Cafeteria Catholics

Does E.J. Dionne Even Pretend to be a Catholic Anymore? (Updated)

E.J. Dionne thinks the American Bishops are just a bunch of right-wing meanies .  No, seriously.

The headlines this week were about lawsuits brought by 43 Catholic organizations, including 13 dioceses, to overturn regulations issued by the Obama administration that require insurance plans to cover contraception under the new health-care law. But the other side of this news was also significant: The vast majority of the nation’s 195 dioceses did not go to court.

Which Dionne takes as a signal that those dioceses do not approve of the suits.

Has Dionne ever taken even an elementary logic course?  That the other dioceses did not join the suit does not imply that they oppose the suit.  They may have chosen not to participate for any number of reasons.  For instance, newly installed Bishop Lori in Baltimore explained on EWTN just last night that the Archdiocese of Baltimore did not join the suit because it was a time of transition with him just being installed last week.  As for the other dioceses, they may not have the time and resources to join the suit.

Dionne then – hysterically – implies that the Church is being over-run by right-wing Bishops.

Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign aimed at highlighting “threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad.”

But in recent months, a series of events — among them the Vatican’s rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, encouraged by right-wing U.S. bishops — have angered more progressive Catholics and led to talk among the disgruntled faithful of the need for a “Catholic spring” to challenge the hierarchy’s shift to the right.

It’s amusing that Dionne chooses to frame the issue as a right-versus-left one, and even more amusing that he seems to be implying that the Vatican was prodded by a bunch of scheming winger-Bishops to issue its rebuke.

To his credit, Dionne does manage to find a few Bishops who are opposed to the lawsuit.*

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., broke the silence on his side Tuesday in aninterview with Kevin Clarke of the Jesuit magazine America. Blaire expressed concern that some groups “very far to the right” are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into “an anti-Obama campaign.”

“I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into [a] political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops,” he said. “I think our rhetoric has to be that of bishops of the church who are seeking to be faithful to the Gospel, that our one concern is that we make sure the church is free to carry out her mission as given to her by Christ, and that remains our focus.”

My sympathies to the Catholics in Stockton, California.  One can only imagine the sterling homilies they must hear every Sunday.

This is simply nonsense.  The Obama administration drew a very clear line in the sand.  I’m sorry to break this to Bishop Blaire, but when  a presidential administration declares open war on religion freedom, it de facto becomes a political issue.  I realize that you must be of the generation that believes that the only way to resolve anything is deep dialogue and expressions of “concern,” but sitting on your behind and just hoping that the administration will be nice to you down the line is not going to accomplish anything.

Already, there are reports that some bishops will play down or largely ignore the Fortnight for Freedom campaign, scheduled for June 21 to July 4, in their own dioceses. These bishops fear that it has become enmeshed in Republican election-year politics and see many of its chief promoters, notably Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, as too strident.

I’m so confused.  Bishop Lori himself didn’t attach himself to the lawsuit, so obviously by Dionne’s logic he must be opposed to the suit.  Does that mean that Bishop Lori believes that Bishop Lori is too strident?  The mind reels.

Again, it’s a pity that some Bishops do not have the courage to stand up and fight for religious freedom.  Like Bishop Blaire, they are of the mindset that it’s best not to cause too much trouble or kick up too much of a fuss – unless of course the issue is changing the translation of the Mass.  Then these same Bishops kick and scream and do everything in their power to fight change.  But when it comes to challenging an administration intent on curtailing their freedoms – meh, better to just hold a series of seminars and hope everything gets sorted out in the end.

Dionne then makes some hay over the phony “compromise” offered by HHS, a compromise only gullible left-leaning Catholics put any stock into.  Because at the end of the day, for people like Dionne hiking taxes on the rich is more important than minor issues such as abortion and religious freedom.

Dionne closes with this whopper:

For too long, the Catholic Church’s stance on public issues has been defined by the outspokenness of its most conservative bishops and the reticence of moderate and progressive prelates.

Yes, we all remember how all those right-wing Bishops led the charge when it came to immigration reform, or the war in Iraq, or in recent budget debates.

Signs that this might finally be changing are encouraging for the church, and for American politics.

Hey, Dionne finally says something I agree with. Of course he has now clue that the behavioral change is now quite the one he thinks is happening.

*Update:  See Donald’s comment.  In fact, even Blaire is on board with his fellow Bishops.  Sorry, EJ.

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