Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Is Bishop Chaput Leading a Counter-Attack?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 23, 2010

I said yesterday that I expected the U.S. Bishops to be displeased at open opposition within the allegedly Catholic ranks, and that they would have a strong psychological incentive to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. Today Archbishop Charles Chaput began the counter-attack against those groups which, calling themselves Catholic, worked against the bishops in the matter of pro-abortion health care.

In a column to appear tomorrow in his diocesan newspaper, Archbishop Chaput identified four lessons to be learned from the vote that passed pro-abortion health care legislation on Sunday. First, the bill is unethical. Second, the promised executive order does not address the problem. Third, “the combination of pressure and disinformation used to break the prolife witness on this bill…should put an end to any talk by Washington leaders about serving the common good or seeking common ground.” And fourth, self-described “Catholic” groups have done a “serious disservice to justice, to the Church, and to the ethical needs of the American people by undercutting the leadership and witness of their own bishops.”

Chaput dismissed as unsurprising the positions of Catholics United and Network, since these groups were already known to be pro-abortion. Instead, he fired a strong salvo at the Catholic Health Association:

But the actions of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in providing a deliberate public counter-message to the bishops were both surprising and profoundly disappointing; and also genuinely damaging. In the crucial final days of debate on health-care legislation, CHA lobbyists worked directly against the efforts of the American bishops in their approach to members of Congress. The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar “Catholic” organizations.

Since Archbishop Chaput is a particular champion of both Catholic teaching and episcopal authority, his forthright condemnation of the CHA does not yet signal a concerted action among the bishops to regain control of the health association which bears the Catholic name. But in view of the direct assault on episcopal leadership mounted by the CHA, it seems likely that the USCCB as a whole will be looking for ways to remedy the problem before the scandal worsens.

Over the past forty-five years in the United States (and many other Western nations), most older Catholic associations, periodicals, publishing houses and universities—usually under the leadership of men and women religious—have been used to support the falsehoods of the prevailing culture largely with the consent of the bishops, and sometimes with their active support. But now that the bishops are gradually charting a new and more militantly Catholic course, clashes with these secularized, old-line institutions are becoming more frequent, and more public. We saw this in 2009 with Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama. But The Catholic Health Association has escalated the battle by directly opposing the entire USCCB rather than just a handful of bishops who could be dismissed as “extreme”.

As a growing internal conflict, this will almost certainly be of tremendous benefit to the Church. This is one area in which we should all be praying that the fight escalates. In the end, a lot of the traitors are going to have to be hung (out to dry) by the bishops. The likelihood of this happening will be in direct proportion to their anger. Me, I want them to take this resistance to their authority personally, because I want them hopping mad.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

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

  • Posted by: petronius1111718 - Apr. 01, 2010 2:46 PM ET USA

    I cannot wait for this happen. It is time some one stomped on these dissidents

  • Posted by: Hal - Mar. 24, 2010 2:37 PM ET USA

    Don't hold your breath. The CHA is long gone and Nancy Pelosi is now the public face of Catholicism in the US. Chaput is one in a million. The structures of public Catholicism in the US are so far lost that they are irretrievable. Whither Notre Dame? And, quite frankly, the USCCB did it to themselves and over the objections of the orthodox.

  • Posted by: PhilipJPSmith5522 - Mar. 24, 2010 4:40 AM ET USA

    Hi. I would hope that their response will be the firm and resolute reaffirmation of the Magisterium. Those who oppose it, by definition, are protestants and can leave. Their descendants can rejoin in about 400 years or so. My hopes and prayers are with the Church in the US.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Mar. 24, 2010 12:23 AM ET USA

    You are very naive if you think the bishops are going to hang the traitors out to dry. Heck, the traitors are running the USCCB! They are now gearing up to help Obama and the Democrats ram Comprehensive Immigration Reform (Amnesty) down our throats. And after that it will be Cap and Tax. I yearn for the days of separation of Church and State.

  • Posted by: c_truelove7100 - Mar. 24, 2010 12:04 AM ET USA

    I think the bishops should really start enforcing Canon 216 and prevent organizations from using the name "Catholic" if they cease to act as Catholic organizations.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 23, 2010 11:10 PM ET USA

    "Is Bishop Chaput Leading a Counter-Attack?" They did it to themselves... Sometimes the view from "the mirror" is better than that from the window.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Mar. 23, 2010 10:09 PM ET USA

    The bishops have been spineless and/or asleep for 40 years, and are suddenly waking to a Brave New World, while the pro-life laity have struggled with no support from the Church hierarchy--and in some locales, outright hostility and condemnation. We remain sceptical in the main, though there are some bright lights, such as Chaput. But until "Catholic" pro-abort organizations, universities, and individuals in politics are stripped of the right to call themselves Catholic, little will improve.

  • Posted by: wojo425627 - Mar. 23, 2010 9:58 PM ET USA

    I totally agree. It's about time we see the bishops use some of their authority that they have been so reluctant to use these many years. I want to see them hopping mad and with fire in their bellies.

  • Posted by: Universal - Mar. 23, 2010 8:38 PM ET USA

    I am praying for the Bishops and our Holy Church. Both in the U.S. and Europe 2010 might be the year of a new beginning!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 23, 2010 7:44 PM ET USA

    Some are hopping mad. However, all too many still don't get it, and not a few are going to mouth the words but keep drinking the kool aid. We have too many bishops who need to understand the paraphrase of the bumper sticker - "Lead, follow, or get the hell off the throne". The USCCB acting united with any teeth? We will be lucky if they can even gum it enthusiastically.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 23, 2010 6:50 PM ET USA

    Sorry. You're dreaming. Apart from the handful of truly male bishops such as Chaput, these guys don't have it in them to become hopping mad. Too many homilies on turning the other cheek and too few on driving the money changers out of the Temple.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Mar. 23, 2010 5:39 PM ET USA

    Talk is cheap. Let's hope and pray that there is some fire where there is smoke and that we actually see some action. Personally I think it will come from individual Bishops like Archbishop Chaput because not all bishops agree with him.