Fr. Neuhaus on “Obama and the Bishops”

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus of First Things has a very good piece online today.

My emphases and comments.

Obama and the Bishops

By Richard John Neuhaus
Friday, November 7, 2008, 8:16 AM

In a few days, the American bishops of the Catholic Church will be holding their annual fall meeting in Baltimore. High on the agenda is how Catholic bishops can better communicate Catholic teaching on social justice both in the Church and in the public square. It is understood that the priority issue of social justice is the protection of innocent human life—from the entrance gates of life to the exit gates, and at every step along life’s way. The most massive and brutal violation of justice is the killing of millions of children in the womb.

In recent months, an unusually large number of bishops have been assertive, articulate, and even bold, in their public affirmation of the demands of moral reason and the Church’s teaching. Some estimate the number of such bishops to be over a hundred. Critics of these bishops, including Catholic fronts for the Obama campaign, claim that bishops have only spoken out because prominent Democrats stepped on their toes by egregiously misrepresenting Catholic teaching. Why only? It is the most particular duty of bishops to see that the authentic teaching of the Church is safeguarded and honestly communicated.

Not all bishops covered themselves with honor in the doing of their duty. Ignoring their further duty to protect the integrity of the Eucharist and defend against the faithful’s being led into confusion, temptation, and sin by skandolon, [This is a key issue: there is not just the problem of error, which is serious, but also of the damage the erring person inflicts by way of "scandal".  Scandal, from the Greek word Fr. Neuhaus cites, is a "stumbling block", is the occasioning of sin by other people by word or deed or omission which is sinful, that is, when by your actions you put someone into the occasion of sin.] some bishops issued statements explaining why they had no intention of addressing the problem [Which seems problematic both as an inadequate  action and an omission.  Hmmm…] of public figures who claim they are Catholics in good standing despite their consistent rejection of the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human lives. Some such bishops took the position that publicly doing or saying anything that addressed that very public problem would be viewed as controversial, [and we mustn’t be controversial, must we!] condemned as politically partisan, and misconstrued by those hostile to the Church. Therefore, they explained, they were doing and saying nothing except to say why they were doing and saying nothing. Such calculated timidity [great phrase] falls embarrassingly short of the apostolic zeal exemplified by the apostles whose successors the bishops are. Fortunately, these timorous shepherds seem to be in the minority among the bishops.

Others seem to have taken to heart in this Pauline Year [Which we must not forget.] the counsel of Paul to Timothy: “Fight the good fight . . . I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

After the election, some Catholics with itching ears who are manifestly embarrassed by the Church’s being out of step with the new world of “the change we’ve been waiting for” [Does the word "change" bring anything to mind?] have gleefully pointed out that the assertiveness of the bishops had little political effect. In the presidential and other races, Catholics voted for pro-abortion candidates. So what? [RIGHT!] It is not the business of bishops to win political races. It is the business of bishops to defend and teach the faith, including the Church’s moral doctrine. One hopes they will keep that firmly in mind in their Baltimore meeting. [Shall we offer odds?]

The reading for Mass on the day following the election was Philippians 2, in which St. Paul prays that the faithful “may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” That is as pertinent now as it was in the first century, and will be until our Lord returns in glory. It is the business of bishops to help equip the faithful to let the splendor of moral truth shine through their life and witness as lights in the world. If, on occasion, that coincides with political success, it is to be viewed as an unexpected, albeit welcome, bonus. It is a grievous degradation of their pastoral office, as well as a political delusion, for bishops to see themselves as managers of the Catholic voting bloc.

Earlier this year, the bishops issued “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” It was, as I wrote at the time, a fine statement in almost every respect. But its elaborate attention to nuance and painstaking distinctions made it a virtual invitation for the Catholic flaks of Obama to turn it upside down and inside out. [I agree.] The statement was regularly invoked to justify voting for the most extreme proponent of the unlimited abortion license in American presidential history.

That unintended invitation to distort, [well stated] eagerly seized upon by those with a mind to do so, was especially evident in the statement’s treatment of a “proportionate” reason to support pro-abortion candidates. The bishops must do better next time. To be sure, any statement must be carefully reasoned, as Catholic moral theology is carefully reasoned. Yet an episcopal statement is not an invitation to an academic seminar but, above all, a call to faithfulness. The task is to offer a firm, unambiguous, and, as much as possible, a persuasive case on the basis of revelation and clear reason.

