Baltimore, Nov 9, 2008 / 11:08 pm (CNA).- Since the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States, several Catholic commentators have speculated on how the original agenda of the annual Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will change.
According to bishops involved in the organization of the three-day meeting, which starts this Monday, the agenda, including a public discussion of abortion and politics, is fully on track.
Speculation that the agenda might change came late last week when several prominent Catholic commentators argued that the bishops had "lost authority" by speaking out strongly against Catholics voting for pro-abortion politicians, like Sen. Barack Obama and other mostly Democratic candidates, who were elected to office last Tuesday.
On Friday, Religion News Service reported that the USCCB “has scuttled plans to discuss abortion and politics next week in Baltimore,” citing the bishops’ spokeswoman, Sister Mary Ann Walsh. RNS also quoted Sister Walsh saying that the agenda had yet to be finalized.
Moreover, according to the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen Jr., “some analysts, especially those of a more liberal bent, are spinning the election of Barak Obama as a ‘repudiation’ of what they see as an overly strident and partisan tone from the bishops, especially on abortion. A few ardently pro-life Catholics, meanwhile, actually believe that what they call ‘silence and treachery’ from the bishops on abortion helped pave the way for Obama’s success.”
On Friday, Peter Steinfels argued in his regular New York Times column that "anyone constructing a list of the big losers on Tuesday would probably include the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops."
No the "big losers" were not the bishops, it was the unborn. But since Steifel’s definition of being a big loser is that people did not listen to the bishops who spoke out then by that definition Steinfells and like-minded types are also big losers since nobody listens to them on all of their progressive ideas for the Church.
A similar suggestion was made by Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. of Georgetown University in an article published by the Dallas Morning News on Sunday.
Quoting the same figure of nominal Catholics voting for Obama, Reese said that “Episcopal authority took a major hit during the election,” and argued that “(the) division between the vocal, partisan bishops and the silent, nonpartisan bishops will be a major issue at the Baltimore meeting.”
I knew that just as soon as the election was over that progressive Catholics would be taking just this exact tack. That the bishop’s authority had taken a hit. This is laugh out funny coming from those whose idea of authority is what issues from their own lips. You have to preach the truth in season or out of season. You have to preach the truth even if you do not persuade everybody. You preach the truth simply because it is the truth. But for progressive Catholics preaching the truth to prevent the murder of innocents results in being a "big loser" and "taking a hit." I guess the martyrs all got it wrong.
Fr. Reese’s idea of partisan is only political, but the word means "a strong supporter of a party, cause, or person." The "cause" here was for the unborn. Remaining silent in defending life is not something to be proud about. If you are nonpartisan when it comes to defending life you are one of those who allow evil to exist by doing nothing.
Even though a sizable number of Bishops to their credit did speak up, there was never a chance that they were going to have a sizable influence. A bishop’s letter or homily goes up against the 24/7 culture of death and often minions of the culture of death exist right within the diocese to make sure any strong pro-life messages from their ordinary are promptly doused with water.
After reading Steinfels and Reese here is a palate cleanser at the end of the article.
Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, also offered a different vision on how to interpret the current circumstances from a Catholic perspective.
“In our present political climate it would be very easy to somehow link our courage and hopefulness to the outcome of political endeavors. It would be easy to position our hope in some kind of political strategy and call for greater courage in fostering that particular strategy.”
“The fact that whatever kind of kingdom we manage to build here will always be an imperfect kingdom helps us keep our focus on that in which and for which we ultimately hope, a kingdom of God in eternity,” he said. [article]