Bill Donohue on liberal elite scolding of bishops over contrary-to-nature unions.

There is a good commentary by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League on the liberal commentary aimed at the US Catholic Bishops over contrary-to-nature unions and legislation to promote them.

Here is Mr. Donohue with my emphases and comments:

Responding to growing attacks on Catholic bishops over the issue of same-sex marriage is Catholic League president Bill Donohue:

The passage of a same-sex marriage bill in New York, over the objections of the Catholic hierarchy, [Some people may think the bishops should have objected more strenuously, but they did object.] has led to a storm of criticism of the state’s bishops. The most extreme condemnation comes from a July 5 editorial in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).  [What a surprise.]

The Catholic hierarchy, says NCR, “has lost most of its credibility with the wider culture on matters of sexuality and personal morality, just as it has lost its authority within the Catholic community on the same issues.” The bishops are guilty of engaging in everything from “wholesale excommunications” to “open warfare” with dissidents[ROFL!  Let’s count up the number of excommunications issued by US bishops in the last, say, 5 years over any issue.  “Warfare”?  NCFishwrap thinks there has been “warfare”?  They should pray that the bishops don’t go to war.  They haven’t yet, not by a long shot.  And those bishops who have been outspoken on the matter of contrary-to-nature unions have been careful to distinguish between the sinners and the sins.  Sinners, people, require charity and concern.  Sin merits condemnation.  When did contrary-to-nature sexual activity cease being a sin?]

[This next part is very useful.] The popular “out-of-touch” criticism of the bishops on gay marriage rests on two faulty assumptions: (a) there is a divide between the bishops and the faithful on this issue, and (b) the bishops should take their cues from the laity.  [Excellent.  First, depending in part on which part of the country you are looking at, it is hard to imagine that the “silent majority” is in favor of contrary-to-nature sex and legal unions.  Polls will show this or that number, but when common sense is applied, it is simply too hard to imagine, and rightly so.  Second, remember that liberals want to supplant the bishops and set up their own “magisterium”.  I suspect they really don’t care what “the laity” think.  They are really saying that bishops should submit to the agenda points of the liberal Catholic elite.]

To begin with, there is a profound difference between the views of practicing Catholics and nominal ones. [This is an important distinction.  Catholics who actually go to church, practice their Faith poll differently on a variety of questions than do CINOs.] There is also a divide between what the public tells a pollster and the results in a ballot box. In the 31 states where the voters were given the opportunity to decide on gay marriage, many of the polls going into the election showed that the supporters would carry the day. The final tally was 31-0 against gay marriage. New Yorkers were denied a ballot initiative. Moreover, a Siena College poll taken just before the vote in the legislature showed only a minority of Catholics in favor of this idea.

More important, the bishops have a different charge: they are obligated to do what is morally right. [NB: Even if they have in some instances failed in that regard in the past, that failure does not diminish the duty of the bishops to teach properly.  Sure, their task is harder because of those failures and the bishops as a body have a long row to hoe to recover respect and confidence from many.  But they won’t do so by doing nothing or biting their tongues.   They probably won’t do it by “warfare” either.  But watch this next point… ] But if NCR wants the bishops to follow the laity, is it prepared to have the hierarchy junk its rejection of the death penalty[EXACTLY!  The opinion the liberal Catholic elite wants bishops to follow is not actually that of the people in the pews.  When it suits their own agenda, liberals use the populist argument against the teaching authority of the Church.  When the opinion of the people doesn’t coincide, then they look for other blunt instruments.] After all, two-thirds of Catholics want those guilty of a capital offense to be fried, so why not the bishops? Will NCR now campaign for the death penalty, lecturing the bishops to get in line with the rank-and-file? Its hypocrisy is stunning.

WDTPRS KUDOS to Mr. Donohue.  Good argument.

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  1. shane says:

    The NY bishops were actually quite silent on the whole issue. There was an article in the NYT that claimed they had the potential to defeat the legislation had they been more vocal. I suspect most bishops are too embarrassed to talk much about sexual morality as a result of the abuse scandals.

    When I read articles on newspaper websites concering Catholic matters, at least 3/4s of the comments are on the abuse scandals, even when the article is about something else entirely.

  2. Titus says:

    “Warfare”? NCFishwrap thinks there has been “warfare”? They should pray that the bishops don’t go to war. They haven’t yet, not be a long shot.