The events of these months have once again exposed deeper problems in the leadership of the bishops, although certainly not of the bishops alone. To cite an obvious instance, only 25 to 35 percent (depending on whose data you believe) of the 68 million Catholics in this country regularly attend Mass. [More than some countries, but not so good, all in all.] That means that, except for a few bishops who have larger media access, bishops are being heard by only a minority of their people. Moreover, many parish pastors and priests are embarrassingly eager to avoid controversy, and others are openly disdainful of the Church’s teaching and/or its implications for public justice. Some bishops are tremulously intimidated by their presbyterates. Such bishops and priests need to read again, and with soul-searching prayer, Paul’s counsel to Timothy.

There are deeper problems. [Deeper than what he already described?] In the last four decades, following the pattern of American Protestantism, many, perhaps most, Catholics view the Church in terms of consumption rather than obligation. [ouch.  Probably right about that.] The Church is there to supply their spiritual needs as they define those needs, not to tell them what to believe or do. [Yep. He is right.] This runs very deep both sociologically and psychologically. It is part of the “success” of American Catholics in becoming just like everybody else. Bishops and all of us need to catch the vision of John Paul II that the Church imposes nothing, she only proposes. But what she proposes she believes is the truth, and because human beings are hard-wired for the truth, the truth imposes. And truth obliges[The truth obliges. Well said.]

It is not easy to communicate this understanding in our time, as it has not been easy in any time. In the twentieth century, the motto of the ecumenical movement was “Let the Church be the Church.” The motto was sometimes betrayed by that movement, but it should be courageously embraced by the bishops meeting in Baltimore. The bishops must set aside public relations and political calculations, [I have at times observed that some bishops seemed to think they were rather like US Senators.  I think this is fading.] and be prepared to surrender themselves anew to the task for which they were ordained, to uncompromisingly defend and communicate the faith once delivered to the saints.

Which brings me, finally, to another and related matter that will surely be discussed in Baltimore and deserves to be on the agenda. The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) [BEWARE of CHD.] is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, [HEAR! HEAR!] should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

What most Catholics don’t know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations. Yes, that’s bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation.

After this week’s elections, we must brace ourselves for very difficult times, keeping in mind that difficult times can be bracing. As for the meeting of bishops next week: Let the Church be the Church, and let bishops be bishops.

Richard John Neuhaus is editor in chief of First Things.

Very well expressed.  Kudos to Fr. Neuhaus.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Aelric says:

    CWN is reporting that Bishop Malooly (re: Joseph Biden) is already in retreat with the mantra “I won’t politicize the Eucharist.”

    The irony is that politicization of the Eucharist is precisely what he IS doing by putting his miter in the sand on this issue.

  2. Jacob says:

    Included in my envelopes for November:

    Catholic[???] Campaign for Human Development
    [Spanish translation of the name]

    Life at the Poverty Line. Every day is about hanging on.

    [On the back]

    Thank you!
    Your gift supports programs that
    *Bring people togetherto solve community problems
    *Create affordable housing for low-income families
    *Teach new skills and create jobs
    *Help those in poverty achieve self reliance and self sufficiency
    *Educate Catholics about poverty and Catholic moral social teaching

    And then it lists the address in DC and its webpage at the USCCB website.

    Thanks for the information, I won’t be passing them any of my money.

  3. I think public excommunications would really change the minds of the Faithful who are truly devoted…

  4. James Isabella says:

    Interesting news, Aelric.

    I read in the Catholic weekly publication here in Delaware, The Dialog, that Bishop Malooly will be speaking at a Theology On Tap session in December. I may have to attend and question him about it.

  5. Aelric says:

    Perhaps I should have given the link. I found the headline at the EWTN news link and thence to CWN.

  6. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Thanks for calling our attention to this. I need to digest it, and will hopefully have something intelligent to say about it before too long. Thanks also for your thoughtful gloss.

