All Aboard?

Not every bishop agrees with the USCCB's religious-freedom strategy

There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation's Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church's public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Barack Obama, has had enough.

The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by forty-three Catholic organizations, including thirteen dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the administration requiring insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health-care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: That the vast majority of the nation's 195 dioceses did not go to court.

It turns out that many bishops, notably the church leadership in California, saw the litigation as premature. They are upset that the lawsuits were brought without a broader discussion among the entire membership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and wanted to delay action until the bishops' June meeting.

Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a "Fortnight for Freedom" campaign aimed at highlighting "threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad."

But in recent months, a series of events -- among them the Vatican's rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious encouraged by right-wing American bishops -- have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a "Catholic spring" to challenge the hierarchy's shift to the right.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, broke the silence on his side Tuesday in an interview with Kevin Clarke of the Jesuit magazine America. Blaire expressed concern that some groups "very far to the right" are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into "an anti-Obama campaign."

"I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into [a] political issue, and that's why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops," he said. "I think our rhetoric has to be that of bishops of the church who are seeking to be faithful to the Gospel, that our one concern is that we make sure the church is free to carry out her mission as given to her by Christ, and that remains our focus.” Clarke also paraphrased Blaire as believing that "the bishops lose their support when the conflict is seen as too political." 

Blaire's words were diplomatic. But in a letter to the bishops conference that has not been released publicly, lawyers for California's bishops said the lawsuits would be "imprudent" and "ill-advised." The letter was not answered by the national bishops' group before the suits were announced.

Already, there are reports that some bishops will play down or largely ignore the Fortnight for Freedom campaign, scheduled for June 21 to July 4, in their own dioceses. These bishops fear that it has become enmeshed in Republican election-year politics and see many of its chief promoters, notably Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, as too strident.

The irony in the current acrimony is that Catholics were broadly united last January across political lines in opposing the Department of Health and Human Services initial rules on contraception because they exempted only a narrow category of religious institutions from the mandate. 

Facing this challenge, the president fashioned a compromise under which employees of Catholic organizations such as hospitals and social-service agencies would still have access to contraceptive services but the religious entities would not have to pay for them. This compromise was accepted by most progressive Catholics, though many of them still favor rewriting the underlying regulations to acknowledge the religious character of the church's welfare and educational work.

But where the progressives favor pursuing further negotiations with the administration, the conservative bishops have acted as if it never made any concessions at all. Significantly, Blaire identified with the conciliatory approach. As Clarke wrote, "Bishop Blaire believes discussions with the Obama administration toward a resolution of the dispute could be fruitful even as alternative remedies are explored."

For too long, the Catholic Church's stance on public issues has been defined by the outspokenness of its most conservative bishops and the reticence of moderate and progressive prelates. Signs that this might finally be changing are encouraging for the church, and for American politics.

(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group


For more coverage of the contraception mandate, click here.

 

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In referring to signs he detects that more moderate and progressive bishops may be dissenting from the USCCB religious-freedom strategy, E.J. Dionne says:

"But where the progressives favor pursuing further negotiations with the administration, the conservative bishops have acted as if it never made any concessions at all. Significantly, Blaire identified with the conciliatory approach. As Clarke wrote, "Bishop Blaire believes discussions with the Obama administration toward a resolution of the dispute could be fruitful even as alternative remedies are explored."

It is my understanding that Obama Administration has closed the door to further discussions. If so, it would seem there is little or no room right now for discussion or exploring "alternative remedies." If not now, then when should the law suit have been filed? After the mandate is in effect and the alternatives are to pay $10,000 a day fines, close a ministry, or some other equally noxious option? I agree with Dionne that there may have been a better time (perhaps, as Bishop Blaire seems to have suggested, after the USCCB's next meeting) and the tone of the some bishops' remarks might lead to the perception that sides are being imprudently taken in a presidential race; however, the key point of the" definition of a Catholic Ministry" and who is to make that definition, to which Dionne seems to give great weight also, is the central point in this controversy, and, I believe, that needs to be addressed, and addressed forcefully and promptly. The lawsuit does this and, because so much is at stake for the Church, I think it is time for we moderate and liberal Catholics to stop quibbling about timing and tone, and get behind the bishops' leadership's efforts. If we allow the federal government to ignore hundreds of years of precedent in this country, and nearly two millenia overall, of what is the real ministry of the Church, and dictate a new definition, I believe the "clout" of the Church to influence the social and economic justice issues we moderates and liberals so rightly favor will also suffer gravely. All Catholics should view this fight as an institutional survival issue.

