McBrien wants the bishops to endorse Obamacare

I am tired of writing that Richard McBrien doesn’t get it when it comes to abortion.

He does get it.

Face facts.

Richard McBrien supports “a woman’s right to choose.”

He should simply say it openly instead of writing articles pretending to be a Catholic.

McBrien’s latest article asks why – why oh why? – the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference won’t drop its opposition to Obamacare. 

After all… the President signed an executive order banning federal funding for elective abortions, right?!?  The President, the President himself, promised he would sign it in order to get Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) and other so-called Prolife Democrats in the House of Representatives to agree to the Senate bill.

You remember all of this. We went through it ad nauseum in December and January.


Legal experts and the National Right to Life Committee warned at the time that any U.S. federal court could easily strike down an executive order when it conflicted with the intentions of a law of this nature passed by Congress.

The U.S. bishops didn’t fall for the President’s feint.

But the nuns did.

Remember how it went?

The CHA, Network, the National Catholic Reporter (sic), and other liberal nuns’ groups – who could not wait to endorse Obamacare – did so in that nanosecond after the President cut the deal with Stupak and provided cover for “Prolife Democrats” (the term is an oxymoron).

McBrien wants the bishops to endorse Obamacare.

McBrien want to support this legislation in order to the get the nuns off the hook for having done so.
They stand – all of them – stand in stark opposition to the bishops.

McBrien wants the bishops to endorse the magisterium of nuns who in their “relational wisdom” endorsed federal funding of abortion.

McBrien also defended the Phoenix nun who authorized a direct abortion in a Catholic hospital.

See the pattern?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Emanations from Penumbras, SESSIUNCULA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Legisperitus says:

    What exactly does he think the bishops are supposed to do about the oil spill?

  2. TJerome says:

    I struggle with whether we should ignore Father McBrien. He’s a real publicity hound and would die a thousand deaths if he were simply ignored. The biological solution is not far away for him.

  3. TJerome: biological solution is not far away for him

    And for all of us. But it is closer to him.

    Say a prayer for him even as you read his rubbish.

  4. Robert of Rome says:

    While sympathizing greatly with TJerome’s struggle, I think Fr Z is right to post against the rantings of Fr McBrien. The Catholic public needs to hear alternative viewpoints to those posted at the NCR website.

  5. pseudomodo says:

    Initiate the “Bux Protocol” subito!

  6. Ralph says:

    Once again I must write, where are our Bishops?? This scandle hurts the Church and wounds the heart of the faithful (at least it does mine). It hurts me to see a Priest of God writing and speaking untruths that are counter to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I know I am an uneducated layman. I don’t understand all the going ons in the Church. Heck, sometimes I have to struggle to understand all of the comments on this blog :) But it seems like common sense to not allow a priest to go around spreading lies that confuse good people.

    Your right Father, we need to pray for Fr. McBrien. But we also need to add another prayer for our Bishops. Not all of them are weak, but as a whole they need to find a backbone, in my opinion.

  7. TJerome says:

    I will give you all some grounds for hope. Many of you probably are aware that Father McBrien posted a rant about the new Mass translations. My liberal parish printed it in the Sunday bulletin (I’m in the Archdiocese of Chicago). Well I reported this to the bishop for our deanery (I’m sure I was not the only one) and lo and behold the Archdiocese ordered my parish and all Archdiocesan parishes to cease and desist from publishing his materials. I know Father McBrien. He’s a very affable and personally likeable man, but his views are far from the Catholic mainstream. He’s not taken seriously by theologians at Notre Dame. The Theology Deparment there has improved over the years and is more orthodox than when I was there in the 1970s from what I hear. I agree with Father Z, we should pray for him.

  8. wanda says:

    Good for you, TJerome! I left a comment over at the story sight asking ‘How’s that Executive Order working out?’ Here’s how well that thing is working out – Pennsylvania, New Mexico and now possibly Maryland are all set to receive billions under a new high-risk insurance program, which WILL PAY FOR ABORTIONS! I apologize for the yelling, but, sometimes that’s the only way people can hear the truth.

    Heaven help us and the children in their Mother’s wombs. St. Michael the Archangel defend us in battle.

  9. TJerome: I like that part about the Archdiocese of Chicago.

  10. msmsem says:

    Fr. Z: I think it’s a bit unfair to say that “Prolife Democrat” is an oxymoron. I think one can be, in good conscience, a pro-life Democrat; that is to say, you don’t have to tag along with the Democratic Party on every issue to identify yourself as a Democrat. In fact, I think we want more pro-life Democrats, i.e. members of the Democratic Party who see and understand the value and dignity of human life from natural conception to natural death. By the same reasoning, you can be a “pro-choice” Republican, and that’s worse than being a “pro-life Democrat”. Regardless of whether one identifies him/herself as a Republican or a Democrat, it is better for him/her to be pro-life.

