Baltimore, MD(LifeNews.com) -- Meeting on the second day of their annual conference, the nation's Catholic bishops urged an aggressive campaign to oppose the pro-abortion bill expected to be the centerpiece of the Barack Obama administration. They also mentioned concerns about Catholic hospitals being forced to do abortions.
So far, so unexceptional. But here's the meat of the article, and by "meat" I mean "fairly subtle threat' (particularly amusing is that they had a Bishop from Chicago making it):
Some of the bishops, during the discussion, went as far as saying the Catholic Church should be willing to close some health facilities rather them allow them to be subject to a mandate to do abortions from the Obama administration.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago spoke up about the threats to Catholic health care under the bill.
“It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals entirely,” Paprocki said. “It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.”
“I do not think I’m being alarmist in considering such drastic steps,” he said. “We need to respond in a morally appropriate, responsible fashion.”
Note the double-tier there, read "will mean discontinuing" for "could mean discontinuing," and read "be unsurprised if we take" for "we may need to consider taking." Also note, as Ed did, that they're not talking about handing off the facilities to somebody who's not pro-life. This is a down-the-line stance against being involved with abortions at all, at all. And, yet again as Ed notes, the Church is a very large health-care provider.
It also represents the faith of 22% of the population of the United States - including myself, although I'm currently a very bad Catholic - which is ironically probably one of the reasons why it's been so reluctant to get involved in secular politics. This country can react badly to what we consider "meddling" by outside forces, and up until about a generation or two ago being Catholic was considered... well, not always bad; but it had to be considered. It would probably take something like abortion to make the Church start to get actively involved in American politics; and even then they're reacting, not acting. If FOCA didn't force Catholic institutions to perform abortions then the Church would probably have left it at a condemnation.
But it does, and the Church is not going to give way on abortion. Not this year, not this decade, not this century, and probably not this millennium. And closing down the hospitals is not in fact the only arrow in their quiver...
PS: That 54 to 45 number that some of you are muttering to yourself right now as an apotropaic charm does not actually take into account what happens if priests across the United States take to the lectern on a Sunday in order to read a letter to the congregation stating that every Catholic politician that plans to either vote for or publicly support FOCA will be denied the Sacraments until they renounce their error.
Right now, that scenario is just on the horizon. Then again, so is FOCA.