Someone needs to tell Father David Hollenbach, a Jesuit professor of theology at Boston College, that John Kerry lost the election. He seems to be under the misapprehension that Kerry won and that it was a repudiation of the bishops who gave clear teaching on whether it was a sin to vote for a pro-abortion politician and whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians could receive Communion.
Boston College theology professor Jesuit Father David Hollenbach said the approach “is likely to produce a very strong backlash.”
“People don’t like to have a group of bishops throwing their weight around, with religious claims attached to a political point,” he said. “I think those bishops are going to be proven to have made a bad mistake.” In the past when bishops took stands that obviously favored one candidate over another, “it produced the opposite effect of what the bishops who did it intended,” Father Hollenbach said.
Maybe it had that effect in the past, but not this time. Whatever may have been the result in the past, there was not a backlash and a case could be made that by speaking out those bishops actually caused more Catholics to vote the way they did, against pro-aborts.
And as Phil Lawler points out, Hollenbach has to reach back 24 years for an example of where there was a backlash and even then it was debatable whether there was a direct cause and effect. The reality is that bishops have so rarely stood up unequivocally on principle on a political issue that there isn’t enough data to make a firm judgment.
A lot of people like Hollenbach, most of them politically or religiously liberal, warned that voters wouldn’t like being “manipulated” or having bishops “politicize” religion, but in reality that seems to have been just another one of the bits of conventional wisdom to have been destroyed by this election.