the Church Jesus established upon Peter, we should ask that God reveal His truth in our hearts. If our hearts are true, we will follow God and not the serpent.

    “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” (Act 7:51-53)