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And in other breaking news, Dewey beat Truman

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 08, 2004

In a Catholic News Service story on the US elections, a Jesuit (strike one) from Massachusetts (strike two) argues that the US bishops made a big mistake by placing so much emphasis on pro-life issues.

Boston College theology professor Jesuit Father David Hollenbach said the approach "is likely to produce a very strong backlash."

Where do you suppose the backlash would be visible? In the election returns? Can't say I noticed it.

In the past when bishops took stands that obviously favored one candidate over another, "it produced the opposite effect of what the bishops who did it intended," Father Hollenbach said.

Of course! There's really no point in examining this year's exit polls, if the past will yield an example to suit the hypothesis.

He gave the example of the late Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, who wrote a letter read in parishes the Sunday before the 1980 Massachusetts primary election.

Aha! So a single incident, badly managed, 24 years ago, proves that bishops' effort to protect the dignity of life are counterproductive.

I'd be interested to see Father Hollenbach's analysis of this year's returns, but maybe they're not available yet at Boston College.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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