 

 

The Obama administration is nothing if not open to discussion.  They have taken any number of steps toward the middle in dealings with the Republicans and have been rebuffed or ignored every time.  They made such a step with the bishops -- and got a Republican-like response. 

The bishops do agree with the Democrats on the safety net issue.  Yet they continue to rail about the mandate and claim the administration is hanging tough.  Hanging tough?  Fiirst of all, they announced a one year period before it goes into effect.  This hardly sounds like a fiat or edict.  Then they bent the rule to be more accomodating. Cardinal Dolan is the only one I am aware of who said the administration has closed the door. 

Let us pray that the more calm, prayerful, humble and shepard-like bishops influence the tone of the discussion with the administration. Less and less do I recognize the church these days. It has locked itself into a power struggle, prematurely and most likely unnecesssarily.  It seems too ruffled to deliver Christ's message of peace and love and understanding, too ruffled to open up to discussion.        

It was the USCCB that closed the door on discussions....and then stomped around calling the President names to boot.  These particular bishops not only totally ignore the President's offer of a compromise when discussing their "religious liberty" complaints, they baldly claim the government is attacking THEIR rights as if it were forcing them personally to pay for contraceptives out of diocesan funds!   I don't know how many times I've had to explain to angry parishioners that dioceses, like churches and church schools, have been exempt from the mandate all along.

It is my understanding that the administration did not consult with the bishops when devising the first mandate, nor did they discuss the so-called "compromise" with them before imposing it. This does not seem like openness. the fact that the University of Notre Dame has joined the lawsuit gives me hope that the more liberal and moderate forces withing the Catholic community see the importance of challenging the government's attempt to define the ministry of the Church, which to me, is the key reason for the lawsuit.

 

This piece by E.J. Dionne is so full of spin, I'm not even going to bother commenting on it directly. Mr. Dionne is trying to exert control over the narrative using his substantial influence, but he's not going to succeed. Not surprising since he is probably working hand-in-hand with officials in the Obama Administration to manipulate Catholics into supporting the Administration's attack on Church institutions. More on that here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2012/02/10/obama-accommodation....

Beverly Bailey, the USCCB did not close the door to discussions. Please show me where the Obama Administration talked with the USCCB at all, let alone with any of the Bishops of the Catholic Church individually. The USCCB made repeated attempts to talk with the Administration, and these requests were never heeded. If I'm wrong, show me.

What did happen is a bunch of groups presumed to represent the Church (the CHA under Sr. Carol Keehan, notably) in the "discussions" with the Obama Administration concerning the contraception, sterilization, and abortion mandate of ObamaCare. All of these discussions were private and only sympathetic "Catholic" institutions and public opinion moulders were invited.

I take Jim Lein's closing comment to task: "Let us pray that the more calm, prayerful, humble and shepard-like bishops influence the tone of the discussion with the administration. Less and less do I recognize the church these days... It seems too ruffled to deliver Christ's message of peace and love and understanding, too ruffled to open up to discussion."

Oh, do stop, please. Do you know what a shepherd is, Mr. Lein? Part of being a shepherd is taking a club to the heads of wolves when they are attacking the flock. We need Bishops who will stand up against real injustice and immorality: actions taken by the civil authorities to force people and institutions to take part in evil. I am very proud of the united response of the Bishops in the United States. Unfortunately, a lawsuit is the only way to get this completely unjust, completely un-Constitutional mandate overturned, Bishop Stockton's reservations notwithstanding.

