- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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At the close of their annual plenary meeting, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement reiterating their opposition to the controversial contraception mandate that is part of the Obama administration’s health care overhaul. However, for the first time, the bishops also began to qualify their opposition.
In every previous statement on the mandate, the USCCB has said the mandate would cause Catholic ministries to “fund and/or facilitate” the objectionable contraceptive coverage. That language was dropped from the statement issued last week. According to one source, during the closed door executive session, the bishops wrestled with the issue of whether or not compliance with the mandate constituted illicit material cooperation with evil and decided not to include the “fund and/or facilitate” language which suggested compliance would be morally illicit.
Moreover, after two years during which opposition to the mandate, and the broader issue of religious liberty, tended to drown out all other issues, the new statement painted the USCCB’s religious liberty concerns as one among many issues facing the Church, alongside matters of worship and teaching, service to the poor, and comprehensive immigration reform.