George Weigel on Obama's "Divide and Conquer" Strategy: Obama, Not Bishops, Now Calling Shots for Catholic Church in U.S.
Yesterday, I blogged about Ross Douthat's "Divide and Conquer" piece at The New York Times, which pointed out that Obama's so-called "accomodation" on the HHS mandate was merely a means to sow dissension and confusion among Catholics.
Writing today at National Review, George Weigel has a piece titled "Divide and Conquer?", which makes the same argument while fleshing out the issue of who has "primacy" in speaking for the Catholic Church in the U.S.:
... The notion of a “primate” has little operational meaning throughout the Catholic Church in the 21st century. The Second Vatican Council mandated that every country have a national bishops’ conference. So, today, the president of the national conference is understood to be the principal figure in any local Church. Everyone understands, for example, that Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks for the Church in the United States in a singular way, especially when he speaks for a united bishops’ conference on matters of first principles.(emphasis added)
Everyone, that is, but the Obama White House.
In the administration’s view, then, primacy in the Catholic Church is not conferred by the pope, but by the White House. Thus Sister Carol Keehan could be recognized by the president’s chief of staff as primate of the Catholic Church in the United States, because she headed an organization that “knows a fair amount about . . . health care in this country” — unlike, for example, those mulish bishops who had failed to be taken in by the administration’s shell game.
That the administration would play divide-and-conquer with the Catholic Church in its attempt to ram through the HHS mandate was obvious from the outset, although the White House was likely surprised by the virtual unanimity of Catholic opposition to the mandate’s announcement on January 20 — a unanimity breached only by the likes of Catholics for Choice, a front group for pro-abortion donors that Lenin would have recognized as a gaggle of “useful idiots.” Indeed, the very rollout of the “accommodation” on February 10 reeked of divide-and-conquer. As Cardinal-designate Dolan has made clear in recent interviews, the White House called Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, with news of the “accommodation,” before it called the president of the bishops conference. Father Jenkins, to his great credit, told the White House that they had the wrong number and that they had to call Dolan...
In one respect, none of this should have been surprising. As I wrote in May 2009, President Obama’s commencement address at Notre Dame was striking in its attempt to inject the president and his office into a longstanding Catholic debate over Catholic identity in the United States. American religious history, I noted, had been rife with arguments about religious identity for centuries: Puritan identity, Baptist identity, Presbyterian identity, Episcopalian identity, Lutheran identity, and Jewish identity had all been contested, often vigorously and sometimes bitterly. But no president before Barack Obama had ever insinuated himself or his office into those intra-confessional debates, anointing good guys and implicitly condemning bad guys. Yet that is precisely what Obama did at Notre Dame: The good (as in “real”) Catholics were to be those who followed his lead (and those of his putative Catholic precursors, such as the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and longtime Notre Dame president Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.); the bad Catholics (as in faux-Catholics) would be . . . well, the kind of Catholics who recognized the administration “accommodation” on the HHS mandate as the ruse it was and is.
[Read the whole thing]
As I pointed out last week, the Obama Administration has inserted itself into an internal Church matter and has made a value judgment that those Catholics who do not abide by the Church's teachings on abortion, birth control, abortifacients, and sterilization (and, let's be honest, same-sex "marriage" is next up on the agenda) are the "REAL" Catholics in America, and that the Bishops and the teachings they uphold are out of date in their beliefs, out of step with their members and ... as of now ... out of power. Because, as noted in my post yesterday, it is now Obama under cover of this "alternative magisterium" of ObamaCaths, rather than the Catholic Bishops, who is effectively the de facto policymaker for the Catholic Church in the United States. Primacy indeed.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Divide and Conquer: Ross Douthat Notes Obama's HHS "Compromise" Merely a Means for ObamaCaths to Save Face
Obama Administration Gives Opponents of HHS Mandate All the Evidence They Need to Convince Court of Free Exercise Violation
Health Care Reform and the Magisterium [UPDATED]
Cardinal George: Sr. Keehan Chose Obama Over Catholic Bishops
American Papist: Obama an Enemy to Catholic Unity
The Catholic Health Association and the Future of Catholic Unity
Sister Carol Keehan Misrepresents Her Support of the Health Care Bill
Bishop Tells Pro-Life Democrat: Nuns Can’t Absolve ObamaCare Vote
Establishing the "Alternative Magisterium"
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