Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Irish bishops channeling Nancy Pelosi

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 09, 2012

When questioned about details of Obamacare, Rep. Nancy Pelosi famously remarked that “we have to pass the bill so that we can find out what is in it.” This is the “shoot first, aim later” approach to legislation. Once the bill becomes law, the problems will become obvious.

Did I detect something of the same attitude in the Irish bishops’ endorsement of a children’s-rights amendment? This constitutional amendment has worried Irish pro-family activists, who see it as a threat to parental rights. The bishops acknowledged that concern, and expressed their sympathy: “As bishops we share the concern of others to ensure that the proposed amendment on children does not undermine the rights of parents and the presumptive place of the family…” Yet ultimately the bishops concluded that, in their opinion, the proposed amendment was properly worded so as to avoid the problem.

Notice, now, that in reaching this conclusion the bishops are exercising their judgment as constitutional scholars. Which they aren’t.

Indeed the bishops recognize that their judgment may prove incorrect. Their statement allows that “the possibility of unintended consequences is always present in the context of Constitutional change.” This suggests a rather cavalier approach to the process of changing a nation’s foundational law. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to have the potential consequences of an amendment studied carefully--by people qualified to make legal judgments? The Irish bishops think not:

If unforeseen or unintended consequences do emerge in time, the remedy of further Constitutional amendment or amending legislation is available to mitigate the consequences of any such developments.

In other words: It’s probably OK to amend the constitution, because we think the wording is innocuous. But if it turns out badly we can always amend the constitution again to undo the damage.

As I said above, bishops are not experts in constitutional law. Q.E.D.

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!

Progress toward our April expenses ($26,688 to go):
$35,000.00 $8,311.70
76% 24%
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!

There are no comments yet for this item.

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

Recent Catholic Commentary

Mysteries, again and again! 4 hours ago
Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization 7 hours ago
The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) April 16
The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. April 16
The Truth about the Armenian Genocide April 15

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16