On the site of National Public Radio there is an audio story about the fact that strong Catholic bishop are beginning to regain their voice in the public square.
My emphases and comments:
On Social Issues, Bishops Flex Political Muscle
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Pope Benedict XVI is known for his conservative theology, but it’s his predecessor’s legacy that is playing out in U.S. politics today. [In the first sentence the writer brings in the theme of "politics".] A generation of U.S. Catholic bishops who were selected by John Paul II is conservative on social issues, and they are willing to mix it up in the public square to push their views. [That is a fair statement, despite the use of "politics" in the first line.]
Exhibit A: the health care overhaul. On Nov. 6, the night before the House of Representatives voted on heath care, Speaker Nancy Pelosi received some visitors. One was Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, an anti-abortion Democrat, [Nearly a contradiction in terms. But let’s make this into "authentic Catholic Democrat".] who wanted to amend the House bill to permanently strip federal funding for abortion. Critics say that would make it harder for all women to pay for abortions. Stupak brought with him two representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who said they would not support any bill without that amendment. [That implies that Stupak brought two bishops with him. I don’t think he did.]
As Stupak later put it, "We want to send a message: If you start messing with abortion and health care, you’ve got a problem."
The meeting was a turning point. Pelosi allowed a vote on the amendment the next day. It passed.
Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, a pro-choice Catholic, [No. She is a pro-abortion Catholic, which is to say "pro-abortion ‘Catholic’".] says she was dismayed that the bishops seemed to be elevating abortion over every other issue, including the health care needs of the poor. [She pits the bishops against the poor. Does that sound even slightly plausible? Perhaps DeLauro doesn’t have a clue for what she is talking about. Or, if she does, then is she mendacious?]
"In their quest to push on the issue of abortion," she says, "they failed in the church’s mission. [And she is an expert on the Church’s mission, while the bishops are not?] They really act like a bunch of lawyers who are instructing members how to vote on arcane House rules." [And she is acting like a servant of Satan, abetting the killing of the innocent. She is also giving public scandal to Catholics by her actions, which indicate that she sets her Catholic faith at lesse than her support of something that is objectively and intrinsically evil.]
DeLauro says the bishops are rejecting the tradition established by John F. Kennedy that Catholic politicians vote according to their conscience, not the dictates of Rome. [Do you see anything wrong with this? Let’s start with her premise: That what JFK did in Dallas during his election bid was acceptable. In fact it was not. But I guess in ancient Carthage there was also a traditional of sacrificing babies to Moloch…. so….]
"The activity that the Catholic bishops have engaged in implies that the church will determine and dictate public policy," DeLauro says. [DeLauro is just plain dumb if she thinks this. And if she doesn’t then she is being deceptive. Does any serious person think that the Catholic bishops want to dictate public policy? The want a voice in public policy to be sure. But dictate? DeLauro, you’re duplicity is showing!]
But John Myers, the archbishop of Newark, N.J., says bishops have every right to lobby Congress and influence laws.
"I don’t think it was improper because what we talked about is moral issues, and if anyone has the responsibility and the right to speak out on moral issues, it is religious leaders," Myers says. [Unless you are like pro-abortion Democrats like DeLauro, who believes that religious leaders should be seen and not heard, that they have fewer rights than the rest of Americans. I wonder if she thinks it is okay for Catholic clergy to vote. Someone should ask her.]
He says bishops are becoming more assertive because they feel the country is reaching a moral tipping point: Abortion remains legal, President Obama lifted a ban on stem cell research, and a few states are allowing same-sex marriage.
The bishops’ frustration seemed to boil over in May when the University of Notre Dame awarded an honorary degree to Obama, who supports abortion rights. [No. Pres. Obama does not "support" abortion rights. He aggressively promotes abortion and would even withhold medical assistance to a child who survived an abortion so that he or she would die.]
Prominent church leaders criticized the university for the invitation. The local bishop, John D’Arcy, boycotted the event.
"Some would call that a betrayal of Catholic teaching and of the church to which Notre Dame is attached," he told a local radio station. "And I would agree with that."
Cardinal Francis George, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the invitation "an extreme embarrassment," while Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said it was "a big mistake."
"I think the Obama visit to Notre Dame was a real watershed moment," says Father James Martin, an editor at the Catholic magazine America. "That really drove the bishops to distraction, [What a curious way to put that. It is as if Martin is implying that they had a "hissy fit" or a "case of the vapors".] and I think that really prompted a lot of them to be more vocal than they would have been 20 to 30 years ago."
The Legacy Of John Paul II
Martin says the bishops are irked by the new political landscape. And there’s another factor: These bishops are part of the John Paul II generation, elevated in part because they shared the late pope’s conservative theology.
"I think what you’re seeing is people that are much more likely to be outspoken about social issues that they consider important to the Catholic Church," says Martin. " [And surely he is right.] And you’re also seeing a new president who’s a Democrat and with whom many of these bishops disagree. So I think all these things are coming together to form a kind of perfect storm."
And now those bishops are flexing their [long atrophied] muscles. They told Catholics in Maine to vote against a law allowing same-sex marriage. It was overturned last month. In Washington, D.C., the archbishop announced that Catholic Charities may have to cancel contracts with the city to provide services to the poor if a similar law passes this month.
And then there is the battle between Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., and his parishioner [his subject], Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Because of Kennedy’s support of abortion rights, Tobin suggested to him, privately, that he refrain from taking Holy Communion. After Kennedy made the exchange public, the bishop took to the airwaves. [I am glad that that was reported well. At first this was all private. Kennedy made it public.]
"The point is that for any Catholic in public office, his first commitment has to be to his faith," Tobin told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. "Not just for a Catholic, but for a member of any religious community. No commitment is more important than your commitment to your faith, because it involves your relationship with God." [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
George Weigel, a conservative Catholic analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and author of several books about the popes, says it’s about time the bishops stood up and acted as "boundary guards" of Catholicism. [That is actually a pretty good description. There is a lot of room under the Catholic umbrella. But at a certain point you stray from under its protection.]
"Bishop Tobin finally broke through this tribal reluctance to criticize the Kennedy family and said, ‘No. Excuse me, I’m the guy when it comes to defining Catholic identity in Rhode Island, not you.‘ " [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]
But DeLauro says the bishops are using Holy Communion as a political weapon, and that makes her and her fellow Catholics on the Hill uncomfortable. [I bet it does. That is because she and her pro-abortion "Catholic" crowd are guilty of something terrible, and she knows it.]
"I think every Catholic member of this body who walks into a church to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist has at the back of their mind that they could be potentially denied," she says. ["At the back of their mind…". Hey DeLauro! That’s called your conscience.]
Now, Catholic senators will have to consider that issue as they vote on their version of health care overhaul. The bishops have sent a letter, saying they will oppose any bill that contains funding for abortion.