The National Catholic Review

With the election just days away, Catholics are beginning to voice their closing arguments for candidates and causes.

A group of Catholics in Maine are voicing support for a same-sex marriage ballot measure in a year when the dioceses in that state are sitting this round out after a bitter contest in 2009. But Bishop Richard Malone did distance himself from the group:

“A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and church teachings cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the church,” Bishop Richard Malone said. “The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children, is a matter of established Catholic doctrine.”

Catholics in Minnesota, Maryland, and the state of Washington are engaged in similar situations, with much of the laity supporting same-sex marriage as bishops lead campaigns against it.

Voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will vote on a ballot question that could legalize physician assisted suicide. A coalition opposing the question includes conservative groups, like the Archdiocese of Boston, as well as liberal standard-bearers like the Massachusetts Medical Society (publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine) and Victoria Kennedy.

Washington Post columnist and Catholic writer E.J. Dionne has written about the GOP’s embrace of radical individualism and its harmful effects on society, a view that compelled him to endorse President Barack Obama in an essay appearing in Time magazine:

Obama should win a referendum on his stewardship. But this is also a choice—a “big choice,” just as Romney says—between moderation and a return to an approach to government more suited to the Gilded Age than to the 21st century. Obama is battling to defend the long consensus that has guided American government successfully since the Progressive Era. It is based on the view that ours is a country whose Constitution begins with the word we, not me, and that the private success we honor depends on a government that serves a common good and remembers the most vulnerable among us. The task of our moment is to revive that long consensus and renew it. Of the two major candidates, only Barack Obama accepts this mission as his own.

The outspoken bishop of Peoria, Daniel Jenky, is demanding that priests in his diocese read a strongly worded letter condemning the Obama administration at Masses this Sunday, in which he claims that the White House will not honor its promise to find a solution to the HHS contraception mandate. Jenky made headlines earlier in the year for lumping the contraception controversy in with the church’s struggles against Hitler and Stalin.

Jenky joins a cadre of his brother bishops who, while not explicitly endorsing Mitt Romney, have made their views on the election clear. In Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki suggested that Catholics who vote for Obama would put their souls in jeopardy, and a high ranking church official in Rockford, Illinois, implied Obama favored the rights of Muslims over those of Catholics. Religion News Service has more examples:

In Wisconsin, Green Bay Bishop David Ricken wrote an Oct. 24 letter saying that the Democratic platform’s support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage and other “intrinsic evils” made it impossible for Catholics to support the party without putting their souls at risk.

That same day, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio’s column in the diocesan newspaper said that voting for a candidate who supports policies on contraception coverage and abortion rights — as Obama does — “stretches the imagination, especially when there is another option.”

Across the continent in Alaska, Juneau Bishop Edward J. Burns wrote a column in the local newspaper on Oct. 27 comparing Vice President Joe Biden’s support for abortion rights to supporting slave owners in the antebellum South, and he questioned Biden’s character and Catholic faith.

Obama is on track to capture the Catholic vote again this year, just as he did in 2008. And though still very close, marriage equality measures may pass with Catholic support in several states. If so, both will only strengthen the notion that the Catholic laity is moving beyond their bishops, widening the gap and calling into question the ability of the hierarchy to advance its views.

Comments

Alfred Chavez | 11/6/2012 - 10:01am
''If so, both will only strengthen the notion that the Catholic laity is moving beyond their bishops, widening the gap and calling into question the ability of the hierarchy to advance its views.''

If we believe in an apostolic Church guided by the Holy Spirit, no one should doubt the ability of the heirarchy ultimately to advance its views. One would have to believe that the bishops were somehow in near unanimity closing their hearts to the promtings of the Spirit.  

