Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More on Catholic Bishops (and Catholic Social Teaching) as Yesterday's Losers: Eduardo Peñalver at Commonweal

Eduardo Peñalver writes at Commonweal about the Catholic bishops as the big losers of last night's election results:

It seems to me that, besides Mitt Romney and the tea party right, two of the biggest losers in tonight’s election are the conservative Catholic hierarchy and Catholic Social Teaching.  The Catholic hierarchy has made its hostility to the Obama administration plain from the beginning.  From the bishops’ inflexible opposition to the Affordable Care Act, to the decision to file dozens of lawsuits in an election year against a rule the administration had already promised to change, to the several high profile partisan statements by bishops across the country, there can be no question that the Catholic bishops decided this year to cast their lot with a single party in a way that is genuinely new (at least in my lifetime).  This shift is based on the belief that opposition to same sex marriage and legal abortion trump everything else — inequality, tax justice, immigrant bashing, and even coded appeals to racism.  On issues related to sexuality and abortion, it’s their way or the highway.  On all other issues, literally anything goes, as long as you mouth some tired aphorisms about wealth trickling down or rising tides lifting all boats.  The bishops’ claims to be above the partisan fray are increasingly impossible to believe.   
The consequences for the Catholic hieararchy seem clear enough.  Romney came much closer to winning than seemed likely in mid-September.  The bishops’ gambit almost worked.  Had Romney won, they would have had access to the highest levels of government.  But he fell short.  And now the hierarchy finds itself identified more closely than ever with a single party in the United States, a party that is on the wrong side of inexorable demographic change.  The result will be diminished influence for the Church in American politics and greater hostility towards requests for accommodation from the Democrats in power.

He also argues that Catholic social teaching was the big loser in yesterday's elections, for the following reason:  "In support of their losing effort, numerous bishops said things that make it perfectly clear that, in their opinion, Catholic social teachings have little to contribute to our political deliberations when abortion and gay marriage are at stake."

And I think he's right about that.  The bishops have decisively played their hand, and in doing so, have revealed in a dramatic way what many of us with eyes in our heads have long since seen: they not only do not promote Catholic social teaching in the American political context, they are actively hostile to it.

And their anti-abortion crusade and anti-gay crusade are both shams, theater being enacted to please the bishops' super-rich handlers, for whom muzzling the voice of Catholic leaders who promote Catholic social teaching is a preeminent objective.  

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