Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Newsweek Bigot: "When Bishops Play Politics"

One of Newsweek's many anti-Catholic bigots, Lisa Miller, attacks the U.S. Bishops for fighting to keep federally funded abortion coverage out of the health care reform bills:
They see themselves as crusaders for human rights—protectors of the innocent, the voiceless, and the powerless. After years of enduring the slings and arrows of opposition, these activists are finally in the power seat. They are among the most important voices on a crucial political question: will abortion finally scuttle health-care reform?

They are America's Roman Catholic bishops.

It goes without saying that the Catholic hierarchy has always been pro-life. Nevertheless, the new prominence of this ancient fraternity is somewhat surprising. For one thing, the American public hardly regards the institutional Catholic Church as sacrosanct. Thanks to continuing sex scandals
[ED.: Here we go again ...], many Americans—even American Catholics—roll their eyes on the subject of the Catholic hierarchy's ability to stand as a moral example [ED.: ... and there it is. Anderson's Law on full display in a "mainstream news" publication. Argumentum ad paedophilium never will go away, will it?].

Also, American Catholics reflect the voting public at large, which is to say that they are—and have long been—pro-choice. [ED.: Really? That's quite an overstatement, don't you think? At best, you could say that Catholics, broadly defined as also including those who no longer regularly practice their faith, are roughly evenly split on whether abortion should be legal in most or all cases vs. illegal in most or all cases (note: the "pro-choice" position, as embodied in those who support Roe v. Wade and its progeny, is that which holds for the legality of abortion-on-demand in all cases, and that reflects the attitude of only 16% of the Catholic population; all other Catholics - 84% - support at least some legal restrictions on abortion)] According to a 1999 poll [ED.: You had to scrounge up a poll that's over a decade old in order to support your bogus claim?], more than half of American Catholics believe you can be a good Catholic and disregard the bishops' teachings on abortion. [ED.: Hold on now! That's an altogether different inquiry than whether "American Catholics ... are—and have long been—pro-choice."]

Now a new generation of bishops, appointed by Pope John Paul II and activist especially on life issues, sees the opportunity to affect abortion policy. They've seized, in particular, on the Democrats' lack of unity on the choice issue [ED.: How dare the Bishops "exploit" the fact that there are pro-life Democrats by trying to work with them. Don't they know that the pro-abort forces "own" the Democrat vote?], and they've stepped into that gap by articulating a firm and uncompromising anti-abortion stance [ED.: Heaven forbid! The Catholic Church articulating a firm and uncompromising anti-abortion stance? Wouldn't that be the same firm and uncompromising anti-abortion stance the Church has been articulating for 2000 years, and even more forcefully for over 35 years since Roe v. Wade was decided? I don't get it. What's supposedly "new" about what the Bishops are doing?]. In sum: they want health-care reform, but they don't want a single taxpayer dollar to go to abortion providers—or to health-insurance plans that cover abortions. They don't care if the disenchanted laity [ED.: Again with the broad assertions about what lay Catholics allegedly believe. Just because all the Catholics you happen to know avidly read the National Catholic Reporter doesn't mean that the rest of us support federally funded abortion via health care reform. In fact, why don't you consort with one of those polls of which you seem to be so fond and disabuse yourself of that notion altogether. You see, not only do an overwhelming majority of Catholics NOT want to see abortion funded via government-subsidized health care, but that view reflects the attitude of the rest of the country at large. Americans, as a whole, SUPPORT the Bishops in their efforts.] disagrees with them, and they're less interested than previous generations in working on policy through proper bureaucratic channels. [ED.: What are these "proper bureaucratic channels" through which the Bishops are supposed to be working? They can't just call up their congressman like the rest of us citizens are supposed to be able to do? Besides only to a leftist with a fetish for statism (but I suppose that's redundant) would "working through bureaucracy" be seen as a virtue.]

[More]
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)

Fortunately, the Bishops have fired back via the USCCB Media Blog: "When Newsweek Plays Bishops":
A March 4 piece in Newsweek, When Bishops Play Politics: a New Generation Gets Righteous, by Lisa Miller, doesn't have too much to recommend it.

The article follows a predictable narrative, saying that the U.S. Catholic Bishops are meddling in the politics of health care reform. The article suggests that, because of their opposition to abortion funding, health care legislation in its entirety might fail.

This is problematic on several levels.

First there's the presumption that the bishops, who are after all private citizens, somehow shouldn't speak freely on civil matters, as if the First Amendment didn't extend to them. It's part of a pattern of thought
recently described by USCCB President Cardinal Francis George as seeking to relegate religious values to the place of private devotion, with no place as a voice for good in the public square.

The article couples its criticism of the bishops' speaking out with the assertion that their voices don't represent anyone significant because 1. clergy sexual abuse et al has stripped them of their moral authority and 2. polls allege that a majority of U.S. Catholics don't even agree with the bishops on abortion.

As it attempts to undermine the bishops rather than engage them, the article ignores
polls that show that the bishops are actually more in touch with the U.S. public on the issue of abortion funding in health care reform.

[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis added)

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