Might as well take the day I regularly go to Catholic Mass to criticize the US Catholic Bishops. Jon Cohn does excoriates Archbishop of NY and President of US Confernce of Catholic Bishops, Timothy Egan, for supporting Paul Ryan’s anti-poor person budget:
It seems sacrilegious to suggest the leader of the America’s Catholic Bishops has made a deal with the devil. But his latest political gesture makes me wonder if he is in negotiations.
Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter on Wednesday to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan… Ryan has (according to Politico) been brandishing it as a signal of support:
As you allude to in your letter, the budget is not just about numbers. It reflects the very values of our nation. As many religious leaders have commented, budgets are moral statements.
I commend your letter’s attention to the important values of fiscal responsibility; sensitivity to the foundational role of the family; the primacy of the dignity of the human person and the protection of all human life; a concrete solicitude for the poor and the vulnerable, especially those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty; and putting into practice the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, here at home and internationally within the context of a commitment to the common good shared by government and other mediating institutions alike.
It is entirely appropriate that Dolan cite the church’s interest in protecting the poor and vulnerable. Ask anybody who has spent time studying or working in low-income communities, and they will tell you about the critical role Catholic organizations and leaders play in providing financial, social, and medical services to people who desperately need them. And if you want to know about the Church’s history of advocating government policies to help the poor and vulnerable, read an account of the New Deal or consult an expert like Michael Sean Winters:
As early as the 1919 statement of the Catholic bishops on social reconstruction after World War I … the Catholic Church has stood, almost unanimously, for such measures as Social Security, ending child labor, unemployment insurance and other provisions of the welfare state. … Catholic social teaching has at its heart several key principles … [including] the principle of the Common Good, the idea that we are all in this together and that our public policies should reflect the aspirations of all for a decent life, not the goals of the few and monied interests that had brought the country to ruin in their reckless pursuit of profit in the previous laissez-faire structures of the 1920s.
Given this history, how can Dolan say anything remotely charitable about either the Republican budget or the man who wrote it?
To review what many of you know: The Republican budget would dramatically reduce federal funding for Medicaid. By 2021, Washington’s contribution towards the joint federal-state program would more than be 40 percent lower. As a result, between 30.8 and 43.8 million fewer people would end up with government coverage, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Exactly. To support this budget is to turn one’s back completely not on being a liberal Democrat, but quite frankly on Catholic social teaching. It’s clear that even among Bishops, partisanship is a very powerful thing. Egan is surely a Republican for his very strong anti-abortion and anti-homosexual views. Since he’s a Republican, that’s enough to cause him to turn his back on some of the core teachings of his own church.
To further make us question just one these Catholic “leaders” are up to, they’ve identified the real culript in the sexual abuse scandals– hippies:
A five-year study commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops to provide a definitive answer to what caused the church’s sexual abuse crisis has concluded that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were to blame.
Instead, the report says, the abuse occurred because priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s. [emphasis mine]
There’s a lot of really good people in the Catholic Church. The bishops, however, have not impressed me.