NPR: Bishops Flex Their "Political Muscle"

NPR on the U.S. bishops, including interviews with Rep. Bart Stupak, Archbishop John Myers, George Weigel and yours truly.  It is, to my mind, a fair overview of the bishops' new activism.

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9 years 1 month ago
Mr. Martin,
The bishops do not "oppose the president because he is a democrat", as you tell the NRP interviewer, but the oppose the president because he is the most powerful promoter of abortion on demand (that is, the slaughter of innocent human life) in the world today.
The Catholic Church has not changed in its position; it is the radical liberal expansion on goverment power and their promotion of immoral policies (such as expansion of the funding of abortion both nationally and internationally) that has cause the bishops rightly to speak out.
How ironic that certain liberal catholics do not call evil (such as the expansion of WAR and ABORTION) by its name because of their policial ideology and desire to welcomed in the liberal press.
Where is the post calling the nobel-peace-prize winning president's escalation of the war on evil?  Where is the post calling the killing of innocent life in the womb evil?
Pearce Shea
9 years 1 month ago
Wow.  Fr. Martin. What was that bit about the President being a Democrat? Do you really think that the Bps opposition to the President has to do with his being a Democrat? What you said certainly implies that. Seems pretty cynical, and neither accurate nor fair. Certainly not very charitable.
And thank goodness the reporter did a good job of indicating who and what were "conservative Catholics." Sheesh.
9 years 1 month ago
Also, what is this idea of conservative theology?  Do you think the late pope, was guided by his concervatism rather than the holy spirit during his time at the head of the Catholic Church? 
Do you really think of JPII as a clerical "republican," more or less? 
This is essentially the message you projected on NPR and one that the Democrats repeat when they speak of Church "intereference" in policy (and possible IRS review for this offense).
I guess we can all forget about the sacred and, instead, focus on and relate all matters via the profane (esp. through politics of extreme liberation and equality).
9 years 1 month ago
"I think every Catholic member of this body who walks into a church to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist has at the back of their mind that they could be potentially denied," she says."- DeLauro. Hmmm. Seems like the Bishop knows precisely what what he is about.
Gabriel Marcella
9 years 1 month ago
Using the "conservative theology" label hardly helps to promote dialogue and understading. Among the media (including NPR) it's short hand code language to indicate that the Catholic bishops and their flocks are out of step with the the rest of the world, which presumably has "liberal theology." Presumably also, De Lauro is an exponent of "liberal theology, the right way of thinking because it goes against the wrong "conservative theology" of the bishops. Such shabby and shallow thinking refutes the continuity of 2 thousand years of Catholic doctrine. Why does America, such a beacon of intellectual rigor, lend itself to such superficiality?
Beth Cioffoletti
9 years 1 month ago
You did a good job, Jim.  This is a big problem, with all the US bishops being solidly right wing (not a liberal voice among them, as James Carroll says) and using their power to hold the entire country hostage.  The more this bias can be exposed to the light of day, the better. 
Thank God there are many among the laity who resist being controlled by the clerics.
Vince Killoran
9 years 1 month ago
I thought Fr. Martin had an accurate take on the political pulse of the bishops. Here's what I've seen from the pews in recent years: parish priests taking every opportunity to denounce Democratic candidates  (ours loves to wave around newspaper clippings) and a local bishop who cozies up to GOP figures at every opportunity (mine happened to be at the front of the line in signing the protest letter regarding President Obama's Notre Dame visit last spring).
MaryMargaret Flynn
9 years 1 month ago
My sister is very active in her parish, president of the St Vincent de Paul ministry, music ministry-always a faithful Catholic and she tells me such stories of the complete Republician no new tax, no illegals, no abortions, gov't health care means death panels, get those islmaofascists and Palin for president converstaions and the ritual anti-abortion Sunday in Oct. She redirects the converstaion atVincent de Paul meetings to the mission at hand when ever possible and herself has learned the word "Obama" is verboten at such meetings. The Peace and Justice committee is just ignored and seen as "nuts". Me I no longer worship at a Parish church-I go to the VA hospital Chapel. And the Jesuit Retreat Center for the Holy week retreat, Ash Wed, and one day Advent retreat. And yes I do know of so many wonderful things many of the parishes do. Liked a talk a lawyer nun gave at a bistro-about immigration and human rights-monthly meeting a friend's parish sponsers. But I do think most of the suburban affluent parishes I know of are just politically Right-they won't even read America and Commonweal let alone NCR. Lots of prilgamages to holy sites though particularly in Yugosolvia, Fatima,Lourdes. One parish changes the slothing on a statue at regular intervals. The kids tho' have done Habitat for Humanity. That was great! And the Catholic school have schlorships for those on the other side of the freeway. No Bishop has the right to refuse COmmunion. IT is a religious fundamentalism-the fiats some Muslins do (can't spell it Fatwas?) So we are all "cafeteria Catholic" in my mind-all sinners.