    Two things immediately jump out at me, one from the body and one from the gloss, to wit:

    1. Fr. Neuhaus says that the document paid elaborate attention to nuance and made painstaking distinctions. That is true. He then suggests that this was as a matter of fact (he is himself at pains to convey his conviction – in the opinion of this blogger, a correct one – that it was not intentional) an invitation to distort the document. Fr. Neuhaus proceeds to call for a carefully reasoned statement of the Church’s position; but this is what the bishops gave in Faithful Citizenship (FC). It strikes me that the problem with the text of the document was precisely that it was written for persons trained in the sacred sciences. Beyond a clear statement of Catholic moral teaching, coupled with appropriate instruction in the principles of Catholic moral reasoning (and these are distinct subjects, distinct operations, the distinction of which we sometimes lose in practice) the precise form of which will necessarily vary from diocese to diocese and from parish to parish and organization to organization within a given diocese, the bishops need to find a way to instance, i.e. offer an example of the application of the principles of moral reasoning in light of Church teaching that preserves at once the clarity and force of the teaching and the legitimate rights of conscience as these inhere in the person, the Catholic and the citizen. Instead of nuance and painstaking distinction, why not a statement like the following:

    “Abortion is the single greatest issue facing our country. It is not simply one issue among many. It is the moral challenge of this generation, upon the outcome of which the survival and success of our civilization depends. A vote for N will make it easier and cheaper to get an abortion. A vote for N means a vote for a candidate who would use public funds to accommodate women bent on ripping the living flesh of their very own children from their wombs. A vote for N would be a vote for a candidate who says “I would reduce the number of abortions” out of one side of his mouth, while making it impossible for any state to restrict abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Remember who you are, and think on this carefully, before you vote.”

    I suspect that, though some people in bad faith did distort the plain sense of FC, the document simply went over the heads of others, while still others were perhaps somewhat put off by the bishops’ seeming desire to “connect the dots” for them. Connected to this last, or perhaps dovetailing with it, is the use some bishops made of FC, treating it as a teaching document (I seem to recall that you expressed some similar concern about the document), but that is for another time.

    2. In your gloss, you stress the issue of scandal. The remarks of Speaker Pelosi and Senator Biden were certainly scandalous, and the bishops were right to rebuke these two Catholics. Not all “pro-choice” Catholics are scandal-mongers, however. Many of them are victims of scandal, whose souls are imperiled by the scandal mongers. When the bishops reprove and rebuke the public scandal-mongers, they need to remember that they are also doing so for the benefit of the souls of those who have been wounded by the scandal. In other words, there needs to be outreach. When you discuss the importance of the context of the Pauline Year, you stress the cited passage from the Letter to Timothy, which begins with the duty to convince, rebuke and exhort. It concludes with the exhortation to unfailing patience in teaching. Here, I think we can all do our part, by helping the Catholics who are pro-choice because of the lukewarm, default cultural stance and attitude in which they have lived and been educated, by gently but insistently challenging them to think critically about their own positions. If they say, “Abortion should be legal, but rare,” then perhaps the right response is a question, e.g., “why? Why rare?” I think it was Chesterton who, when asked what was wrong with the world, responded, “I am.” The corrollary is that we must right the world, with God’s help, one heart at a time. Hardened hearts need to be chiseled, not hammered.

  7. Mark says:

    An organization similar to ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation, also deserves a mention. It is designed to work with ecclesiastical bodies, and in some areas, most Catholic Churches are a part of its network.

    I think every Catholic has a right to know what groups and organizations his parish networks with, how the $$ flows, and the content of any training offered by such organizations to their priest and lay parish leaders.

  8. Jim says:

    Neuhaus got it right. We attend mass to worship and serve God, not to have our needs fulfilled. Bishops are successors to the Holy Apostles, not corporate CEO’s responding to the wishes of politically-correct shareholders.

  9. paul says:

    Doesn’t the Bible say something about being “lukewarm”??

  10. ioannes says:

    Therefore, they explained, they were doing and saying nothing except to say why they were doing and saying nothing.

    Exactly. It seemed to me when I wrote about this a few weeks ago that those Bishops who stated they would withhold the Eucharist had very sound and reasoned arguments based on Church teaching dating back to the early Church whereas the Bishops who “didn’t want to make waves” argued purely on emotions and feelings.

