Good Commentary & Bad

The best commentary on the Obama “accommodation” so far, and how to respond to it, has come from Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, in an article at America. He writes: “I believe that an even greater opportunity is before us, namely to have a deeper and on a more prolonged basis a fundamental dialogue about the role of religion in society in general and the nature of religious liberty, especially as it applies to faith-based charitable, health and social service ministries in the United States, in particular. I also believe that the president, relying on his personal experience with church, which he cited once again this week, has not only the potential but also the responsibility to make a significant contribution to this more sustained and expansive discussion.” Bishop Cupich’s balanced look at the issues involved should be read by everyone, but especially by his brother bishops.

Runner-up for best commentary goes to E. J. Dionne in this morning’s Washington Post. He writes, “One other thing about culture wars: One side typically has absolutely no understanding of what the other is trying to say.” This was exceedingly true during the debate over the past three weeks in which one side saw the issue as being conscience rights and the other saw the issue as women’s health. We need to engage those with whom we disagree in part to avoid demonizing each other, but also because bishops should not let themselves be cast as misogynists and liberals should not let themselves be cast as anti-religious.

The worst commentary so far came from a letter signed by, among others, Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon and Professor Robert George. The letter states: “It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying ‘five-day-after pill’ pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers.” I think it does matter who pays and who tells. I find it odd that these conservative scholars have so little regard from the proud tradition of casuistry. The letter is a series of GOP talking points, not a useful contribution to the discussion, and it shows in spades that neither Glendon nor George are moral theologians.

But, I have to say, I also find the charge that the administration is “morally obtuse” a little rich coming from Ms. Glendon who has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency. I have a question for Ms. Glendon. If Mr. Romney wins and if, in keeping with its tradition going back to the Eisenhower years, the University of Notre Dame invites him to speak at its graduation ceremony and award him an honorary degree, would the fact that he, unlike Mr. Obama, signed a law that explicitly provided for tax-payer funded abortions and, by statute, gave Planned Parenthood a seat on a health care advisory board, would your concern to oppose moral obtuseness, Madame Ambassador, keep you from sharing the stage with Mr. Romney? As for Professor George, I thought of him and his American Principles Project during yesterday’s first reading at Mass. He has not only decided to become a political player, and often a shill, for the GOP, but for the most extreme elements of the GOP. His organization has developed a fetish for the Gold Standard. What’s that about??!!??

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