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My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority
The American bishops staged a rigorous campaign against the White House's new contraception mandate.
November 8th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,317 Responses)
  1. axolotl

    If they want to play in politics, their tax exemptions should be taken away!

    November 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  2. jim

    My religion prohibits defending and hiding child molesters.

    Can I have my tax money back from the church now?

    God Damn hypocrites.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  3. Reality

    Summarizing with a prayer:

    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
    Jerusalem.

    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.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    November 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  4. ari

    the catholic church can endorse whatever political causes or candidates they want. in return, we strip them of their tax exemption. sound good?

    November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Not likely. The concept of the priestly class as exempt from normal boundaries, is thousands of years old. The Tribe of Levi, (the priests), had no tribal territory, and lived off the produce of the other tribes, ever since Ancient Israel. Of course they should be, as they use, and are dependent all the civil services, and indeed depend on them, however, it will not likely happen. If they were honest, they would donate a certain sum to civil maintenance. Ant bishop with chest pain would call 911, and expect to be picked up at a chancery office, or anywhere. They are freeloading.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  5. Rodents for Romney

    Authority ? What "authority" ? They lost THAT a LONG time ago.
    Sorry, there is no way the NCPP, (National Conference for Pedophile Protection) has ANY "authority".
    They got nothing to lose here.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • sjdemoor85

      As I said, Bishops, even the Pope, are sinning human beings, just like you and me. They mess up just like us. That does not excuse horrible situations in the Catholic Church in the last 40 years, but please do understand that they are human and sinners. But at least they keep fighting against genocide in America, do you?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Define "moment of conception". Fetuses before 5 weeks have no neural tube, thus no brain, and in no way are "human beings". They are "potential" human beings.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      I "understand" nothing. Evil is evil. Your rationalizations are pathetic attempt to rationalize evil. You are a minion of Satan. The question is not were they sinners. The question was did they give up what was seen as their "authority". By the mass defections, the answer to that is obvious.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      sjdemoor85

      That is a perfect example of where the church has you scammed. When they get something wrong it is personal failure, when it gets something right it is because of the moral connection to god. They win either way. Why can't their connection to god keep them from failing at a better rate than a secular insti.tion? It is their self-rightious mindset that orginates from their supposed succession to god that justifies their continued failure. They only realize and admit wrongdoing when they are coronered and have not other choice.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  6. chris

    The article was of interest to me because my mother was told in church that you could not receive Communion any longer if you chose to vote for Obama or any other pro-choice politician. This is on Long Island, NY. She goes to church almost everyday and attends a variety of parishes to fit mass into her schedule, so this must be something widely discussed. She is also at Eucharistic Minister.

    I think it is a complete misuse of power to overstep the boundary of moral leadership to tell people how to vote. And why would anyone's vote for a presidential candidate be based solely on one issue? Many issues, including protecting the environment, caring for the homeless, elderly, etc. can be tied to morality.

    Will Goodman says, "This is another good point: "(The bishops) must beware the divisiveness that even the appearance of partisanship can bring into the Church.""

    The impact of such partisanship is to drive away even more Catholics to other Christian churches. I think I am going to be one.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • sjdemoor85

      Please explain why one would disconnect morality from voting?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The United States is a secular nation. Our morality is determined by fact, not fantasy. Voting should always by what you consider is best for the nation, not what you think is best for your church.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Marc

      This is about freedom of religion. They didn't pick the fight with Obama, Obama picked the fight with them. You can't tell a church that they have to just accept abortion if they believe it is murder, you can still do it but when you subsidize it in any way with tax dollars you have stepped over the line and threatened their religious freedoms. You can't pass health care that forces them to offer contraception through their businesses. You can't tell them to just accept gay marriage if they are against it. I'm an atheist myself but I am a moral person and IF a religion really believes such things they can't stop me from doing it but at the same time I can't make them go along with it either.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  7. sjdemoor85

    From the outset, I will say I'm 27, Catholic, Conservative, and voted for Romney, just so you know where I stand right away.

