Posted by Christopher Johnson | Friday, June 22nd, 2012 | Uncategorized | 41 Comments
Jim Naughton’s joint takes note of the US Catholic Church’s latest initiative:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Catholics throughout the country to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom,” beginning today and running through July 4, to protest the Obama administration’s health care policies.
This is how the USCCB describes Fortnight of Freedom.
The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.
Here’s the obligatory bit that all stories like this are legally obligated to contain about how sharply divided the Roman Catholic Church is over this issue.
Marion McCartney, who attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., opposes the bishops’ campaign. She’s part of a group, Blessed Sacrament Families United in Faith and Action, that wrote a letter to its pastor, saying the partisan nature of the campaign is “a step too far.”
“Nobody’s religious freedom is at stake. That’s just ridiculous!” McCartney says. Is “[Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius going to come and close all the church doors? I mean, it’s just foolishness.”
Can you say “Episcopalians in Catholic drag?” Knew you could.
Another member of that group is Jim Zogby, who has worked on human-rights issues overseas. He says the U.S. bishops were spoiling for a fight over social issues with the Obama administration.
“They declared war on the administration, and we the faithful are paying the price for it,” Zogby says. “Our religious freedom, our ability to simply go to church, worship, feel a community, feel safe in that community” has been compromised.
“We’re now being put in the middle of a partisan fight, and that’s wrong.”
It’s easy to see what’s at work here. To liberal Catholics, as to all leftist Christians, Catholic bishops are “partisan” or “political” when they take a stand on an issue with which the left strongly disagrees(i. e., birth control and abortion). When they back a cause the left strongly supports, the bishops are acting “pastoral” and truly Christian and doing what God called them to do and stuff.
His wife, Eileen, says Blessed Sacrament, with its mix of liberals and conservatives, has always put politics aside. Not now. At a recent parish meeting about religious freedom, people began attacking President Obama, she says, getting more and more heated.
“Until finally one person leaned forward and he said, ‘Well, I have seen cars in our parking lot with Obama stickers on them, and they are complicit in all of this.’ And I thought, ‘Well I guess I’m not welcome here, because I have an Obama sticker on my car.’ “
If you’ve got an Obama sticker on your car, lady, I have one piece of advice. Get thee to a Eucharistic Adoration. Can’t hurt. Also, the sex abuse scandal. And nuns are cool now so stop beating up nuns!!
University of Notre Dame historian Scott Appleby says the bishops have lost credibility with many Catholics. There is a valid concern about the health care law, he says, but many Catholics aren’t listening because they’re unhappy about the sex abuse crisis and the Vatican’s investigation of a group of nuns called the Catholic Sisters of America.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wants to know who’s bankrolling all this.
But while Catholic leaders frame the events as a fight for religious liberty, critics see signs of political partisanship and electioneering.
And questions over the financing of the bishops’ campaign have caused those suspicions to multiply.
“The activities around the Fortnight for Freedom cost money,” said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington. “What groups are paying for this, and what’s the accountability for that money?”
Those kinds of questions were asked of key Catholic leaders like Baltimore Archbishop William Lori last week as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Atlanta.
Lori, who heads the bishops’ committee on religious liberty, told reporters that gifts “from Catholic groups and foundations” would help sustain the campaign.
“The generosity we’ve experienced has been heartening,” he said.
The campaign, Lori said, “is not in any way partisan, either in its spirit or in its funding.”
Maybe the Koch brothers are backing it. Speaking of whom, Richard Mellon Scaife has got to be seriously bent right about now. He probably lies awake at night thinking, “For crying out loud, I’ve been around forever while nobody heard of these Koch guys just a few years ago! What does a guy have to frickin’ do to get a national rep as a rich, evil, right-winger intent on achieving world domination?!”
But while we’re on the subject of fiscal transparency, did any of you guys ever hear whether or not the Episcopal Organization had ever revealed how much money it had spent and will spend on its various lawsuits against fellow Christians and where that money was coming from? Let me know in the comments; I’d really appreciate it.