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Bishops Dabbling in Politics

In France, the French bishops have come out with sympathy for the young people who rioted for almost a month before the Chirac government caved in yesterday. The remarks reported by Catholic News Service show that the bishops have an understanding that the French economy is collapsing, and that the unrest is a symptom deeper issues there. Many people would agree with this assessment, but reasonable minds can differ about solutions. Some reasonable minds will be wrong, and there is nothing to say that a bishop speaking on purely political matters will be right, or even reasonable.

The same goes for the prominent Catholic presence in Washington yesterday. Except that yesterday the Cardinal himself invoked the civil rights movement to talk about the McCain-Kennedy immigration “reform” bill. It does no Catholic any good to be seen on a podium with Ted Kennedy, but the specific issue here is that the Church is presented as having taken a position on the bill.

In both cases, the bishops come very close to endorsing illegal behavior. Black Americans had both the moral law and the human law on their side. They fought only for recognition of the right they were already guaranteed. Foreign nationals who yearn to come to America have no such right (though one may argue they have other rights). Illegal immigrants clearly have no such right, and their claim to any such right is undermined by their illegality.

Bishops have the power to speak with authority, but that fact requires that they speak with restraint. One hopes these bishops and cardinals are just as loquacious at the pro-life rallies. But are they? In that case, they would be speaking with authority, enunciating the Church’s clear teaching that life is sacred. The Pope stands behind that position, and it does not involve averting their eyes from criminal behavior. They would have the same authority to speak to liturgical abuses, but seldom do we hear of any such remarks.

Instead, we hear a lot of talk from bishops dabbling in politics, about which they possess no special wisdom beyond the relevant infallible doctrines of the Church. If these doctrines were proclaimed with more vigor, many of our political issues would take care of themselves as the democratic principle was combined with moral rectitude.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 11, 2006 7:08 PM.

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