Pittsburgh Priests Take Laity's Concerns to Bishop

By McElwee, Joshua J. | National Catholic Reporter, April 27, 2012 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Priests Take Laity's Concerns to Bishop


McElwee, Joshua J., National Catholic Reporter


As the nation's bishops were mobilizing a campaign to address what they see as threats against religious liberty, priests in one diocese were telling their bishop that his stance on one of the key issues of the campaign was alienating women and creating "a lot of anger" among laypeople.

Several priests of the Pittsburgh diocese gave that message in a meeting with Bishop David Zubik--the prelate who said in January that the Obama administration's mandate regarding coverage of contraceptives in health care plans told Catholics, "To hell with you."

The meeting, which NCR learned about through a fax sent from the Association of Pittsburgh Priests in early April, took place in mid-March between four priests and the bishop and lasted about two hours.

The meeting was "cordial" and Zubik "took the time" to listen to many of the priests' views, Fr. Neil McCaulley, one of the four priests, told NCR in a telephone interview.

Speaking to NCR April 5, Zubik said the meeting was amicable and that he wanted to meet with the priests because "it's important for me to be able to respond" to their concerns.

The bishop also said he is open to meeting with laypeople. "I think that as many people as possible need to hear from me" on the issue, he said.

Zubik's January column, published in the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper, caught the eye of some in the church for its strident tone on the issue of the health care mandate.

"The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, 'To hell with you!' There is no other way to put it," the bishop bluntly wrote in the column, which the newspaper printed following the administration's first announced version of the mandate in late January. …

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