    There are many points to respond to in this article, and many ways to go about it, but I will focus on 2 simple ideas here.

    'Faithful Catholics' as you referred to them in the article are a particular group of Catholics who believe in Apostolic Succession. Meaning, we obey our bishop, ultimately the Pope, no matter what. Why? Because if you study the teachings of the Church and Scripture, you discover that Christ gave the 12 Apostles a special role to play in evangelizing the Mediterranean, and ultimately the world. Those original Apostles (Bishops) have successfully passed their authority down through 2,000 years of Church history through Apostolic Succession, right up to Bishop Jenke; even though every Catholic Bishop in the world is human, and full of sin, we still obey them because they have the authority of the original Apostles.

    Second. You mentioned the federal budget and Paul Ryan. We 'faithful Catholics' as you've labeled us place life first, why? Science first, and logic second. Science has proven that a new human life indeed begins at conception. Therefore, an abortion doctor that provides abortions is murdering that human life when he removes the new human life from the mother's womb. Logically, the Bishops and the lay faithful place life ahead of budgets, caring for the poor, and even marriage issues. Why? Because just as the Allies saved the Jews in the 1940s from Hitler, another genocide is taking place in America as we speak, and the Bishops are attempting to save the most innocent and vulnerable in our society, the human beings in the womb.

    With all that said, this is why the Bishops injected their voice so forcefully into this election cycle. Obama's pro-abortion agenda is far worse than Romney's; lesser of two evils to a certain extent, you have to start somewhere.

    God Bless all who read. SJD

    November 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Jesus never said anything about "apostolic succession". Paul never said anything about it either, in terms of "succession". The Roman Church invented the concept to self-authenticate their own authority. Indeed, the idea of who or who did not have "apostolic status" extended beyond "the twelve", and one of the Pauls (Saul of Tarsus), who was the founder of the cult, Himself appropriated it for himself. Too bad you know nothing about the history of your own cult.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      On your first point,

      The whole concept of succession is a sham the early christians used to "one up" other christians from different areas of the ancient world. The catholic church still uses it to get its followers to falsely believe it is a moral authority, if the church had a direct line to god it wouldn't have a history of continued moral failure. Mistakes are one thing, allowing child abuse to continue insti.tuionaly is another and is just one recent example. A monkey throwing darts would have a better track record of decision making.

      Second, you don't get to reference science for your stance on abortion but reject science as it applies to other issues. For instance science has proven mas.ter.ba.tion is healthier for people physically and mentally. But since that does not fall in line with church teaching does it? So you and the church reject it and we can therefore reject your application of science in your abortion argument.

      The church has you conned, I don't say this to put you down....I was there once.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Since we know that the papacy was purchased, and the ONLY reason that most bishops were in their office in the early church was in fact by ELECTION, not appointment, (thus succession is irrelevant), and later most bishops were in place because the ruling gentry decided on who they would tell the papacy they wanted, or would accept, and the corrupt papacy could not possibly be in place, except by an evil act, (thus saying their succession is the equivalent to saying a child of ra'pe is the will of god), the whole concept is utterly preposterous.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      The concept of abortion as the worst evil is culturally relative. In fact Catholics cannot even state what the "moment of conception" even is. Since twinning can occur up to two weeks after fertilization the business of "soul infusion" is demonstrated to be false. The origins of authority in the early church came from the community, (who, by the bottom up, working of the Spirit) elected their leaders. The origins of the flawed, un-biblical authority model of the Roman Church is precisely the opposite of the Biblical model of authority.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      If "successful passing of succession" includes corruption, and "office by purchase", then maybe he might be correct.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      If you study history, the 4 Patriarchs had EQUAL authority, until the Great Schism, thus we know Rome is non-historical, and non-"traditional". In fact the sentence which the gospel writers put in Matthew ONLY, and was absent in the FIRST gospel, (thus proving it's unimportance), where the the ONLY Greek word Jesus is ever seen to have uttered, ("eccesia"), is a later development. There was no such thing as a "church" in Jesus day, thus saying "Upon this rock I will build my *church* " we know is a later interpolation/addition, and not something Jesus would have said, nor is it something the apostles would have understood.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's entirely selfish to vote for what your church wants instead of for what your nation needs. Freedom from religious persecution is guaranteed by our secular government, and there was a time not long ago that the catholic church took refuge in that fact. It's a shame that they have easily and arrogantly forgotten that fact.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  8. Tim

