On November 21st, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Baltimore to discuss the changing world and how the Church may (or may not) fit into it. The agenda on the table included gay marriage and contraception.
Clearly the changing political climate is a reflection of changing social attitudes. Thirty years ago, the issue of gay marriage was not even in the voting polls. The bishops are coming together to figure out how this climate will affect the tolerance levels of Christianity.
A top concern for the bishops are religious exemptions within the states that recognize same sex marriages. The state of Illinois stopped working with Catholic charities in foster care and adoption cases because the Catholic charities refused to recognize same sex civil unions or marriage as viable options for the children, thus depriving them of homes and safe places.
Health care is another concern. Obama’s heath care policy has a mandate that private insurance companies pay for contraceptive services. People wishing to be exempt from this are required to request a religious exemption from the bishops.
These are but two issues that the bishops are trying to address within the modern world while still maintaining the integrity of the Church. The President of the Bishop’s Union, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, met with President Obama to try to hammer out these issues. The meeting resulted in tension between the two.
The concentration on religious freedom comes because the bishops believe in preserving the religious identity of Catholic colleges. They also want to publicly call out Catholic politicians and voters who don’t follow church teaching on abortion, and say this is the way to preserve the integrity of the Church.
Steven Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats, told the Washington Post that the meeting was just one more way the Church is removing itself from the people and hiding behind doctrine.
Traditionally, social justice has been a core tenet of the Catholic Church, but a meeting to uphold religious doctrine seems to go against the needs of the people and the changing society. I am unsure if this is a wise move by the Catholic Church.
Photo credit: Catholic Church
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