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Archbishop Myers on voting, duty and dishonesty

Tom Moran, a veteran New Jersey political columnist, wrote today on what he said is Archbishop John Myers' politicking for the Republican presidential ticket. He opened his column in the Newark Star-Ledger by telling of his upbringing in a Catholic family of nine children and how he, like many other Catholics, drifted away from the church:

So if I am a refugee, I am walking on a road that is crowded with others who feel the same way.Which brings us to my recent conversation with Newark Archbishop John Myers, and his attempt to sway the election to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.He didnt say that, of course. But he wrote a letter last week saying Catholics have a "duty" to cast their vote based on opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

The quote Moran refers to, contained in a pastoral letter on marriage that Myers released, is: "We must exercise our right to vote in defense of marriage and life. This is our duty as citizens and believers." In an editorial, the Star-Ledger said Myers maintains it was a coincidence that the pastoral letter was issued at this point in the election season. The paper disagreed, saying that "to issue a pastoral letter such as this, at this time, is clearly intended to influence the vote of New Jerseys more than 1 million Catholics. It may not be an explicit endorsement of Romney, but Myers meaning cannot be missed."

It's reasonable and necessary for an archbishop to explain the church's position on marriage and the family. In fact, I think church authorities have stumbled on that somewhat. But Archbishop Myers had to know that reporters would zero in on his reference to the "duty" of Catholic voters in a document issued at the height of the presidential race. For my own part, the most eye-catching passage in the pastoral letter states that if Catholics are "unable to assent to or live the Church's teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity; to continue to receive Holy Communion while so dissenting would be objectively dishonest."Especially since we are in the midst of a heated and divisive political campaign, this passage serves as an invitation for Catholics to follow Tom Moran's path out the door. This evidently was not lost on the Episcopal Church's bishop of Newark, who responded in an op-ed article: "My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state including 42 percent of children in Newark living below the federal poverty level. ... Let us use the reach and blessing of our religious traditions to help all families and children flourish housed, clothed, fed and healthy."

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This is not the first time but one of many elections in the past decade where the bishops have blatantly attempted to influence the elections. The difference is that the media is calling the bishops on it. It seems only the loss or serious threat of their tax exemption will stop this obvious electioneering. Above all it brings further disgrace to the bishops and further polarizes too many who are out of control already.

What has happened to conscience and the logic of philosophy and theology among American bishops?At least five of them attended some of the same seminaries near the same time I attended them in St. Louis and we were taught better than to say the sort of things John Myers has published. [1] Civil laws regarding marriage are completely separate from matters of faith and morals. [2] Catholics are required to consult the teachings of the magisteria, both bishops and theologians according to Thomas Aquinas, but must form their own consciences, even if in disagreement with bishops, as Aquinas himself did. [3] Political decisions are prudential decisions in which those who agree with the ends may disagree about and work through different means. Bishops are invited to respond in a logical manner to these points, if they can find a way to discuss rather than dictate.Tom in U City, M.A.P.S.StL Prep Seminary and CGC 1961-68

If I remember, AB Myers is an Opus Dei hierarch. So the good AB "maintains it was a coincidence that [his] pastoral letter was issued at this point in the election season."Bull.I've pretty much concluded it might be good for Uncle Sam to abolish current restrictions imposed on partisan political involvement by tax-exempt organizations. If the hierarchs are having trouble getting their "flocks" to pony up with weekend contributions, one might wonder how much *more* money would be lost when even the pew dwellers get fed up hearing their pastors tell folks for whom to vote.AND TO MY FELLOW CATHOLICS STILL TOSSING THEIR SHEKELS INTO PARISH COLLECTION PLATES:No matter where you live, you enable this kind of paternalistic episcopal behavior wherever it occurs in the USA. Bishops will continue to behave like Myers, Finn (still in office, notwithstanding the fact he is a convicted criminal!!!), ad nauseum as long as they continue to get a financial "vote of confidence" from laity reluctant to withhold funding for whatever reason.Go to church, if you will, but stop the money. Stop the enabling.

