Blackmail?

Blackmail?

Rod Dreher sents along the following note concerning the CINO politician problem and the weak response from bishops.

Is there a connection between the silence, or at least the empty words, of so many Catholic bishops on the subject of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, and the possibility of hidden personal scandal in the lives of individual bishops? That thought has crossed my mind in the past few days as I’ve watched the bishops, with very few exceptions, either keep quiet or flail half-heartedly at John Kerry. There is one influential bishop in particular whose name has come up in public in connection with the Kerry controversy, and I know that this bishop is deeply compromised in his personal life—and more importantly, I know that this fact, while hidden from the public, is fairly widespread knowledge among the media and church elite.

I would be shocked if the higher-ups in the Democratic Party didn’t know this too. So I don’t expect this bishop to offer any criticism of Kerry if asked, and in fact I would expect him to offer warm words of conciliation and “healing.” He may mean them sincerely, or he may fear what might emerge if he took on Kerry directly on the abortion issue.

I take this blackmail possibility seriously. In 1994, I was living on Capitol Hill in a group house with four others, all of whom worked in politics. When the Republicans took over the House that year, I taunted one of my housemates, who worked for a Democratic member, with chants of, “Speaker Gingrich! Speaker Gingrich!” He wasn’t fazed a bit. He told me calmly, “We know that Newt cheats on his wife. If he pushes things too far, we’ll make sure the media know it too.”

As it turned out, Newt really was cheating on his wife. I wonder how many punches were pulled by Speaker Gingrich out of fear that the Democrats would drop the bomb on him. Similarly, I wonder how many bishops will pull their punches on pro-abortion Catholic politicians out of the same fear. This happens in the real world.

I’ve discussed this very thing with my circle of friends and professional colleagues. In fact, the topic came up often when discussing why so many bishops did nothing, or actively did wrong, in relation to shuffling pervert priests around in the Scandal. Often, we’d heard, without enough evidence to publish it, that such-and-such bishop had skeletons in his closet and was being threatened, implicitly or overtly, with exposure if he did anything untoward.

Considering the dirty business of politics I wouldn’t be surprised if the Democrats have engaged in the same thing, although I’m not sure it would take all that much prodding for some of these bishops to go easy on the politicians. I think that many of these bishops are genuinely sympathetic to the policy positions of liberal Democrats or Republicans, as the case may be, except for the inconvenient abortion issue.

So, is it blackmail? Genuine sympathy? Either way, what we’ve got is a failure of Catholic leadership.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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