The Catholic Advocate PAC has started a campaign asking President Obama to “meet with Catholic leaders to discuss compromise” on religious conscience laws. The group is also accusing the president of not seeking “common ground” with religious groups like he promised in a speech made at Notre Dame.

According to the organization’s website, the Catholic Advocate PAC “engages and encourages faithful Catholics to actively participate in the political process to support elected officials and policies that remain consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The group is affiliated with the Catholic Advocate Candidate Fund, which “helps accomplish [their] mission to have Members of Congress voting 100% pro-life and pro-family consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is among the handful of endorsed candidates by the group.

The website featuring the group’s petition says that

shortly after taking office, President Obama spoke about the importance of cooperation and seeking the common good on sensitive religious issues. But unfortunately, no other president in American history has so blatantly chipped away at our religious liberties. This is a religious liberty issue that affects all Americans of faith. Will you sign the petition telling the president to live up to his promises, and stop trampling on our religious liberties? Demand that President Obama live up to his promises delivered at Notre Dame.

The one minute video ad that is also part of the campaign features President Obama saying he would seek “common ground” with religious groups and honor religious conscience laws. The ad claims that neither has been done.

The announcer in the ad says:

After President Obama’s speech calling for cooperation in order to reach “common ground,” the current and former presidents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reached out to him to discuss their concerns.

He ignored them.

[Obama’s] administration has “rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds.”

He also pledged to veto the “Protect Life Act,” a bill Catholic bishops said would apply conscience rights on abortion to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

President Obama preaches “Common Ground,” but refuses to meet with Catholic leaders to discuss compromise.

Catholics across the country should demand that President Obama live up to his promises delivered at Notre Dame.  Go to Catholic Advocate dot com and join the nationwide effort to protect religious liberty in America.

Health advocates and Obama were against the “Protect Life Act” because they said the bill would endanger the health of women by cutting funding (even through private insurance) for medically necessary abortions.

The bill also aimed to expand the Hyde Amendment to private insurance plans because some could receive public dollars through the 2010 health care reform law. Women’s health advocates have said the Hyde Amendment has consistently burdened low-income women and minorities seeking legal abortions. The provision the bishops most supported in the bill would have allowed a doctor to not administer an abortion (even to save a woman’s life) if he or she objected on moral or religious grounds. The bill passed in the House but Obama vowed to veto it if it made it to his desk.

The ad also sources a letter (.pdf) sent to the Catholic bishops in September 2011 from Timothy M. Dolan, the president of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In the letter, Dolan announces the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty that would “work closely with national organizations, charities, ecumenical and interreligious partners and scholars to form a united and forceful front in defense of religious freedom in our nation.”

Dolan asks that immediate work be done to address a “list [of] new threats to religious liberty that have arisen.”

Dolan’s list includes:

The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued regulations that would mandate the coverage of contraception (including abortifacients) and sterilization in all private health insurance plans. There is an exception for certain religious employers, but, to borrow from Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, President of The Catholic Health Association, it would cover only the ―parish housekeeper. And the exception does nothing to protect insurers or individuals with religious or moral objections to the mandate.

The list also included opposition to laws passed regarding marriage for same-sex couples and other policies that promote contraception use to prevent HIV and other infections.

In the letter, Dolan says the President Obama had not responded to letters expressing his dissatisfaction with recent policy decisions that stray from church policy.

While the Obama administration did include a conscience clause in its decision making birth control more available to the women who need it, groups like the U.S. bishops were not pleased and have actively lobbied for a change in policy.

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, accused the federal government of exhibiting antagonism toward religion and has displaying a “distorted view of sexuality.” The bishops have also claimed Health and Human Services decision violates the First Amendment.

Jon O’Brien, the president of Catholics for Choice, has pointed out that the majority of Catholic women have not been convinced by the Church’s hard line on birth control.

“What’s really going on,” O’Brien said, “is that they have failed to convince Catholics in their own churches. So, [the Bishops] have to go through political lobbying to stop Catholics from using contraception.”

Polling found that 66 percent of Americans agree with the federal government’s recent decision to include birth control in its list of preventive services. According to  research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, about “98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church.”

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