Action Alert!

the voters-guide monopoly

By Diogenes (articles - email) | 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.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 17, 2010 3:33 PM ET USA

    C'mon, relax, sfmccoll. I can remember my mother's friends making fun of each others' hats in the 1930's, when I was a little boy. And black women apparently still wear hats to church, because their funny hats are an occasional point of fun the comic strip Curtis. And the ones the cartoonist draws are sometimes no more amusing that Her Majesty's. As they say, chill.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Sep. 16, 2010 8:33 PM ET USA

    If you want to talk about silly, then look to the crowns the Queen must wear on state occasions, some of which are so heavy she must practice wearing them so as not to lose her balance or cause them to fall off. Now that's silly!! (And probably painful.)

  • Posted by: - Sep. 16, 2010 4:18 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, if more ladies wore hats to public worship or in church buildings, you'd see more like these. Or if you went to the races, you'd see infinitely worse. I think you'd find that Her Majesty (to whom you ignorantly referred as 'Her Highness' in an earlier post) is likely to be one of His Holiness's allies in many things. Stop the cheap shots. I support Catholic Culture because it's Catholic, not narrow-mindedly American.