  11. Someone should challnge the bishops to name just ONE pro-abort politician they have convinced to be prolife through their gutless ongoing dialogue.Dialogue if effective must have teeth,Cardinal Cooke sincerely dialoged with Governor Carey to change his wrong ways.Finally,the Cardinal told the Governor he could not receive communion.That had a medicinal effect on the Governor for not only did he become pro-life but he went public and co-founded Democrats for Life! Remenber theweak bishops in England during the reign of Henry VIII.If they had acted strongly when Henry was weak they could have diverted disaster.Rememnber In Supremo,the Bull of Pope Gregory XVI,in it he repeated the papal condemnantios of slavery and ordered the slaves freed and that they be financially compensated.He forbade defending slavery even is private.What did the American bishops do?Instead of reading the momentous bull form the pulpit,they remained silent,and sent 18 letters to President van Buren saying that Pope was not talking abouit slavery in the USA!!!!But in a moment of honesty one bishop told the real reason.They had remanined silent because if they had not they “would be bound to refuse the sacraments to all who were slaveholders unless they freed their slaves.” These good men were cowards and today we pay the price-very few blacks are Catholic while those in the Carribean and in Africa are. PRAY FOR THE BISHOPS!

  12. Cornelius says:

    Doug Kmiec and a few other Catholics educated beyond their sense did incalculable harm to the Body of Christ by their clever but ultimately nonsensical and immoral arguments. Who knows how many souls they led astray by their sophistical convolutions? I know Archbishop Chaput (and others) took him on and publicly corrected him, but there seemed to me to be a sense that the Archbishop spoke as a private theologian and not in an official capacity as a shepherd of souls. I don’t know who Kmiec’s Bishop is or whether he spoke out at all.

    In any event, I think those who distorted the USCCB document ala Prof. Kmiec should have been dealt with in a more official manner than merely private debates. How else to deal with public scandal than by public means?

  13. ckdexterhaven says:

    We live in the diocese of Raleigh, and Bishop Burbridge issued a strongly worded letter. My priest didn’t even put it in the bulletin, much less read it from the pulpit. The priest has been silent on the election, on election day he prayed for “peace”. I complained to him, and he told me if he said anything “it would divide this parish right down the middle”. Well, isn’t our church already divided right down the middle? We need shepherds to guide us to Jesus, and to not be afraid of the wolves. I can’t tell you how disappointing it was to hear him say that.

    Keep praying for our priests.

  14. Rancher says:

    It is time for ACTION not just words. Bp Malooly issued a strong statement on Oct 27th. However Biden (and many others) continue to reject true Catholic teaching for the sake of their own selfish political purposes. Bp Malooly (with whom I have communicated separately) now says he neither wants to politicize nor alienate. Like the first poster I believe that his failure to act is in and of itself politicizing the issue. As for alienating, the failure to act is alienating those fathful Catholics who accept Church teaching on abortion and other life issues.

    Biden and many others have had the benefit of the doubt. They have been “taught” (by the words of many Bishops) the truth. As they continue to reject the truth it is time for action. Denial of Communion by every Bishop in every diocese Biden is likely to visit is action step one. Action step two would be excommunication.

    There is something we faithful Catholics can do and that is speak with our pocketbooks. Making it clear that we will withhold donations unless and until Bishops take ACTION on rebellious politicians and unless and until the USCCB discontinues funding organizations which channel money into entities which fund things contrary to Catholic teaching will prove very, very effective. That is precisely what I will be doing with my tithe. Until those changes are made some truely Catholic entities will benefit from what the parish and the diocese will not be receiving.

  15. Jason Keener says:

    The lukewarm leadership from our bishops isn’t helping any of the lay faithful. The unborn are still being put to death. Devout Catholics are scandalized by the bishops’ continued failure to teach the Faith authentically, and lapsed Catholics are deprived of their right to hear the fullness of the truth.

    We have to pray this kind of leadership ends. It is better to have a small Church that is radically authentic and true to its beliefs than a huge Church that is willing to compromise the truth so as not to offend anyone.

  16. Howard says:

    Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12–14

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.'” Matthew 10:34–36

    No, clearly we must not be controversial or offensive. After all, we have to be “uniters, not dividers”. Right? Right?

