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US Catholic bishops not backing down

A subdued U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged Monday that voters rejected the stands they took against gay marriage and birth control, but gave no sign they would change their strategy.

Same-sex marriage supporters made a four-state sweep of U.S. ballot measures last week, despite intensive advocacy by Roman Catholic bishops in favour of traditional marriage. Bishops also spoke out sharply against President Barack Obama's mandate that most employers provide health insurance that covers artificial contraception. Critics accused the bishops of going so far that they appeared to be backing Republican Mitt Romney.

The bishops insist their complaints were not partisan. Still, they now must face four more years with a U.S. presidency that many bishops characterized as a threat to the church.

"We've always maintained our openness to dialogue, and that will continue," said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who leads the bishops' committee on religious liberty. "As this evolves, as rule-making gets a little more clear, then our range of options will be clearer."

None of the bishops who spoke Monday directly mentioned Obama. Lori only noted that "the political landscape is the same." The bishops instead reviewed plans they developed well before Election Day to expand outreach to Latino Catholics on traditional marriage and organize events on the importance of religious freedom.

Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 per cent to 48 per cent, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 per cent to 40 per cent. However, Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 per cent to 21 per cent.

Last week, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states ever to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. In Minnesota, voters rejected a proposal to place a ban on gay-marriage in the state constitution, a step taken in past elections in 30 other states.

The Canadian Press


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