    Did we just not learn from our political leaders that lying, misrepresenting ourselves and others, seeking to destroy others through inuendo and fabrication of truth and speaking ill of others is par for the course and, actually, acceptable behavior. Do we not wacth two people attempting to destroy one another walk across a stage, shake hands and smile and chat as if good friends? Yes, a body of peope devoting their lives to teach us to love one another will take a political hit becasue we do enjoy being mean and cruel to each other and ourl leaders spent billions to teach us it is acceptable. So, I will take the losers...thank you very much. Let the victors have their spoils.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  9. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    Catholic bishops' behavior threatens humanity, pink goons of Jesus.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • AvdBergism source of filthy RainerBraendleinism©

      Absurdity of pink goons. But agree yes.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  10. rr146

    Does your comment only get published if it is anti-Catholic? Where is my comment?

    November 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      rr146,

      There's a list of word filter clues on page #11.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  11. americanboomerscrew

    The premise of the whole article is WRONG as the "Preserve Religious Freedom" signs the author cites were from a few private citizens non-clergy, who used the signs as free speech to have their say about the issue of religious liberty.

    These people did a heroic job of giving Catholics and other faithful Americans a way to show their support for our first amendment.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  12. Interested48

    What authority? Who cares what they think. The church is irrelevant and has been for many years.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  13. carol

    You are a professor of theology at a Catholic university? Glad my children didn't go there!
    You are SO WRONG! Will Goodman has a fine reply which I won't repeat.
    I'll just say: Half of the so-called Catholics don't even attend church and do not practice their faith. They are probably the half that voted for Obama. No one who is a practicing Catholic could morally vote for him. Do I hear abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom?
    I'll just say one thing about your criticism of Ryan–you don't know what you are talking about. By not dealing with Social Security or Medicare now, there will be NO program benefits for our children. Obviously you failed to take Econ 101. Disgusting!

    November 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      My husband and I are Catholics that voted against Romney. He'd K of C and I'm a Faith Formation teacher. Apparently, you need to reevaluate your assumptions.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      He is K of C... and it's a good thing I don't teach typing.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Jim S

      Carol, unless you have replaced God and now wield the authority to determine who is and who is not a practicing Catholic, suffice it to say that I know dozens of practicing Catholics who did not vote for Romney. These are people with kids in parochial and Catholic high schools, people who work in parish food banks feeding the poor, and who believe that life goes from conception to natural death. Not from conception to birth, and then you're on your own. If you wish to be a cheerleader for the GOP, have at it, but don't confusion your political party with your religion. I don't, and I stand with the 98% of Catholics who use birth control (yes, I know, they aren't Catholics either in your book, but if contraception were the litmus test, there would only be a couple million Catholics in the USA). You and your mentality are what's wrong with the church today. Go hide under a rock.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Jim S

      And in what way has your "religious freedom" been curtailed. Were you prevented from going to Mass? From saying the Rosary? Did the government pull the tax exemption from your church donations? Did your parish have to close down? The "religious freedom" argument about contraception coverage for employees in Catholic hospitals is bogus--the freedom that was lost was your so-called "right" to ram your religious dogma down the throats of employees who are not Catholic-or who are Catholic but who choose not to follow church prohibitions against contraception. I have news for you, it's 98% of the people sitting in the pews with you, as well as a majority of those taking communion with you. I know, I know, YOU alone are the holy one and they aren't Catholics, per your definition, but if so you belong to a very small church.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • refugeek

