HOW DARE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BE CATHOLIC!
Author=Carl E. Olson
Tom Blackburn, columnist for the Palm Beach Post, is amazednay, angeredthat Bishop Raymond Burke had the gall to ask Catholics to be Catholic:
By barring Holy Communion to Catholic politicians in the La Crosse, Wis., diocese, Bishop Raymond Burke drastically changed the focus of discussion. Now, the bishop is challenging not only the morality of abortion but the morality of American citizenship.
Blackburn's column is instructive, for it demonstrates how upside down and twisted of view so many people have of the world in general and the Catholic Church in particular. Some examples:
To the bishop, the morality of abortion is plain: It is a grievous sin. He and others are under pressure from some of their flocks to take harsher action against Catholic politicians who waffle. He acted. He placed politicians between the rock of their oath to uphold the Constitution and the hard place of his decision. The Supreme Court, the semifinal arbiter, has held that the Constitution bars governments from interfering in a woman's choice to have an abortion.
Blackburn and his ilk think this story is about a bishop getting uppity and overstepping his bounds. It's actually about a bishop having the courage to do what he is supposed to dobe a bishop. The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the press do not dictate truth, nor are they infallible conduits of moral teaching. Catholics who are politicians are not citizens of this world first, but citizens of heaven. As such, they must, when push comes to shove, choose truth over falsehood, no matter what that means for their careers or earthly reputations.
Because of the deep opposition of Catholics and others to legal abortion, it has become a political wedge issue. Politicians whose constituents allow them to oppose it keep bringing up abortion in Congress and legislatures for votes to separate the sheep from the goats. But until and unless the nine Supreme Court justices change their mind under pressure of the final arbiter -- public opinion -- lawmakers are just voting for laws the court will overturn on constitutional grounds.
Earth to Blackburn: a good and worthy politician (especially in a republic) is not a parrot of public sentiment. He is not a puppet for lobbyists. He is not a mouthpiece for special interests. And the final arbiter of Truth is not "public opinion." The fact that so many believe that it is the case is frightening. But it's been that way for quite a while nowso long that it's now taken for granted for those who love living in a judicial oligarchy guided polls and fickle public sentiment: "Transcendent truth and objective fact be damned. What do the polls say?"
Bishop Burke has just told Catholic politicians what to do. That's something that Al Smith, in his losing 1928 campaign for the presidency, and John F. Kennedy, in his 1960 winning campaign, said bishops wouldn't do.
If this doesn't say it all, nothing does. The Church, Blackburn essentially argues, is a nice social club that should stay out of the important and meaningful worlds of politics, culture, and commerce. Catholics are welcome to go about performing their little rituals and mumbo-jumbo, but they should never think that it belongs in the real world. After all, Pope John F. Kennedy promised that Catholic doctrine wouldn't affect his public life. Turns out it didn't affect his private life either.
And there is the rub: you're either a Catholic from head to toe, inside to out, through-and-throughor you're not a Catholic. And that, I think, is Bishop Burke's point: be a Catholic. If you aren't a Catholic, stop pretending you are one. If you aren't a Catholic, stop sullying the Church by dragging her name through the mud. If you aren't a follower of Christ, stop receiving Him at Holy Communion.
The bishop has not placed Catholic politicians in any conflict except with their own conscience. A Catholic politician can serve in a legislature in good faith. But according to the bishop, he cannot support abortion. This would mean that a Catholic politician would have to vote against public payment for abortion (not required by the Constitution), he would have to publicly aver that he personally is against abortion, and he would have to support changing the Constitution to forbid abortion.
considering that lawmakers don't interpret the Constitution anyway
Lawmakers interpret the Constitution every time they vote for a bill, because they're supposed to be judging whether or not that bill is consistent with the Constitution. Unless their objective is to either subvert the Constitution, or to vote on the basis of political advantage and let his fellow legislators or one of the other two branches of government take the heat.
Bishop Burke is reported to have been asked what will happen if his position disqualifies Catholics from running for office.
A bogus question. Nothing in his position disqualifies Catrholics from running for office.
Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium
Suggestions for Dioceses
The following ideas are offered to assist diocesan planning for sharing Faithful Citizenship.
