FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Catholic Church is suing President Obama for violating the freedom of religion that is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
In what's being called the largest legal action of its kind, 43 separate Catholic institutions filed lawsuits in a dozen different federal courts this week.
They are challenging the federal mandate in President Obama's health care law that requires employers to cover contraception in their employees' health plans.
These Catholic groups include the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of America, the archdioceses of New York and Washington - along with those serving Dallas, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
The lawsuits say that the health care law violates the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.
The Obama Administration tried to smooth things over with the church when the issue first bubbled over.
As a compromise, they said insurance companies would have to provide contraception for employees who wanted it - so Catholic employers could avoid directly providing birth control.
But that wasn't good enough for the church.
So far, the White House isn't commenting on these lawsuits, although one official told The Wall Street Journal that they're still trying to work things out with Catholic leaders: "Lawsuits or no lawsuits, our doors remain open."
Experts are split over whether these lawsuits will succeed, but either way it can't be helpful for the president in an election year.
For those keeping track, President Obama has managed to anger both the black churches - over his support of gay marriage - and the Catholic Church over birth control.
Here’s my question to you: How damaging is the Catholic Church's Obamacare lawsuit for the president?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Republicans got God.
A new poll suggests they are much more likely to go to church than Democrats.
A Gallup Poll shows that 40% of Republicans say they attend church weekly.
Twenty-one percent say they attend nearly weekly or monthly, and 38% say they seldom or rarely go to church.
Compare that to only 27% of Democrats who say they go to church every week, 20% who say they go monthly and 52% of Democrats who say they seldom or never go to church.
These polls also show that Democrats are less religious than the average American, and Republicans are more religious.
Consider this: Almost one in five Democrats identify with no religious faith compared to only one in 10 Republicans who feel that way.
This might explain why religion often seems to play a more prominent role when it comes to Republican politicians, especially during primaries.
This time around in the GOP horse race for president:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry held a major prayer session in Houston before he announced his candidacy. Perry has also been known to pray for President Obama. In April, the Texas governor designated a three-day period as "days of prayer for rain" in his drought-stricken state.
Faith also plays a large role in Michele Bachmann's candidacy. While giving an economic speech just Tuesday, Bachmann suggested the United States return to its Judeo-Christian roots to bring back economic responsibility, "Cry out to holy God. It's not too late. He can save us."
As for Mitt Romney, it's unclear yet what impact, if any, his Mormon faith will have on his candidacy.
Here’s my question to you: Why are Republicans more likely than Democrats to go to church?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
"Pope Benedict - Ordain women now."
That's the message that will be plastered on London buses when the pontiff heads to England's capital in a couple of weeks.
A group called Catholic Women's Ordination is spending more than $15,000 for 15 buses to carry posters with this message for a month.
The group says they don't want to be disruptive, but "the church has got to change or it will not survive." And they say they're hopeful since the church is in "disarray" right now.
But one top British Catholic is pushing back - Father Stephen Wang says women are not barred from the priesthood because of sexism, rather because they can't fulfill a basic function which is "standing in the place of Jesus."
Wang says that Jesus chose 12 men, and no women, to be his apostles. He adds that men and women are equal in Christianity, but that gender still matters. Wang compares the role of a priest to an actor, saying no one would be surprised if he wanted a male actor to play King Arthur. He then admits this analogy is "weak."
In addition to the bus campaign - the women's group plans to hold a vigil the day before the pope's visit; and they plan to demonstrate outside the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1994, then Pope John Paul II declared the Church has no authority to ordain women; and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now pope, agreed with him.
Here’s my question to you: Is it time for the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
The pope is finally admitting that the Catholic Church itself is to blame for the worldwide child sex abuse scandal. It took long enough.
Pope Benedict XVI calls the crisis "truly terrifying" and suggests "the greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church."
Benedict also stresses that quote "forgiveness is not a substitute for justice."
It's refreshing to finally hear the pope talk about this growing crisis head-on. For weeks, as accusations piled up, we've heard other Catholic officials blame anyone but the pedophile priests and officials who covered it all up.
They blamed the media, they blamed homosexuality, and they described the whole affair as "petty gossip."
But thanks in part perhaps to the relentless reporting of the scope of the scandal worldwide by the media, the pope is now talking; and he will likely be controlling the message from here on out.
Hopefully this is a sign that the pope, who's been criticized for not taking enough actions against allegations of abuse, understands how deeply this crisis has affected the Catholic Church. But so far it's just all talk.
Victims groups want more than talk… and rightfully so.
Here’s my question to you: Why has it taken the Catholic Church so long to acknowledge its role in the sexual abuse of children by priests?
Protesters demonstrate outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
The Vatican claims to have it all figured out when it comes to the sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests in the Catholic Church.
The pope's number two - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone - insists the abuse is linked to homosexuality... and not celibacy.
