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article imageCatholic bishops prepare to battle Obama over gay marriage

By JohnThomas Didymus     Nov 14, 2011 in World
As Catholic Bishops meet to forge a common front against Barack Obama, Archbishop Dolan has warned the President's decision not to defend a ban on gay marriage could "precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions."
Huffington Post similarly reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, in a speech recently delivered at the Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., titled "Catholics in the Next America," expressed pessimism about the future of the country in its rejection of Christianity:
"The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country's past...It's not a question of when or if it might happen. It's happening today."
NCR Online reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at their meeting scheduled for November 14 to15, will not be discussing what many consider equally, or even more pressing issues, such as the country's economic problems or recent court rulings on the Church's liability in cases of child sex abuse crimes. The priests will discuss what concerns them most, primarily, social issues that have caused increased tensions in their relationship with the Obama administration.
NCR Online reports that a group of U.S. Catholic Bishops took Archbishop Timothy Dolan's ominous message to Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, to solicit support for U.S. bishops in the battle to come.
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, in an interview with Catholic News Service, on Tuesday, said the group of bishops who went to see the pope included Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.. The group, according to Cardinal O'Malley, told the Pope that U.S. Catholic bishops are concerned about the manner in which the state is eroding the freedom of the church in the U.S.. Cardinal O'Malley said:
"Obviously, the issues around same-sex marriage are putting the church on a collision course with the civil authority in many different ways."
The authorities at the Vatican, were concerned to ascertain that Catholic bishops in the U.S. are unanimous in their resolve to confront the Obama administration. The Catholic bishops, according to Cardinal O'Malley, are convening the November 14 to 16 meeting to discuss relevant issues and come to unanimous decisions on key issues.
Former spokesman for the Bishops Russell Shaws, says the meeting is needed to,
"bring all of the bishops into the act...[give] them a chance to express their opinions, ventilate a bit, and get on board with whatever it is the national conference is going to be doing in the months and years ahead."
Critics of the bishops, however, point out that while they are making a big show of fighting the state over same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception, more lay Catholics are assuming a liberal attitude toward the same issues. Critics say, also, that the focus on confrontation with Obama is a strategy to divert attention from the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the Church in recent times.
The critics do not include only outsiders to the Catholic Church but also Catholic scholars. Huffington Post reports that many Catholic academics, activists and parishioners say the bishops are overreacting. According to Huffington Post, John Gehring of Faith in Public Life, which advocates for more liberal religious voters thinks the bishops need to look at the functions of a secular government for a wider perspective. He says that in a "pluralistic society, government officials can choose policies that differ from church teaching without prejudice being the factor"
Digital Journal reported that other critics have alleged a political motive undertone to the efforts of the bishops. Digital Journal quotes a critic, who alleges that the campaign of the bishops is only to make "political grounds":
"To a certain extent, we’re seeing a replay of FOCA [the Freedom of Choice Act] here...There’s a lot of political ground to be made by having a campaign even if you’re expecting a different outcome.”
Supporters of the Catholic bishops, however, disagree, vehemently, with critics. Max Weber of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, says:
"A strong, unified voice from the Bishops to the laity needs to be heard... Religious liberty is under attack when the government forces a religion to break a commandment. God Bless Bishop Dolan and all the Bishops as they challenge those who would take our Faith from us."
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