That's harder to believe than the opposite. 
D M | 11/5/2012 - 11:52am
#17 By the way I am in a mixed race marriage. You're getting a little personal with this and thats offensive. Can we have a respectful discussion without getting judgemental? You are all my brothers and sisters in Christ, lets treat each other such.  
ed gleason | 11/3/2012 - 4:44pm
can't wait to read Tim's posts after 11-06-12
D M | 11/2/2012 - 3:29pm
This is the beginning of the future. The secularization of America and Catholics and the bishops are finally girding their heels to lead the flock. The more progressive Catholics will eventually move on to other more ''tolerant'' denominations or no denomination at all.  The John Paul II clergy are the future bishops and we all know they're orthodox and more traditional. The result will be a smaller Church but one more faithful to that magesterium. Are you progressives ready?  
WILLIAM ATKINSON | 11/2/2012 - 1:12pm
Im reminded of the two scenes of recent times when folks stood by and watched as New Orleans lay in Ruins and today as our country pre and pro acted as Sandy closed in on the North East.  Cardinal Karol Józef Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II) wrote in his famous philosophical writings about "The Acting Persons" vs those who sit by and watch; Im glad to see our church leaders beginning to take a action attitude on issues of the day instead of what the past has seen, the church leaders resting on their protective arses.  Out of confusion and chaos will come discipline in doctrine and truths providing a concrete basis for catholics to stand on.
Vince Killoran | 11/5/2012 - 12:49pm
Just to be clear-when Dan writes the words "dealing with" in terms of gay marriage etc. he is discussing the bishops hard ball lobbying to deny rights.

As for explaining the scant attention the bishops bishops stances on immigration etc. garner in terms of "the mainstream media. . . covering stories about the bishops bigoted, backwards thinking about marriage," THE USCCB uses most of its financial resources, political strength, and pulpit time on gay marriage and reproduction issues.  Their priorities are clear.
D M | 11/5/2012 - 11:43am
#24 Were the bishops using a ''cudgel'' when they declared in the middle 20th century that being a Catholic segregationist was ground for excommunication? How does ''standing up for the faith'' only come into play when dealing with the poor, immigrants, marginalized, etc. How does it not come into play when dealing with gay marriage, abortion, contraception? This divide is really tearing our Church apart. I see US Bishops standing up for the poor all the time. I also see them standing up for immigrants and fairly left wing immigration policies. Yet those stances get pushed aside by the mainstream media in favor of covering stories about the bishops bigoted, backwards thinking about marriage. Truth is truth whether its treatment of the poor or marriage. Seems to me that the bishops have a history of offending progressives and traditionalists Catholic so they must be doing a pretty job.
John Donaghy | 11/4/2012 - 5:40pm
Dan Moore, #13: "How else does one stand up anti-religious, anti-Catholic forces in this country? Do you lead by capitulation on your knees? Dont think that's what Christ intended for Peter the apostles and his successors."

Peter was martyred and Paul lost his head - as did many other martyrs. There are very few of this type of martyrs these days in Europe and the US. YOu'll find them in other places in the world where people risk death by standing up for the faith and standign with the poor.

Sadly, it feels as if many US bishops have taken up the cudgel rather than the cross. Religious liberty doesn't mean WE rule.

Vince Killoran | 11/3/2012 - 1:22pm
"the party of abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, and religious intolerance. The Democratic Party has never in its history been more radically hostile to the Catholic faith. "

Tim, you've outdone yourself on this one!  Pure hyperbole. . . but fun to read.  I can almost see the steam coming out of your ears!
T BLACKBURN | 11/3/2012 - 7:22am
Tim, (#18), "Abortion, sodomy, euthanasia and religious intolerance" will never have the ring of "rum, Romanism and rebellion" when it comes to bumper stickier vituperation. I'd suggest you boil it down to "abortion, euthanasia and intollerance," which has a fine, Latinate sound of finger-shaking. Stlll not as good as the anti-Catholics did when they rolled their r's.

