Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bishops on a Roll

A funny thing is happening in our land just now. A political convention was started, and all of a sudden an episcopal synod broke out...

...okay, okay, not really. But in light of all the spine-tingling evidence of episcopal spines snapping to attention from sea to shining sea, which the Curt Jester is conveniently collecting, one can't help but smile. It's wonderful, your Excellencies; it's also about time, but we'll let that slide in the general aura of gratitude for this working of the Holy Spirit.

I know it's been difficult to be a politically conservative Catholic in the past forty years. For far too long, the USCCB has been jokingly--and not so jokingly--called "The Democratic Party at prayer." For far too long it seemed like the only political statements the bishops were willing to make took strong stances on prudential matters such as illegal immigration or the justice or injustice of a particular war, while maintaining a deafening silence on the biggest war of all, the war against the innocent unborn. Worse, when the abortion issue was mentioned it always seemed to be wrapped up so tight in the "seamless garment" that you couldn't see it at all, giving the impression to a whole generation of Catholics that so long as you opposed the death penalty the Church would give you a pass on your "pro-choice" beliefs.

Time, however, has passed. The newer American bishops aren't so inclined to parse and nuance when it comes to abortion. And they're starting to get annoyed, one suspects, with Democratic Catholic pro-choice senators and congresspeople who think they can redefine Catholic teaching to suit their own ends, and mislead the faithful in the process.

It's truly encouraging to see our bishops taking a stand and repeating what most of us know to be true: you can't be a practicing Catholic in good standing and vote in favor of abortion; you can't be Catholic and pro-choice.

Now that the bishops have started to make that clear, I'd love to see them seize this opportunity to take that message into every Catholic parish in each of their dioceses, to tell Catholic Americans once and for all that we are not permitted to be merely "personally opposed" to evil. A Catholic should strive to fight evil, not to make peace with it in order to make war on some other problem or trouble that might not rise to the level of intrinsic evil. And I'd love them instruct their priests to remind that everything they've said about abortion holds true for contraception, too: we can't remain true to our Catholic faith and seek to use contraception or to tolerate its use.

The Bishops are on a roll. If we give them a little push maybe they'll be able to keep on rollin'.

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