Finally, I appreciate Wayne Sheridan's comment. Thank you Wayne! But folks, stop applying political terms to "forces" within the Church, I beg of you! There are not liberal Catholics, progressive Catholics, conservative Catholics, etc. We're all members of the Body of Christ. But if you arrogantly dissent from the clear teachings of the Church, where is your heart? If you support political movements and ideals which can only harm the Church's mission to save souls for Christ, where is your heart? If you're labelling yourself as belonging to a faction within the Church, you are doing harm to yourself and to your fellow Catholics. Read St. Paul's letters. I don't even acknowledge people who call themselves conservatives or traditionalists, so I'm not just criticizing people who are more to the left in their political outlooks.

Peace be with you all, sincerely. I pray that gradually we will all be "one" again, as Our Lord talks about in today's Gospel (Jn 17:20-26).

John

In all this stew, has anyone asked about the rights of NON Catholics to exercise their consciences even if that runs athwart the rights of the bishops?

The Catholic Church is in grave danger of dying out because it is as instrument of oppression. To survive, it needs to modernize, i.e. to allow for the ordination of women, optional celibacy, birth control, marriage for priests, the embracing of divorced Catholics who wish to come to the Table. On these issues the leadership is wrong and people know it. I'm grateful that some bishops are hesitant to support the lawsuit, politically charged approach to dealing with differences with the federal government. It gives me hope.

Has anyone notices that "Patheos" and "pathetic" are very close to each other?

What is so difficult to understand: Holy Mother Church has outlived Rome and every empire for thousands of years-Because she is right. It is not "politics", but charity for all. If you do not agree, pray. But stop being ignorant and spreading error. May Mary guide and protect us.  Ora pro nobis!

for John; the nature of "one in Christ", having just read the gospel verses, doesn't suggest we will be indistinguishable.   we are all unique individuals, made in the divine  "image".  in that sense, only the divine knows the boundaries of that unity. so, .... please don't tell me i can't be a "liberal" catholic.   especially at a time when the bishop'a aren't even conservative.

Thank you Mr. Dionne. It was refreshing to hear that not all the USCCB members are marching in step with their  conservative leaders. I recently posted a blog on my website that focuses on the abuse of the power of the political pulpit. I believe that the campaign that the USCCB has mounted is tantamount to declaring war on the Obama adminsistration and puts the Conferences in danger of losing their tax exempt status with the IRS. I hope the dissenting bishops can get more press to counter what I believe is the church crossing the line from advocating for policy to supporting a political party.

http://responsiblefaith.com/about/blog/onward-christian-soldiers-marching-as-to-war/

The Catholic Church will not die out, even if some American Bishops want to turn it into a politidal club.  

 

Our  faith in the Holy Spirit will not be misplaced.  The Spirit´s  light will shine where emotional discussions and right and left leaning spirits  might have yielded to the temptation to  sow darkness.  

 

In the meantime, I have, and so adivsed my extensive network of somewhat influential friends and relatives, suspended all my donations and support to the U.S. Catholic Church  until it returns to its pastoral duties and reject political temptations.  We are all humans, we all fail at one time or another.  But bounce back and correct our errors we must.

 My support has shifted to other countries where the hierarchy is more attuned to our pastoral responsibilites and less alligned with the owners of their countries.  Where abortion ranks as high in their teachings and concerns as infant  mortality (appallingly high in the U.S.).  And apparently, treat women like equals and not like, as I was told recently, abject afterthoughts.

Let's hope that what Mr Dionne reports spreads.  I disagreed strongly with the first iteration of the HHS policy, and as time has gone by it seems that it was not a fully considered decision on the part of the Obama Administration.  They need to be offered a way to climb down from that position, but this sort of nuance seems not to be part of the modus operandi in the bishops' leadership.  Fighting over birth control is a no win issue.  As someone said in a recent article in America, the bishops shouldn't expect the Government to make people do what the bishops haven't their people about.  Abortifacient pills and sterilization are a different matter. 

