President Obama's attack on Catholic organizations has managed to do what the bishops have been unable to do, as Peggy Noonan points out: Unite the Catholic right and the Catholic left.
Obama's decision to use Obamacare to force Catholic hospitals, schools, universities and charities to fund abortion pills, contraception and sterilization constitutes a deep betrayal of his staunch allies on the Catholic left.
They went out on a limb for Obama and Obamacare, and he has cut off that limb and left them bereft.
Professor Doug Kmiec supported Obama and even wrote a book to justify how a pro-life Catholic could support a pro-choice president (and was rewarded with the plum job of ambassador to Malta). Kmiec has just written an open letter of rebuke to Barack Obama, charging he "put the cold calculus of politics above faith and freedom." "Where is the common good, sir, in not making room for the great Catholic traditions of education, health care and meeting the needs of the least among us?" Kmiec demanded.
The Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, took heat from many Catholics in 2009 for giving President Obama an award and a speaking platform at a university named "Our Lady"; he now scolds the president's "unnecessary government intervention" that puts Notre Dame in the "untenable position" of dropping coverage for 5,229 employees.
Even Chris Matthews on MSNBC is calling for a retreat.
And poor Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association! She broke openly with the bishops to endorse Obamacare, promising it would not lead to the funding of abortions. She never imagined that, much worse, it would lead to requiring Catholic organizations to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients (the morning-after pill) on demand. She called the new regulations a "jolt."
Catholic reaction may well have jolted Sen. Rick Santorum back into contention for the GOP nomination. In last Tuesday's contests, he ran 10 points ahead of the last pre-election PPP poll, indicating a sudden intensity in the turnout for him. Pundits are focusing on the evangelical vote, but Santorum ran surprisingly well in heavily Catholic counties surrounding Minneapolis/St. Paul. He was on fire in his victory speech: President Obama has gone after the liberty of "just a small group of Americans," he said incredulously, "just Catholics in America."
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.