“Conservatives Try To Exploit Catholic Democrats’ Views,” read a New York Times headline on A17 Tuesday. Minus the convoluted bias, the headline would read: Catholic Democrats Exploit Faith While Rejecting It.
But that story is of no interest to the Times. What concerns the Times is that as the ground of American politics shifts pro-abortion Catholic Democrats, who once could navigate it so easily à la Mario Cuomo, are beginning to lose their footing. This is “deeply troubling” to Catholics like Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “If I went to my local church in Virginia and was denied communion, I’d be very upset about that,” McAuliffe said to the Times. “I doubt it will come to that. I think it would be a huge mistake for the Catholic Church.”
The successors of the Apostles have been sternly warned not to inconvenience Terry McAuliffe’s Sunday. And it looks like they won’t, according to the Times. It reports that the American bishops will likely dodge the issue until after the election. The bishops have established a time-buying task force to study “how to deal with Catholic elected officials who vote against church doctrine,” which is headed up by a labor-activist cardinal traditionally in the tank for the Dems, Theodore McCarrick. He has already signaled that he won’t confront Kerry. “The McCarrick guidelines may not be ready until after the election,” the Times reports.
Last week Kerry arranged a meeting with Cardinal McCarrick — a meeting Kerry had the chutzpah to arrange at his home (that plan was scotched after word of it leaked out, forcing the locale to be changed for face-saving reasons). Kerry called for the meeting to ensure that the pliant cardinal would keep the lid on the boiling pot of lay Catholic outrage. Unknown at the time, there was an added element of chutzpah to the meeting: At the very moment Kerry was chatting with the cardinal, his campaign team was preparing to roll out a pro-abortion advertising blitz. It appeared on television stations nationwide this week.
“The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman’s right to choose. George Bush will appoint anti-choice, anti-privacy justices. But you can stop him. Help elect John Kerry and join the fight to protect our right to choice. Contribute now at JohnKerry.com. Call or log on now,” says the ad, Kerry’s can-rattling pitch to the deep-pocketed abortion lobby.
Sensing that the bishops are Democrats before they are Catholics, Kerry and McAuliffe are exploiting the left-wing clericalism of the McCarricks to suggest that the Democrats vote more often with the Church than do pro-life Republicans. Democrat leaders have worked up a “research paper,” reports the Times (borrowing from last week’s Hill newspaper story), to show “how closely they adhere to church teachings on social justice, poverty, capital punishment, war and a range of other issues.”
Murder and minimum wage are weighted the same in this analysis. The bishops, by using their office to tout their left-wing political views, have made this Democratic gambit possible. Had the bishops restricted themselves to teaching the Catholic faith, there wouldn’t be this confusion for the Democrats to manipulate. Instead for decades many of the bishops have been acting like Democratic Party lobbyists, hovering over prudential political issues on which Catholics can disagree even as they failed to articulate and enforce teachings on vital matters where Catholics may not disagree.
For the last word, the Times turned to Richard McBrien, Notre Dame’s prized house heretic and the establishment media’s favorite fraud theologian, for insight on the bishops. They are “pragmatists at heart,” says McBrien. Translation: they are Democrats at heart unwilling to govern the Church and protect the faith when it proves inexpedient.
The irony of the bishops’ not lifting a finger to govern Kerry within their own sphere of influence is that as president Kerry would govern them. Democrats are never afraid to cross the line between Church and state themselves in order to enforce liberalism everywhere. It is not hard to imagine President Kerry signing legislation mandating that Catholic hospitals which receive state monies hand out condoms (this is already state law in California) and permit abortion and euthanasia.
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