Catholics Bishops wear no authority

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has lost control over the faithful and some very significant Catholic institutions. For instance during the debate offering contraception in employee insurance plans with the Obama administration, it came to light that prestigious Catholic institutions, including Georgetown, Fordham and DePaul universities, acknowledged that they already cover contraception in employee insurance plans.

Even the Catholic Hospital Association has signed onto the Obama Administration compromise on the contraception issue.

The bishop’s moral authority continues to be dismissed primarily because of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. The Bishops are refusing to hold themselves accountable for the part they played in this broad based scandal. They have yet to hold any of their Cardinal’s or Bishops accountable even those who have come under individual states grand jury inquires that found fault on the Church’s part.

The contraceptive issue highlights what is happening with Gay Marriage among rank and file Catholics. “The bishops have lost their monopoly on speaking, and they have lost a lot of their clout,” said Father Thomas Reese, a Georgetown University theologian and church scholar.

The bishop’s effort appears to have a lack luster approach when it comes to strategy. At the fore front of this effort is Cardinal elect Archbishop Dolan who was elected President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in part because the Rainbow Sash Movement endorsed Bishop Kicanas Bishops of Tucson, AZ setting off a hysterical anti gay response from the conservative wing of the Church. It also might be added that Dolan was probably one the main reasons gay marriage passed in New York.

Second in command is Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was scheduled to testify on Thursday on Capitol Hill on the contraception issue. Some in the Church think Bishop Lori will lead a crackdown on those Catholic institutions which support the Obama Administration in this issue over the Bishops. Lori also is the lead for the anti-gay marriage forces in the Church a group that is losing the public opinion war within and outside of the Church.

Bishops have little sway over Catholic institutions. Most Catholic colleges and hospitals are legally independent.

Bishop Lori like Archbishop Dolan appears to be clueless when it comes to addressing the change in public opinion in support of Gay Marriage. The bishops seem to believe all they have to say to Catholics is we are the Teaching Authority of Church and all the laity needs to do is pay, pray, and obey. While the Church is not a democracy neither is it a dictatorship a fact of life the US Bishops are about to be confronted on.

Both men seem to dismiss the idea that the issue of contraception is about women’s health, and not freedom of religion. It should be noted these men at the same time have no problem for insurance coverage of Viagra for men. Catholic Women are rightly calling them hypocrites.

From the Rainbow Sash Movement perspective Dolan has been the best thing that could have happened for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender Catholics. Politically he is such an easy target, and does most of our work for us by shooting himself in the foot at every turn in many respects he is like Cardinal Francis George of Chicago previous president of the USCCB. The current leadership of the USCCB is one of the reasons public opinion is changing so radically in the Church in support of both contraception and gay marriage.

Jack Anderson
Rainbow Sash Movement

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