Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Response to the Huff Post - Catholic Bishops Support Republicans

The Huff Post has an article up by Fred Rotondaro called  Catholic Bishops Support Republicans . I think there are lot of things wrong with this article. However the biggest problem is a rather simplistic ,and misleading view of history.

America's Catholic bishops have been allies of the Republican Party for almost four decades.

The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 launched the cooperation as Republicans quickly proclaimed themselves forever opposed to abortion. President Nixon and others thought it was a very good political strategy. They were right. Evangelicals,many Catholics, and the bishops came to the Republican side.

That again is a very simplistic view of not too long ago American political history. It also fails to deal with the a little history before that. That is when " progressive" Democratic  pro life Catholics were pretty much given the boot in the Democratic party. For that this is a must read Why the Democrats Are Blue - A Conversation with Mark Stricherz . In fact if  you have to choose to read the rest of my post ,or Stricherz's piece choose his please. What happen in 1969 as to Party convention rules is crucial.

Further the shocking climax of that chain of events is what happened to Gov Casey at the Democratic Convention in 1992.See that sad affair at The Truth About Gov. Bob Casey and The 1992 DNC Convention . That saga dealing with Governor Casey is often left out of the history of Catholics , and the Democratic Party. Partly because it's so shameful.

On the flip side it would be wrong to say Nixon made the GOP all go pro-life. Heck the Southern Baptist Convention was not even at that stage then . In many ways the Rockefeller moderate  pro choice wing of the party was quite a force for some time. With some justification people can point out as to abortion Jimmy Carter was more pro life  than President Gerald Ford who was functionally pro choice. So again the history is wrong here.

Republican Party leaders have done nothing to change the court decision but they always said the right things and were properly indignant. In return, they received votes and money from their religious allies.

Again that is misleading , and just really false. As I point out above the migration of Catholics ,and others to the GOP took some time to change mindsets. We saw this well into the Reagan years. But there is no doubt today the GOP is a very Pro-life Party on abortion ,and their efforts in the States have shown results. There has been finally an ability to limit the quite expansive ROE opinion. We have seen that in recent SCOTUS opinions.

The bishops would of course never tell their parishioners to vote Republican, but they left little to the imagination. Priests would preach at mass about the necessity of voting only for pro-life candidates. They would harangue against same sex marriages and occasionally a pro-choice Catholic would be publicly denied communion.

Here his post gets confusing. He seems to be mixing past and present.

 I have to tell you "same sex marriage" was not a issue in the 90's. Heck it was barely a blip in 2001. But the reality is as to Party Democrats for much of these "four decades" Bishops and many priests in the pews provided cover to democrats under talk of the seamless garment.

 In my parishes of very conservative Louisiana Priests would go to vast gymnastics in talking to people how the issue of abortion could be negated  because Democrats believed x y and z. In fact well into the Bush I years the Catholic Bishops were issuing statements against Republican policies, and not even considering Republican alternatives especially on economic matters. I suspect some Bishops finally noticed that a crucial part of the seamless garment was by electoral party policy pretty much preempted from even being discussed in the Democratic  party

Events of the last month indicate the bishops are going to take an even more aggressive stance against Democrats than normal. Catholic priests in literally hundreds of churches have been attacking President Obama on a weekly basis since last fall. The priests got their marching orders from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops which, at a November meeting, decided that "religious freedom" would be their theme for the year.

They were not attacking Obama they were attacking a policy choice. See the difference? Also notice the words religious freedom is in scare quotes. Why is that?

....The USCCB chair, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, went on the right wing talk show host Bill O'Reilly's broadcast to accuse the Obama administration and its allies of trying to divide the Catholic Church in America. Such a charge from a Cardinal and USCCB Chair would normally get headlines. But not this time. It appears the ongoing attack by the bishops was becoming old news.

And so Dolan turned to another conservative outlet -- being interviewed in the Wall Street Journal on March 31. His approach was the same as in the O'Reilly interview. Dolan likes to present himself as an apolitical and simple priest. He conveys the idea that he is respectful of the president and did not want to have a battle. People who know him often say he is a moderate and is ousted to extreme positions by other bishops. But that's not what a close reading of the interviews shows. Dolan went after President Obama hard, leaving his interviewer saying the president was deceitful...