  17. Woody Jones says:

    If Rocco is reporting correctly, as I assume he is, some of the newly elected chairmen do not inspire hope, especially Zavala at Communications (if I recall correctly, did he not come out with a statement that was so close to approving the Cathobama line?).

    See John Zmirak’s piece over at Catholic Insider, or some such, for a hard hitting piece, inspired by Phil Lawler’s book “The Faithful Departed”.

    I agree we need some tough action now, but since the good bishops don’t seem up to excommunicating politicans they need to work with, maybe the interdict for Lent 2009 that I keep mentioing would work: then we can all suffer, as maybe we all should, anyway. On this Veterans’ Day, I recall with some bittersweet fondness the salutary effects of collective punishment in the US Army. Back in the day, you know.

  18. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    certainly some of the new chairmen aren’t great, but if we’ve learned anything from Bishop Martino is that the USCCB, while useful in some arenas, is still infected by bishops ordained priests in the 60s. Don’t worry…it will get better soon.

    If you’re going to worry about about anyone, worry about Kicanas. He’s going to be in a position of considerable power and is less than desirable.

  19. TNCath says:

    Woody Jones: “If Rocco is reporting correctly, as I assume he is, some of the newly elected chairmen do not inspire hope, especially Zavala at Communications (if I recall correctly, did he not come out with a statement that was so close to approving the Cathobama line?).”

    On the flip side, the election of Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento as chair of the Cultural Diversity committee over Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis was a welcome relief. Overall, I think things are actually improving in the bishops’ conference, although Bishop Zavala’s election was indeed disappointing.

  20. Lee says:

    When I am as courageous in my little bailiwick as I want the bishops to be in theirs, then perhaps I will have something to say about the courage of bishops. The same for preaching the gospel.

    What is to prevent me- besides human respect and cowardice- from standing on a street corner here in Portland holding up a sign that says, “Abortion- the ultimate hate crime” or “Democratic party-Party of Death” or “O, Thou Shalt Not Kill”

    Am I not confirmed to stand up for the faith, and given a share in the apostolate? What have I done with that share besides advise bishops what to say and do?

    But having become a counselor to bishops, I have done my part, have I not, and can go upstairs for a nap.

  21. Rancher says:

    The faithful who adhere to Catholic teaching have done their part (not that we can stop and rest). However we laity are limited in our ability to accomplish things, though certainly prayer can accomplish anything. What is needed, though, is leadership from the Bishops and 2/3 of them in the US are not providing it. Even among the third that spoke out during the presidential campaign some are now changing the tune just a bit. I’ll say it again. Action, not just words, is needed at this critical time. I agree with others that if the Church in the USA becomes smaller but more in line with Catholic teaching so be it. But we do not need or want so-called Catholics in positions of political leadership (Biden et al) creating false impressions in the community at large. For one thing giving mis-information could easily deter converts.

  22. Legisperitus says:

    One might well observe that the election of an African-American as President now leaves protection of the unborn as THE major civil-rights issue of our day… and he is on the wrong side of it. Ironic, no?

  23. Bill Smith says:

    If you want to fight abortion, do not align yourselves so closely with Republicans. I am a Catholic and vote Democrat and that is not going to change. I would rather leave the church than become a tool of the right wing. If you think that will make the church stronger, you are dilusional. Kicking out Pedophiles from the church will so get to work. Last time I checked the Christian Brother who was a Pedophile at my high school is still teaching there.

  24. Jordanes says:

    Bill Smith said: I would rather leave the church than become a tool of the right wing.

    Just be careful that making yourself a tool of the left wing doesn’t take you out of the Church.

  25. magdalene says:

    Yes, we each must do our part and not just play arm chair quarterbacks for the bishops.

    Is there a pro-life committee in your parish? Be on it. Is there an abortion mill in your town with just a few stalwart hearts praying there? Join them. We are indeed called to be a sign of contradiction in this world. I am doing the above things and also have a conscience clause in place in my medical profession and that, my friends, will be eliminated with FOCA. I have had to leave my career area in the past. I am prepared to do so again.

    The future years will not be a time for cowardice–not for the bishops and clerics nor for the laity. YOu either are or are not Catholic. You either adhere and assent to the teachigns of the Church or you are a dissenter and protestant or a ‘catholic in name only’. Time to decide what we are. And then do our best to live it. There may be a cost to it.