The Celibates Campaign for Marriage is a two-edged sword. One edge is further destroying the bishops' shattered credibility through its omissions, exaggerations, and misrepresentation while the other reinforces the convictions of those already committed to or maybe leaning toward favoring same-sex marriage. Myers mention of dishonesty is germane. It comes to mind with his claim of pure coincidence in the timing of his letter. It comes to mind when Bp. Paprocki insists: " My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but ". (Paprocki then notes that you are morally complicit and risk the eternal salvation of your soul if you vote other than the way he has proven to be the only acceptable way. ) http://ct.dio.org/bishops-column/59-think-and-pray-about-your-vote-in-up... One question arising is which Catholics are paying for the campaign Myers, Paprocki, Lori, Sartain, et al. are carrying on. In a similar situation in 2009, Bishop Malone of Portland, ME sent a request to other bishops for funds to help counter a Maine law on same-sex marriage that had been passed and signed. Reportedly, 50 dioceses responded with contributions according to state records. Are out-of-state Catholics unknowingly, and perhaps unwillingly, supporting these bishops in their current political efforts, thinking that their contributions in their own dioceses had been for the customary Catholic causes their bishop had asked them to support? http://ncronline.org/news/politics/dioceses-major-contributors-repeal-sa...

Is the the "New Evangelization" - the new way to preach the Gospel and facilitate conversion?

The Episcopal Church bishops seems not to realize that metaphysical threats to dogma are taken far more seriously than temporary threats to human welfare in our RC tradition.The trouble with the anti-samesexmarriage rhetoric is that it has no solid arguments. The French bishops have now issued an 8 page documents that claims to be open to dialogue and based on consultation, but with the foregone conclusion that samesexmarriage is a Bad Thing, though piggybacking on that No is an unprecedented level of understanding for samesex couples.Perhaps the millennial plague of homophobia can be reversed only when the churches celebrate sacramental samesex marriage (as is effectively happening in some Christian churches).

I ask this in all seriousness: when is the time when a bishop can publicly teach what the church teaches, on matters with political ramifications, without it being considered politicking?For example: the election this year is November 2nd. Would, say, June 2nd be early enough to not cross the line into politicking? But wait: New Jersey's primary took place in early June. Let's push it back three more months, to March 2nd. But that was the thick of the Republican debate season. There is no time when politics isn't going on. Should the church just shut up about matters of political import, and no longer speak up about war and peace, or poverty, or immigration?

My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty, which has left more than 295,000 children in our state including 42 percent of children in Newark living below the federal poverty level. Let us use the reach and blessing of our religious traditions to help all families and children flourish housed, clothed, fed and healthy.How is this any different in kind than what Archbishop Myers wrote?

How is this any different in kind than what Archbishop Myers wrote?The most important difference is that those preoccupations mirror the ones of Jesus in the gospels.

Jim,There is a difference between emphasizing a set of values and concerns that Catholics should keep in mind as they weigh their choices and asserting that Catholics have a duty to vote based on a short list of positions. The quoted passage raises the issue of childhood poverty without taking a position about the best policy is or demanding that this issue trump all others. Voters are left to decide for themselves which candidates have the better solution and how that should affect whom to vote for.

Article in today's NYT - In Brooklyn, Lopez's Ties to Bishop Seem Frayed. Sorry, don't know how to do the link. One point in the article: Bishop DiNarzio made political robocalls to voters in support of a city council candidate!

"The most important difference is that those preoccupations mirror the ones of Jesus in the gospels."Jesus also had pointed things to say about marriage - cf this coming Sunday's Gospel.

"There is a difference between emphasizing a set of values and concerns that Catholics should keep in mind as they weigh their choices and asserting that Catholics have a duty to vote based on a short list of positions. "Hi, Cupcake, two points: (1) the Episcopalian quote doesn't seem any more politically neutral than Myers' statement; note that he (she?) writes, "My hope and prayer is that we can move beyond arguments about unfounded threats to the flourishing of families and focus our attention on the real threats, such as the rising tide of unemployment and poverty ..." That is as much as to say, "My pet issues are more important than his pet issues!"(2) Are you familiar with the US bishops' document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship"? The Catholic bishops make the connection in that document between possessing a set of values and concerns, and the responsibility of Catholics to vote according to those values and concerns.I expect that Archbishop Myers is genuinely concerned about unemployment and poverty, and that he puts his money where his mouth is on those issues by seeing to it that the Newark Archdiocese supports programs to alleviate unemployment and poverty. But all of that, as good as it is, doesn't absolve Myers from also teaching about marriage and family. Bishops need to teach on all of those issues and many others besides.

"The most important difference is that those preoccupations mirror the ones of Jesus in the gospels."Wow, what un unbelievably arrogant statement.

Ok Carlo, it was not a good statement. Without time to phrase an argument that would have had that assertion as a conclusion, I should have bitten my tongue. It lowered the level of the discussion. Remark, though, that Jim didn't take offense: he and I disagree on almost everything, but he's always a good sport.