Bishop Rene H. Gracida Wins the First Annual Coughie Award!
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 07:21:10 PM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Seventy
In an effort to recognize the member of the Catholic Right who does the most to embarrass American Catholics while stoking the fires of the culture wars and take a sledgehammer to the wall separating church and state, this column will annually bestow The Coughlin Award, (AKA the Coughies).

And in a landside for his eleventh hour qualifying submission, this year's recipient is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas for his demagogic anti-Barack Obama radio ad.

But before we discuss what earned Bishop Gracida this honor, a few words about the award's namesake.

The Coughlin (or as I affectionately refer to them, "the Coughies") is named after the infamous 1930s radio priest and noted anti-Semite, Rev. Charles Coughlin whose media diatribes against FDR and Judaism while being openly sympathetic to the racist policies of Adolph Hitler made him a role model for today's TV and radio preachers and "conservative" media personalities. Such advocacy was clearly antithetical the very definition of the word "catholic," which, according to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary means:

Catholic Cath"o*lic\ (k[a^]th"[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko`s, universal, general; kata` down, wholly + "o`los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]
1. Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.
Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war. --Southey.
Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.
  1. Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.
  2. Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

Thus, the 2008 Coughie goes to Bishop Rene H. Gracida who shot to the top of the running with a negative radio ad -- produced in collaboration with anti-abortion extremist, all-around crackpot, and recent Catholic convert Randall Terry. Terry and His Eminence managed to get just the right mix of after-life anxiety and neo-Carlism to make their ad an afront to American standards of pluralism.

What earned Bishop Gracida his Coughie?  Well, as Randall Terry declares in his sponsoring press release that Gracida "boldly states" in his ad:  

This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate.

Among the runner-ups for this year's Coughie were, excommunicator extraordinaire Archbishop Raymond Burke. There was also perennial favorite, fellow culture warrior Bill Donohue, to name two. But Bishop Garcida outdid both of these frontrunners.

Much like Archbishop Burke, the Corpus Christi bishop is quick on the draw to excommunicate Catholics who are actively pro-choice, going as far back to 1990 in doing so - and actually serving written decrees of excommunication. And much like Bloviating Bill, discretion or good taste aren't even considerations. No, it was Bishop Gracida's added twist of anti-Arab racism that clinched it: "Barack Hussein Obama!

Never mind the fact that Arab Christians might use the name Hussein or that one of the giants of Catholic (or for that matter, Christian) theology, St. Augustine of Hippo was of Arabic origin. When abortion is your sole obsession (hey, who needs universal healthcare or a living wage?), damn the hypocrisy and let's bring out the baser aspects of our nature!

So Bishop Gracida, for your vital role in keeping the culture wars going while others of your faith attempt to seek common ground and coexistence, this Coughie is for you!

Honorable mention to Randall Terry.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 07:22:21 PM EST

It's about time we had our honors for the Most Dubious Catholic of the Year. I wasn't aware of Randall Terry's recent conversion, but this also makes him eligible. Might I recommend for future honors the following contestants: Deal Hudson, George Weigel, Robert George, Frs. Richard Neuhaus, Frank Pavone, Robert Sirico and Thomas Euteneuer, Judie Brown, Bishops Nicholas DiMarzio (Brooklyn,) William "Mansion" Murphy (Rockville Centre,) Kevin Vann (Fort Worth,) Robert Finn (Kansas City, MO,) Joseph Naumann (Kansas City, KS,) Fabian Bruskewitz (Lincoln, NE) Joseph Martino (Scranton-also gets dishonorable mention for denying parochial school teachers the right to collectively bargain,) John Myers (Newark,) and Charles Chaput (Denver,) Phyllis Schlafly, Sam Brownback, Alan Keyes, Rick "Sanctimonious" Santorum...I'm sure there are a lot of worthy contenders out there!

by khughes1963 on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 09:51:19 PM EST
...they're all on the list of potential nominees.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 07:09:30 AM EST

He had to make a deal to retire some years ago, after the Attorney General of Texas started sniffing around some of his financial dealings on behalf of the diocese. ("Yeah. For the diocese. That's the ticket.")
I wonder how the current incumbent likes having his diocese thrust into Randall Terry's new kamikazi legal strategy involving defiance of IRS rules on political endorsements.

by nogodsnomasters on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 01:58:43 PM EST
I'm sure the new bishop is thrilled; so much so that he's probably upped his daily dose of Exhedrin.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 03:16:49 PM EST
cross-post this at the Daily Kos. Also, have you tipped off the "National Catholic Reporter"?
Thanks-- I live in Central Texas and grew up in Corpus and would have missed this totally but for you.

by nogodsnomasters on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 09:59:39 PM EST
I spent my teen years in Corpus Christi, during which Gracida was appointed bishop. I remember some of my Roman Catholic friends finding him to be unworthy of their support after remarks he made at various confirmations and other diocesan events clearly contradicted their experiences of the real world.

I wonder, given the perceived power of the Roman Catholic Church, if there will ever be a true investigation into the tax status of each diocese. There are so many good priests and conciliatory bishops out there who must be thoroughly rankled at the way some of their colleagues are abusing their power and position to distort all of Catholic teaching into a singular issue. More power to those who are thoughtful in their application of "Pro-Life" across the entire lifespan of human beings. May their voices be heard, too, as we struggle together to find a common path for dignity and respect for each person from birth to death.

by RevRuthUCC on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 06:04:58 PM EST

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