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to teach, to govern... or to duck?

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Nov 08, 2008

Did you really think that the US bishops' conference was going to behave responsibly? What touching naivete!

In the heat of the presidential campaign, with bishops issuing contradictory statements on the responsibilities of Catholic voters and politicians, the USCCB announced that the bishops would discuss the topic at their November meeting, and try to achieve some workable consensus. That was then. Now the topic is off the agenda.  Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the PR director for the bishops' conference, explains that situation "has evolved since September" because many bishops have addressed the topic.

Yes, many bishops addressed the topic. And others didn't. Among those who did, the statements often clashed, leaving Catholics confused.  

So what has "evolved" to allow the bishops to skip another difficult discussion? Let's see:

  • Have prominent Catholic politicians ceased to be advocates of legal abortion? Not at all. This year's two most conspicuous offenders, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, will soon stand 2nd and 3rd in line for the nation's highest office. They continue to advance not only the 'culture of death' political agenda, but also a skewed quasi-Catholic theology to justify it. 
  • Have the bishops reached agreement on how to handle the problem? Nope. Right through Election Day individual bishops were issuing their contrasting statements, drawing out different aspects of their malleable common statement, Faithful Citizenship. The most forthright bishops were acknowledging that an air-clearing discussion was overdue. 
  • Have the media moved away from the issue, now that the campaign is over, so that the bishops can retreat into undisturbed silence, away from the glare of publicity? Bingo.

A second question: A large minority (at least) of US bishops wanted to have this discussion, in order to achieve clarity in public witness. What's the argument against a discussion-- against clarity?

Finally what motivates the leadership of the USCCB in this case? The desire of zealous pastors to correct wayward members of the flock? The desire of dedicated teachers, to eliminate confusion and offer clear instruction? Or the desire of craven politicians, to avoid negative press? To ask that question is to recognize the answer.

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