Magazine article Church & State

Catholic Bishops Escalate Fight with President Obama

Magazine article Church & State

Catholic Bishops Escalate Fight with President Obama

Article excerpt

The Roman Catholic hierarchy has accused President Barack Obama's administration of an "assault" on religious liberty and says it will create a new watchdog group to press its views in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced creation of the new body, called the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Sept. 30. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City, who serves as USCCB president, asserted that the rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are "increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America" thanks to Obama's policies.

The new committee will be chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. It will include a lawyer and a lobbyist, both of whom will focus on "religious liberty and marriage issues," the USCCB said in a statement.

The bishops already lobby aggressively in Washington on a range of issues, including pressing for taxpayer aid to the church's private school system and against reproductive rights. But this new arm is believed to be the first entity dedicated strictly to social issues.

In a letter to U.S. bishops, Dolan listed six issues of particular concern: a requirement in the new health care bill that private insurers cover birth control; a requirement that groups providing services to refugees provide reproductive services to victims of trafficking and minors; demands that HIV-prevention programs include condom distribution; the administration's support for overturning the Defense of Marriage Act; the U. …

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