Dan (#13), Maybe I misunderstood. I pictured girding both feet together. Are you having the bishops gird them separately? That still might be a bit awkward, but not as much as wearing spurs. Of course, what they should be girding is their loins, and in cassocks they could do that. But there probably is a motu propio against that.
David Bjerklie | 11/3/2012 - 6:43am
There seems to be too much malice living and thriving in the republican camp.  It is refreshing to see Governor Christie put the needs of his State of New Jersey ahead of political grand standing.  It is malice that erodes the soul of our nation.
D M | 11/2/2012 - 4:57pm
#14 Are you ready to allow civil polygamous marriages? After all everyone deserves their rights dont they? Governments all over the world have a history of giving marriage a special place because it benefits society. Now we want to change the definition and play social experiment with our kids in the name of rights. And just wait #14, it wont be long before churches start to get sued for not allowing gay marriages.
Barbara Pellegrini | 11/2/2012 - 4:34pm
I don't understand the objection to gay civil marriage. Gay couples should be recognized for social and legal reasons. The church doesn't have to marry them, and the ballot initiative isn't about forcing the church to marry them. The ballot initiative is about legalization under Caesar's law.  
D M | 11/2/2012 - 4:09pm
#11 How else does one stand up anti-religious, anti-Catholic forces in this country? Do you lead by capitulation on your knees? Dont think that's what Christ intended for Peter the apostles and his successors. Sometimes love means standing up for truth even when the polls show its unpopular. 
Carole Belgrade | 11/2/2012 - 4:01pm
As a concerned citizen of Massachusetts,  I have been following the media and press coverage regarding Ballot Question # 2; regarding Physician Assisted Suicide. 

1.  I am concerned about Death with Dignity; life is sacred and one's humaness should be respected.  It seems that this legislation potentally could be a dis-service to those individuals living with disability issues,  those suffering with terminal illness or are currently wards of the Commonwealth of MA.

2.  As Question #2 is currently worded, it does not account for advances in pallative or hospice care.

3.  Question #2 does not address the mortal and socisl concerns of healthcare providers who may not want to be a party to an individual's death intended actions.

I am hoping that the constiutants of Massachusetts will prayerfully consider the moral and social mores involved in this matter
T BLACKBURN | 11/2/2012 - 3:59pm
"Girding their heels"? I am not sure one can lead one's flock if one's heels are, um, girded.
Rick Fueyo | 11/2/2012 - 1:39pm
I have no problem supporting and voting for such changes without fear for my soul, as I believe the Church's reasoning on this issue is the proverbial nonsense on sticks.
James Palermo | 11/4/2012 - 4:46pm
The Bishops' opposition to Obama Care with regard to coverage for contraception can be likened to a pre-Vatican II Bishop demanding Catholic boycot restaurants that serve meat on Friday.  Because an option is on a menue does not mean that one is required to select it.  As for marriage, the Church may define it as it will: a sacrament between a man and a woman. In a secular sense, however, marriage is a legal construct, the benefits of which (property rights et al) should be open to everyone. By distorting these issues in a childish rant, the Bishops are, in effect, urging Catholics to support the Republican social agenda, notwithstanding that it is contrary to Catholic social teachings.  Is there any room in the Church for ''nuance''?
Tim O'Leary | 11/2/2012 - 10:48pm
Amy #7
It was the laity in the Crusades who went off on their own theological misdirection and turned the defense of Christian pilgrims into bloody attacks of Jews and innocents, just as it is the laity today who turn their knives on the unborn and the elderly, calling child-killing a form of liberty, and euthanasia ''physician assistance.'' It is the laity who confuse sex with sodomy, and sin with freedom. And, as Jim (17) does, it is the laity who cannot distinguish sexual immorality from skin color.

It should be an easy call for every lay Catholic man and woman who wants to be faithful to Christ and His Church, in this election, to vote against the party of abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, and religious intolerance. The Democratic Party has never in its history been more radically hostile to the Catholic faith. 
JIM MCCREA | 11/2/2012 - 5:50pm
Dan:  you belong to the Henny Penny school of politics:  The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!  No it is not.