    If you were to say that “pro-choice” Catholic is an oxymoron, I would agree (“pro-choice” being in quotes because we are for choice as well, just the right choice), but I must respectfully disagree with your statement that “pro-life Democrat” is an oxymoron. Remember, Fr., we don’t want to be “Republican” or “Democrat” – we just want to be good Catholics. Just my two cents.

  11. TJerome says:

    Father Z, I was pleasantly surprised. Best, Tom

  12. Elly says:

    I hope the church I grew up in isn’t publishing his articles in the bulletin anymore. My mom used to read them to us in the car on the way home from Mass and now agrees with a lot of his views. I’m not sure what she would believe if she didn’t read them but they couldn’t have helped.

  13. Cath says:

    The problem with ignoring McBrien is that when people read his articles in bulletins or Catholic publications, it gives a legitimacy that he does not deserve. This makes it easier for people to fall away from Catholic teaching without even knowing it (granted people should educate themselves in the Faith better, but many don’t). I am with Ralph in that I do not understand why some bishops allow this to continue. As a parent, I cannot allow my older children to continue in bad behavior unchecked without knowing that my younger children will be influenced by such behavior. Common sense really.

  14. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I am happy to hear the archdiocese of Chicago has taken measures to limit the harm caused by outspoken dissenters like McBrien. Here in Boston, we have supporters of the CHA within the chancery itself. The head of health and social services here gave a speech praising the CHA’s leadership recently:

    (McBrien, by the way, was invited to preach at the first Mass Fr. Hehir celebrated:

  15. robtbrown says:

    Fr. Z: I think it’s a bit unfair to say that “Prolife Democrat” is an oxymoron. I think one can be, in good conscience, a pro-life Democrat; that is to say, you don’t have to tag along with the Democratic Party on every issue to identify yourself as a Democrat.
    Comment by msmsem

    The Democratic party is officially a pro abortion party. Since Roe v Wade Democratic Presidents have never nominated anyone anti-Roe to SCOTUS. Further, policies pursued by Dem Presidents have extended the use of federal money to be used in abortions.

    Anyone voting Democratic in Congressional elections aids the Dems in becoming the majority party, helping them implement their pro abortion policies.

    Reid of Nevada and Casey of Pennsylvania are said to be pro-life, but I am not aware of anything they have done to confirm it.

    Whatever the warts of the Republican party, its policies have been anti-abortion.

  16. robtbrown says:

    I know Father McBrien. He’s a very affable and personally likeable man, but his views are far from the Catholic mainstream.
    Comment by TJerome

    I understand what you’re saying, but “mainstream” is not the right word.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    I also knew Father McBrien in the early eighties, as we had mutual friends. I had dinner with him many times, and found him less than charming. Of course, he knew I was a conservative Catholic. He always had to be “right”. As to his bad ideas, The Catholic Messenger, the official diocesan newspaper of the Davenport Diocese insists on publishing his weekly column. When asked why, the answer was “for balanced views”. The Bishop has not intervened.

    Father McBrien also does not believe in the real Resurrection of Christ, stating clearly at an Easter Mass I attended that the Resurrection was only important as a “symbol of new life” and other rubbish. The priest needs many, many prayers.

    As to the Democratic Party, the official platform supports abortion and has since at least 2000, in print. Catholics cannot fudge on this point. If one supports a party which publicly supports women’s reproductive rights, I believe, along with Bishop Finn, that one must consider one’s immortal soul.

  18. Fr. Z, you are absolutely correct in your assessment of Fr. McBrien.
    I have nothing to add.
    Other than, does the “grave crimes” document maybe, just maybe, give some clout to his Bishop?

  19. catholicmidwest says:

    Why do we even care what Prof. McBrien says? He’s made it very clear that he’s outside the teaching of the church.

  20. ckdexterhaven says:

    Msmsem- Our leader, Fr. Z is absolutely correct. There is no such thing as a pro life democrat. The democrat party accepts millions from Planned unParenthood in campaign donations (the democrat party and individual candidates), and in turn the democrat legislators fund the non profit Planned unParenthood to the tune of billions of our tax dollars.

    At one time, Al Gore and Bill Clinton were claimed to be pro life when they were at the local level. Once they went “national”, they bowed down to the higher ups in the Democrat party and became pro choice. Governor Bill Casey was a pro life democrat who wasn’t even allowed to speak at the 92 convention.

    There is no such thing as a pro life democrat.

