Much has been made of Cardinal Dolan’s offer to deliver the invocation at the Democratic convention in the wake of his announcement that he would do the same for the Republicans.
His offer, I suggest, is showboating of the worst sort. He well knew that the Democrats would decline. After all, he has been very vocal in (rightly) criticizing the HHS mandate requiring contraceptive coverage by Catholic institutions. The Dems would be crazy to offer him a platform. And while the Cardinal has criticized Congressman Ryan’s budget plan, apparently the GOP is not worried about him reiterating that criticism at the convention. Would that they were wrong, but I fear they are not.
It is not unlikely that he will use the opportunity to criticize the HHS mandate, which is being used to convince Catholics that there is no choice but to vote for Romney in the general election.
While I heartily believe the State has overstepped its bounds with the mandate, and rather stupidly, and I believe that a secular state should adopt a maximalist approach to religious freedom, I also think much of the outrage among Catholic institutions a bit hypocritical.
It is hypocritical, first, because while contraceptive use is widespread among the faithful, the hierarchy and clergy of the Church have shown little concern. I have attended liturgy on Sundays for many decades and have heard contraception mentioned from the pulpit once or twice. The official teaching remains on the books, but it seems to the faithful that it is delivered with a wink. If the hierarchy really believed that the vast majority of married couples were in danger of losing their salvation, wouldn’t there be more concern? They certainly don’t act like men with a salvific crisis on their hands.
And secondly, it is hypocritical because many Catholic institutions violate official Catholic moral teaching with impunity. One study showed that 48% of Catholic hospitals performed contraceptive tubal ligations (http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2012/sterilization-at-catholic-hospitals.html) Of those that don’t, most have physicians associated with the hospital that will do them in private practice.
And when I attended a Catholic college in the 80s- one not notably “liberal” in reputation- the student health clinic dispensed birth control pills. And provided abortion referrals. I doubt very much that this was an isolated instance.
I am not saying that one should vote for Obama. And I am not saying that issues of religious freedom are not important. I am saying that there are many other very important issues, that this election is not so simple, and I am saying that it would take very little in the way of investigation by the Democrats or by journalists to make a lot of these outraged prelates look pretty stupid.