The question of whether Obama administration perceived goods — like mandated employers provide contraception and abortion and female sterilization coverage — trump religious liberty and conscience rights is at the heart of the debate some of us are having with the White House over that contentious, conscience-assaulting HHS mandate you’ve heard about. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago makes a politically astute point in a new interview with the Catholic News Service. He explains that, while the Church will continue to be open to talks with the White House about protecting religious liberty, he doesn’t expect the Obama administration to back down on the HHS mandate before the courts make them.
“I think that the final resolution will probably be with the courts, because if they decide against the administration, then politically,” the White House “will be able to say that ‘our hands were tied by the courts,’” the cardinal explains.
Religious liberty is currently batting 11 out of 14 in the courts in cases over the HHS mandate.
“If they concede something that their own base thinks should not be conceded, then they are in political trouble,” Cardinal George observed. “And I doubt that they’ll take that chance.”
His comments come after New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made clear yesterday in a statement that the latest proposal by the administration is insufficient and that the bishops do not plan to abandon the individuals, such as the Green family that runs Hobby Lobby or small-business owner Frank O’Brien, who the administration has been arguing in court actively surrendered their religious liberty once they chose to become business owners.
George, who was Dolan’s immediate predecessor as president of the USCCB, explained in the recent interview, “The bishops have made it very clear that the institutions for which we are responsible will simply not cooperate and then it will be up to the government to decide what it wants to do.” He emphasized, “That is where we are and that is where we stay.”
They don’t, in other words, plan to abandon freedom.