The Roman Catholic Church has held the most absolute and extreme position against abortion taken by any religious group. Opposition to abortion by US Catholic bishops has been unflagging since Roe vs. Wade was decided. The current strategy embraced by the bishops is to restrict access to abortion as a prelude to attaining a complete ban on the procedure. The bishops, of course, have a political and constitutional right to champion public policy issues. This ability is limited only by the laws regarding tax-exempt status which make it impossible for the bishops to endorse political candidates. Opponents of the positions of the bishops, in turn, have a right to challenge their positions. The bishops, acting jointly as the United States Catholic Conference (USCC), express their own opinions, not the opinions of the 53 million US Catholics and have been criticized by both conservative and progressive groups in the church. Since women can not become Catholic bishops, or even priests, they are excluded from meetings of the USCC. Catholic lay groups have expressed the view that there is more than one legitimate Catholic position regarding abortion and have even filed briefs in favor of retaining the decision reached in Roe vs. Wade. The bishops, however, are able to draw on a multitude of institutions to further their view and have enhanced the operations of their 28 statewide lobbying offices as the abortion battle has shifted to the states. The Webster decision signaled a return of the bishops to a prominent position in the anti-abortion campaign. Prior to Webster, they kept their distance from the Protestant religious right. With Webster, the bishops felt the time was right to press hard to further restrictions to access to abortion. As they began to apply pressure, a pro-choice backlash developed, with leading Catholic politicians adopting strong pro-choice positions. The bishops reacted by taking such aggressive actions as denouncing certain politicians by name. This behavior caused even more alienation of middle-of-the-road Catholics from the bishops' position. The bishops tried to recover by hiring a professional public relations firm and the pollster used by the Reagan administration. The public relations firm was dismissed within a year. Religious observers wonder why the church is so adamantly against abortion in every circumstance, despite the beliefs of its members. In fact, in 1974, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted the church's opposition to abortion but fell short of calling it murder and was honest about the church's ambiguity over the personhood of a fetus or at what stage in development the creator endows a fetus with a soul. This question has been debated by theologians since the early centuries of the church. Even the current Pope favors the term "that which is in the process of becoming" when discussing a fetus. In addition, church history and positions regarding the possibility of a "just war" make the church's adherence to the impossibility of a "just abortion" hard to justify. This hard-line position has removed the church from a position in which it could help women and society understand the values which must underly every decision to have an abortion.