the voters-guide monopoly

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 03, 2006

Let's review:

The US bishops' conference has compiled a voters guide that is simply punchless. Democrats and Republicans-- and for that matter, members of the Green, Rainbow, and Prohibition parties-- can all find therein some passages that will encourage them, and nothing that will dissuade them from supporting the candidates they were already inclined to favor.

Catholic Answers has produced the aptly named Voters Guide for Serious Catholics (emphasis added), which stresses the moral issues on which compromise is impossible: abortion, same-sex marriage, embryo research, etc. That guide (and some others like it, prepared by different pro-life Catholic groups) falls neatly in line with Church teaching. But there's a problem: Catholic voters who read this guide will be disinclined to vote for many of the liberal Democratic candidates who are favored by influential members of the Catholic hierarchy.

Then there's Voting for the Common Good, a guide prepared by liberal Catholics. This one would ease the consciences of liberal voters, by downplaying the key moral issues and emphasizing prudential judgments such as military spending and welfare policy. The practical results of reading this guide-- more votes for liberal candidates-- would presumably be welcomed by the folks who object to the Catholic Answers approach. But there's a problem with Voting for the Common Good; it's disingenuous to the point off outright dishonesty about Catholic social teaching.

So what do you do, if you're a bishop, whose pastors want to know which guides they should distribute? Do you encourage the use of the guide that is faithful to Church teaching, but might upset some people? Or the one that distorts Church teaching, but won't cause a ruckus? A tough call.

Fortunately there's another solution, and Cardinal William Keeler has found it. Acting as chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee, the cardinal has written to all his brother bishops, warning them that "outside voter guides may not present Church teachings accurately and may lead to 'needless legal entanglements.'"

Quite true. And so the solution would be for the bishop-- the primary teacher of the faith-- to declare which pamphlets present Church teachings accurately. Right? Wrong.

Instead, the cardinal urged his fellow bishops to allow only guides authorized by the bishops' conference itself.

So we're back where we started, with the bishops' own toothless document. And we're reminded once again of the Vatican II teaching that the role of the laity, in the world of political affairs, is to transform the secular order shut up and listen to the bishops.

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Show 25 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 09, 2006 11:12 AM ET USA

    ...and was I ever wrong!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 07, 2006 9:47 AM ET USA

    I'm with Joel and I think Catholics will vote for as many pro-life candidates as possible.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 06, 2006 9:00 PM ET USA

    More drivel from the committees at the USCCB. Why do they just drop the whole useless organization and try being men out in front of their own diocese. A committee is just a place for hiding. Unfortunately our Bishops have become masters of hiding, obfuscation, pandering and uselessness!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 06, 2006 4:21 PM ET USA

    Well, tomorrow's the big day! Let's see whether the erstwhile Voters Guide for Not So Serious Catholics made a difference in the Catholic vote. I'm willing to bet that the flock won't be making a sharp left turn.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Nov. 04, 2006 2:45 PM ET USA

    No, humpty dumpty, bishops are successors to the apostles, & they are to teach & guide people with the mind & heart of Jesus Christ. Neither the "Voting for the Common Good" guide nor the USCCB's "voters guide" (from some handful of folks at the USCCB) teach the people with the mind & heart of Jesus & His Church. Now the "Voters Guide for Serious Catholics" does teach & guide with the mind & heart of Jesus & His Church. I pray that Cdl. Keeler & bps. aligned with him will get back on track.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 04, 2006 12:54 PM ET USA

    It would be magnificent if a Bishop were to permit/allow all three "Catholic Voter's Guides" to be distributed at his Chruches. Then we could have forums to discuss the similarities and differences. But alas, the Bishops presume that their ignorant flocks could not discern the Truth when presented with alternatives. Instead, it is Pray, Pay, and Obey business as usual. WWJD?

  • Posted by: RPH - Nov. 04, 2006 12:46 PM ET USA

    Having picked up a copy of Voting for the Common Good, I couldn't believe what I was reading. In a list of issues each voter should consider, abortion was buried in the middle of a long sequence which, predictably, boiled down to "the unjust distribution of wealth in the world". There was even a quote by Cardinal Ratzinger saying it was alright to vote for a candidate who had it wrong on some issues (read "abortion"). The booklet could have been summarized: "Vote for Democrats"

  • Posted by: Sir William - Nov. 04, 2006 9:09 AM ET USA

    This USCCB 'document' is what you get when you put a bunch of bureaucrats in a room and tell them to create something the average person can understand. Displays all the plain sense of the government tax code. Who knows, maybe it really is the government tax code? I can't read the stupid thing without going comatose either so I can't tell. Let us thank the Lord that He sent disciples and Apostles to write the Scriptures.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 04, 2006 6:06 AM ET USA

    esalkin maybe Liberal Catholics? I just say "modernists." I don't capitalize it. I'll wait till they themselves decide what they want to be called, like the other schismatics: Jews, Muslims, Orthodox, and Protestants.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 03, 2006 10:52 PM ET USA

    I agree, the Voters Guide for Serious Catholics trumps the USCCB's fluff piece any day! (am happy to say we use it!) Am VERY interested to see what comes out of their Nov. meeting in Baltimore regarding pro-death Catholic politicians and Holy Communion. It seems the See of Peter is sending a message that these guys get their act together...will this be reflected corporately in the upcoming meeting?????? Please dear Lord, hear our prayers.

