Editor’s note: Vincent Miller is the Gudorf Chair of Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton.
By Vincent Miller, Special to CNN
President Obama’s narrow victory among Catholic voters this week will be seen by many as a political loss for the U.S. Catholic bishops, who appeared to be openly opposing Obama during the presidential campaign.
The Catholic Church was well within its rights to conduct its campaign on religious liberty, but its “Preserve Religious Freedom” yard signs were clearly designed to be placed alongside partisan candidate signs. And they were - in very large numbers.
The technically nonpartisan nature of the Church’s religious liberty campaign was further drowned out by a small chorus of strident bishops who left no doubt about how Catholics ought to vote for president.
In a letter he ordered read at all parishes last Sunday, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria juxtaposed the Obama administration's new contraception mandate with the scourging and mockery of Jesus. Jenky declared that “electoral supporters” of pro-abortion rights politicians reject “Jesus as their lord,” as did the crowd that roared, "We have no king but Caesar.”
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Such forceful statements were never balanced by significant challenges to the Republican presidential ticket.
There is more at stake here than politics.
Though I agree with the bishops that the exemption for religious employers in the White House contraceptive insurance mandate is too narrow, the bishops’ posture toward the administration during the election poses a major risk to the Church because it left the impression that there was only one legitimate Catholic choice for president – Mitt Romney.
The result is that half of the Catholic electorate felt it was being judged as voting “against the Church,” even though such voters weren’t actually dissenting from Catholic teaching. They were, instead, making the complex decisions that any serious voter must, weighing their own moral commitments against a candidate's professed values, the policies they propose and how much is likely to be accomplished on a given issue given the political climate.
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Voters must weigh the mix of positions of both candidates, not just the objections against one. This year, they had to weigh, among other things, a new problem with religious liberty against the Republicans' earnest proposal to replace Medicare’s guaranteed coverage with a subsidy for private insurance.
By putting voters in a “with us or against us” bind, some of America’s bishops have risked eroding their own authority. They imply that specific political judgments are matters of Church teaching, when by Catholic tradition, the more they descend into the details of policy, the less certain their judgments become.
Bishops must allow room for and respect believers' own specific political judgments. The Second Vatican Council taught that it is primarily the responsibility of the laity to undertake the secular work of inscribing “the divine law…in the life of the earthly city.”
The way out of this crisis is for the bishops to carefully respect the necessary limits involved in the task of forming the consciences of lay believers. They must teach moral principles and, yes, argue for their specific application, but always in a way that respects individual judgments about how best to enact these principles.
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At times this formation might even require forceful challenge, but it should never assume ill will or ignorance when the faithful vote differently than they desire.
Trusting laypeople to make the political decisions that are properly theirs gives them room to embrace the Church’s doctrines, even if they cannot enact all of them in their voting choices. This is essential to sustaining a Catholic identity separate from the divisiveness of partisan politics. This election season like none before left many Catholics feeling like the Church gave them no such room.
The Catholic Church will enhance its public authority by speaking out in a way that supports and challenges both parties. Prophets are respected when they are perceived to be an independent and fair voice. When the deep coherence of Catholic moral teaching is communicated, it can free people from our partisan moral straightjackets. But when parts of this teaching are passed over in silence, the Church puts itself in a partisan straightjacket.
The official Church response to the candidacy of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan displayed this failure to forcefully challenge both parties. In the spring, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had challenged Ryan’s proposed federal budget for failing to put “the needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty” first. But the bishops were largely silent on this issue during the campaign.
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The response of Catholic voters, however, displayed a decidedly Catholic instinct for the common good. Introduced as a “faithful Catholic” by Romney, Ryan brought no significant bump in Catholic support for the ticket.
Indeed, Ryan’s radical budget and ideologically driven plan to end Medicare as a guaranteed benefit program did what decades of work by Catholic social justice advocates had never been able to achieve: It activated a gut level Catholic concern for solidarity and the common good. President Obama’s Catholic poll numbers peaked in the weeks following Ryan’s selection.
The Catholic Church can never turn its back on the moral dimension of politics. But it must beware the divisiveness that even the appearance of partisanship can bring into the Church. Teach and preach the fullness of the Church’s doctrines forthrightly and forcefully, but honor the decisions of the laity. The danger is not that the Church might inappropriately interfere with politics, but that partisan politics will infect the Church.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Vincent Miller.
So the RC church wants to play politics? Fine, then pay taxes like every other partisan group.
Once again religion obscures rational discussion. Which candidate is favored by the sky fairy? Let's all ague an inarguable point of nonsense. What a load of baloney.
You know what happens to a shepherd's flock? The get slaughtered and fleeced...
