Ken Trainor, my excellent editor for many months of Wednesday Journal columns, laid an egg in his Feb. 15 column about the HHS mandate, ignoring the governmental intrusion-coercion factor in favor of lambasting bishops [Who controls birth control? Viewpoints].

In so doing, he soared over the top, even for this sometime critic. The bishops were “beside themselves with outrage” over the mandate. They “thundered,” calling the issue “a matter of religious liberty!” It’s time for them “to grow up.”

Plus, he makes a bit much of the “people of God” argument, as if the Vatican Council meant to dismantle or otherwise negate the church’s entire governing structure. Where’d he get that idea?

Basically, he wants a referendum about what’s sin and what isn’t, something not even the pace-setting reformer Martin Luther had in mind.

Failing that, he wants bishops to shut up about some things, which is apparently what the feds want also and have hefty fines in store if they don’t. Refusal to participate has an estimated $10 million a year fine for an institution the size of Notre Dame, for instance. Not even the bishops have that kind of power.

The whole thing is really a rubbing of Catholics’ noses in the weltanschaung, a German word for the whole damn contemporary dumb view of things. Ken doesn’t mind because he stepped in it and can’t get himself out.

Before I go, one of Ken’s arguments has me fascinated. It’s this: “The hierarchy doesn’t like the U.S. government telling them what to do. The Catholic laity … has refused to allow the hierarchy to tell them what to do. What works for the hierarchy … works for the [laity].” Which I find as mysterious as a papal encyclical. Can’t a good editor do better than that?

Jim Bowman
Oak Park

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