Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bishops Being Bishops

This is a great essay from Catholic Thing on the scandalous action last election season around Catholic politicians who defy the stand of the Church on abortion (with little reaction from leading US Bishops who were apparently defying the Holy Father who urged them to speak out) and the great change in this year’s season.

An excerpt.

“What a difference four years make. In 2004 a small number of bishops publicly criticized the pro-abortion position of the Democrat running for president. This election year, they have grown to a large and lusty choir taking strong public stands against the pro-abortion politics of the Democratic ticket and their loudest supporters. Why such a difference from 2004 to now?...

“We know now that things spun out of control. While Cardinal McCarrick’s final report was scheduled for after the election, the bishops held one of their twice-annual meetings in Colorado that June and two unusual things happened: the mostly liberal lay staff was booted out of the meeting so that the bishops could talk without their influence, and Cardinal McCarrick delivered “interim reflections” of the task force.

“He warned against denying anyone the Eucharist, and he claimed that “Vatican officials” also “advised caution,” and concluded that, “The task force does not advocate the denial of Communion to Catholic politicians.”

“Yet several days later the actual memorandum from Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick was leaked to the press, showing that Ratzinger had said, in fact, that pro-abortion Catholic politicians “must” be refused Communion after proper counseling and obstinate persistence in defying Church teaching. Ultimately, the bishops as a body produced a document leaving the matter to the discretion of each bishop in his own diocese.

“This is old news, but sheds new light on the current debate. This year there is no McCarrick Committee keeping the conversation sotto voce among an elite few. And this year the bishops are thundering. It is not just the heroic few – Chaput, Burke, and a few others – who were willing to suffer criticism in 2004. Now it is a whole bunch of them, more than thirty at this point. Moreover, the list includes those – like Edward Cardinal Egan of New York and McCarrick's successor Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington DC – who have tended to work quietly behind the scenes in the past.

“Other things have changed. In years past, the partisan and the timid seemed to put a damper on an enthusiastic pro-life message coming out of the USCCB and from individual bishops. Some of them are gone, including Democrat Frank Monaghan who for thirty years ran the bishops’ governmental lobby shop. Gone also is Mark Chopko, the general counsel who regularly frightened pro-life Bishops with the IRS boogeyman.”