Monday, November 14, 2011

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet, and Michael Sean Winters Blogs

And as I blog about the way in which the top leaders of the Catholic church appear to many of us to be betraying the fundamental message of their church through their attitudes and behavior, I should note that anyone interested in following the day-to-day doings of one group of top leaders--the U.S. bishops--can find a valuable resource this week in Michael Sean Winters' blog at National Catholic Reporter.

Winters is live-blogging the bishops' doings at their annual USCCB meeting in Baltimore, which began today.  He informs readers in his opening posting of the series that we'll be treated today to the first presidential address by +Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the first address of the new papal nuncio ++Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, "who dined last night with all the U.S. cardinals and the officers of the conference."

And Winters already has a posting up reporting on +Dolan's first presidential address, whose theme is love: love for Jesus that must permeate our lives as Catholics.  Readers who expect that opening theme to be fleshed out with love-centered analysis of the current economic crisis now facing the nation may find themselves disappointed, however.  As Francis X. Doyle, former associate general secretary to the USCCB, reports in the Baltimore Sun today, economic justice isn't on the bishops' agenda.

What is on their love-centered agenda, instead, is a fight with the Obama administration over their "rights" and "religious freedom" as Catholic bishops to deny rights to gay citizens.  And their right to claim religious exemptions for Catholic organizations that do not wish to provide access to contraception in their health care plans (and see David Gibson's analysis here, with a h/t to Dennis Coday at NCR for providing links to these articles in his "Morning Briefing" column today).

It's all about love for us Catholics.  And it will be fascinating to discover how ignoring the plight of the poor while attacking gay people and trying to block women's access to contraception can be spun as loving behavior at this USCCB meeting and by the bishops' mouthpieces.  I think that, all things considered, the bishops might do themselves a huge p-r favor by releasing information about who dines with whom at this meeting and just keeping silent about how it's all about love, if this meeting unfolds as the bishop watchers are expecting it to unfold.

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