The Orthodox Christian writer John Couretas says what needs saying. Excerpt:
[I]s there good reason to expect that the Assembly [of Bishops] won’t become the sort of “dead body” that Abp. Iakovos feared SCOBA had become?
Nothing could reveal this more clearly than the Assembly’s non-reaction to the Jan. 20 mandate by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that orders most employers and insurers to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs (the “morning after pill”) free of charge. In sharp contrast to the somnolent Assembly, the response from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was swift and unequivocal.
“From a human point of view, we may be tempted to surrender, when our government places conception, pregnancy and birth under the ‘center for disease control,’ when chemically blocking conception or aborting the baby in the womb is considered a ‘right’ to be subsidized by others who abhor it,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of USCCB. “Not us!”
It wasn’t just a Catholic thing. Protestant and Orthodox Jewish leaders had written to the White House in late December about concerns that “the contraceptives mandate in the health insurance regulations, and about the ‘religious employer’ exemption that is so narrow that it does not protect most faith-based organizations.”
The Obama administration mandate came down just before Sanctity Sunday, on Jan. 22, and the March for Life the following day. As for these events, widely attended by Catholics, Protestants and those of other faith traditions, the “common witness” of the Assembly amounted only to silence.
That is not to say that individual hierarchs, clergy, seminarians and lay Orthodox did not turn out in numbers and show their support at the 2012 March for Life in Washington and other cities. Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America delivered an eloquent and Spirit-filled opening prayer in front of the U.S. Supreme Court – with Abp. Dolan at his side. On Sanctity Sunday, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, offered a thoughtful talk on the Orthodox Tradition, abortion and the death penalty at a Pan-Orthodox Sanctity of Life Vespers held in Chicago.
Ultimately, what is the Assembly of Orthodox bishops communicating to our Catholic and Protestant and Jewish brothers and sisters? That their hospitals, medical clinics, schools, universities, social agencies are good enough for the Orthodox when we need them, when we want to rush a child to an emergency room. But don’t look for us when you need back up.
The Assembly of Orthodox bishops, the bearer of “unity” and “common witness” for American Orthodox Christians, simply can’t be bothered on this issue.
Read the whole thing. Thank you, John Couretas, for this piece — and in particular, thank you for pointing out that the bishops (at least the Greek ones) are willing to be perfectly political when it comes to lobbying Washington on behalf of Greece’s interests.
UPDATE: Doug C. points out that today, the Assembly issued a statement calling on HHS to rescind this rule. Good.