Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are our bishops all Republicans?!

From Catholic Culture:

By Phil Lawler | November 12, 2009 1:14 PM

On the Commentary blog, Eduardo Peñlaver reports that he is uncomfortable with Bishop Tobin's public denunciation of Patrick Kennedy.

Bishop Tobin’s attitude towards being Catholic — accept teachings X, Y, and Z, or go to another institution that does not affirm them — strikes me as nothing if not supremely un-Catholic in its ethos.

Peñlaver's argument is profoundly confused, I think. But it is not an unusual one; you'll find roughly the same reasoning put forward by many other liberal Catholics. And Peñlaver is not an unintelligent observer of political affairs. So the following line caught me broadside:

We on the Catholic left need to face the fact that the Church’s hierarchy simply feels much more comfortable with the political agenda of the Republican Party than it does with that of the Democrats.

Doesn't that sound familiar? Readers on the Catholic Culture site frequently complain-- with very good reason-- that the US bishops seem to be wedded to the Democratic Party agenda. How can intelligent people have such widely divergent perceptions?

Apart from dignity-of-life issues, the American bishops do not side with Republicans on a single major political issue. Whether the issue is capital-gains taxation, welfare spending, foreign aid, climate change, immigration, gun control, or (lest we forget) health-care reform, most bishops seem clearly to disagree with most Republicans. It's only on the life issues: abortion, embryo research, marriage, and homosexuality, that Catholic bishops and Republic loyalists find common ground. Since Republicans (especially those of the "big tent" persuasion) regularly downplay those issues, it's downright absurd to think that the bishops are reflexively supporting the Republicans.

So why does any intelligent commentator feel that way? Because the quest for legal abortion on demand has become so tightly woven into the Democratic Party agenda that anyone who opposes abortion becomes a threat to the Democrats. A threat to Democratic hegemony is presumed to be a Republican, and someone who threatens the Democrats at every turn-- that is, whenever they promote the culture of death, which is nearly every day-- is perceived as a stalwart Republican.

The fundamental point is not that the US bishops have adopted a partisan approach, but that the Democratic Party has become institutionally committed to policies that are irreconcilable with the Catholic faith. In fact for years the bishops have done their utmost to retain their friendly ties with the Democrats, who have traditionally held the sympathies of Catholic constituencies. It's become nearly impossible.

No comments: