The Culture War Majority of the Catholic Bishops Seize the Day
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 06:58:45 AM EST
The American Catholic bishops have sent a clear message to Catholics and non-Catholics alike by electing New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:  They are going to escalate the culture wars at the expense of economic justice.
Dolan's dogmatism on non-economic issues concerning priestly celibacy, abortion, birth control, divorce and gay marriage reflects the steady restocking of hierarchy with avatars of conservative orthodoxy that began with Pope John Paul II.  Like the late conservative pope, Dolan cloaks his aggressive culture warriorisms with a genial demeanor.

Dolan offers a stylistic balance to the grating take-no prisoners style of Bill Donohue, even as they differ little in substance. "Archbishop Dolan is a moderate conservative" observed the Cathnews.com, "who is willing to put his affable and outgoing demeanor in service of a more assertively confrontational approach to the church's critics." Nevertheless, Dolan appeals to the prejudices of socially conservative Catholics by creating strawmen and attacking them. And like Donohue, Dolan has no patience for those who dissent from his notions of orthodoxy.

Dolan has sought to silence critics of the Church - even when the criticism is justified.  For example, soon after ascending to the leadership of the New York archdiocese, Dolan picked a fight with one of movement conservatism's favorite bogeymen: The New York Times.  I   wrote  about this at the time.

In his October 29, 2009 blog posting entitled "Foul Ball!", Archbishop Dolan described a litany of alleged slights of Catholicism by various reporters, including op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd. In her piece Dowd examined the second class Church citizenship nuns must endure. She even dared discuss (as a Catholic herself) the current Inquisition reactionaries in the Vatican are now carrying out; an Inquisition designed to quiet one of the most compassionate yet progressive parts of Catholicism.

Two of the other journalists were singled out by the Archbishop was Times religion correspondent, Laurie Goldstein and her colleague, Paul Vitello.

Dolan complained that Vitello's piece, which was about pedophilia within the orthodox Jewish community, was anti-Catholic because, "According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests:  release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency"

Goldstein fired back, exposing the archbishop's flimsy arguments.

I concluded about the affair:

The archbishop's attack on the Times is nothing more than the tired old tactic of raising up strawmen to attack. There is no anti-Catholicism to be found in the works of Dowd, Goldstein or Vitello; only the discussion of Church issues that, if left unaddressed, could lead to real harm to the Catholic faith. Pedophilia, the lack of accountability and the suppression of new ideas put forth by nuns are the real ticking time bombs that will eventually destroy Catholicism.

Following his election, Dolan made it clear that traditional Catholic advocacy of economic justice would be given the heave-ho in favor of biological issues. As The New York Times' Laurie Goldstein recently reported that as USCCB president he intends to stifle dissenters while increasing the Catholic Right's obsession with all-things-abortion:

Archbishop Dolan said in a news conference after the vote that he would carry on the forceful opposition of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, to the recent health care overhaul because the bishops believed it would permit expanded government financing for abortion.

"My major priority would be to continue with all vigor I can muster what's already in place," Archbishop Dolan said. "It's not like we're in crisis; it's not like all of a sudden we need some daring new initiatives. Thank God for the leadership of Cardinal Francis George, things are going well."

Archbishop Dolan also suggested that he would not countenance other Catholic leaders and organizations when they take public positions that contradict the bishops. That is what happened this year when some groups representing Catholic hospitals and nuns came out in support of the health care overhaul bill, despite the bishops' staunch opposition.

"We're pastors and teachers," Archbishop Dolan said of the bishops' role, "not just one set of teachers in the Catholic community, but the teachers."

Apparently, abortion is now the only thing that matters. Never mind that the health care legislation as passed totally denuded women of coverage for abortion services; never mind that the same bill was watered down by excluding a public option -- accomplished with the help of several hard-line bishops; and never mind that at least the legislation does prevent the vile insurance company practice of excluding enrollees with a pre-existing medical condition. All that matters to this cultural warrior is abortion.

While this must have sent a thrill up the leg of Catholic neo-conservative leader Robert P. George (which he admits, it did) this episode shows that life issues are more complicated than mere opposition to reproductive rights. Large scale economics are also involved.

