I came across an insightful column in The Long Island Catholic written by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre. He writes about Catholic bishops standing as one to defend and protect religious freedom.
Here is an excerpt:
A few weeks ago, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport appeared before a congressional committee regarding the HHS regulations that mandate Catholic institutions provide coverage for procedures and medicines, including abortifacients, contrary to Catholic moral teaching. One member of the panel asked the bishop how the panel could distinguish among Catholics of varying opinions. (Previously they had heard from Sister Carol Keehan of Catholic Health Association (CHA) who has publicly backed the administration in disagreement with the bishops.) Bishop Lori answered honestly and correctly: there are many opinions among Catholics but if you want to know what the Church teaches and what her faith demands, ask the bishops who, alone as the successors of the apostles in union with the pope, are the ones who can be trusted to offer, not an opinion, but the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.
There probably has never been a time in the life of the Church when every Catholic adhered to every authoritative teaching of the Church. I can cite instance after instance when well-meaning Catholics in the past 2,000 years have disagreed with or even opposed the teaching of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Sincerely held, these opinions were just that — opinions. The pope and the bishops in union with him have always had the formidable task first, of fulfilling their own solemn commitment under oath, to preserve with total integrity and fidelity the message of Jesus and the authentic teaching of the Church. With that solemn responsibility comes second, the equally daunting but solemn pledge to teach the authoritative doctrine on faith and morals “in season and out of season” as St. Paul reminds us. Indeed, Paul said “if another teach you a different gospel, or even if I myself teach you a different gospel, you must adhere to what is the true message” which the Church’s bishops have maintained through the centuries.
You can read the whole column here.