  26. J. C. Oberholzer says:

    For quite a long time, I have believed that the main reason why many bishops refuse to get tough with the pro-abort “Catholic” politicians is that they have come to depend on the money (grants) coming from the Federal Government.

  27. RANCHER says:

    I don’t think it’s the money because churches do not receive vast amounts of money from the government. I am more inclined to believe it is a result of two things: 1.) the fact that Church leaders receive little if any leadership training. 2.) they think that being a good leader is having everyone like you (I have heard that from multiple clerics). People won’t like you if you are firm with them–or so the Bishops believe. In fact firm but fair leaders are better liked than the non-leaders who run most dioceses in the USA.

  28. wsxyz says:

    I am a Catholic and vote Democrat and that is not going to change. I would rather leave the church than become a tool of the right wing.

    You’d rather be tormented in Hell for eternity than vote for a Republican?

  29. Barb says:

    Those who say “I would rather quit the church than …..whatever” have already
    quit the church in their hearts.

  30. Lindsay says:

    Maybe it is the money on some level–the perceived loss of money that would occur when parishioners don’t like what they say.

    However, I’m beginning to wonder why I trust “them” with my money if so much has gone into the hands of the likes of Acorn! How frustrating!

  31. RANCHER says:

    And I’m beginning to think that the only way to get the Bishops’ attention and force them to lead is to withhold our donations and clearly state why we are doing so with the promise of restoring those donations if they do the right thing. Bribery? Maybe, but not illegal and I don’t think immoral. Pretty sure it would get their attention though

  32. JakeInTexas says:

    wsxyz said, “You’d rather be tormented in Hell for eternity than vote for a Republican?” in response to Bill’s comment. I’m sure there are more than a few that have commented here who would agree with him.

    In response, I’d like to know how he feels competent to determine that someone will be sent to hell for not voting Republican (i.e., voting Democrat). If someone sincerely (note the qualifying word), sincerely believes that voting for a “pro-life” Republican will have no greater impact on abortions in this country than voting for a “pro-choice” Democrat…then why would you believe that God would condemn this person. Even if you believe that this individual’s conscience is in error.

    We’ve had eight years of a conservative Republican president; he also had a Republican-dominated congress for a number of those years. And despite the cries about “liberal-activist judges” it’s my understanding that most in our federal judiciary have been appointed and confirmed by Republicans. Abortion is not going to go away… and even if outlawed, it is not going to go away. The better thing to do would be to focus efforts on discouraging and preventing abortions.

    This absolutist idea that a person who doesn’t share your precise view is an abomination before God is what is truly a danger to our great nation. Extremism of any kind tends to be dangerous, but I’ll take my chances with one on the liberal side before I do with one on the conservative side any day. I can assure you that this type of uncharitable rhetoric hurts your cause more than hit helps.

    How would this situation be different from the idea of Baptism of Desire? So would you say that a person who doesn’t share your world view, or precise religious views is an abomination before God? I can asssure you that this type of uncharitable extemism hurts your cause more than hit helps.

  33. Mark says:


    I would say that such a person is at least naive.

    Civil law is important, because by its nature it also has the power to teach what is right and what is wrong (i.e. it’s didactic). When civil law contradicts moral law (as is the case with abortion), it’s the responsibility of citizens to recognize the situation, and amend the offending civil law. Otherwise we’re on the road to anarchy, the total dissociation of objective morality from civil law.

    In this context, conforming the civil to moral law, and promoting activities that discourage abortions, are complementary efforts. We shouldn’t have an either/or approach here.

  34. jarhead462 says:

    I believe that what wsxyz meant was a response to the person who said that they would “rather leave the Church than become a tool of the right wing.”
    Leave the Church is the operative phrase here.

    Semper Fi!

  35. Charles Evans says:

    Bishop Morin’s Subcommittee report on CCHD and ACORN
    November 11, 2008

    For nearly forty years, the Catholic Campaign For Human Development has practiced what the Church teaches about the option for the poor, subsidiarity and solidarity in helping people living in poverty defend their dignity and work for greater justice. Local CCHD-funded groups have made real differences on safer neighborhoods, better schools, decent wages, affordable housing, and immigrant rights. Because the mission of CCHD is so important, the Bishops work very hard to promote it and protect it by careful review and monitoring of CCHD grants to make sure they comply with CCHD’s guidelines and Catholic teaching.