RELEASE DATE--OCTOBER 13, 2003.Diocesan NewspaperTo mark the release date for Faithful Citizenship, an article in the diocesan newspaper could describe the statement and diocesan plans for sharing it. A copy of the press release that will be released to national media contacts on October 9th, embargoed until October 13th, will be faxed to you next week.
Other Media--Use the press release that will be faxed next week to notify local media about the release of the statement and its availability in a booklet format. The diocesan bishop may want to add his own quote.
ONGOING STRATEGYMailing--A letter from the bishop to pastors will make a big difference in the level of attention the statement and parish kit receive when they arrive at the parish. Pending approval of the budget, the parish kits are scheduled to be mailed early in January 2004. If you plan to have the kits mailed to your diocese in bulk to be distributed locally, you can enclose a cover letter. If the kits will be mailed directly to parishes by the USCCB, a letter sent in advance can notify pastors that the kits are coming and urge them to share the message and distribute the resources to appropriate staff or volunteers in the parish.
Staff Strategy--The political responsibility statement has implications for many ministries. Social ministry leaders have traditionally shared this message with their contacts in parishes and others in the diocese. Teachers and religious educators can share the basic message with their students, building a foundation for future "faithful citizenship". Those in parish leadership roles--priests, deacons, religious, pastoral associates, and others--can look for ongoing opportunities to distribute the booklet and the brochure.
Focusing a diocesan staff meeting on the statement and developing a plan to share it can be an important part of the overall strategy. To help promote widespread distribution, the following USCCB offices will be sending the parish kit to their diocesan counterparts.
African American Catholics
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Evangelization and Missions
Family Laity Women Youth
Migration & Refugee Services
Priestly Life and Ministry
Social Development and World Peace
Meetings of Priests, Deacons, and OthersPriest and deacons often find it helpful to learn about the Church's position on political responsibility, the opportunities it presents, and the legal limits we need to observe. Devoting a half day or a full day of a clergy gathering to this topic can help priests and deacons share an important element of Catholic social teaching and respond confidently to any questions that may arise.
The USCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry and the Committee on the Diaconate are offering a workshop package on Faithful Citizenship for priests and deacons. For information, call 202-541-3381.
Diocesan NewspapersAt an appropriate time during the coming year, a column or editorial can introduce the message of Faithful Citizenship, urging parishes and parishioners to obtain copies of the statement, share it, and reflect on it as the election approaches. Beyond the formal release of the statement on October 12, 2003, diocesan newspapers can provide ongoing information as the election draws near. A series of articles or a special supplement can describe the message of Faithful Citizenship and provide information on Catholic social teaching and key issues.
Other Meetings--Many diocesan offices host regular meetings, ongoing training programs, annual conventions and other gatherings. These represent excellent opportunities to share the political responsibility message with key leaders from parishes and schools. The USCCB is developing a speakers' bureau as well as training and workshop packages that can be used in a wide range of settings. Call 202-541-3381 for information.
Candidate Forums and Voter Registration--Hosting a nonpartisan candidate forum and sponsoring nonpartisan parish voter registration efforts are two valuable ways of encouraging civic participation and helping voters learn about the candidates and the issues. In the past, many dioceses have been able to host these events in a manner that provided an important service to the community while easily meeting all legal requirements. For information, call 202-541-3381.
Social Ministry Activities--A wide range of social ministry activities lend themselves to sharing Faithful Citizenship. Annual diocesan social ministry gatherings can focus on this topic. Training can be offered for parish social ministry leaders. A diocesan or state legislative network can be sent information or given information during briefing sessions or other training programs. Diocesan social ministry newsletters can also incorporate material on Faithful Citizenship.
What a steaming load of Barbara Streisand. Does the power to ban murdering born people give the power to command murdering born people? Does the power to ban rape give the power to command rape?
And that would be who.....???? Please, Bishops have been consulting for years and look where it got them. How about some old fashioned silence and deep prayer and reflection, and why not throw in some commen sense for a change. God Bless Bishop Burke for doing and saying what should have been done years ago! Too many people have run out of patience with so-called Catholic politicians pro-choice views.