Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

fair and balanced

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 06, 2008

Writing on religion for the Washington Post (which, by the way, is like writing on rock music for the Christian Science Monitor, but never mind that), Father Tom Reese surveys the election results, with the solemn air of a serious young man who would stroke his beard if he could manage to grow one.

Catholic voters ignored the instructions of a group of vocal bishops and delivered 54% of their vote for Barack Obama as president of the United States.

Can't argue with you there, Tom. Facts are facts.

There were a few Catholic bishops who suggested that Catholic voters should be worried about Obama's support for abortion, Father Reese concedes. But while nasty old Chaput and Burke and Finn and that crowd insisted that abortion should be an overriding issue, most American bishops avoided clear statements on that question. Father Tom concludes: "The silence of the majority gave the impression that the vocal bishops were speaking for all the bishops."

Oh, really? The principle should be familiar to anyone who has watched A Man for All Seasons: "Silence betokens consent." So when the polls show that most Catholics plan to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and most bishops remain silent on the matter, those Catholic voters can reasonably conclude, in this case, that their bishops do not mind if they vote for Obama.

Now we all know-- you know and I know and Father Tom knows-- that most American bishops are not terribly unhappy that Catholics in their dioceses voted for Obama. Oh, yes, they may be uncomfortable with the Catholic voters' support for a pro-abortion candidate. They may be uncomfortable with the Catholic voters' proclivities, but they do not see the situation as an emergency-- as they might, for example, recognize an emergency if the same Catholics stopped contributing to the annual diocesan fundraising drives.

Why would Father Tom be anxious to conclude that Catholic voters rejected the authority of most American bishops on Election Day, when only a small minority of bishops had exercised their authority in any significant way? Could it be that the former editor of America magazine has a bee in his bonnet: an abiding bias against the authority of the Church magisterium? That might help to explain why he's the former editor of America.




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