Pearce Shea
9 years 1 month ago
Fr, sorry if I was a bit terse. It was late. I do, however, feel justified in my previous comment, nor do I think you have much room to complain about a mis-characterization of your comment (via editing), as you yourself said you thought the piece was "a fair overview of the bishops' new activism.' What I took exception to was the implication that the Bishops' are somehow anti-Democrat, not that they are opposed to Democrats on life issues. That the Catholic episcopate is incompatible with the Democratic party is the same argument that ultra-conservative Catholics make as well, to rather less valuable ends.
Look at Beth Cioffoletti's post as well, it seems pretty clear to people both rushing to defend the Bishops and those rushing to castigate them that you tossed a few miters under the bus. It's just a matter of whether they think the miters ought to be there or not.
9 years 1 month ago
Mr. Jim Martin posted his interview and he does not seem to like the responses; however, he never really gives clear response or rebuttal.
This bishops are acting on longstanding, fundamental Catholic values (respect for life, being first and foremost) and are acting on principle, not politics.  The Catholic Church stands with neither party - just look at opposition to the war or pro immigrant policies if you need proof that they are not "right-wingers."
Those who accuse the bishops of "interfering with politics" in a partisian (rather than principled nature) are attempting to remove any reference to moral principle out of the debate and to neturalize or discredit opposition to federal power and the new federal "morality" (abortion on demand, expanded war, centralized bureaucracy etc.). 
This essentially is an attempt to neutralize the any organized, independent moral voice out side of the national government - and the Catholic Church is one of the last of these standing in our modern era.
Jim Martin, as a member of the Church, is essential helping those who want to silence moral dissent; he is lending his stature as a clergymen to claim that the opposition to immoral policies is political posturing rather than what it is - true opposition based on Christian principle.  This the same principle that Dr. King used in the civil rights movement to defeat  immoral government policies of his time.
This is a serious topic and derserves a response - do you speak truth to power?  Or do you distort the truth in the service of power?
It seems to be the latter, but I would be happy to be corrected.
9 years 1 month ago
PS - Since Jim Martin is a professional Catholic media figure at the national level - I have trouble believing that this was just editing magic that created this testimony which essentially discredits the bishops as political pawns - and, if it was as you say, shouldn't you know how to modify your message to counter this dishonesty?
9 years 1 month ago
I don’t remember seeing such dedicated efforts on the part of the bishops against the immoral and illegal war in Iraq, Afghanistan which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands civilians including the unborn.  I haven’t  seen  the USCCB urging catholics to contact  their elected representatives against nuclear arms, climate change which threatens all life in God’s creation, as they have done to remove abortion funding in healthcare reform.
In spite of many  pro- life documents written by the Bishops Conference,  collectively, their focus remains primarily a single issue, anti- abortion. I can only imagine the results if such efforts were dedicated toward all the other pro-life issues.
fr. rich broderick
cambridge, ny
9 years 1 month ago
Fr. Rich,
As a priest you should know that the child in the womb is the most vulnerable of all humans considering their innocence and helplessness.  And the sheer numbers - the millions of lives lost since Roe v Wade (no war in this time period has come close) - should help you understand the imperitive.
Also, the pope did vocally oppose the war in Iraq - more than can be said for the liberal NYTs or the liberal American magazine regarding the recent escalation in Afganastan by our noble peace prize laureate...
Somethings are more important than others and, as any person knows, priorities are set.  So we oppose abortion...but we also provide disaster relief, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals and universities etc.
Do you still think your Church does'nt care for the living?  Or is that just somthing liberal love to say to discredit religious and you have picked it up?
S Bond
9 years 1 month ago
I wish the Bishops would spend the two calories it would take to make a statement that executing gay people is a moral evil.  (Through Catholic Relief Services, they work with HIV positive people in Uganda - one of the targeted populations.)
Are we a pro-life people, or are we not?


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