The Bishops, The Laity, and the Budget

Over the course of the past year, some leading American bishops have come to acknowledge publicly that the task of particular politics belongs with the laity, not the hierarchy.

Nonetheless, the massive momentum of the marriage of the bishops’ conference to the Democrat Party is hard to shake off. Witness the attacks on House Speaker Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Ryan — both Catholics — by the dissident left. Always dictatorial, they can’t stand it when their faux “authority” is challenged by somebody whom they can’t dismiss as a member of the Klan.

I am especially intrigued by the selective sort of politicking undertaken by the bishops themselves. While Cardinal Dolan insisted in his letter to Ryan last year that bishops teach only precepts, allowing the laity to express their right to work out political issues in detail, a lot of bishops simply didn’t buy it.

Take Bishop Blaire of Stockton, who is Chairman of the USCCB  Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Last August 31, he sent to Capitol Hill a letter insisting that  the USCCB supports full funding for “foreign aid, affordable housing programs, child nutrition, or health care,” endorsing a specific piece of controversial legislation in the name of Holy Mother Church. In his words, “it would be wrong” to oppose his views.

I wrote Bishop Blaire last September, asking him this: “Your Excellency, does your public advocacy of this specific legislation constitute a teaching of the “authentic magisterium of their bishops,’ like Humanae Vitae, to which the ‘faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind” (Canon 753; Lumen Gentium 25)?  Is a Catholic of good will bound by Canon Law ‘to adhere with religious submission of mind’ to your prudential political views?”

I make this request in’Charity and respect for the truth’ [CCC 2489] and look forward to your reply.”

I haven’t heard back yet, but I do know that Bishop Blaire had another chance to see my letter yesterday. Stay tuned.

And by the way, our friend Pat Buchanan recounts today the almost unfathomable corruption in the federal government that, he asserts, mirrors the sumptuous appetites and smug sense of entitlement in which the Democrat Party leadership wallows. Let me see… has the USCCB **ever** attacked that corruption? Even Criticized it? Even mentioned it?

A closing thought: just because we observe that the bishops’ century-long alliance (some might call it a marriage) with the Democrat party has profoundly damaged both the Church and the country, we emphatically reject any notion that they should suddenly embrace the GOP. Far from it. Both party establishments are corrupt. Both advocate the smothering of individual charity by the taxing power of the state. Both deny the Catholic principle of subsidiarity and debauch that of solidarity, leaving it as a husk that smacks more of the foul stench of Karl Marx’s class consciousness than of the sweet fragrance of unity that abides in the Mystical Body of Christ.

No, we espouse the independence of the Church from all political parties. Yes, we must demand that our voices be heard in the public square, but let’s let them ring freely, without being shackled to the ball and chain of loyalty to any party dominated by the City of Man.




This article, The Bishops, The Laity, and the Budget is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

Christopher Manion

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