Those few "liberal or moderate" bishops we have left are now paying the price for electing Card. Dolan as president of the USCCB over his heir-apparent competition.  They should have refused to "get on board" back then.  Now, they're in for a long, long ride between stations, I fear.  Or, maybe they can craft some innovative solution.  One hopes so.

It wasn't until the 60's that the Church in MA (and I think CT, though I'm not sure) gave up the struggle to maintain laws that made the selling of contraceptives illegal.  Having first opposed the relaxation of those laws, Cardinal Cushing eventually kept silent, recognizing that the laws (originally put into place by Protestants not Catholics) were no longer acceptable in a pluralistic society.  No Catholic is being forced to purchase artificial contraception for themselves or for anyone else.  Karen (above) is absolutely correct, the rights of non-Catholic women working for Catholic institutions to be covered for contraception should be incontrovertable.  The effort to undermine the mandate - which is the only way the health care reform law will work - because of opposition to policies covering birth control is blatantly political.  Thanks, E.J., I was unaware of this development among the bishops.  It gives me hope.  Even in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, "One flower doth not a summer make." Let us all hope and pray that other bishops will have the intestinal fortitude to speak up. We can still have unity without uniformity! Let those who are not bucking for higher office be heard.

Has anyone seen the video that is an ad by the Catholic Church? I have gotten it via email. It is definitely powerful and well done, especially if you are trying to scare people into doing what you want. Can someone tell me if this is really done by the Church?   I pray it is not.

Wayne Sheridan:  "It is my understanding that the administration did not consult with the bishops when devising the first mandate, nor did they discuss the so-called "compromise" with them before imposing it. This does not seem like openness. the fact that the University of Notre Dame has joined the lawsuit gives me hope that the more liberal and moderate forces withing the Catholic community see the importance of challenging the government's attempt to define the ministry of the Church, which to me, is the key reason for the lawsuit."

The Health and Human Services administration apparently did not consult with the USCCB before initially deciding not to exempt most church-affiliated agencies from the mandate, which was a mistake, but certainly not an unprecedented one in US history.  Religious exemption status is not governed by hard and fast rules.  And initially virtually all the "liberal and moderate forces" you mention -- including E.J. Dionne -- came to the defense of the USCCB's protests over this.   

HOWEVER, once the President got involved and came up with his compromise proposal, the bishops lost credibility with those initially on board with them because of their virtually instantaneous hostility and obvious partisan posturing, which was taken up immediately by Republicans in Congress.  How did that come to pass so suddently?  The whole thing certainly came as a shock to me; I can only guess how the President felt. 

As for whether or not the President should have "negotiated" with the bishops privately before announcing his compromise, according to reports, he did try to talk with the leader of the USCCB, Cardinal Dolan, by phone, but apparently the Cardinal was miffed that a mere nun, the head of one of the institutions affected, the Catholic Hospital Association, had been in on the talks at the White House.  She just happened to be one of the major Catholic health care leaders who had helped the President pass his health care bill to begin with, which had led some commentators to note that he "owed her" better treatment than to leave her out of the loop on this.  So he didn't, but in including her even before he called Dolan, apparently put him in the dog house with the Cardinal.  Too bad, but I'd certianly hope such a faux pas wouldn't be what's caused all the hostility and angry rhetoric about government "attacking religious liberty" we've heard ever since.   It's long past time the USCCB cut that out and got down to serious negotiating.

Sandra's posting above, mentioned a video ad by the Catholic Church.  I think she's speaking of Test of Fire. I have the ad below. But first here is a list of some of the other ads the same Company that produced the "Catholic" ad credit for:   1) Obama Admits He is a Muslim;  2) 53 Seconds that Should End a Presidency, which is a series of snippets of President Obama struggling with getting the right words out in a number of unrelated interviews; 3) Confirmed: Obama’s Birth Certificate Not Confirmed (2012). So, now that you have an idea of the type of the commercials they produce, here’s the commercial created for the USCCBs’ campaign, titled Test of Fire: Election 2012 (Catholic Version).  But before you view it let me give you a synopsis of the plot.

