Mandate at Ascension

It takes a hot and heavy discussion sometimes for realizations to seep thru, such as last night’s forum at Ascension-Oak Park, where Bob Gilligan, exec director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, was the speaker and took many questions.  Seeped-thru realizations:

* Some or many Catholics are shocked to see the bishops going to the mat on the birth control mandate (taking it that seriously), when they have heard nothing on the matter for decades.  Not that they thought the prohibition had been lifted.  They just hate to be reminded of it, and like gays seeking affirmation, not just tolerance, they are desperate.

* The Obama admin is trying to pit Catholics against their bishops, taking sides in a longstanding internal dispute, which is disgusting.  The pitting them vs. bishops, not the split, which historically is only a grade-B one, whatever we hear (I think). 

The admin got 250,000 letters complaining about the mandate in the months before it was announced, Gilligan said.  Dwarfing other such protests.  Obama and his people knew quite well what they were doing: sticking it to the bishops, which as I say, is disgusting.  Who’s next on the hit list?

* On the other hand, the mandate itself is made clearer with this particular case. If we didn’t quite get it before, when it was mandate-as-such, we do now when we see this startling application.  Obama is a madman to poke us in our collective eye.  Politically, the only sense it makes is that it stirs up his social-issues base. 

Note well: It was quite a well-attended session, btw, in Ascension’s Pine Room.  The pastor Fr. Larry McNally having urged attendance on his boisterous flock, which, btw, was quite obviously split on the b.c. issue, or rather on the b.c.-first, religious-liberty-second issue.  A spirited discussion, and credit is due McNally for organizing.  And a creditable performance by Gilligan, an excellent rep of the bishops’ positions.