  21. TJerome says:

    Supertradmum, interesting. I knew Father McBrien since the 1960s, and he always knew I was a staunch, traditional Catholic. Nonetheless he was always personally charming to me. I used to tease him about putting on his “custome” when he appeared on national television. Be assured, I despise all of his religious positions and he knows that. He has little, if any influence at Notre Dame anymore. Before his very eyes he has witnessed the restoration of the EF on the Notre Dame Campus, the Corpus Christi processions, and the rosaries at the Grotto, ALL heavily peopled with young Notre Dame students and young Holy Cross priests in full religious habits. He is depressed about all of that. Obviously the “product” he was selling, didn’t prove too popular in the long run. Young Catholics desire authenticity.

  22. TJerome says:

    If Pius XI were alive today he would likely condemn the modern Democratic Party aka the Abortion Party as he did the nazis and fascists. The bishops in the US (as a group) are beneath contempt for allowing this charade to continue. All they do is dishearten faithful Catholics and hearten the fake ones, like Nancy Pelosi.

  23. John 6:54 says:

    Fr. Z why do you spend so much time on this McBrien loon? Every week you seem to have something on him just let him fad away and pray for him. It’s really not worth your time he’s like a blood and guts strawman for you.

  24. John 6:54: Fr. McBrien needs someone to “call him to correction”; whether or not it actually works is up to the Lord.
    Someone needs to make his errors known and then correct them.
    He’s a priest and someone at Notre Dame, after all.
    Fraternal correction is, after all, a spiritual work of mercy.

  25. Ed the Roman says:


    The pro-life Democrats have all voted for the bill that will be funding abortions in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and some other states.

    The pro-life Democrats in the Senate all vote for their party’s Supreme Court nominees regardless of whether they are merely absolutists on abortion as a fundamental right or go all the way to being absolutists on abortion as a fundamental entitlement to be paid for from the public fisc.

    Pro-life Democrats make me wonder what they think a pro-choice Democrat would do: make undergoing an abortion a required element of a national service program? How far must you go in supporting a thing before you cannot be said to oppose it?

  26. Ed the Roman says:

    It’s not that the Republicans are great on life either. But Republican Presidents might nominate, and Republican Senators might vote to confirm, Supreme Court justices who are pro-life. Democrats absolutely will not do this any more; it is their declared platform, and members of their party who disagree are not permitted to hold leadership positions.

    Harry Reid says he is pro-life. He voted against Clarence Thomas, he voted to filibuster Samuel Alito, and he voted against John Roberts. He has never voted for a justice who could possibly be considered pro-life.

    He did vote for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, though.

  27. Hans says:

    TJerome wrote

    (I’m in the Archdiocese of Chicago)

    As am I. I have noted in this space (though not in this thread, obviously) that Cardinal George has said that when the new English translation comes into force, that priests who will not use the new translation will not be allowed to say Mass (in English, at least).


    I appreciate hearing about Fr. McBrien’s more (um) eccentric views. They always seem to come up in discussions with those who admire him or are confused by him, and having seen them before makes them easier to refute. Also, those who admire him always seem to twist what he says in rather confused ways, so I can clarify what he’s said.

    For instance, while I’m a historian only by avocation, I have read enough to see that when Fr. McBrien uses history in one of his arguments, he is almost always wrong, especially if it is Medieval (or at least that’s what I know best). It’s not that the event didn’t happen necessarily, but his analysis is intended to support his argument without any reference to the context of the event.

    In his column attacking Archbishop Dolan’s transfer to NY, he claimed that such transfers were uncanonical (or some such thing) and were a modern invention. He cites the example of on 10th-century (not exactly a happy time for the papacy) pope trying his predecessor for having ‘illicitly’ changed dioceses to become pope. What Fr. McBrien fails to note is that the complainant had done exactly the same thing, and that the trial was really a secular political show-trial, with the accused appearing in court as a corpse. He also fails to note that there are many records of bishops transferring or being transferred between dioceses even earlier than that without any difficulty. Perhaps the most famous early instance is that of Gregory Nazianzen, who went from Sasima to Nazianzus to Constantinople, and whose only active opponents were heretics, mostly Arians. When they opposed him at the Second Council of Constantinople on the grounds of having changed dioceses, he decided such arguments would only distract from the council, so he resigned from Constantinople and won the day. However, he returned not to his original see in Sasima but to Nazianzus. His foes don’t seem to have minded that.

  28. John 6:54 says:

    Oh I agree there needs to be Fraternal Correction, I wish more of it happened at the level of Bishop, but at what point do you ignore a heretic? My guess is McBrien will be saying heretical things until his death. The Fraternal Correction at some point should move to his superiors and his “Catholic” employer.

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