The setting is a blacksmith’s shop. The room is dark and dismal. The only light is from the flickering fire in the hearth that the smithy is using to forge metal letters, which eventually will become three key words: MARRIAGE—LIFE—FREEDOM! The whole scene and background music create a spooky setting.As the screens scroll on, each scene has a different message. One of the first messages is:“This November—Catholics across the nation will be put to the test…Catholics across the nation—will have an opportunity to share the future—for our generation and generations to come…”Skipping to the end of the commercial. At this point the screen shows a women coming out of a voting booth, she looks rather downcast the text continues“…Your vote will affect the future and will be recorded in eternity!” Recorded in eternity! Shades of fire and brimstones!  I leave it to you to make a jugment of the tone of the ad.

Thank you Dr. Fausel for your response as well as your comment earlier.  The comment that came with the email was...between the Catholic Church and the Koch brothers, we will get Obama. Surely the Church knows the dangerous ground they are on, not only politically but forever hurting loyal Catholics.

like louis p font, the first conscientous objecter graduate of the usma (west point), my objections with the catholic hierarchy stem, not from it's detractors, but it's supporters.

Where were the Bishops when Bush announced the second Gulf War?  Where have they been when the Republicans have threatened to further disempower the poor by privatizing social security and Medicare, defund Medicaid, protect the very wealthy from paying more taxes even if it costs the middle class undue hardships?  The American bishops seem less and less Christlike and more and more Pharisaic these days.  If less self-Rightgeous bishops don't start to take a stand, we'll look more like the church of the Inquisition and the Crusades than of the Apostles and Martyrs.

Corrected Copy

Wiliam Daley arranged for Cardinal Dolan to have a private meeting with Obama who. according to published reports, agreed to consider and confer with the Cardinal on the proposed mandate. However the Cardinal and the Church were shut out of all discussions and the proposed rule was issued by the HHS Department with no input from the Cardinal,the Bishops or the Church's representatives. After several Cardinals and the Bishops raised objections Obama issued an accommodation, not a compromise, as it was a unilateral declaration with no Catholic Church or other religions input. Despite the liberal media and the liberal Catholics rush to accept the 'accommodation' which again unilaterally redefined the role of religious groups, the original rule or mandate is now the law of the land. All Catholic and other religious religious hospitals, charities, schools et al are facing the immanent implementation required by the legal mandate or suffer huge fines or shut their doors as several Catholic adoption agencies have done for refusing to bow under liberal secular laws.Jesus Christ was tempted three times by the devil and each time refused to negotiate with the devil, a lesson Mr.Dionne and his liberal "catholic" followers should follow the next time Obama holds out an apple of compromise or accommodation.

I have to agree very strongly with E. Patrick Mosman that the real core of the danger in the Administration's actions is the arbitrary redefintion of a a relgious group, or religions ministry, contrary to almost 200 years of tradition in this country and millenia elsewhere. I have always considered my self a liberal Catholic. Now, I cannot understand why so many fellow Catholics of similar convictions do not see the obvious danger to advancing Catholic Christian positions, on any issue, including the Peace and Justice issues we so treasure, if the Administration is allowed to act so arbitrarily without a strong and vigorous challenge. I think all Catholics, and maybe especially those who are more liberal, will deeply regret that we all did not stand behind Cardinal Dolan and the USCCB on this particular issue.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Oh Please Dear Lord get me a new butler! Oh how long must the true Body of Christ suffer the lashes of the Roman whip? Once again I repeat. Only the poor among the employees of Catholic institutions in the United States will continue to suffer under the Roman anti contracepive health care mandate. No one is mandated under Obama Care to buy, take or use contraceptives. The whole thing is this simple. All else on this subject is pure unadulterated bull, or is that a Papal Bull? 

