Establishing the "Alternative Magisterium"
Need "Catholic" sign off on your agenda, regardless of whether it actually meets the criteria of fidelity to the Church's teaching? No problem.
Don't bother with the Bishops. Do an end run. Get the imprimatur of the "alternative Catholic magisterium".
A phone call to Father Hesburgh is helpful. A letter of support from a group of women religious currently under investigation by both the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops invokes just the right amount of radical chic yet also "Bells-of-St.-Mary nun nostalgia" to appeal to a broad range of "Catholic" sentiments. A visit from Sister Carol to key politicians to work against and undermine the Bishops' stance is absolutely essential. An award of an honorary law degree from America's flagship Catholic university ought to give just the right aura of "Catholic" legitimacy. Lining up a bunch of "Catholic" politicians to vote for the thing makes it all look downright "official Church policy". Throw in a dead Kennedy or two for you to lionize on behalf of your cause, and that's just icing on the cake.
Of course, you need more than just big names to lend legitimacy to your "alternative magisterium". You need lots of little minions (not just mornings, but noons and nights, as well) to plant seeds of doubt regarding the collective wisdom of the Bishops and their priorities and to lay the groundwork for placing one's trust in more "enlightened" yet "still authentic" Catholic voices. You know the sort of worker bees I'm talking about: Soros-funded groups who talk about being "united" and "in alliance" and working toward the "common good", who bemoan the prominence of the unborn among the issues with which Catholics are most concerned, and who decry the "politics of division" all the while seeking to divide and conquer Catholics in an effort to separate them from their Bishops; "Catholic" publications that write about the Bishops as being out of touch with the times and impediments to "progress" and reform (i.e. the Bishops don't buy completely into the Democrat agenda); bloggers proclaiming themselves to be speaking with a "new voice" or a "Catholic sensibility".
So, why bother with the Bishops? No need to get your pet issue tied up in all the red tape and bureaucracy at the USCCB (which, anyway, everyone knows is staffed with a bunch of right-wing GOP party hacks working overtime to make the USCCB the "Republican Party at Prayer").
No, all you have to do to get "Catholic" backing for your pet cause is to get the Democrat Party to adopt it as part of its platform. As long as your cause empowers government and doesn't involve anything stodgy and traditional (and "right wing") such as organized religion, marriage, or the sanctity of life, you should have no problem at all getting your agenda into the platform. And once that happens, the "self-described Catholic" groups will just come flocking to bless your policy preferences and give them the necessary "alternative magisterial imprimatur" you need to pass your views off as thoroughly "Catholic".
If you're really lucky, and your agenda item can arguably - in some remotely tenuous way - be deemed a "quality of life" measure, you might even qualify for the added benefit of having the "alternative Catholic magisterium" declare your cause to be in furtherance of a "consistent ethic of life" and proclaim you to be "TRULY pro-life", unlike all those baby-worshipping freaks.
So, don't delay! Rush out and get your "Catholic" stamp of approval today.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
The Smear, Part 2: Stupak Attacks Catholic Bishops
Archbishop Chaput: A Bad Bill and How We Got It
Archbishop Chaput: Those Confusing the Catholic Stance on Health Care Will Bear the Blame for Anti-Life Effects of Heath Care Bill
Catholic Obama Supporters More Interested in Providing Cover Than Holding Obama's Feet to the Fire
Catholic Nuns Urge Passage of Obama's Health Bill
Obama's Catholic Strategy: Divide and Conquer
Newsweek: Obama More Catholic Than the Pope
Pope Hope I (a.k.a. "The Great")
Pope Greets "Hope"?
Of "Neo-Caths" and "Sharia Catholicism"
Notre Dame's President Jenkins: "We Are Tremendously Proud" to be Acting in Defiance of the US Catholic Bishops