    This is quite true and insightful. With a good head of steam and a hearty dose of determination, a united American episcopate could cut through most any opposition like a knife through hot butter. Not because everyone listens to them, but because they have substantial resources that could be directed to such an enterprise combined with a large, existing infrastructure. If push came to shove and they tossed their mumbling liberal bureaucrats out, they could do a thing or two. But may the saints preserve us from whatever calamity would galvanize that sort of reaction.

  3. PostCatholic says:

    NCR may indeed represent a vocal minority of Catholic liberal elites. In fact, I think it’s fractionally small.

    I think the “silent majority” of Catholics, though, are what I remember 20 years ago by the sobriquet “cafeteria Catholics.” These are people who attend Catholic worship (on a schedule that ranges from every Sunday to just Christmas); believe in their prayers and devotions and find comfort in ritual–particularly at weddings and funerals and baptisms–but maybe don’t entirely follow the Church in Eucharistic theology; bother rarely or not at all with Confession; and definitely don’t believe what the Church teaches on the topic of birth control. I frankly think that type of Catholic is very commonplace among those Americans who say they are Catholic. I guess you call them CINO’s now but I do wonder how much of their money goes into the collection baskets, pledge drives, alumni fundraisers and so forth. I’m willing to bet it’s statistically–and fiscally–significant.

    I don’t think NCR speaks for the views of these people any more than the Register, but perhaps in they do make a good point. I think that type of Catholic may not even be aware of NCR. I also think that with in-vitro fertilization, birth control, and contact with openly homosexual people being an increasingly commonplace thing in daily American life, for cafeteria Catholics these just aren’t sins. To believe that they are requires more than superficial attention to those issues, and t the child abuse sex scandal eroded some credibility and attention span the bishops may have claimed with these people on topics of sexual morality, end-of-life issues or social politics. I think politicians are doing that calculus now and realizing there’s no one “Catholic vote” anymore, if ever there was. Donohue’s point about death penalty abolition is very apt.

  4. optimist says:

    PostCatholic: You have hit the nail on the head. I think that the Church in in West is headed for demographic collapse. The bills are paid by CINO’s, and the PTB can’t or won’t cross them, and so the slow hemorrhaging of the Faith continues. In most parishes I’ve visited, there are no males between the age of 15 and 55, and it is only the rare exception where people other than (my apologies, but it’s true) women and old men are involved with the parish. That can’t last. We’ve gone from a situation in the 1960’s where a family of 5-10 all were involved with the Church to the situation today where they are lucky if 10% of their grandchildren are.

    The contrast to TLM communities is stark. That’s where the future lies.

  5. Margaret says:

    This talk of the bishops, and lots of talking, and going to war somehow calls to my mind the Ents.

    If our Entish bishops were to rouse themselves to war, they could be formidable.

  6. benedetta says:

    PostCatholic, No, the demographic you describe is not contributing to collection, appeals or to any worthy Catholic causes. It is not significant. But it is “superficial” as you say in that a great many people who are resigned to just picking their way through the rubble have not at all made much genuine effort to examine their faith or come to mature terms with the Church’s teachings. When their priests and leaders joined forces with the anti-Catholic assumptions underlying mass media it became a done deal for them and they view things with all of those assumptions intact. People who harbor residual hostility, even if just accepted with little real analysis or objective evaluation, towards the Church are not contributing great amounts of financial support. I grant you that many may not even be remotely aware that hostility and hatred support the direction taken in various ways.

    Dissenting Catholics with an ax to grind may be contributing here and there and are organized to some degree. In some places the NCR/Fishwrap is urged upon laity for reading material. Some are into it and fully choose it.

    Also many dissenting “Catholic” institutions, academic, media, whatever, are supported by decidedly non-Catholics who just despise the Church. That is happening too.

  7. PostCatholic says:

    benedetta, I have only my own experience as a guide, and I realize anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much. But I come from a big Irish Catholic family full of semi-regular Mass goers who do stroke some sizable checks to Cardinals’ Appeals and Parish Building Campaigns and so forth. On the holidays when I see them, they’ll have enough beer to both remember I was once a seminarian and forget their manners and tell me more than I want to know about what they think about birth control. My late great-uncle left a small fortune to the Archdiocese of Boston and the LaSallette fathers, and yet he was notorious for saying precisely what he thought of birth control and confession and the Pope and Purgatory to anyone who’d listen. If you believe in an afterlife, I hope you’ll charitably conclude that’s where he is now. I have an ex-nun aunt who stopped going to Mass around the time of the Council because they “threw away the beauty,” and she says her rosary every night and keeps a statue of St Therese of Liseaux on a dresser opposite her bed. I have several work friends who organize an annual golf tournament that’s lavish enough to fund the budgets CYO of three very large parishes and a scholarship, and I know just what they think of Catholic doctrine because sometimes I’ve had to explain it to them when they start to lose their temper over it. My own parents see nothing incompatible between a. their never-miss-a-Sunday Mass attendance and weekly envelopes and countless other means of parish support, and b. their enthusiastic and loving support for the same-sex marriage of their daughter who has two in-vitro conceived children. (I do, but they don’t.)

