I guess it is no secret to most that the anti-faith organization, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, becomes wildly apoplectic whenever a religious leader speaks out. Especially when those leaders forcefully enunciate the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches through the guidance of Christ and the magisterium of the Church. My, oh my, how they do protest!
In a blatantly disrespectful and totally untruthful commentary entitled "Texas Side Step: Bishops' Letter Attacking Pro-Choice Candidates Attempts To Sashay Past Federal Tax Law," Rob Boston of AUSCS chronicles the events that provoked such vitriol from him and Barry Lynn, executive director of AUSCS, who publicly claimed, "This is clearly an attempt on the part of these bishops to do an end-run around the federal tax law ban on electioneering by churches."
There are those who would have us believe that there is a panoply of "issues" Catholics should be concerned about and that killing a child in the womb is simply not all that important. Clearly, the fact that Bishop Kevin Vann and Bishop Kevin Farrell have chosen to enunciate Catholic teaching is not sitting well with them. While many of us understand why the right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights, there is clearly no unanimous opinion on this point, either from Mr. Lynn and his buddies or among Catholics, unfortunately!
More vitriol was being spewed at these faithful bishops in the Dallas Morning News religion blog, as illustrated by this woman's insidious comment:
CELIBATE...UNMARRIED...NEVER BEEN MARRIED... MEN promulgating "decisions" about a WOMAN'S personal life and health issues...does anyone else see the ARROGANCE and SHEER STUPIDITY of this process?? raise your hands out there if you know of any RC families with only ONE or TWO children... think they ALL used natural family planning?? PSHAW!!
Comments like this are not necessarily representative of faithful Catholics, but they are typical of those who claim to be Catholic while holding views that not only contradict Catholic teaching but insult Christ and His shepherds. But for every inane comment like this one posted on the Dallas Morning News web site, many were posted by those whose admiration for the bishops inspired them to write in. Thank God for each of them—clearly, all is not lost!
What is lost, however, is a semblance of respect for the rights of the Catholic hierarchy to do the right thing, teach the truth and help those in their care to understand the importance of some concerns over others. This is why many bishops across the land have chosen to use this critical moment in America's history to speak the truth with love, but also with conviction. There is no compromise, and since when is that a crime or a violation of the law?
Americans United for Separation of Church and State cannot tolerate such courage and heroism. In his commentary, Boston argues ferociously and with misguided fervor,
So, less than three weeks before the election, bishops are issuing letters telling Catholics that they cannot vote for candidates who hold pro-choice views and remain in good standing in the church. That sure sounds to me like the church is favoring certain candidates over others and trying to affect the outcome of the race.
Here's where it gets interesting: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issues guidelines for political activity by churches. These guidelines, echoing federal tax law and interpretation by the Internal Revenue Service, warn, "A Catholic organization may not directly or indirectly make any statement, in any medium, to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office, political party, or PAC."
Elsewhere the guidelines read, "IRS acknowledges that an issue advocacy communication may constitute intervention in a political campaign through the use of code words, such as 'conservative', 'liberal', 'pro-life', 'pro-choice', 'anti-choice', 'Republican', or 'Democrat', coupled with a discussion of a candidacy or election, even if no candidate is specifically named. [emphasis in the AUSCS article] IRS advises that for an issue advocacy communication to violate the political campaign intervention prohibition, 'there must be some reasonably overt indication in the communication to the reader, viewer, or listener that the organization supports or opposes a particular candidate (or slate of candidates) in an election, rather than being a message restricted to an issue.'"
It's great that the USCCB issues those political guidelines. It would be better if the bishops actually read and followed them.
First and foremost, every single ordained priest in this nation, including bishops, should be speaking out on these truths and the moral obligation that Catholics have to vote in accordance with Church teaching, because this is the best way for Catholics to be properly formed in their consciences prior to entering the voting booth. This has nothing to do with a particular candidate, but everything to do with bishops' and priests' obligation to nurture and feed the souls entrusted to them.
Second, the USCCB guidelines to which Mr. Boston refers do not in any way instruct bishops or priests that they must wear a muzzle and refrain from preaching truth during certain political seasons. That would be outrageous!
Finally, nothing in any bishop's statement that we have read has indicated an endorsement of, or direct opposition to, any political candidate. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite has been the case.
It would seem to me, at least, that Boston is having a real hard time understanding that, in moments like this, when Catholics so desperately want and need leadership, their bishops are called to provide it. It is further obvious that the entire structure of AUSCS is built on the premise that God has no place in public life, and that His Word and His truth simply must not be mentioned in any way. For if it were, the heathens among us might hear the truth and be drawn away from the hedonism in our midst.
To Mr. Boston and his ilk, I say, forget about it! Catholics have as much right to voice their faith in Christ and His teachings as do the heathens who condemn us.