I'm sure there was a time that people like you thought the world was about to end when women and blacks were given the right to vote, and mixed race couple were allowed to marry.

This is the 21st century, not the 18th.
JIM MCCREA | 11/2/2012 - 5:43pm
"Catholic groups supporting same-sex marriage?" Must be the natural progression of the concepts of equality for all and common sense.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 11/2/2012 - 12:40pm
Once, long ago, Pope Urban II said (approximately), "OK, Catholics, you have a religious duty to prepare for the imminent Second Coming of the Prince of Peace. So, I think you should all put on your armor and go off to the Holy Land and massacre Muslims. On your way, stop in Byzantium and massacre some Orthodox Christians, for practice. And just to get things off to a propitious start, let's all ride down to Worms and massacre the Jews right now."

Probably there were a few knights in the crowd who said, "Wow, this is the stupidest peace policy I ever heard of. I think I'll just go home."

That's what the bishops' campaign speeches remind me of.
Edward Alten | 11/2/2012 - 11:11am
Two opinion letters were sent to our local paper that illustrated how one Catholic ''got'' what the Bishops said in their Faithful Citizenship instruction. The other opinion letter accused the Catholic signiture ad of ''Catholics for Obama'' as speaking for the Church and accused them of Heresy.   This led me to submit the following response to these opinions to the paper.

.....
The problem for the American Church in guiding Catholics, I think, is to clarify its teachings in various ways so that Catholic lay people (voters) with different levels of understanding can really understand the practical aspects of Catholic teaching.
I believe that for this clarity to happen both conservative and liberal bishops must delegate some of their responsibility to ''others'', loyal to Church teaching, but who are able to offer diverse viewpoints that Faithful Citizenship voters can really understand. These ''others'' may be one or more of the many ''Catholic'' groups, many already existing, who require some Church authority or sponsorship to be deemed worthy of consideration by the Catholic voter.
Many of these groups have trustworthy, competent, balanced and diverse Catholic lay people in them. With authorization to discuss stories describing Church teaching for the purposes of voter guidance, these groups could serve Catholic voters through the diversity of their written stories. Like the Gospels, other view points of the same Catholic teaching may be better able to teach them than lofty theological principals no matter how true or well stated they are.
It may be time for the Church to recognize the pluralism in our country and the need to address the growing diversity and levels of understanding in the Church by sponsoring and endorsing some of these groups.
Carlos Orozco | 11/2/2012 - 11:09am
Catholic groups supporting same-sex marriage? Must me the natural progression of the concept of Game Politics.
Thomas Piatak | 11/2/2012 - 11:07am
Bishop Malone and Bishop Jenky are exactly right.
RALPH BREMIGAN | 11/2/2012 - 8:21am
In marked contrast, my bishop argues the dangers of hierarchs endorsing candidates:

http://www.thecatholicmoment.org/columns/2012/bishops%20column%20110412.html

(Not all bishops are the same.)
T BLACKBURN | 11/2/2012 - 7:24am
Many of the episcopal comments this year (e.g., Bishop Morlino in Madison, WI) noted that getting the politics right is the laity's business and that they are speaking only to morality. But then they tell the laity what to do politically. Bishop Ricken cites the Democratic platform; any lay person could tell him that the party platforms are as dead as the silly convention hats two days after a political convention.

Bishop DiMarzio's "other option" troubles some of us who don't want to vote for President Obama because a close viewing of the flips, flops and business history of that other option suggests it isn't a heck of a lot better, if it really is better at all, on life issues.

Bishop Burns doesn't comment on the Catholic bishops in this country who were slave owners until 1864 and defenders of the "peculiar institution." But the record of those bishops raises cautiuonary flags around the comparison he makes now.
ed gleason | 11/1/2012 - 11:41pm
I guess if you were a Catholic couple over fifty asking to be married you would  smile at Bishop Malone's 'union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children'
I guess he would respond with the story of Abram and Sarai [leaving out Hagar of course]. Proof testing is fun  if your not personally involved,