Gay rights groups are outraged - saying it's a "perverse" strategy by the Vatican to "shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility"... and they're right.
To top it off - this official made the ludicrous claim in Chile, where one pedophile priest had sex with young girls - impregnating at least one teenager. One of his victims says when she told priests about the abuse at confession "they just told me to pray and that was it."
Meanwhile - as the church says it's overhauling its rules on how it handles accusations of sexual abuse, the Associated Press may have a smoking gun that proves Pope Benedict refused to do anything about this when he had the chance.
They report on a letter written in the 80s by then-cardinal Ratzinger, in which he resisted pleas to defrock a California priest who had sexually abused children. After sitting on the request for several years, Ratzinger eventually did nothing - instead asking the Oakland bishop to consider the "good of the universal church."
It eventually became the eleventh commandment in Catholicism: "Protect the church at all costs - to hell with the children."
Here’s my question to you: Is the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church linked to homosexuality?
If the Vatican won't clean it up, there's another way to get the Catholic Church's attention... when it comes to a global sex scandal involving the molestation of tens of thousands of little children at the hands of priests.
Take the pope's native Germany for example: When the news broke there and the church opened a hotline meant for victims of abuse, more than 4,000 people called in on the first day alone. The system was overwhelmed and therapists were only able to answer 160 calls.
But more importantly - as the scandal grows, the church in Germany is starting to suffer the fate that maybe it deserves: People are leaving in droves. One recent survey shows a quarter of Catholics in Germany say they've lost faith in the church's leadership.
Meanwhile, Easter Sunday has come and gone with little from the Church - the pope passed up another opportunity to address the scandal in his address. But we did get this: While defending the pope, one top cardinal denounced "petty gossip." That's what he called the accusations of sexual abuse of children by priests... "petty gossip."
If the pope and the rest of the church hierarchy remain silent on this scandal long enough, there may be nobody left in the pews to talk to about it. My guess is when the money that hits the collection plates every Sunday begins to disappear, the church may suddenly decide that it's time to admit, address and confess what they've been only too willing to turn a blind eye to for years and years and years.
Here’s my question to you: In light of the worldwide child sex abuse scandal, what’s the future of the Catholic Church?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
How sad that during the holiest period in the Catholic Church, the faithful are distracted by the sins of their church.
Today is Holy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. But this year, three days before Easter, the sins of the leaders of his church cast a dark shadow over the most joyous celebration in Catholicism, the resurrection.
Instead, the church is lashing out at those who dare to expose the sexual abuse of children by priests. The Vatican plays victim, claiming it was "attacked" by the New York Times during holy week.
It's the children who go to the Catholic Church who have been attacked. Thousands of them. In one case alone, a single priest abused 200 deaf children and nothing happened to him. Nothing. He wasn't punished by the church, instead he was protected by the church.
And he wasn't punished by the criminal justice system either. There has been no justice for 200 deaf children who were taught to trust and respect a priest who destroyed their innocence.
One spokesman for the church tries to write the sexual abuse of children off as a "homosexual crisis." Like that makes it ok... grown men abusing children is ok because it's a "homosexual crisis." Any excuse to avoid the truth.
Now a lawyer in Kentucky, William McMurry, wants to try to get some justice for the tens of thousands of children around the world who could never speak for themselves. No one would listen.
So here's the question: Should Pope Benedict be required to answer questions under oath about the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Pope Benedict XVI is facing a firestorm from critics as to how much he knew about the Vatican's latest sex abuse scandal. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
In the middle of Holy Week and with Easter right around the corner - the Catholic Church is launching a massive P-R blitz to defend the Pope's role in the growing sex abuse scandal. Instead of contrition and asking for forgiveness, get a load of the following:
The Vatican is pushing back against the idea that Pope Benedict the 16th should take personal responsibility for the child abuse scandal... and it's defending his management of abuse cases. Some Catholic officials are suggesting it was the previous Pope, John Paul the Second, who blocked investigations into pedophile priests.
And the Vatican is planning a legal defense against an American lawsuit... that would force the Pope to answer questions under oath. The A-P reports court documents related to a Kentucky case show Vatican lawyers plan to argue the Pope has immunity as head of state and that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren't employees of the Vatican.
It gets worse:
In the Pope's native Germany, the church has opened a hotline for victims to report alleged crimes. Critics are outraged... saying that victims should tell the authorities first, not the church.... They have a point, considering that the Catholic Church has done virtually nothing except shuffle abusive priests around and cover-up the scandal for decades. Including a priest who molested 200 deaf boys. The church did nothing.
Meanwhile a new Gallup poll shows Pope Benedict's favorable rating has dropped to 40 percent in the U.S–its lowest level ever.... that's down from 63% two years ago. The Pope's image has declined about equally among Catholics and non-Catholics.
Here’s my question to you: Would the Catholic Church benefit from forcing Pope Benedict out?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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