From Bishop Wilton Gregory’s November 11 presidential address to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: "There are those outside the church who are hostile to the very principles and teachings that the church espouses, and have chosen this moment to advance the acceptance of practices and ways of life that the church cannot and will never condone. Sadly, even among the baptized, there are those at extremes within the church who have chosen to exploit the vulnerability of the bishops in this moment to advance their own agendas."
Two days later, on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Bishop Gregory was given an opportunity to clarify whom he was talking about: "I purposely referred to individuals. I did not make any reference to any groups of individuals; groups are too large. They involve many, many different types of people with many different opinions. I was referring to those Catholics who have long sought to promote abortion or arrangements that they are describing as family but are...alternatives to the traditional family or families." Like same-sex couples? "Yes, absolutely—and ordination of women."
Perhaps the bishops would be less "vulnerable" to "exploitation" if they avoided the easy conflation of abortion, same-sex unions, and women’s ordination—not the triumvirate of heterodoxy that Gregory suggests, but discrete and important issues. They should be treated as such.