The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meets this week to elect a new president. Relations with Washington top the agenda. Stalking those relations is the reality that the USCCB compromised itself two years ago to facilitate the presidential candidacy of Joe Biden. Now it is caught in the repercussions of its own priorities in 2020.
Biden’s appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services would eliminate freedom of conscience in the name of health care. They propose to revise Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to add mandates about abortion, “gender identity,” and sexual orientation to existing protections against “discrimination on the basis of sex.” Revision will subvert the right of hospitals and medical practitioners to claim exemption from participating in procedures that violate their religious convictions.
The USCCB responded with a directive to laity: “Act Now! Tell the Federal Government to Do No Harm to Catholic Health Care Ministries.” Posted on the USCCB’s website, it prints out as a two-page flyer for distribution in parishes:
According to the new rule, it would be considered discrimination for a health care worker or Catholic hospital to object outright to performing gender transition procedures. … [It] also suggests that the government may refuse to honor the right of health care workers and providers not to perform or participate in abortions.
The bishops are opposed to mandates that imperil the functioning of Catholic health care institutions. Yet they themselves undercut conscientious opposition to abortion — or any morally repugnant surgery — two years ago. Attacks on religious freedom in medical practice are the unintended but predictable consequence of the USCCB’s tacit support for Biden in 2020.
The group refused to confront presidential candidate Biden’s de-Christianizing agenda: “The Church is involved in the political process but is not partisan. The Church cannot champion any candidate or party.” The pose of neutrality and a fastidious blind eye to Biden’s contempt for church teaching and natural law was not strictly an endorsement. But it functioned as one by the back door.
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