Paul  Kengor

America’s Catholic bishops are princes of diplomacy, highly educated, erudite, men of tact, propriety. They’re asked to shepherd the flock with a long historical timeframe—like, say, eternity. They tend not to have knee-jerk reactions to issues of the moment.

And so, it’s not often when a paragon of decorum, namely, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, publishes a letter in his diocesan newspaper with a title like, “To hell with you.”

Gee, what could have provoked that? The answer is the Obama administration via its horrendous mandate to Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients—that is, birth-control drugs that induce abortion. The Catholic Church defines these things as “evil.” The Church and its members are now being told they must provide them. By fiat, the Obama administration has issued that decree.

It sort of flies in the face of that old freedom of religion thing we’ve always had in America. And it’s certainly of concern not merely to Catholics but all Americans.

Here’s what happened:

Last August, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as, “Obama-care.” The guidelines mandated that by summer 2012 all health-insurance plans—yes, all of them—must cover any and all FDA-approved contraception, sterilization procedures, and pharmaceuticals, even those that produce or result in abortion. Every employer and employee must pay for these things, even if they violate the dictates of their conscience. The employers include all Catholic institutions, from colleges to hospitals to nursing homes to social-service agencies to charities … to whatever else. “All” means “all.”

How’s that for social justice?

When ex-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a lifetime Roman Catholic, said that we’ll learn the details of Obama-care after Congress passes the legislation, this is a perfect illustration. The Devil is truly in the details.

In response to this screaming train-wreck, Catholics sent letters to Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, who happens to be Roman Catholic. When she was governor of Kansas, Sebelius was so terrible on abortion, and so defiant of Church teaching, that her bishop ordered that she be denied Communion. Catholics protested directly to Sebelius.