Indeed, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops appears to have joined in the Religious Right's efforts to advance a laissez-faire economic agenda. This is a triumph for for those such as Robert P. George who openly call for the merging of economic and religious conservatism and the voice of Catholic economic justice (since the USCCB's predecessor organization, The National Catholic War Council in 1919) the very progressive Bishops' Program for Social Reconstruction, has been neutered.

                              --------------------

(For further discussion, see posts by Frederick Clarkson, Colleen Kochivar-Baker and Betty Clermont.)

The promised Robert P. George/Gold Standard piece will be the next post.




Display:
The bishops' choice for conference vice-president further reinforced their more hard-line approach. As The New York Times Laurie Goldstein recently reported, "The bishops also set a decidedly conservative direction this year in their choice of a vice president to replace Bishop Kicanas." Continuing directly, Goldstein further noted, "They elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who is chairman of the bishops' committee on marriage and an outspoken opponent of same-sex unions."


by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 07:01:30 AM EST

In the meantime our 'Catholic' dominated Supreme Court has made sure that the USCCB culture warriors won't lack for corporate funds.

by colkoch on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 12:02:35 PM EST

And they are trying to return us to the religious wars of the 16th-17th centuries.

by khughes1963 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 01:00:07 PM EST
Actually, more like a return to the thirteenth century.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 03:40:50 PM EST
Parent
In any event, they want to return to some imagined golden age of religious uniformity.

by khughes1963 on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 09:35:28 PM EST
Parent



A conversation I had in the last few days with a non-Christian is really enlightening and I wish the Religious Right would think about the comment that was made:  "I love Jesus, it is Christians that I hate!!!".  He went on to say that people accused him of being anti-Christian and anti-religion, but that what he opposed and disliked was the way these so-called "Christians" were forcing themselves on others and persecuting the people they didn't like.  

I've heard similar statements made by ex-Catholics.  In every case, they'd had a horrible encounter with a conservative "Christian", usually clergy.  Those encounters almost always involved one of the hot-button topics and involved a total lack of empathy or caring about people; the conservative was always more concerned about rules rather than people.  (Yes, I've encountered ex-Catholics who were ordered to stay in abusive relationships and excommunicated when they got divorces - and at the same time were ordered to never remarry!)

One person I know is ex-Catholic because of the anti-abortion laws where she grew up.  Her aunt had several children (like 8 or 9 - I don't remember exactly), was pregnant again, and the doctors said that this pregnancy was dangerous for her because of some issue (and the fetus would not survive).  Her aunt couldn't get an abortion, and died (and if I remember her story, the RC church had gotten involved and was punitive because she'd sought an abortion).

People like Dolan think they're doing God's work... but when you drive people away from the church and away from God, you certainly are not doing so.  God - the REAL God - is NOT into punishment or correction.

Dolan is clear evidence that the RC church is going to continue it's old ways of control-punish-coerce-silence.  People like us, who work to try to pick up the pieces (caused by the Religious Right in general), are just going to be spending much more time listening to people's misery and heartbreak... and I'm past tired of having to try to fix the harm caused by "Good Christians".


by ArchaeoBob on Tue Nov 23, 2010 at 09:29:28 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
NYT's David Brooks to Speak at Antigay Luncheon of Billionaires Who Fund Racist Preacher
Recently, government-encouraged outbreaks of mob violence against LGBT persons in countries from Uganda to Russia, and draconian new anti-gay legislation in those countries too,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
D'Souza's Downfall: Religious Right Favorite Sentenced For Campaign Donation Violations
Yesterday conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a term of community service for violating federal campaign laws. He......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Short Takes -- Taking Action Edition
Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from Sept. 21-27.  Yes its time for the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read, sponsored......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Archbishop Schnurr Throws Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an outstanding success in raising both awareness and research money needed to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The WCF and the Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights
[note to readers: this is an excerpt from my first installment in a Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties -......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Race as Religion
Reading Edith Beer's book, The Nazi Officer's Wife, I ran across an interesting account of her fake marriage license.  She married a Nazi officer......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Dark Discussions on the Christian Right
The Neo-Confederate movement has been trying to jump start itself of late.  It has been an especially heady few months for the League of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.