Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weigel: No compromise

George Weigel analyzes the new statement from the USCCB, summing up the bishops' position thusly:
“United for Religious Freedom” concludes with a commitment to “accept any invitation to dialogue with the Executive Branch to protect the religious freedom that is rightly ours” — a formulation indicating that they will not come to any such further conversation as a supplicant, but as a defender of American tradition. The statement expresses support for a legislative remedy to the depredations of the HHS mandate, which, one assumes, will now focus on the Fortenberry bill in the House of Representatives. Finally, the statement reiterates the bishops’ determination to pursue a remedy in the federal courts, which is their likeliest path to success. The reference to both the Constitution and “federal laws that protect religious freedom” suggests that the conference knows it has a strong case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and will vigorously pursue it.

In sum, the bishops have rebuffed calls for a tactical retreat; the analysts who have not grasped the sea-change in perspective of the bishops’ conference have been confounded; the Catholic Lite brigades have been challenged to think again about the gravity of the theological and constitutional issues involved in the mandate; and those who have supported the bishops thus far have been affirmed in their work.

There will be no compromise here, for there can be no compromise of first principles. Those who understand that will gather their energies and continue to defend both Catholic and American tradition.