      I'm Catholic and K of C. Seeing the Democrats as the lesser of two evils, it was my moral duty to vote Democrat. The last time I voted Republican, based on the abortion issue, the Republicans embarked on an immoral war against the Iraqis (where are those WMDs?). It's terrible that all those unborn children are being killed before their time – their souls go straight to heaven. What about all those Iraqis? By killing them you've taken away their chance to get right with God, and probably doomed many of them to hell. Spiritual death is infinitely worse than physical death.

      The Republicans are also guilty of many other forms of spiritual death. How about racism, bigotry, elitism, intolerance, social injustice, warmongering, paranoia, and hatred? Those traits are exhibited more by the right than by the left.

      I believe that the Republicans have committed more sins than the Democrats, and therefore it was my moral duty, as a Catholic, to vote Democrat – the lesser of two evils.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  14. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    my father is Taliban and mother Catholic nun.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      And you are a hindu, Id thief from hindered gutter of hinduism, illegality india.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

      and I am a Paki tard.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  15. Eliminate hinduism, Atheism, Secular ism. way of animals, not human.

    A hindu, criminal claiming to be half of truth absolute God, is nothing but a hindu, denier of truth absolute God, in his hindu atheism, self center ism, to learn hinduism, criminality of hindu pagan Catholic church and heathen Bishop's, denial of truth absolute GOD please visit limitisthetruth.com.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  16. will goodman

    This article was interesting, and in some ways– quite sad.

    The author makes a very important point when he states:

    "Voters must weigh the mix of positions of both candidates, not just the objections against one."

    No candidate or party is perfect. Honest critiques of any political party failing on a clear
    matter of justice are not only fair, but obligatory.

    This is another good point:

    "(The bishops) must beware the divisiveness that even the appearance of partisanship can bring into the Church."

    This is a real consideration to always keep in mind, but it can be quite challenging however, when a particular
    party or candidate has aligned itself with the promotion of grave evils intrinsically at odds with both the common
    good and the dignity of individual human persons. In an essentially two-party, bi-cameral political system when
    one party has taken a radical and dangerous position against the common good- speaking out against such
    injustice is what is required, even though it may be perceived as 'partisan' by some.

    I am thankful Bl. Von Galen, Bishop of Munster Germany, spoke out against Hitler (more than his political rival) because the evil of racist eugenics behind Nazism had to be directly confronted. History looks back upon such acts as heroic, not
    partisan. This is because the evil being confronted was so great.

    Bishop Jenky is cut of this same cloth, in my opinion, speaking out– not against policy– but against moral evil.

    The article does not seem to recognize that certain intrinsic evils can never, ever be promoted by any candidate
    or political party: the taking of innocent life (viz., euthanasia, abortion, human embryonic research, cloning
    research, etc.), attempts to re-define marriage, and removing the protections of religious liberty and the rights
    of conscience on the very subjects of life, death and faith. Why was this omitted? The author reduces the
    concern of the HHS mandate to a mere trifle of defining a "religious exemption". Much more is at stake! For
    example- the involvement of the Church and all people of good will in early chemical abortions– because
    they are being _forced_ by the Federal Government. This is outrageous! And it won't be settled by a broader
    exemption.

    The author points out concerns about Ryan's policy and that is fine (...although I am not sure if he accurately
    portrayed Ryan's view on Medicare). Catholics are free to debate policy, and this is a welcome opportunity for
    dialogue and appreciation for differences in opinion in how to handle certain social and governmental problems.
    My experience has been that bishops encourage the laity to be informed and make their personal decisions
    as best as they can. This isn't the issue though.

    The central point the US Bishops were making in this election is that there are some evils so great that they
    cannot be considered "policy" upon which good people may disagree.