Truer words are hardly ever spoken! :-)
Except maybe, A shepherd's flocks first get fleeced and then get led to the slaughterhouse bah bah bahing all the way
Despite their grandiose delusions about themselves and their magic invisible friends.
Only for the new members of this blog:–>>>>>
The Topic headline:-----–
"My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority."
My Take: Catholic bishops' promulgation of a severely flawed religion both historically and theologically completely vitiates their authority.
Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.
The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".
Current RCC problems:
Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!
Jesus–just another demented Jew!–Give me a break! How come this "falicily" lasted 2000 years in spite of the gross moral failures of many of It's members.The Church always winds up offering a Requiem Mass for the souls of Her enemies!
The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(references used are available upon request)
This GREAT country was founded on FREEDOM of religion. Lately this country is about limiting religion and making people who believe in God feel inferior. I'll not mention Allah – I'm sure to get in trouble for that. I have a problem with the RC church not defending itself!!! Not telling its parishioneers to stand up for what the church they (because they are members of that church) believe in. I am mad that my tax money will now pay for abortions that I don't believe in. My tax money will soon be paying for birthcontrol being given to school children without parental concent when the epipen that may save my son's life has to have a doctors not and a signature from me on at least 3 pieces of paper.
Scandal (by the humans) in the RC Church or not we do have fundamental beliefs handed down from God. Aren't we supposed to stand up for them? Otherwise why be Catholic.
I think there will inevitably be similar controls on birth control. It's always OK when someone else does it but not when it's your kid.
@Ken Margo: Yes, human leaders certainly can be false gods, even if any authority they may have derives from God's authority.
The law is clear, if the church wants to play politics,they are supposed to loose their tax free status. It is time to enforce the law.
Yup – it's pretty clear on that. Time to close up that loophole.
No, it's not clear. Try reading the guidelines that they give to organizations...
Alan Aversa "There are many false gods, but only one God."
read this: http://josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/Compendium.htm#15
or this: http://josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/ContraGentiles1.htm#42
I am still shocked how the Catholic Church continues to attempts to politicize the pulpit! I find it highly offensive when a church – like the Catholic Church - tries to tell me or any American that my 'eternal soul' will suffer for my vote in any election.
If they are really worried about anyone's 'eternal soul', they only have to look back at the way they protected pedofiles for so many years, transferred them around the US and other countries, and hid their actions!
IF churches want to be political - I believe they should be taxed. IF they feel they are citizens like corporations believe they are, have them pay corporation tax rates. Then they can have as many commercials, speakers, etc. they want to have. Just pay up or shut up.
And by the way - the foolishness of the 'eternal soul' is again just one more way they try to coerce people into giving more money to the church.
Check out "Pascals Wager"! Eternity is a verrrry long time.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"
Game, set & match!
A scattering is upon us in these trying days and Age. Leave your wantings behind and never take wind of one's longings for the weightiness of one's longings will smite even the most influential. Carry away nothing and leave. Head to the places inside one's being and do not keep ajar your door for many will want to enter in and should not. Your loving this Life is for the world to have and you should not heed the rumors from others as to just what is truly right. It is therefore best for mankind to simmer in their juvenile pottages never rationalizingly 'assaying' one's diffuse detriments, the very smallest of life's grains. As smitten breeds, our splendors reveal one's characters to be traitorous to one's analogous fold. Where then does Life end and living begin?
What I spiritually believe in is that the Families of God including God Himself lives upon the very first created Cosmos which is the inner Cosmos. Our being but upon this celestial cosmos is due our being cast out of the Inner Cosmos for many reasons. Some were cast out of this Inner Cosmos for faultering and some for continuing to do the Lord's Will here upon this celestial realm of gigantic life forms whereupon their insides are living many families of God's members. We live upon this realm doing what we want while many of us unify ourselves in the communal. My way is not your way and yet when we cross paths we receive each other and walk on.Therefore, walk placidly amid the noise and waste ever being mindful of the peace one finds in finding peace there about.
Love Let Us
Tax the SOB's.
The Catholic bishops who had the courage to speak out against the alien beliefs of Messrs. Obama and Biden are to be congratulated. To sit by and let the likes of the Democratic liberal wing run rampant over their flock is dereliction of duty. For Vincent Miller to hold that voters "must weigh the positions of both candidates, not just the objecrtion against one" dates to the Dark Ages. It's taken 50-plus years for America's moral code (think Woodstock) to begin tatttering. Tacit acceptance of abortion and gay marriage does not a Catholic make. When will the Jesuits return to their senses?
thomas c. Murphy,
Your Chess board seems to be short a few pieces. Mostly pawns. Are we going to play a game missing the pawns?