"For too long, the Catholic Church's stance on public issues has been defined by the outspokenness of its most conservative bishops and the reticence of moderate and progressive prelates. Signs that this might finally be changing are encouraging for the church, and for American politics." Yep no truer words were spoken, let's hear it from the Catholic liberals!!

“This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”

 

Yes, exactly, then why is religion getting involved in an American issue?  Separation of Church and State mandates this, so why are the Bishops getting bent out of shape over an American secular issue? Why are men getting involved in women’s bodies once again?  Within the context  of all this hullabaloo are there ever any women’s voices heard at all?  Where are the ethics and morals of allowing women to make their own choices for their own private reasons?  Where’s the privacy in this?  This appears as if men are the only decision makers when it comes to making children and making policy.  Are you men in this alone or does any woman have any authority to speak at all?  Has the other half of humanity been heard at all, been given a voice in this debate at all? It seems here that there is no record of women discussing this and making it public, well, perhaps it is about time.

I’d like to start off citing this article a couple months ago that appeared in Commonweal:

Jacques Maritain said in:On Good Authority? Jacques Maritain & ‘Humanae Vitae’ by Bernard Doering, “Though the discussions of this commission were kept under strict secrecy, many prominent Catholic intellectuals, both laymen and clergy, were keenly interested in its workings. One such layman was Jacques Maritain, the philosopher and convert to Catholicism who, at the close of Vatican II, had received from Pope Paul VI the council’s message to the intellectuals of the world; and one such cleric was Cardinal Charles Journet, theologian of the papal household and adviser to Paul VI. Maritain and Journet were longtime friends—the former had chosen the latter as his “confidant-théologien” [Confidant théologien? or théologien confidant?—there is a difference]  or  years before—and from their first meeting in 1920 until Maritain’s death in 1973, they exchanged 1,774 letters. Publication of this prodigious correspondence was completed in 2008 with the appearance of a sixth and final volume.

As readers of these letters will discover, decades before Humanae vitae Maritain and Journet were already taking up the church’s position on contraception, especially in response to the 1930 encyclical Casti connubii and its interdiction of all forms of birth control other than the “natural” rhythm method. In the face of pressure from Roman authorities and local ecclesiastical superiors—there was discussion in the curia of placing some of Maritain’s books on the Index, and Journet risked being relieved of his position as professor of theology at the seminary in Fribourg—neither man dared to go public with his reservations, and after the 1940s there followed a long silence on the subject.

 

“Then Maritain, during his 1958 stay at Princeton University, once again broached it. Discussing the recently invented birth control pill, he invoked a distinction between the finis operis (the intrinsic end or purpose of an act) and the finis operantis (the end or purpose of the actor). In the former case, Maritain felt it was easy to distinguish between what is natural and what is against nature (sexual intercourse was teleologically ordered to procreation), while in the latter, a distinction between the use of the rhythm method and the use of the pill struck him as “vain and futile.” “I have met young Catholic professors who already have seven or eight children and for whom the problem of additional births would be tragic,” he wrote to Journet. “Has the church made a pronouncement on the subject of these pills? Would their use be licit while waiting for the church to make such a pronouncement?” In reply, Journet sent a copy of a papal document forbidding the use of pills for the limitation of births, and remarked: “I too would hope that their use be permitted: I find your distinction well founded. Alas I see the opinion of the moralists running in the opposite direction.” He went on to speculate whether using the pill to “regularize” ovulation and thus maximize the effectiveness of the rhythm method might be “legitimate and in conformity with nature.”

 

Ah, a smoking gun here.  Reservations even back in the 30’s and 40’s.  So the question here is this a political move by the USCCB to discredit Obama since we are close to reelection or is this about access or non-access, payment or non-payment of contraceptives by Catholic organizations? 

So let me ask another stupid question here, they say natural means of contraception which can be interpreted as being God-mandated, but did not God grace the scientists with the development of the 'pill' in the first place?  So is it reasonable to say that the 'pill' is a natural means of birthcontrol, just more evolved and sophiticated because it is of  God anyway?