    Bishop Morlino in Madison thus taught that no Catholic with a well-formed conscience can ever vote for a
    candidate who supports abortion, the redefinition of marriage, and assaults on religious liberty/rights of
    conscience. This is because such evils are not merely "political policy"- but violations of the natural moral
    law upon which all of society must be based. (Read- "self-evident truths".) Bl. Von Galen could not tell
    faithful Catholics in the late 1930s that they can "bracket" Nazi eugenics and still support Nazi candidates
    because of their other policies– and still be "good Catholics". Some evils are just too big to set to the side
    when considering a candidate. Some evils are so great that a good bishop must warn the faithful not
    to participate in such evil– even by a simple vote. (Note- Hitler was elected by democratic vote. Were
    those Catholics who helped put him in office honoring Christ by such a vote?! It seems impossible.)

    There is a hierarchy of justice. Care for the poor is an essential element of justice. But it will always be
    a concern beneath the killing of the poor. The order of justice is as important as accessing the elements of
    justice that are related to political realities. The most fundamental rights of the human person are always
    at the top of such a hierarchy- and hence, first in the order of justice. The right to life is the most fundamental
    human right and therefore on the up-most rung of the hierarchy of justice. The bishops are trying to teach this
    crucial lesson and our author does not seem to recognize this was at issue.

    In the final analysis, I am very troubled and saddened that one who heads a department of theology at a Catholic
    university would have written this piece on how members of the Church may be perceived without mentioning
    what the bishops were actually doing to serve Christ and His flock and those threatened by the greatest injustices
    in our nation.

    It is for these and other reasons that we pray for Catholics who supported Obama/Biden, as well as those who,
    (perhaps like this author?), would prefer the bishops to be more silent to the gravity of certain moral evils in
    order to be perceived as more politically "neutral".

    November 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • rr146

      Really well reasoned and written. Far superior in thought and execution to the original article, which was indeed pathetic for a Catholic Theology Chair. But, certainly no surprise there.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • carol

      What a bunch of bull! Half of the so-called Catholics (who probably voted for Obama) aren't even praticing and wouldn't know church doctrine from a hole in the wall!

      November 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • susan

      I am a Catholic that voted for Obama, and I find your comment that I need your prayers because of that – very offensive! How do you explain the separation of church and state (yet in our taxation process churches pay nothing) and then churches try and tell people how to vote. A country IS NOT a business – nor should a church be a political party.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Quite frankly I'd like to hear more from the Bishops on topics other than abortion. I'd like to hear homilies that teach the Church's position on the death penalty and I'd like to see as many demonstrations in front of Huntsville prison as there are in front of abortion clinics. I'd like to hear them speak about the deplorable conditions in which the elderly and disabled live and I'd love to hear them ask the very well-healed to contribute to something other than the annual Bishop's golf tournament and parish building funds. I'd like to hear them speak about the evils of greed and the proper place of money and possessions in our American lives. I'd like to hear them teach our young who have no real family lives what they must do to evaluate a mate and to begin a family household. I'd like to hear them teach young people specifically how to resist the temptations that end up causing the out of wedlock pregnancies that cause so much angst. I'd like to hear them teach Natural Family Planning to the congregations at large and not just to high school seniors and those who actively seek the information out. I'd like to hear them talk about how we as stewards are responsible for keeping the planet God created clean and sustainable. Oh, I could go on and on about potential topics. But I know that we will never hear anything that would cause affluent people to squirm in their seats or zip up their wallets.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • refugeek

      I'm Catholic and K of C. Who is this "we" that provides misguided and offensive prayers?

      Killing unborn children sends their souls straight to heaven. Killing thousands of Iraqis (where are those WMDs?) consigns many of them to hell. Both are terrible – however spiritual death is infinitely worse than physical death.

      The Republicans are guilty of many forms of spiritual death – racism, bigotry, elitism, intolerance, social injustice, warmongering, paranoia, hatred. I voted Democrat – the lesser of two evils.