The pawns of S3x
The pawns of Drugs
The pawns Gambling
Shall we play a game with these pieces missing or should we find them and put them on the board?
It's astounding how thick in the skull you right-wing nuts are. Yes, Obama and the Catholic Church have opposite stances on some issues. However, as the commentary points out (and you nut cases never seem to want to acknowledge), the Catholic Church has a long-standing commitment .. starting with a fellow named Jesus Christ – to help the poor. See Matthew, you self-righteous fellow:
Does not the RCC hold in their hands more treasures that are so valuable they would feed the hungry and clothe the poor for many years but to "sell all they have and give it to the poor" doesn't seem to ring true to the RCC "Pharisees" These Pharisees of all religions are dumbfounded with power! Dumb Futz they all are!
Pro-sodomy candidate? If you are speaking in defense of the Catholic bishops, I wouldn't go there. This is the same group of child-molesting enablers who were quick to brow beat nuns for truly doing God's work, but unable to address the pedophilia abuses of its priests for decades. I suggest that the Catholic church get its own house in order before pumping out sanctimonious BS on the national political stage. The bishops have no more clout in the arena of ethics and morals than Jerry Sandusky.
It;s a crying shame that society enablers are willingly wanting to hold back the doors of the morally conscious and locking the doors with chains of immoralities' dissensions.
No, I'm not defending Judas bishops. I'm only defending Catholic teaching.
How come the black churches sound off politically with no fear of the taxman-helps to have friends in high places. What would Jesus do? Call the tax lawyers? Let the RCs comment on politics as it involves moral choice.That is what they are in business for!
The Black churches honestly have very little influence. Blacks are the minority.
I don't like being told how to vote. The Church tries to tell us to vote Republican; no matter how they try to make it sound like they aren't.
The Catholics who protest about being harangued about capital punishment and about immigration feel the opposite.
@ Tina: you said "I don't like being told..."
that's not a church issue. That's an issue with authority.
and did you feel that way when campaign commercials came on for the candidate you supported?
Then don't be Catholic!
Question... are there any female bishops or cardinals in the Catholic faith?
Yes, but they are not Roman Catholic. They belong to a number of small independent Catholic churches.
Don't be ashamed. Try to change the party for the better that's all.
NewsBusters| CNN Belief Blog: ‘Catholic Bishops’ Election Behavior Threatens Their Authority’
Voters knowingly supporting a pro-sodomy, pro-child-killing, pro-atheism, pro-contraception, pro-euthanasia, anti-Catholic candidate, when they could've supported an alternative candidate opposed to these intrinsic evils, "weren’t actually dissenting from Catholic teaching"‽
Obviously G-od loves Obama. He let him win!!
@ Alan: apparently Obama's God kicked your God's butt. Time to rethink your position.
God loves everyone. He permits the evil to work a greater good out of it.
@Alan..............I don't understand. "He permits the evil to work a greater good out of it." So now G-od is for evil? oh boy!
118 million votes were casted, Obama received 58,720,700, from people who supported "supporting a pro-sodomy, pro-child-killing, pro-atheism, pro-contraception, pro-euthanasia, anti-Catholic candidate" GTFO of here but head.
It's astounding how thick in the skull you right-wing nuts are. Yes, Obama and the Catholic Church have opposite stances on some issues. However, as the commentary points out (and you nut cases never seem to want to acknowledge), the Catholic Church has a long-standing commitment .. starting with a fellow named Jesus Christ - to help the poor. See Matthew, you self-righteous fellow:
False gods do not contain an infinite plenitude of goodness, truth, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, justice, mercy, love, etc., that the One God does. False gods are limited creatures which lead us away from the uncreated God.
@Ken Margo: God doesn't cause evil; we do. In fact, it's a contradiction that an infinitely good being can will evil, evil being a lack of goodness.
@insi10: Yes, and innocent unborn children are very vulnerable.
@Mohammed................. you're askin' for trouble! with all the violence and poverty in the middle east you really should keep a low profile. Allah isn't exactly standing on a higher ground.
@Alan.................Why doesn't g-od stop evil? If he can land a plane in the east river, he can certainly stop evil.
God is constantly stopping evil. Oftentimes we're too blind to see it.
Can it be said and also inferred that all of Life here upon these celestial shorelines of life-forms resonate from a single celled life-form all the ways to massive cellularized life formations? Is it 'not' written within the Gospels that mankind is but buildings that are husbanded by the Godly? Do we not labour together with God in our tasks? Who among us can deny our psychically souled Being as being un/just and un/righteous God-Heads?
