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Catholic Culture Resources

One hand clapping

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 23, 2004

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Another American Catholic bishop has come forward to say that: "I do not support those who would want to turn the reception of the holy Eucharist or the Communion line into a partisan political battleground."

Could we now hear from a spokesman for those who do want to turn the reception of the Eucharist into a partisan political battleground?

No, we can't. Because there is nobody in that category. There are some bishops in the US-- a few-- who believe that the teachings and discipline of the Church should be upheld; that the rules shouldn't be broken to accommodate campaigning politicians. That is not a partisan stance, nor even a political stance; it's a Catholic stance.

Bishop Ricard is making the very damaging claim that some of his brother bishops are motivated not by religious fervor and pastoral concern, but by politican partisanship. That is a very serious charge. It should not go unanswered.

The argument within the American hierarchy is severely skewed. The "conservative" bishops criticize unrepentant public sinners. The "liberal" bishops reply by criticizing their conscientious brethren. One side tries to address a scandal; the other side tries to quiet the complaints.

Someone might say, therefore, that the liberal bishops are motivated by a willingness to allow the scandal to continue. Someone might even say that they are motivated by their own partisan preference for the Democratic politicians who have run afoul of Church teachings on the dignity of life. But nobody makes such claims.

The liberal bishops insult their colleagues, and attack their integrity. To date, at least, the conservative bishops have not returned that personal criticism-- in spite of mounting provocation. But there must be a limit, and we must be reaching it.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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