The US bishops’ conference is at it again. It has issued position papers on legislative priorities for the new Congress. They address the following issues: Religious liberty, Environmental justice, Colombia, Debt relief, Cuba, Iraq, Millennium challenge account, Holy Land, Nuclear arms and landmines, Health care for the uninsured, Food and nutrition programs, Faith-based initiative, Welfare policy: TANF reauthorization, Predatory mortgage lending, Death penalty, Minimum wage, National housing trust fund, Tax relief for low income families, Agricultural issues, Children’s health and the environment.
What a waste of time. For one thing, why should I pay any attention to this? It’s not like they were written by the bishops or even reviewed by a majority of them. They were written by bureaucrats at the USCCB. I could give just as much weight to position papers put out by the Catholic League or Catholics United for the Faith. Secondly, all the papers have a left-wing, liberal bias. The way this is supposed to work is that the bishops enumerate a principle, e.g. we must do more to help the poor. Now the position papers say that is accomplished by raising the minimum wage and cutting taxes for the poor while keeping taxes on the rich high. But people of good will can disagree on implementation without disagreeing with the principle. I think the poor would best be helped by improving the economy and that means cutting taxes on everyone, but especially those who have the most capital to invest. It doesn’t mean raising the minimum wage because all that does is put people out of work by making it harder for small-business owners to survive in a bad economy. Better to improve the economy first. Making it easier to stay on welfare doesn’t help the poor; giving them incentives and opportunities to get jobs does. And so on.
Unfortunately, the position papers don’t leave any room for such prudential judgments and certainly don’t allow room for someone with a conservative view. It makes it appear that only liberal ideologies are concerned with helping the poor and needy.
Third, there’s a gaping hole in the positions covered: Abortion. There’s not a single position paper on abotion or cloning or assisted suicide. One might object that maybe the Social Development and World Peace committee that put these together simply left addressing life issues to the Pro-Life Secretariat. That would make sense, except they do have a position paper on the death penalty, the one pro-life issue that liberals love.
What we have here in this arm of the bishops’ conference is an outpost of the liberal wing of the Democrat Party in the Catholic Church. It is the place where the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy could feel right at home. Nothing there to challenge them and everything to make them feel welcome. In fact, imagine if you will, who would receive the warmer welcome at the offices of the Social Development and World Peace committee? Ted Kennedy or George W. Bush?