Obama offered his “compromise” exemption for religious institutions today regarding his contraception (sterilization and abortifacient) mandate. Now, instead of the religious institution having to pay for it directly, the insurance company (which the religious institution is paying) will pay for it instead. I remember this one. It was back in college when you gave your money to the old kid to buy your beer for you. Brilliant! I knew the whole college professor background was gonna come in handy for this president.

As Jimmy Akin and so many others have already pointed out, it’s all a shell game. They’ve changed nothing of the substance in the mandate, they’ve only adjusted some technicalities so that now Catholic institutions can technically say “it is not we who are providing the contraception - it’s the insurance company.” Never mind that you’re paying the insurance company…which bases its rates upon the expenses incurred within your pool of employees.

I think the Obama administration forgot that insurance companies don’t have the same capacity as they do to pay for things with money you don’t have and could never pay back. Outside of Washington, things actually have to get paid for by somebody. Anyway, just don’t think about it too much and your conscience won’t bother you. That’s the trick. But I digress.

Here’s the crux of the matter for us Catholics.

Are we fighting the Good fight to actually win? Or are we fighting so we can technically say we fought it?

Are we truly interested in following a well-formed conscience? And in following Church teaching — both its letter and its spirit? Or are we only interested in satisfying technicalities of a blurry conscience we’re really not too sure about?

What Catholics (and Catholic Institutions) do in response to this will be very telling. We’ve known for a long time there are many in the Church who aren’t overly enthusiastic about standing up for Church teaching on these matters. They’re quite happy leaving these things as private matters people can struggle with on their own. So after this HHS mandate exploded in recent weeks, many Catholics got mad alright. But not because they were being forced to pay for contraception. No, they were mad because Obama just happened to poke the bear a little too hard this time…forcing them to have to stand up and say something. Now they’re just hoping for a little cover so they can check all the right boxes again and get this thing past us.

Well that’s what this “compromise” is about. It’s political cover for a lot of Catholic politicians and leaders who weren’t all that convicted about this issue in the first place. And we’re about to see who they are by how they respond to this political game. Hopefully they are few!

But for the rest of us, and most bishops I believe, it’s too late (indeed many of us warned this was coming for a long time). This bear isn’t going back to sleep any time soon. She’s been hibernating long enough and it’s time for a new Spring time in the Church.