As it has been widely reported, Obama conferred with Sister Keehan before his announcement last Friday. Then, lo and behold, she praised his revision as an inspiring resolution to the thorny issue of "religious freedom" soon after the sham event concluded.
So let's get down to brass tacks. How much is Sister Keehan worth for such political interventions? The checkered Catholic hospitals Keehan represents as chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association stand to receive gobs and gobs of cash from the federal government if Obamacare holds up past 2012. Consequently, the members of the association are more than happy to pony up huge salaries to executives skilled at manipulating the Catholic electorate for Obama.
According to the form, base compensation for "Daughters of Charity for Sr. Keehan" was $682,982. "Bonus and incentive compensation" was $136,000. "Other reportable compensation" -- which is the (B)(iii) to which the caveat refers -- was $131,888. Nontaxable benefits were $11,597. All this adds up to salary and benefits totaling $962,467.
Presumably, her 2011 salary and benefits will exceed $1 million, if the past is any measure. (Her 2009 salary and benefits fell in the $850,000 range.)
She spun Obama's "compromise" effortlessly, while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was caught flatfooted. In his tiresomely inane and people-pleasing way, USCCB president Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan initially praised Obama's con job as a first "step in the right direction." This gave the White House nearly a day of good publicity with which to confuse Catholics.
And while Sister Keehan is once again rallying Catholics to re-elect the most pro-abortion president in history, the Congregation of Bishops are issuing statements, that are too late and too weak.
Later that Friday, the USCCB issued a new statement pronouncing Obama's revision "unacceptable." But the damage was already done.
Keehan must chuckle at the cluelessness and doctrinal timidity of the bishops. The USCCB still can't decide if "Catholic" pols whipping the Church in America on issues like abortion and gay marriage should be denied Communion. This is too tough a call for the USCCB, so no uniform policy exists. (In a typical comment from the USCCB crowd, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. has said that he won't withhold Communion from Nancy Pelosi, as that "style" of confrontation makes him uncomfortable.)
Catholics simply do not get it. I think the bumper stickers on one person's car sum it all up: one sticker "You can't be Catholic and pro-choice" and on the other sticker: "Obama for President". Unfortunately that confusion is not limited to your ordinary everyday Catholics; the bishops too seem to think in the same confused manner.
In 2008, many bishops, priests, and nuns voted for Obama and they probably will again. At the end of the day, they are Democrats first and Catholics second. Besides, they agree with Obama on issues like birth control. They, too, view the Church's teachings as passé.
"Obama is not a pro-abortion president," Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L'Osservatore Romano, said a while back, while former papal household theologian Cardinal Georges Cottier congratulated Obama for his "humble realism."
No doubt Obama will reassemble his "Catholic advisory committee" and continue to generate donations from Catholic colleges and universities. Last time around, the faculty at Jesuit Georgetown led all college faculties, religious and non-religious, in donations to Obama.
Several Jesuit schools joined Keehan in praising Obama for his HHS "compromise," which was awfully big of them since they never needed it in the first place, given that they already hand out condoms and contraceptives to their students.
- The Little Sisters of Limousine Liberalism, by George Neumayr
I have heard it said that whoever gets the majority of the Catholic vote wins the election. And Obama has more than 50% of the Catholic vote, according to recent polls. With continued weak leadership in the church, that isn't going to change. Bishops such as Dolan and Weurl need to step up and definitively put their beliefs on the line. No more trying to have it both ways, currying favour with politicians and guiding their flocks. You just can't have it both ways.