Goodman: The problem with bishops' "neutrality" argument
|Bl. Von Galen, The Lion of Münster|
Patron of Bishops who wont be shut up
+A response to an article I posted on CNN.com. Pray for those who profess to have faith in Christ the King and helped put the most notoriously pro-abortion president back in the White House.
Recently CNN ran an article entitled: " My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority" by Vincent Miller who is the Gudorf Chair of Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton.
This article was interesting in some ways, and in other ways– quite sad.
The author makes a very important point when he states:
"Voters must weigh the mix of positions of both candidates, not just the objections against one."
No candidate or party is perfect. Honest critiques of any political party failing on a clear matter of justice are not only fair, but obligatory.
This is another good point:
"(The bishops) must beware the divisiveness that even the appearance of partisanship can bring into the Church."
This is a real consideration to always keep in mind, but it can be quite challenging however, when a particular party or candidate has aligned itself with the promotion of grave evils intrinsically at odds with both the common good and the dignity of individual human persons. In an essentially two-party, bi-cameral political system when one party has taken a radical and dangerous position against the common good- speaking out against such injustice is what is required, even though it may be perceived as 'partisan' by some.
I am thankful Bl. Von Galen, Bishop of Munster Germany, spoke out against Hitler (more than his political rival) because the evil of racist eugenics behind Nazism had to be directly confronted. History looks back upon such acts as heroic, not partisan. This is because the evil being confronted was so great.
Bishop Jenky, cited in the article, is cut of this same cloth, in my opinion, speaking out– not against policy– but against moral evil.
The article does not seem to recognize that certain intrinsic evils can never, ever be promoted by any candidate or political party: the taking of innocent life (viz., euthanasia, abortion, human embryonic research, cloning research, etc.), attempts to re-define marriage, and removing the protections of religious liberty and the rights of conscience on the very subjects of life, death and faith. Why was this omitted? The author reduces the concern of the HHS mandate to a mere trifle of defining a "religious exemption". Much more is at stake! For example- the involvement of the Church and all people of good will in early chemical abortions– because they are being _forced_ by the Federal Government. This is outrageous! And it won't be settled by a broader exemption.
The author points out concerns about Ryan's policy and that is fine (...although I am not sure if he accurately portrayed Ryan's view on Medicare). Catholics are free to debate policy, and this is a welcome opportunity for dialogue and appreciation for differences in opinion in how to handle certain social and governmental problems. My experience has been that bishops encourage the laity to be informed and make their personal decisions as best as they can. This isn't the issue though.
The central point the US Bishops were making in this election is that there are some evils so great that they cannot be considered "policy" upon which good people may disagree.
Bishop Morlino in Madison thus taught that no Catholic with a well-formed conscience can ever vote for a candidate who supports abortion, the redefinition of marriage, and assaults on religious liberty/rights of conscience. This is because such evils are not merely "political policy"- but violations of the natural moral law upon which all of society must be based. (Read- "self-evident truths".) Bl. Von Galen could not tell faithful Catholics in the late 1930s that they can "bracket" Nazi eugenics and still support Nazi candidates because of their other policies– and still be "good Catholics". Some evils are just too big to set to the side when considering a candidate. Some evils are so great that a good bishop must warn the faithful not to participate in such evil– even by a simple vote. (Note- Hitler was elected by democratic vote. Were those Catholics who helped put him in office honoring Christ by such a vote?! It seems impossible.)
There is a hierarchy of justice. Care for the poor is an essential element of justice. But it will always be a concern beneath the killing of the poor. The order of justice is as important as accessing the elements of justice that are related to political realities. The most fundamental rights of the human person are always at the top of such a hierarchy- and hence, first in the order of justice. The right to life is the most fundamental human right and therefore on the up-most rung of the hierarchy of justice. The bishops are trying to teach this crucial lesson and our author does not seem to recognize this was at issue.
In the final analysis, I am very troubled and saddened that one who heads a department of theology at a Catholic university would have written this piece on how members of the Church may be perceived without mentioning what the bishops were actually doing to serve Christ and His flock and those threatened by the greatest injustices in our nation.
It is for these and other reasons that we pray for Catholics who supported Obama/Biden, as well as those who, (perhaps like this author?), would prefer the bishops to be more silent to the gravity of certain moral evils in order to be perceived as more politically "neutral".