The nations Roman Catholic Bishops have finished their “Fortnight of Freedom” with a Mass said at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, on July 4, 2012 in Washington DC. Archbishop Chaput gave the sermon in the Basilica to a packed Church. The bishops were trying to rally the troops so they could once again say they speak for all Catholics, a unity they lost some 50 years ago.
The issue according to the Bishops is one of religious liberty; however, the campaign had all the trappings of a political campaign to attack and bring down President Obama. So after 2 weeks of intense efforts on the Bishops part they have little results to show for it.
Clearly the bishops are united on this issue, but where they differ is on strategy to achieve this end. Those bishops on the far right such as Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, bishop of Lincoln, Neb, told NPR that “.. are not open to votes. These are what God has revealed, and the custody of that revelation is, of course, in the possession of the church.” So according to this rather incomplete mindset we should return to the days of blind obedience.
Remember it was out of those dark days that the clergy sexual abuse was able grow under the watchful eyes of the Bishops. Additonally, Bishop Bruskewitz has refused to take part the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) audits for clergy sexual abuse, and no action has been taken on him by his fellow bishops. So much for trust and blind obedience.
In Archbishop Chaput’s sermon he said “Obviously we’re in the world. That means we have obligations of charity and justice to the people with whom we share it. Patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honorable thing. …”
He goes on to say “But God made us for more than the world… Because just as the coin (in a passage from Matthew) bears the stamp of Caesar’s image, we bear the stamp of God’s image in baptism. We belong to God, and only to God.
Further he said “.Real freedom isn’t something Caesar (government) can give or take away. He can interfere with it; but when he does, he steals from his own legitimacy.
Halfway through these past two weeks the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). The Bishops and their predecessors have supported health care reform for the last 50 years, suddenly they became sidetracked by the birth control issue, and had to release the following statement “The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct (the law’s) fundamental flaws.” Even Chief Justice Roberts a Catholic disagree’s with the bishops when it comes to the laws constitutionality.
For LGBT Catholics the whole issue boils down to what we understand the Church to be. Vatican II the highest teaching authority of the Church has spoken on this question. The Church is the people of God, it most definitely does not say the Church is the Pope and Bishops .Teaching the faith is be shared by the three pillars of our faith “Sense of the Faithful”, “Teaching Magisterium” and our theologians. Something our current Pope and Bishops have a very poor record on.
It is time the US Bishops engage in dialogue and stop engaging in political activity that only further erodes the Church’s moral authority. Compromise is the only way out of this rather muddy situation. Such a compromise cannot be achieved if the Bishops continue to promote their privilege in this matter.
Rainbow Sash Movement