Commonweal Criticizes Bishops' Rejection of Compromise on Contraception Coverage As “Self-Defeating”

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Prominent Catholic magazine says that American bishops' heated rhetoric on contraception only undermines their own goals and credibility.

One-third of adult Catholics have already left the church. Isn’t that sobering fact more deserving of a national campaign than this self-defeating battle over contraception coverage?

Commonweal, the prominent journal of opinion edited by lay Catholics, today published an editorial strongly critical of Catholic bishops’ inflexible tone and “tendentious” reactions to the Obama Administration’s proposed compromise on insurance coverage for contraception at Catholic institutions.

In their editorial “Bad Reaction,” currently on the Commonweal Web site, the editors warn that the bishops’ heated rhetoric and single-minded focus on contraception may undermine the church’s ongoing campaign opposing abortion, and reduce their credibility even further among Catholics. They also note that many Catholic institutions already offer contraception coverage under their health plans, making the bishops’ sudden focus on the issue surprising.

“The bishops’ reactions have already been seized upon by Republicans who are happy to use them as a wedge in the presidential race,” said Paul Baumann, Commonweal’s editor. “This will turn out to be good neither for the church nor for the country.”

The editorial notes that many younger Americans see churches as politically divisive and overly judgmental, especially on questions of sexual morality, and that this is a perception the bishops’ reactions on this issue will only strengthen. “One-third of adult Catholics have already left the church,” notes the editorial. “Isn’t that sobering fact more deserving of a national campaign than this self-defeating battle over contraception coverage?”

The editorial appears online at http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/bad-reaction.

Commonweal is a biweekly journal of opinion published by lay Catholics since 1924, offering commentary on religion, politics, culture, media, and the arts. The magazine’s Web site is at http://www.commonwealmagazine.org.

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