The rift between President Barack Obama and Catholic interest groups is intensifying. The Catholic Advocate PAC (CA) is so disenchanted with the president's policies, that the group has launched a campaign urging Obama to "meet with Catholic leaders to discuss compromise." Here is a description of CA's work:
At Catholic Advocate, with our affiliated organizations the Catholic Advocate Educational Fund and the Catholic Advocate Candidate Fund, we engage and encourage faithful Catholics to actively participate in the political process to support elected officials and policies that remain consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Clearly, the political group doesn't see the president as being very friendly to the Church's teachings. The compromise that CA is looking to strike, as Ashley Lopez of The Florida Independent notes, surrounds religious conscious rules. These regulations are best framed on the CA web site:
It is well known the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) forces health care plans to provide coverage of abortion and use our tax dollars to pay for abortion. In addition, PPACA does not protect the conscience rights of health care insurers, providers, and personnel who decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
CA is accusing the president of not making good on a pledge to seek "common ground" with Catholics -- something he promised to do in a speech he gave early on in his presidency at Notre Dame. Rather than addressing these policies, some Catholics claim that Obama has simply abandoned his word and ignored concerns.
On a web site devoted to this new campaign, the group explains that the president originally pledged to be sensitive to religious issues. However, CA contends that, "no other president in American history has so blatantly chipped away at our religious liberties." The group also asks supports to sign a petition to prevent the president from "trampling on our religious liberties."
Watch CA's advertisement, below:
This campaign, though, is only a symptom of the overall deterioration of the relationship between Obama and Catholic groups. In another example of friction between the two parties, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to end funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last month.
Rather than continuing to allocate money to a special program the bishops group oversaw to assist victims of modern-day slavery (i.e. human trafficking), the administration, instead, chose to give the funds to three non-Catholic groups.
See, the bishops conference had refused to refer trafficking victims to receive contraceptives or abortions, so the American Civil Liberties Union sued and HHS decided to provide funds to groups that would refer women for these services. The bishops conference is threatening to respond by taking legal action, while accusing the Obama administration of anti-Catholic bias. HHS, of course, denies these allegations.
Then there's gay marriage -- another contentious issue. The administration's stance of not defending traditional marriage also contradicts Catholic teaching. Plus, there's a proposed HHS mandate that would require private insurers to cover contraceptives without charge -- yet another issue the Church opposes.
Needless to say, anything but common ground seems to be on the horizon. Whether this campaign will make a difference is yet to be seen.