01/29/2013 05:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Catholics and the Obama Administration Need Couples Counseling

The 2012 Presidential election campaign -- an election campaign in which the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops repeatedly clashed with the Obama administration -- is over. "The Democrats," points out Father Thomas Reese of Georgetown University, "won the election" (a line delivered in a wry and understated manner that befits a guest who Americans have gotten to know through The Colbert Report).

With the tumult of 2012 behind us, Father Reese and host Katelyn McNelis take stock of what happened. We cast Father Reese in the role of couples counselor, trying to explain to each party what it is "not hearing from the other." The bishops and the administration, Father Reese notes, actually have a lot in common on issues such as immigration and poverty. So there's hope that they can rebuild their relationship! Yet their present estrangement centers, in large part, around the "religious liberty" issues concerning contraceptive coverage in health insurance packages.

Whereas the bishops and the Democrats seemed to be seething at one another throughout the election, Father Reese calls attention to instances in which the Republicans ran afoul of Church teachings. Our guest discusses the letter he authored in which Georgetown faculty and administrators criticized the budget of Rep. Paul Ryan. In terms of Catholic social thought, argues Father Reese, a national budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the poor.

When asked what it means that 52 percent of Catholics voted Democrat, Father Reese suggests that the laity may be tuning out the leadership. What is needed, he concludes, is something like a listening tour. Not only do lay Catholics need to better understand ther leaders' views, but their leaders must take heed of what is on the minds of their parishioners.