 

Can we reopen the debate perhaps about whether the rhythm method can be morally and ethically equated with the ‘pill’ and other forms of birth control and if families, single pregnant young teen mothers or human-trafficked women find themselves unable to support a child for whatever are the reasons; is not the ethical and responsible thing to do, but to limit births?

 

Whenever this subject is up for debate, adult women’s voices seem to be sorely missing.  Have any of the Bishops ever faced a dilemma of being jobless, with no family support, no home, yet pregnant and as the mother, still a child herself, with no place to turn and no knowledge of where to go for help?  Have they?  Not likely, but I ask what would they do in this situation?  It is so easy to speak when you have all the resources in the world at your feet.  Most women have none and if carried to term risk so much if they are already poor, which most are.  I ask the bishops to walk in the moccasins of women for a bit and visualize this as a real situation; then I would ask them to reflect on the poverty of women worldwide who have no alternatives and raise children as the poorest of the poor.  Where is the ethical idea of contraception in this picture?  Women need to know they have options that can help them get out of poverty, not be stuck in it.  That is what a compassionate, loving Church would do; that’s what Christ would do and that question and answer should weigh in here somewhere.  Where is the love in this? 

 Fortnight of Freedom, is it right?  Is it needed or just another smokescreen?

 

 E.J. Dionne wrote: "But in recent months, a series of events -- among them the Vatican's rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious encouraged by right-wing American bishops -- have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a "Catholic spring" to challenge the hierarchy's shift to the right."

Pope Benedict XVI, who as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger curried the favor of Pope John Paul II -- serving as the enforcer of his ultraconservative agenda. Now he is apparently relying on the historic Eurocentric power of the papacy to continue an audacious effort to undo the work of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). In the process he is executing a corporate-like takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as well as the undermining of the remnants of the Vatican II oriented American Catholic Church. This Roman effort is aided and abetted by sycophants in the American right-wing hierarchy who have been appointed to execute the takeover and undermining efforts. Intimidation of  those who question and/or oppose these efforts is the modus operandi for this nasty business.  Members of the LCWR should continue to seek and abide by God's will -- working to survive and keep on doing what God wants -- this rather than submit to the unjustifiable anti-Vatican II demands of an ill-advised papacy that has lost credibility.in its efforts to return to pre-Vatican II times with its medieval, male-dominated authoritarian governance. With the rich history of their women religious predecessors and the fervent support of the laity behind them, the nun's servant-leadership should prevail in the end -- after all, this is not 1431. It's truly time to heed John XXIII's call to “…reestablish the principle of shared authority with all the church's members…in the biblical phrase `People of God’—a community of believers moving forward with humanity…” -- a "Catholic spring"  if you will. 

"With the rich history of their women religious predecessors and the fervent support of the laity behind them, the nun's servant-leadership should prevail in the end -- after all, this is not 1431." So what's with the 1431?

 

Nineteen year old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 -- after being condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress in a trial by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized St. Joan of Arc in 1920, by Pope Benedict XV.

 

With reference to my May 7 comment on the May 1, 2012, Editorial," Rome & Women Religious," <http://commonwealmagazine.org/rome-women-religious?page=2>, I found it ironic that the feast day of St. Joan of Arc falls on May 30 – during the May 29 - June 1, 2012 time period when LCWR’s national board was to begin its discussion of the conclusions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s doctrinal assessment and the implementation plan put forth by that Vatican office.

Dear USCCB:

While some of you may attempt to silence many of your sheeple, some of us can, do, and will continue to read and will simply act as if we are deaf in your presence.

Additionally, given that power is a function of wealth, some of us will also withhold or redirect our offerings to those who will use it in a manner which is more in line with the true light of the gosple. Paying attorneys fees to support arrogant law suits are not in line with my personal understanding of the gosple.

I hope you have a good and productive conference.

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About the Author

E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist, professor of government at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury Press).