The Catholic blogosphere is abuzz with talk of yesterday’s announcement that the Obama administration has settled on some ‘changes’ to the so-called HHS mandate. Folks on both sides quickly weighed in: Grace-Marie Turner at National Review Online, for example, rendered a largely negative verdict, while James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, told this magazine that the U.S. Bishops should consider the problem solved. Mr. Salt’s organization, of course, is a longtime apologist for the Obama administration; National Review, as everybody knows, is a longstanding critic. I have every reason to believe that National Review and Citizens United are acting in good faith; at the same time, I don’t find either organization a particularly credible source of information and analysis in this matter.
A definitive judgment of any sort seems premature. The policy issues are very complicated and the debate is fraught with anxieties. Accordingly, we should be suspicious of quick judgments. The less time it takes to render an analysis, the more facile that analysis is likely to be and the more likely it is to rely on ideological presuppositions, which are both useless and dangerous.
It seems to me that the U.S. Bishops are doing the eminently sensible thing: They are reading and studying the document and carefully considering their response to it. “We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later,” Cardinal Dolan told The New York Times.
More of us should follow that same course of action. We all should resist the temptation, all the more real in the digital age, to render quick and headline-grabbing judgments about morally vexing and complex matters of public policy.