On the night of February 17, I took a phone call from a senior Catholic official who was concerned about the pro-gay-marriage votes in the Washington and Maryland legislatures and the possible spillover effect of those defeats on the unity the U.S. bishops had thus far displayed in resisting the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. I told him not to worry. “The bishops of the United States,” I said, “haven’t been so unified since John Carroll took a deep breath in 1791 and decided something.”
In 1791, of course, Bishop Carroll of Baltimore was the only Catholic bishop in the young Republic.
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