      At the end of the day, it's all about counting souls – who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell. Do the math.

      November 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  17. stan the man

    What do you expect from boy-buggering old men? The RC Church is the Western answer to Islamic extremism, with RATzinger being the most dangerous person on earth since Ghangis Khan.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  18. MIKE

    IF the rc church wants to be in the HEALTHCARE field, THEN they MUST go by the SAME RULES as ALL OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS. Period. Whether you like it or not, Birth Control and Abortions are BOTH LEGAL AND A PART OF HEALTH CARE!!!! IF this conflicts so badly with your Ideals, beliefs, and your conscience, then GET OUT OF THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.

    That being said, you HAVE NO RIGHT to restrict Birth Control for employees of WHATEVER business the church may own. It's the law. Follow it or pay the price like ANY OTHER Business.

    I, for one, would have NO problem exempting the churches (ALL OF THEM) from having to follow these LAWS IF and ONLY IF they were CHARITABLE clinics, hospitals, etc. Remember that word? Charity? The one that the church is ALWAYS preaching while their holding out THEIR OWN hands, yet seldom remember when it's time for the "charity" to go the other direction.

    On the other hand, If you refuse to follow the law, maybe you should just pack up all your churches and all your beliefs and LEAVE THE COUNTRY. Please take your Pedophiles with you when you go.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • beaglesr2cute

      IF the rc church wants to be in the HEALTHCARE field, THEN they MUST go by the SAME RULES as ALL OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS. Period. Whether you like it or not, Birth Control and Abortions are BOTH LEGAL AND A PART OF HEALTH CARE!!!! IF this conflicts so badly with your Ideals, beliefs, and your conscience, then GET OUT OF THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.

      That being said, you HAVE NO RIGHT to restrict Birth Control for employees of WHATEVER business the church may own. It's the law. Follow it or pay the price like ANY OTHER Business.

      I, for one, would have NO problem exempting the churches (ALL OF THEM) from having to follow these LAWS IF and ONLY IF they were CHARITABLE clinics, hospitals, etc. Remember that word? Charity? The one that the church is ALWAYS preaching while their holding out THEIR OWN hands, yet seldom remember when it's time for the "charity" to go the other direction.

      On the other hand, If you refuse to follow the law, maybe you should just pack up all your churches and all your beliefs and LEAVE THE COUNTRY. Please take your Pedophiles with you when you go.

      Thought you believed, Mike, in separation of Church and State and yet now all private hospitals must follow the law of the "State"? Look, there are other facilities where you can get your birth control, etc.. I am also certain you believe in freedom of choice, right???

      November 8, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  19. JFCanton

    I think there's a possibility that the "threats" against religious freedom were a feint to get better position going forward to 2016. I don't doubt that there are some fanatics in the Obama administration who want to force issues like abortion and contraception, but anyone seriously concerned about governing can't have that as their highest priority. Having such a large nominal membership, the CC has a trump card: they pull back the value that they add to social services through expertise and volunteers, and you've got yet another substantial hole in a budget that you already can't make. And possibly some ugly effects in the healthcare system, depending on the health of hospital finances, because so many of those are Catholic but serve non-Catholics.

    As a DEM strategist, I would have figured that in an election in which I will need to play to my left wing, devout Catholic votes are not a winning proposition anyway. So it wouldn't hurt to create a false crisis and come back after the election with a compromise that gets you more cooperation from them on the parts of your agenda on which they already agree with you.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  20. Rodents for Romney

    Authority ? What "authority" ? They lost THAT a LONG time ago.
    Sorry, there is no way the NCPP, (National Conference for Pedophile Protection) has ANY "authority".
    They got nothing to lose here.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Tim

      Yes...based on your reason they have lost authority pretty much covers every group put together imagineable. Teachers, police, politicians, boy scouts, doctors, ...LOL...name one that is clean...please! Hahahaha.

      November 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.