    This report covers the steps CCHD and our Conference have taken and are taking to address our serious concerns regarding controversies involving the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN. In the past, CCHD has funded proposals from local organizations affiliated with ACORN when those activities conform to the CCHD guidelines and when the local diocesan CCHD director and the local diocesan bishop explicitly approve the proposal. Many of these local ACORN groups have done impressive work preventing home foreclosures, creating jobs opportunities, raising wages, addressing crime and improving education.

    Last June, CCHD cut off funding to all ACORN groups when we learned about a major case of embezzlement eight years ago that was covered up by ACORN staff leadership. This theft and cover-up raised serious concerns about national ACORN’s financial accountability, transparency, governance and organizational integrity. Even though CCHD was only funding local ACORN organizations, and not these national structures, we felt it was necessary to cut off CCHD funding and review support of all ACORN groups.

    More recently, the Subcommittee also became concerned about widespread reports of ACORN involvement in alleged voter registration fraud and political partisanship. As a result of the cut-off earlier this year, no CCHD funds were involved in any of these activities. However, the allegations intensified our questions and problems around ACORN’s organizational integrity, competence and non-partisanship. Therefore, we extended the cut off of CCHD funding of any ACORN organizations.

    The Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee met November 8-9 and reviewed this matter at length and discussed it in depth. The Bishop members of the Subcommittee voted unanimously to reaffirm, extend and formalize the decision to end CCHD funding of ACORN organizations because of serious concerns about financial accountability, organizational performance and political partisanship. While not all the specifics can be known, we simply had too many continuing questions and concerns about these serious matters to permit CCHD funding of ACORN groups. Dioceses have told us about the good work done by local ACORN affiliates and we regret that they will not be able to receive CCHD support. We simply could not be absolutely sure that CCHD resources would be used in a manner consistent with our criteria and funding guidelines. This cut off means that no CCHD grants were given to ACORN groups this year (using funds from the 2007 CCHD collection) and no funds from the coming collection (to be taken up in on November 23-24 in many dioceses) will go to ACORN in any place or at any level.

    In addition to this funding cutoff, the CCHD Subcommittee and staff have taken a number of other steps:

    I chair a special working group within the Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee to monitor and act on this continuing situation.

    CCHD and the USCCB have secured the services of specialists in forensic accounting to help determine if any CCHD money was taken or misused. This investigation is thorough and ongoing.

    CCHD, USCCB staff and I have met with ACORN leaders to express our serious concerns and to seek answers to specific questions.

    We continue to consult with our CCHD Diocesan Directors to seek their guidance.

    The Subcommittee also voted that CCHD should work with others to assist low-income community organizations to adopt and model best practices in areas of financial accountability, organizational management and effective governance. The Subcommittee believes that these efforts can help community organizations and CCHD to carry out more effectively our essential mission of empowering and assisting low-income communities in pursuing economic and social justice.

    CCHD’s current criteria and guidelines prohibit partisan activity and funding of any group that engages in activities contrary to Catholic moral teaching, whether or not those activities are funded by CCHD. These criteria are actively enforced and have led CCHD to deny funding to many groups and to quickly terminate any group that violates these prohibitions. The Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee and staff are reviewing these existing CCHD’s policies, grant agreements, and other safeguards in order to reaffirm and strengthen our protections in areas of Church teaching, financial and organizational accountability, and partisan political activity. We are also examining ways to affirm and articulate the continuing efforts of CCHD in language clearly reflecting the principles of Catholic social teaching, which are at the heart of our mission.

    Supporters of CCHD can be reassured for the way CCHD has responded to these challenges and take pride in the impressive and creative ways CCHD carries out the values of the Gospel and the principles of our Catholic faith in rural communities and urban neighborhoods across our nation. Everyday countless numbers of our brothers and sisters are able to say they have been lifted from the scourge of poverty and are able to achieve self sufficiency.

    CCHD is fully committed to protecting and carrying out our essential mission “to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, new sight to the blind and to set the downtrodden free” (Luke 4). That was Jesus’ mission on earth and that is CCHD’s mission today.

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