Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,749 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

uncertain trumpet

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 13, 2006

The US bishops' conference has issued a response to the "Statement of Principles" in which 55 Catholic Democrats from the US House of Representatives announced that their votes would not be guided by Church teachings on subjects like abortion and same-sex unions.

In their response the bishops clearly stated that the Democratic politicans were wrong.

Oh, wait. The bishops didn't clearly state that the Democrats were wrong. They said that the lawmakers' statement was "welcome," but went on to say that we "need to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s constant teaching that abortion is a grave violation of the most fundamental human right...." and that "all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church."

If you're familiar with the issues, you read the bishops' statement carefully and recognize that they are disagreeing with the Democratic politicians. But if you're not familiar with the issues, and/or you don't read carefully, you don't get that message. And most Catholic Americans probably won't read the statement carefully, because they'll never hear about it, because...

The Democratic statement was an obvious effort to grab headlines and sway public opinion. If the bishops really wanted to counteract that effort, they would have been careful to include a clear, simple message in their own statement: something that would make for a good quote in the lead paragraph of a news story. There's no such simple, declarative statement here. No bid for widespread attention. No direct confrontation of the legislators' errors. No clear teaching.

What is clear is the bishops' enthusiasm for-- can you guess?-- dialogue. And not just any dialogue but "especially the irreplaceable dialogue between Catholic political leaders and their own bishops."

Oh, that dialogue? You mean the dialogue between politicians who pronounce their contempt for Church teaching and prelates who warn those politicians of their spiritual peril? That dialogue certainly is irreplaceable, because you can't replace what you never had.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,128 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,872.05
83% 17%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 22 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Sir William - Mar. 15, 2006 11:45 AM ET USA

    In regard to Mormon teaching, their president has had a 'divine revelation' that a soul isn't put in the body until around 3 months in utero, as if God makes experimental parts & abandons them. The Mormon god-the-father is a glorified man, Jesus and satan are brothers and they all get to be gods over a planet when they die if they were married in the temple and wear holy underwear. Listen to Catholic bishops? Nah. Listen to other polits speak forcefully w/ reason? Maybe, just maybe...

  • Posted by: - Mar. 15, 2006 10:34 AM ET USA

    Coemgen, NonSumDignus: First, visit the “shills” forum still alive but dying because I’m its solitary post. IF Catholics were keenly aware of how easy & IMPORTANT it is to expose RCRC clerics’ disrespect for God, some of you-all would have built on what I said there. YES, this IS the moment to approach Sen. Hatch but in a firm yet charitable manner designed not to shame him but to have him see that he failed to ask himself whether he KNOWS the embryos are NOT in God’s Image. He’ll reverse!

  • Posted by: NonSumDignus - Mar. 15, 2006 9:11 AM ET USA

    Teachable, good Mormon that Senator Hatch claims to be, I doubt that the clear and unambiguous teaching of our bishops is an important part of the process of the formation of his conscience.

  • Posted by: Coemgen - Mar. 15, 2006 8:47 AM ET USA

    Teachable, that is the point. This is the opportunity to show Sen. Hatch his error. The embroyonic state is indeed good. It can develop and be born, grow up and learn, and perhaps cure or fix some number of problems we all face. Once that embryo is aborted for cells and tissue this potential is destroyed.

  • Posted by: callistus - Mar. 14, 2006 10:54 PM ET USA

    This line between being pastoral and caving in to the spirit of the age is very difficult to determine. It might be very difficult for bishops to come down hard on Catholics whose consciences have been formed under the care of many bishops, who have said yes to Rome and then ignored Papal teaching in their own dioceses. It is difficult to discipline an unruly adult when as a child it was allowed to do whateve it pleased. Rational dialogue assumes good faith. I rather doubt the pols have it.

  • Posted by: Eusebuis1 - Mar. 14, 2006 8:24 PM ET USA

    Canonical question. Which bishop has authority over a Senator or Congresman (of Congresswoman) if they are openly pro-abortion? Is it the bishop from which the person was elected or the the bishop of the Archdioceses of Washington, D.C. where the “act” was consummated (the vote supporting pro-abortion or hindering pro-life)?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2006 7:16 PM ET USA

    coemgen, before persuading “that human life is precious and human dignity .. be defended”, listen to WHY basically good people like Sen. Orrin Hatch changed his mind re Embryonic Stem Cell Research. After prayerful study, Hatch FELT God gives mankind the embryonic state to cure diseases; he sees it as a good. What Hatch failed to do was see beyond intentions, to ask whether he was daring to RISK murder. Had the USCCB publicly preached None Dare Risk Murder, he would be less sure. They did not!

  • Posted by: Coemgen - Mar. 14, 2006 5:03 PM ET USA

    My version of that critical early paragraph (in musheze) We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves "as this provides an excellent opportunity to further explain and attempt to correct the deficiency in their consciences concerning legalized abortion."

