Monday, April 19, 2010

The Bishops Strike Back Against Dissenting Women Religious [UPDATED]

Yesterday, I reported my Bishop's response to the "Catholic" groups, including the women religious who signed the Network statement, who worked overtime to undermine the Bishops authority and pro-life witness during the health care debate.

Today, I read where Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, has denied a group of Network-statement-signing women religious the use of diocesan resources for which they had asked to utilize for promotional purposes:
A Pennsylvania bishop has denied a women religious order's request to recruit using diocesan media due to the sisters' open dissent of the U.S. bishops in supporting the recent health care reform.

Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg wrote a letter on April 8 to the Sisters of St. Joesph in Baden, Pennsylvania, declining their request for promotional support from parishes in the Greensburg diocese for a vocations program at their convent on April 25.

The leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph recently signed a letter written by the women religious social justice group NETWORK, who on March 17, urged the House of Representatives to vote in support of health care reform. Two days prior, Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, denounced the health care bill in a statement for its provision of federally funded abortions.

Expect the usual caterwauling from the usual suspects: "Oh, this Bishop is being spiteful and short-sighted by denying these hard-working sisters the ability to promote vocations within the diocese."

Yeah, whatever. I'm sure the Bishop knows of plenty of faithful groups of women religious to which the diocese would be better served by directing its resources.

More on the rupture between the Bishops and groups of liberal women religious:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the yearlong battle over health-care reform came to a head last month, an open dispute over public funding for abortion exposed deep fissures within the Church. Some bishops’ conference staffers privately worried that “polarization in political life is being transferred to ecclesial life.”

During the final week of the bruising health reform negotiations on Capitol Hill, Network, a self-described “national Catholic social justice lobby,” endorsed the Senate bill that was about to be voted on in the House of Representatives. In doing so, they called into question the U.S. bishops’ objections to provisions dealing with abortion funding and conscience protections.

Network wasn’t the only Catholic group to challenge the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which emerged as the chief pro-life critic of the bill: The Catholic Health Association’s endorsement had already incensed pro-life advocates. Network’s public letter of support for the Catholic Health Association provided additional political cover for the bill’s defenders, who argued that it preserved the status quo on federal funding of abortion.

A month later, the U.S. bishops and conference officials are still angry.

“In the past, we have worked with Network on immigration reform, and they attend some meetings of our coalition,” said Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the bishops conference. “But working in a coalition requires trust. Network can’t have it both ways: it can’t benefit from the bishops’ advocacy and then undercut them at a strategic moment.”

Appleby’s sense of betrayal was echoed by Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., who recently wrote Sister Carol Keehan, the Catholic Health Association president, to request that the CHA drop a Catholic hospital in his diocese from membership. Any “association with CHA is now embarrassing,” he said.

“Your enthusiastic support of the [health-care reform] legislation, in contradiction to the position of the bishops of the United States, provided an excuse for members of Congress, misled the public and caused serious scandal for many members of the Church,” wrote Bishop Tobin.

Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., prohibited the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, Pa., whose leadership team signed Network’s letter endorsing the bill, from receiving diocesan media or parish support for their vocation recruitment effort.

(Hat tip: Opinionated Catholic)

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