    I don’t think these people are “dissenters” in that they don’t stand on soapboxes or subscribe to protest newspapers or really even follow the “war” or pay it any mind. Extrapolating from those I know, I think an awful lot of Catholics are just like them.

    I also know an awful lot of self-described “lapsed”, “former” and “recovering” Catholics who would nevertheless say they’re Catholic. They’re not giving you guys any money, but they do beef up your numbers considerably.

    The choice your church faces is either to keep these tepid Catholics and their money, or expel them and have a purer, more united but smaller church until and unless you can rally more to your cause. So far it seems to me that your bishops find more influence in large numbers, both in census and bottom line, than in the cohesion. I think it will be interesting to see which direction they proceed in as time marches on.

  8. Iowa Mike says:

    I have one question…..what in the world does it take for the Church to excommunicate someone and I don’t mean latae sententiae? The New York governor is divorced, he publicly lives with his girlfriend, he publicly goes to Church and receives the Eucharist, and he lead a very public campaign to make gay marriage legal in New York state……in the face of the public opposition of his bishop and the Catholic Church. The scandal is outrageous; I’d like to know why the Church does not publicly excommunicate him? It’s no wonder people have lost confidence in the leadership of most U.S. bishops. It’s no wonder so many Catholics disregard Church teachings.

  9. Banjo pickin girl says:

    My diocese has entire parishes of dissenters, people who don’t believe in the teachings of the Church but go to Mass anyway and contribute lots of money because it is the cultural thing to do. I’ve been berated in my local grocery store by people when I was wearing my t-shirt from my faithful parish. The ladies said women should be ordained and “they’re fighting for that, Fr. John says so.” “Father John” preaches women’s ordination all the time and all the other stuff that goes with it but has a childish piety surrounding the Little Flower and lots of other things like that that just made me confused. I left there because converts especially don’t need that, been there, done that, it doesn’t work.

    I do think some bishops are keeping these dissenting priests in place and not moving them around to contain the contagion a little. But I do think they are using the priest shortage as an excuse not to get rid of them. And I read a few years ago a paper which had the priest/parishioner ratios over time in the U.S. and we currently are no worse off than in the early 1900’s. The difference is now that people no longer live within walking distance of the parish and there are probably more priests in chancery offices fulfilling paper pushing functions.

  10. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I neglected to mention that these dissenting “ladies” were young, in their 20’s-30’s.

  11. Sol says:

    has lost most of its credibility with the wider culture on matters of sexuality and personal morality.

    Oh yeah, because that’s what the bishops must have: credibility with the wider culture. Isn’t this a reframed old canard of the Church having to get in tune with the times or Her reading the ‘signs of the times’? Btw: I can’t believe this phrase actually made it into the Missal(it is in one of the Prefaces in the 2002 MR IIRC)!

    Also, note the perverse liberal obsession wth sex. For them, all the bishops should be concerned about is sexual mores, contraception, abortion. The don’t care a dime for Liturgy or the proper and due worship of God. No no, it’s all about: ‘why won’t these meaaaaan bishops, naughty boys they are, let us do what we want and have sex anytime anywhere and with anyone we want? That’s just meeeaaan.

    For liberals, the only benchmark for what the bishops preach should be mass culture. I would like to see where we end up in other areas of life, not just religion, where it to become so.

    @ banjo pickin’ girl: you are dead on with the chancery priests there. In my native Poland you have hundreds of dioceses where not a small number of priests are assigned to the diocesan chancery, paid full time salaries but with no specific posts (read: waste of money, basically), and some of them have not been in proper active ministry for years! . Sad.

  12. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Sol, I wonder too how many priests are pretty much full time processing decrees of annulment in the US.

  13. Gabriel Austin says:

    Newman warned of the spread of Arianism in the Church. What does that mean? Simply put: it is the denial of the divinity of Our Lord.
    And with it the denial of the Real Presence.

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