In a Feb. 14 note to his people, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., the archbishop of Chicago, commented on the question of “who speaks for the Catholic Church,” which had become a subject of public controversy thanks to the Obama administration’s “contraceptive mandate”—which is, of course, an abortifacient and sterilization mandate as well. The cardinal noted the administration’s crude attempt to play divide-and-conquer with the Catholic Church in the United States, a ploy in which some nominally Catholic groups quickly acquiesced. Yet something important in all of this was being missed, the cardinal suggested: “…the bishops of the Church make no attempt to speak for all Catholics; they never have. The bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those that hold that faith gather around them. Others disperse.”
The diaspora, in this case, was entirely predictable: columnists and politicians who had questioned the administration’s mandate, and organizations and associations that had raised serious questions about it when it was first announced, quickly fell back into line when the administration, on Feb. 10, announced an “accommodation” that was an obvious shell game, a ruse that didn’t change the moral issue involved one whit.