One of the most disturbing post-election articles I've read is about Catholic bishops in the United States and their warning to Barack Obama about possible policy shifts on abortion rights, embryonic stem-cell research, and other "life" issues.
Daniel Burke, of Religion News Service, reports that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said an Obama administration will not achieve the unity it seeks if it pursues "aggressively pro-abortion policies."
Such policies, George states, would be seen by millions of Americans as "an attack on the free exercise of their religion."
This last quote is one of the most inane statements I've ever seen from a supposedly intelligent public person. How would an Obama policy regarding abortion rights, or any other issue, be an attack on Catholics' right to practice their religion? It wouldn't, and this statement indicates George is more interested in firing up financial support from social conservatives than he is in helping the country move forward.
The fact that George's statement was unanimously approved by some 300 bishops indicates American Catholic leadership is deceitful, selfish, and arrogant.
These are the same folks who have worked for years to hide and protect the pedophiles who soil the priesthood. And yet, Obama is supposed to take their "moral" positions seriously?
If my understanding of American history is correct, the American bishops deserve "credit" for starting our nation's culture wars. Now, as our incoming president faces two wars, a colossal financial crisis, and other perils, they seem hell-bent on rekindling those wars.
Pretty darn un-American, if you ask me.
My understanding is that abortion began to come to the forefront in the early 1970s when the bishops went through Pat Buchanan to pressure the Nixon administration on the issue. Protestants did not join the fray until Jerry Falwell and other Southern racists became concerned over Jimmy Carter's efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of religious schools that discriminated based on race.
That led to formation of the Moral Majority, and it soon joined the Catholic bishops in picking up the cross for "life" issues. But Falwell and his followers mainly were concerned that Carter would stand in the way of state-sponsored segregation.
In other words, America's "pro life" movement grew in the soil of racism, and that Catholic bishops would confront our first black president over this issue is shameful. It also shows an ignorance of modern American history.
George and his bishop friends seem to be particularly exorcised that Obama might support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which they say would "coerce" Americans into subsidizing abortion with their tax dollars. I'm guessing it also would cause massive outbreaks of halitosis and ring around the collar.
Here is the irony in all of this: Obama actually takes a conservative approach to abortion rights. His stance is to keep the government out of health-care decisions facing women and their doctors. What could be more conservative than that? He also favors efforts to reduce unwanted pregnancies, which is the root cause of most abortions anyway.
Want more irony? The U.S. abortion rate went down under our last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and the decline stalled during the George W. Bush years.
The bishops, however, appear to prefer a president like Bush who claims to be "pro life" but creates an environment where progress on the issue is stalled. This tells me the bishops aren't really interested in abortion. They are interested in filling the collection plates, and abortion is a hot-button issue that fires up the social-conservative base.
Even more alarming than the bishops' stance on abortion rights is their opposition to embryonic stem-cell research. How anyone can be opposed to research on embryos that are going to be discarded anyway is beyond me. And thanks to George W. Bush, we've already lost eight years of potential progress on this "pro life" issue.
As someone who has lost two close relatives to Parkinson's disease, this hits pretty close to home for your humble blogger.
I'm a Presbyterian, one of God's "frozen chosen," so it's certainly not my place to tell Catholics how to handle their religious lives. But if I were Catholic, and a supporter of Barack Obama (or our country in general), I would find this statement from the bishops highly offensive.
I also would be tempted to start a movement within the church to withhold financial support if the leadership continues to issue statements that are wrongheaded, divisive, and harmful to our nation.
The bishops were happy with George W. Bush, who ran one of the most incompetent, corrupt, and "pro death" administrations in history?
Catholic leaders appear to have their collective heads stuffed in a certain deep, dark crevice. I would say it's time for them to pull their heads out into the light--or shut the hell up.