Washington Bishop Blase Cupich: 'Calling for calm' and return to civility

by Tom Gallagher

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From The Pacific Northwest Inlander:

In this case, it was religious moderation -- not extremism or volatile rhetoric -- that grabbed headlines. It was February, and Barack Obama was delivering his speech on the mandate requiring the health care plans of Catholic organizations to cover contraceptives, traditionally opposed by Catholic doctrine.

Blase Cupich, bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, was taking notes. He'd been tasked by America magazine, the 103-year-old national publication of the Jesuits, to write an essay about the Catholic reaction to the president's decision.

Like other Catholic bishops, Cupich was opposed to the mandate and worried it would restrict religious freedom. That was expected. But what stirred some controversy was the way that, after repeating the church's reason for opposition, he called for a "return to civility."

"While the outrage to the ... decision is understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact," Cupich wrote, cautioning that leaders should "always be leery of letting a situation escalate to an undesirable degree."

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