There is something intriguing and, at the same time, troubling about the upheaval being created by the Obama administration’s dictate regarding religious institutions and the right of conscience. The problem is not so much what Obama has done, but what Catholics are confronted with as a result. Let me be clear. The various bishops who have made statements in opposition to what Obama has done are to be commended. They have decried the arrogance of an administration that literally wants to spit in the face of Christ and His Church.
Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, for example, avers that the Obama administration has revoked the religious freedom of groups that do not regard women's fertility as a “disease.” Indeed, this is true.
But when you peel away the layers of righteous indignation, we find a gruesome layer of facts that is being covered over and is not likely to be exposed by the very bishops who are uttering powerful words in defense of conscience. The bishops, as a body of religious leaders, consistently fail to act on their own words—and that will be the downfall of their recent pontificating.
As they utter opposition to the Obama administration’s strong-arm tactics, they do not act to correct the arrogant falsehoods perpetrated by publicly pro-abortion Catholics like Nancy Pelosi. They have not done so in the past, and my prediction is that they will not do so now either.
Pelosi is currently speaking in defense of evil again. And while I hate to bring up the past, the fact is that Pelosi has done this before—and not one single bishop has ever denied her the body of Christ. She has never been instructed to either repent or stop referring to herself as Catholic. She has proceeded to offend the body of Christ without paying a price. Her ongoing campaign of hatred against Catholic truth gets her an occasional verbal slap on the wrist, but nothing more.
Emboldened by the collective lack of hierarchical courage, Pelosi opined, “I am going to stick with my fellow Catholics in supporting the administration on this. I think it was a very courageous decision that they made, and I support it.”
Excuse me? Which “fellow Catholics” is she standing with? Well, these particular people happen to be Catholics for Obama—people who publicly state that recent actions by “conservative” bishops in America result in a “politicization of the Church” which “may please Republicans in the pews, but it may well accelerate the departure of other thinking Catholics who expect more from their Church leaders.”
Such a perspective is not surprising given the past record of the USCCB. Let’s face it; American bishops have failed to teach the truth about contraception and its relationship to abortion. Nothing serious has been undertaken on this matter in 50 years! Just this week Catholic blogger Leticia Velasquez wrote,
Contraception has been widely accepted in the Catholic community for nearly half a century. So why the fuss over the HHS mandate that Catholic institutions provide contraception for its employees? Perhaps we as a Church thought it was our dirty little secret. We convinced ourselves that no one outside knew how few Catholics actually obeyed this Church teaching to have the marital act be perpetually open to life. Except the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute . . . reported last spring in the Huffington Post that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraceptives. They have been dispensing contraceptives to Catholics for decades. Shame on us! So now we are outraged to be forced to do what we have been volunteering to do for half a century.
Exactly! In my new book, The Broken Path, I point out this very problem. When Catholic bishops get tangled up in political activity and abandon the flock, bad things happen. Clearly the bishops should be placing more emphasis on the salvation of individual souls and less on the social policies they have embraced, such as their claim that there is such a right as a “right to health care.”
The bishops—our shepherds—have become too worldly and souls have suffered. We must pray that they become courageously Catholic in the public square and among the sheep entrusted to them by God. Souls thirst for truth; bishops can provide that truth in word and deed.
The sheep will follow when the shepherds lead. But when the shepherds are detoured by political alliances, the sheep get lost.
Where are they now?