Cardinal Dolan ,and other Catholic Bishops and leaders have hardly not just been on "right wing" tv shows. In fact they have been on the other networks. In fact just this past week Lori was on Meet the Press via NBC ,and Dolan was on Face the Nation via CBS just this past weekend. Why leave these shows out? I am sure Dolan and Lori would appear on that horrid E channel if they get could time to get their message out. They will go where are viewers.

 As to the President appearing deceitful well if Dolan is telling the truth well Obama was deceitful.  IF the Bishops got played for fools by personal assurances by the President of the United States I want to know. Of course that would not shock me.

Obama it appears killed immigration reform during the Bush Administration by a poison pill for his personal  gain did he not?

Or is that that too impolite to mention?

Just one of the biggest social justice issues of the early days of the 21st century. But you know the need of defeating McCain vetoed that discussion so people living in the shadows see you in 8 to 10 years

.SORRY but we are  Faith Filled Democratic and Progressive Catholics so we get a pass.Sorry for the deportations , but hey we got Obamacare. Fair trade huh?

Cardinal Dolan is certainly the most visible of the bishops taking pro-Republican positions.

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport is chair of the USCCB Committee on Religious Freedom. He was a witness at the now infamous House Operations hearing on Womens' Health. You remember that one -- it had no women. Lori has since been promoted to Baltimore Archbishop.

I am not sure many Republicans would view a recent statement by Dolan and Lori on repressive ( in their view ) immigration measures in certain states as being "PRO REPUBLICAN" . Related to THAT is the fact that the Bishops were 100 percent behind the Dream Act and Immigration reform. I guess that is so yesterday though it has just been in  the last 6 years. Perhaps  it can be forgotten in such a hack piece.

Forgotten also is Obama killed the 1997 Bush immigration bill for personal gain. Could not give McCain , Bush , and the GOP implication a victory could wee.  . Well who cares for the facts I suppose. Lets get on electing Obama , and le'ts stab the Bishops in the back so quickly. Who knew being progressive was so Machiavellian

Oh and by the way that panel mentioned. It had women on it. But let us  just FEED THE LIE.

In the end I can't answer for the Bishops ,but I will attempt to answer this Question- Should Catholics vote Republican? My answer is hell yes. But I don't speak for the Bishops.

I almost got our of politics because of immigration reform. It was ,and is  a emotional complex issue with both people of good will , and bad will in both parties. I thought I saw the anti Catholicism card played by some some conservatives in those heated Bush immigration reform era battles.

That was nothing compared to what I see among Democratic elected officials and pundits. With immigration reform on the GOP side it was Congressman Tom Tancredo and a few pundits. On the HHS mandate and same sex marriage it is full wage war by the Democratic mainstream against evil Catholic clerics and their allies. That  has shocked me.

The issue on the HHS mandate goes far beyond birth control. I hope progressives can see that before precedents they set come back to back them. Just remember this. It is very easy to perceive your political point you have is so SELF EVIDENT it will last forever and forever Amen.

The problem is that rarely happens. Political winds do change. That political legal precedent you set today could destroy you tomorrow. I realize such a realization takes some let's say humility. But may I suggest it is a reality. Catholics of good will quit thinking of the next year politically but think the  next 30.


Unknown said...

I agree with you.

It's easy to try and put everything in the terms of today's political spectrum. But it took things a long time to get to this point. As you point out, the abortion issue really polarized between the parties over time.

But when I've read about the history of the Catholic Church in the U.S., it looks to me as though the Life issue was solidifying itself and finding its sea legs before we would have ever connected it with the Republican Party.

Partisan politics cheapens faith. Neither party is worth a darn.

But this doesn't require a theological or political opinion to see that you're right. All it takes is a modicum of knowledge about history!

James H said...


Yeah I think what happened was the Life issue became so huge partly because Evangelicals also were gravitating toward the Catholic position ( which took some time).

When the Democratic party basically just made that an non issue where else was there to go?