  • Posted by: Hennepin - Nov. 03, 2006 8:34 PM ET USA

    Joel, It's because most of the bishops in the US are a bunch of wimps. They care more about money than they care about souls.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 7:14 PM ET USA

    Amen, Fr. Phillips. Pray tell, how could a simple and clear voter's guide like the one Karl Keating co-authored alarm bishops over their tax status, unless they buy into the nonsense that such a voter's guide all but tells Catholics to vote Republican or go to hell?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 6:00 PM ET USA

    The bishops call this a guide? I tried to read it, but I kept dozing off. It became evident to me that by the time I finished plowing through it, the elections would be over. Do our Fathers-in-God have any idea how ponderous and downright boring their documents are? Give me a guide like the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" any day. It gets to the point, makes clear what is non-negotiable, and then shuts up.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 03, 2006 5:31 PM ET USA

    Actually, I'd be more inclined to shut up an d listen to the bishops if I thought any bishops actually wrote the USCCB guide. I suspect it, like most everything else that emanates from there, is staff work.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 3:46 PM ET USA

    As one who enjoyed reading Keating's book "Nothing But the Truth," maybe I could offer a little conjecture that may answer Convert1994's question. They claim to look after the "least among us," but do they really? Including the unborn and the infirm? Or do they just pick and choose social policies like they do church teachings and yet proclaim they follow a "seamless garment" way of life that Diogenes earlier and rightfully pooh-poohed as "seamless garbage?"

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 3:32 PM ET USA

    I thought the quotes by Alexia Kelley, executive director of the ``Voting for the Common Good' guide, were quite telling (it shouldn't be surprising that the bishops' guide reflects her group's as both favor turning wine into water): Keeler's letter was ``a victory for Catholics eager to hear the fullness of church teaching" and ``We were concerned that accurate church teaching had been eclipsed in the past by more partisan guides, so we welcome this."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 2:55 PM ET USA

    WOW! A post from THE Karl Keating! Your book "Catholicism and Fundamentalism" was a significant instrument in my conversion. Why do you think it is that so many within the US hierarchy support the Democrat Party?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 2:25 PM ET USA

    May I recommend also the Catholic Voters' guide produced by the National Catholic REGISTER (not the other one) or Ten Easy Steps to Voting with a Clear Conscience by Father Pavone Both of these are excellent and help us make the moral distinctions in our voting decisions.

  • Posted by: Karl Keating - Nov. 03, 2006 12:20 PM ET USA

    "I'll take the Catholic Answers booklets every time." An intelligent decision, but then I'm not a disinterested party, since I co-wrote the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" (which, to be quite accurate, is published not by Catholic Answers but by Catholic Answers Action, a separate organization).

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 12:07 PM ET USA

    Please refrain from calling them "liberal Catholics." Evangelicals are closer on matters of Faith and Morals then they are. Most no longer believe that Jesus was anything more that a man. I prefer the term "Katholics."

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 11:36 AM ET USA

    I'll listen to the USCCB on democracy as soon as they give me a line-item veto on their $137 million budget.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Nov. 03, 2006 11:23 AM ET USA

    Dear Holy Father, Please take note of the men who've been chosen to be successors to the Apostles. We beg you, clergy and lay faithfu alike, don't listen to the voices of the "bishop makers" in the US heirarchy who've given us shepherds who may well be condemned on judgment day. May the Lord have Mercy on us all! Signed, Trying to Keep Hope Alive

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 11:04 AM ET USA

    This bishop also said shut and listen. What a sign of courage and concern for his flock!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 10:42 AM ET USA

    If you need a copy of the bishops' voter guide, there should be a few blowing down an alley near you.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 03, 2006 10:34 AM ET USA it's business as unusual for the USCCB. I'll take the Catholic Answers booklets every time. They are easier to read and understand than the convoluted and bloated USCCB document. BTW, I'm interested in the RNS story about the Drinan endowed chair at Georgetown(On the same page as the Keeler link). Now there's something for our Bishops to sink their gums into...