Action Alert!

And in other breaking news, Dewey beat Truman

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | 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.

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 donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2004 5:45 AM ET USA

    Either Fr. Hollenbach is ignoring history or doesn't know it, The fauth was not with Cardinal Medeiros, nor his letter. It was with the Irish catholic mafia, who dispised the Cardinal. Nothing he did pleased them. It is the same Irish mafia that tolerates Ted Kennedy, Kerry and Meehan etc. All catholic themselves, but not all that catholic when it comes to vital Catholic doctrine. This is an excellent time for all the Bishop to proclaim what true authentic Catholic teaching is.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Nov. 08, 2004 11:42 PM ET USA

    What "pro-life emphasis" is he talking about? The only lashing that I see going back to the bishops is that so many of them were willing to sit on their hands with the excuse that the McCarrick commitee failed to issue a report so they could avoid personal accountability.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2004 8:39 PM ET USA

    If the bishops had taken a stand 35 years ago and bounced PRO-ABORT politicians, we would NOT have the problems we have today. Those who say excommunication doesn't "work" in our day and age forget two things: (1) the purpose is to save someone from hell and (2) it almost always leads to the ruin of that person's political life. But the bishops cannot be concerned about effects. They have a job to do. DO IT, MEN!! DO IT!!! Not impossible your immortal souls are also on the line.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2004 7:58 PM ET USA

    And just think, this was the lead article for the Universe Bulletin (Cleveland Diocese) on November 5th. Typical of the thinking here.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2004 7:42 PM ET USA

    Hollenbach's also the dimwit who's argued that Clinton's pro-abortion policies actually DECREASED the number of abortions in the country (because his beneficent economic policies made abortion a non-choice for poor women). Thus, his urging people to vote for Kerry, who was even more rabidly pro-abortion than Big Bill, so as to reduce abortion even further. ...this all for those of you who wondered why "casuistry" and "jesuitical" were cross-referenced.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2004 7:24 PM ET USA

    Another Jesuit without a clue. Do they all have to be trying to be loved by the NY Times and the Boston Globe? When Fr. Drinan does finally pass on they have at least 50 crazy Jesuits ready to take up his mantle. I wonder if they will join George Soros in a Monastery.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 08, 2004 5:54 PM ET USA

    Would it be possible to simply give the Jesuits say six month's severence pay and tell them to go embarrass another church?