One hand clapping

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

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 See full bio.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 28, 2004 10:00 AM ET USA

    To fatimabeliever, The Scripture to which you are referring is the following, and just happens to be a continuation of the Gospel Reading at this upcoming Sunday's Mass Luk 12:51 "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: ..." and it continues... Today's Church seems to exalt itself in making earthly judgements... Something Our Lord abhors in the Gospel Reading itself... and it seems to ignore enforcing the spiritual ones...

  • Posted by: Fatimabeliever - Jul. 27, 2004 3:24 PM ET USA

    Is it in the Bible or prophecy? "There will be Bishop against Bishop, etc." And here we now see it, hear it and wonder, are we ready to read the rest of the passage?? I'm sure the Bishops know the passage much better than the rest of us but look at how many have forgotten about it or just ignore it thinking it doesn't apply to them. How sad.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 25, 2004 12:03 AM ET USA

    I for one DO make the claim that "liberal" bishops are motivated by a blind partisan loyalty to the Demo Party, because they think unconsciously that they are their own great-grandfathers, struggling with issues long since resolved. They are too blindly prejudiced to grow and get "up to date." Knowing how [?] to administer a diocese does not render them competent in matters of moral theology OR of USA politics. Their task should be to put forth correct teaching and act accordingly. They fail !

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 24, 2004 9:22 PM ET USA

    To arbitratily assign political motivations to any man who just wants to enforce Canon Law as prescribed is completely out of order. These "liberal" bishops are effectively empowering those elements both within and without the Church who would seek to destabalize Her. How dare ANYONE redefine legitimate administrative actions WITHIN the Holy Roman Catholic Church in terms of vulgar poltical motivations! They condemn their brothers in order to justify themselves.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 24, 2004 9:16 AM ET USA

    Can we make the same Catholic stance about the death penalty, unjust war, torturing captives? Abortion is an atrocity that speaks loudly to the hearts of faithful people. TAKE THE CHALLENGE to address those other atrocities that are also rationalized and are perhaps more difficult to penetrate.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 23, 2004 1:02 PM ET USA

    I suppose that this is further reason for despair, but I don't think so. A Catholic Church that is liberal is a Catholic Church that is moribund. It doesn't take a seer to see where Catholics have failed--one need only look at liberal religious orders to see the neo-dinosaurs. What will emerge is already in our hearts--chastened, stronger, more disciplined, humbled and courageous by grace, those who follow the Gospel and the Christ-appointed leadership of Peter will prevail.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jul. 23, 2004 12:22 PM ET USA

    I call this the "Hate the man who hates the sin to show your love for the sinner" ploy.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 23, 2004 11:46 AM ET USA

    Phil, it’s time for us “conservative” Catholics to admit that the battle—perhaps even the war—has been lost. The handful of American bishops who have spoken virtuously on this matter have been ridiculed and marginalized by their brothers; Ratzinger's CDF has been ignored; Canon Law has been put aside; the Holy Father has been invisible; and the righteous lay folk have no power. This is obviously the “new” ecumenical Church that so many have long sought. 2,000+ years down the drain… how sad.