  • Posted by: Granny - Mar. 14, 2006 4:23 PM ET USA

    I read the Bishop's statement, too. I think they want to talk (dialog) with these 55 scoundrels. Is it possible that they want a face to face with them, instead of castigating them publicly (that has been done to no avail). I thought it was a velvet glove approach. Hitting them over the head wth a 2x4 hasn't worked. De Fide just had Kerry proclaimed a heretic? Does he care?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2006 8:55 AM ET USA

    Diogenes, here’s Cdl. Keeler’s '04 statement that Catholics ought to know just how evil abortion is: “.. [the Church] is defending an elementary principle of justice, a principle easily discernible to anyone willing to think the matter through.” http://www.archbalt.org/cardinal-archbishop/homilies-talks/homilies-talks-item.cfm?customel_datapageid_2039=9065 We’re 3 mos. from this June’s USCCB Mtg. Will USCCB assert Keeler’s valid ’04 point re our pols? Won’t that be enough for canon 915?

  • Posted by: Linus682 - Mar. 14, 2006 7:07 AM ET USA

    The feckless USCCB once again demonstrates its inability to confront evil.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 14, 2006 1:34 AM ET USA

    Just when one's expectations of the USCCB could not be any lower, this. Another example of the ratcheting technique our Uncle Di has so ably explained in the past. And, of course, once the politician's views prevail, the call for dialogue will cease -- replaced by, as again my tutor UD has illuminated, pleas for "can't we simply stop talking about this? Hasn't this obsession gone on long enough?"

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - Mar. 13, 2006 8:40 PM ET USA

    A friend of mine (and a former Bostonian) has just written a pretty good summary of the "Gang of 55's" position: "One politician standing firm on his conscience is a miracle. Fifty-five standing firm on their consciences is a publicity stunt." http://www.mercatornet.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=239

  • Posted by: Gino - Mar. 13, 2006 7:44 PM ET USA

    Wow; I am so proud of our Church Militant! God forbid these Bishops would be definite about abortion loving "Catholic" politicians who profess a faith different from God's.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2006 6:23 PM ET USA

    I prefer Bishop Vasa's (http://sentinel.org/articles/2006-7/14481.html) statement calling the "pro-choice Catholic" position what it is: heresy.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2006 5:58 PM ET USA

    This statement represents significant progress on behalf of the Bishops' Conference. The bishops framed their words carefully rather than pick a fight with the Demo legislators. Yet the message is clear: support of abortion cannot be justified. If the legislators waffle, the tone can be changed. The bishops could have remained silent. They chose to speak up. They should be commended for taking this step.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 13, 2006 5:48 PM ET USA

    And, a thought: didn't most of the the bishops vote for those congressmen? Voter registrations are public records in every state I know of. It would be a sizable but not impossible task to find out how every bishop in the United States is registered. How many are registered in the Party of Abortion? And what are their names? It is NOT private information. If I had, say, a monthly Catholic newsmagazine and were looking for some enterprise reporting...

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 13, 2006 5:41 PM ET USA

    Sorry, RSteele. I have read many (thousands of) press releases in my life and this is one that is calculated either (1) to go into the round file or (2) to be reported as in basic agreement with the politicians' statement. I AM familiar with the issues and I DID read it carefully---three times---and if I were reporting on it I would probably lede something like: The nation's Catholic Bishops mostly agree with the positions of the 55 Catholic Democrats in the House who....

  • Posted by: - Mar. 13, 2006 4:17 PM ET USA

    Just a tip, Diogenes. It's more mentally and spiritually healthy (and it indicates better mental and spiritual health) to see the good in whatever we evaluate first, and then to note its deficiencies. There is much good in this statement. It clearly states where a Catholic politician should stand on life issues and it refutes the signatories Protestant notion of the "primacy of conscience". How about noting that before criticizing their commitment to (mere) dialogue.

  • Posted by: Sir William - Mar. 13, 2006 3:55 PM ET USA

    "Dialogue" as issued by the USCCB is in effect a watery monologue at best. It says nothing of substance, and those to whom it is addressed don't actually listen to it anyway. And why should they? There is no fear of discipline and there are no consequences. Just meaningless letters and documents issued and promptly forgotten, written by bishops, many of whom who are largely disobedient themselves. Sad. Pray, fast and do penance.

  • Posted by: Hammer of Heretics - Mar. 13, 2006 2:53 PM ET USA

    I recommend that Pope Benedict require all Bishops responsible for press releases to take a PR 101 course. Diogenese, you are so right. 99% of the information released by the USCCB could be replaced with the words "blah blah blah" with little or no effect on the impact it has on the faithful. Why bury the key message in the sixth paragraph? Trying to be pastoral? These rebellious Catholic politicians don't need pastoral, they need a kick in the pants.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Mar. 13, 2006 2:45 PM ET USA

    has Card. McCarrick's task force regarding Holy Communion & pro-death politicians issued a finding yet? hasn't a year passed since he submitted his resignation?

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Church Moves On, Slowly 17 hours ago
Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 21 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem October 23
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. October 23
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6