Jeanne Mollen of Falls Church, Va., protests outside the Department of Health and Human Services March 23, 2012, in Washington. The rally was held to oppose the HHS mandate, which forces Catholic institutions to support contraception and abortion services in health insurance plans. CNS photo/Bob Roller

Religious liberty and the New Evangelization

  • June 13, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - The American bishops are gathered this week in a special assembly — and a special one it is. The American episcopate meet twice a year, in November and in June, and every third year the June meeting is given over to a retreat rather than a business meeting.

So this assembly is special for that reason, but there are special circumstances too, for the American bishops find themselves in a time of testing. Here, where the hills of Tijuana, Mexico, are clearly visible, one thinks of their push for comprehensive immigration reform. Indeed, in San Diego the Latino moment in America and the American Church is not the future but the present, manifest in the Mexican-American prelate from a few hours up the freeway, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles.

Yet that is not the issue that is at the top of mind here in San Diego. The topic of the retreat is the role of the bishops in the New Evangelization, taking a lead from the synod on the New Evangelization held in Rome nine months ago. In the corridors and in conversations over meals, the bishops are inclined to speak about religious liberty, and the prospect that, as of Aug. 1, Catholic institutions will be forced to purchase contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacient services in their health insurance plans. Catholic business owners are already subject to the immoral mandate. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, as it is known, is part of the regulations promulgated by the Obama administration under its health care reform...

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