Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Bishops and the Democrats: A Response
Steve asks many important questions in his post. Near the end of the post, he says: "Finally, perhaps wrongly, I see a pattern of specific criticism against Catholic Democratic politicians."
My perception is that the recent criticisms of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden were made for very specific reasons tied closely to public statements each of them made about the (their) Catholic faith and not to their general views on abortion. If memory serves, Nancy Pelosi publicly said that the Catholic Church had only recently (in the last 50 years or so) come to the belief that abortion was wrong. She was publicly corrected by bishops on her mistaken view of Church teaching and Church history. Joe Biden publicly stated that he accepted as a matter of faith (a private matter) that human life begins at conception because his Church tells him this. He was publicly corrected by bishops because the Church does not teach that life begins at conception as a matter of faith. Instead, the Church teaches that abortion is wrong because science teaches that human life begins at conception.
Steve says: "I would appreciate direction to places where the American Bishops have specifically criticized Republican politicians on abortion or other issues." If I am right about the recent criticism of Pelosi and Biden, I think the predicate question is: Are there recent instances where Catholic Republican politicians have publicly misrepresented or misunderstood Church teaching and then been criticized by bishops.
Although the Catholic faith wasn't - as for as I am aware - publicly misunderstood or misrepresented by Catholic politicians, The Archbishop of Oklahoma City and the Bishop of Tulsa were very outspoken against a harsh state immigration law sponsored by a non-Catholic Republican (see my February 2008 First Things essay on this topic). Our former republican governor (Frank Keating) is Catholic. Several years ago, while governor, he attempted to articulate why the Pope was wrong (a nice guy but wrong is what I think he said) on the death penalty. Our archbishop had every priest in the diocese read a letter at every mass on a particular weekend criticising - indeed condemning - the Governors statement.