Nothing is a Foreverness and Matter, in its' infinitesimally established finiteness, is a materialized foreverness unobtainable by us, human-like megaliths called mankind. We are all giants too huge and too vast for us to ever re-enter in wholeness back into the Kingdoms of God which are inside or within our bodies. So many damningly dumb buildings of evolution's ascension into the spatial voids of outward motions sanctioned by the Godly! Too little are our intellectual abaters
John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world"
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Ergo. does that mean dumbness is genetical or is it societal hierarchies being the dumbness from which socialisms are currently adorned and auspisciously bequeathed?
We are but celestial manifestations of God's creativities. Evolution is the Sons God's works and there is reason why we were the last limb to be raised from Fractal Cosmology.
@Margo or Mango, wrong answer, how do you know I was muslim or Middle Eastern? And Allah isn't exactly standing on a higher ground..........I agree, because all religions have been hijacked by "Alan Avera" types, I grew up with muslims, very different in 60s and 70s, so I know them much more than you do.
God does not punish–we punish ourselves by the freewill choices we make–like re-electing the Manchurian candidate(has anyone figured out who this guy is or where he really came from?) In another tradition it is called 'Karma".
@Mohammed................ Well for one thing, the name gives it away. Almost every male that follows Islam is named Mohammed. The comments you make about the president is wrong. Period. You sound just like the crooked Christian conservatives in this country. Just like Islam has been hijacked, so has Christianity. Repeating that garbage just proves you're one of them.
@william Lee.............. More bigoted nonsense. Just say you don't want a black president! Stop being a phony. Stop hiding behind this "where did he come from" garbage. You can be anonymous here. So be honest!
@Margo bugger off Mango, I mean know nothing fvk.
@Mohammed......................Since you are cursing me, I must be telling the truth. I noticed you didn't say I was lying. Truth hurts doesn't it. Ignorant Bigots is what keeps the world from advancing. No matter the religion.
come to the subject mango, who are Cat-holic or mix of everything?
i mean who are you.
I am a person that deals with reality. When you wake up and leave religion behind you'll be able to see clearly.
keep it simple, if you're an atheist, just say so, no reason to say "I am a person that deals with reality" what kind of a job you do to deal with reality? Everyone has Work, Family, and God, in your case you just have Work and Family. Why do you think your type is so special?
I don't think I'm special. You want to call me an atheist go ahead. I got better things to worry about. Reality is the ultimate truth. You deal with that everyday. G-od isn't solving any problems obviously because problems aren't being solved.
G-od is not here to solve any of your problems; G-od is here to guide people like you from creating problems, if you live by HIS set of rules, you're less likely to face your so called "Reality".
His rules? I'm married, 2 kids (one in college) working, own a home, has healthcare, don't drink, smoke or do drugs. G-od (if he existed) would say I'm living by his rules and would wish more people were like me. But I don't rely on G-od. My reality is to be able to take care of my family. I deal with common problems like everyone else.
what you describe here is just living with discipline. Way before Governments came up with set of rules or laws, people followed system or rules set by churches, temples, synagogues; they are still valid, if you want to live disciplined aka happy life. Follow the rules that suit your needs best, not all.
I think long before there were churches and whatnot people were coming up with some fairly decent rules and laws to govern their lives. If they hadn't, it is highly possible that churches would never have formed.
Then your input to this article is not pertinent
Good time for the Catholic Church and Mormons to enter merger negotiations.
The Pope at the Vatican and the Living Apostles in Salt Lake City need a tête-à-tête to discuss money.
Book of Mormon can clean the clock at Notre Dame and shake things up at the nunnery.
I am not Catholic and the Catholic church has no authority over me, "moral" or otherwise.
That's correct, but God still does.
@ Alan: Which God? There are thousands.
There are many false gods, but only one God.
read this: http://josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/ContraGentiles1.htm#42
or this: http://josephkenny.joyeurs.com/CDtexts/Compendium.htm#15
@Alan ....................How can you tell the false ones?
@Alan ....................I'll ask the question again. How can you tell the false ones?
@Ken Margo: The same way you judge whether something is bad, false, ugly, unwise, unjust, unmerciful, unloving, etc.
@Alan...............Ok I see, Mutt Romney is a false g-od. The republican party is a bunch of false g-ods. Thanks for clearing that up.
While I agree there "was" the originator of God and Godliness values, there have since been immesurable Sons of the original God. Your tenure to not disembark from leveraging scholastically orientated dogmas of unsound principalities seems disheartening to say the least.
It's "disheartening" that you dismiss the dogmas without no argument except using the qualifiers "scholastically orientated" and "unsound principalities."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.