Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, confronted by the bold actions of his friend and apostolic brother Bishop Raymond Burke, decides to punt rather thantake action.
On the one hand, the archbishop says he’s happy that Burke “front-burnered” the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, he’s waiting for the US bishops’ conference to propose guidelines for bishops. Is this leadership? Is this apostolic courage? Is the example first shown by St. Athanasius who was exiled from his see by own people for speaking the truth against Arianism? The bishop is sovereign in his own diocese and no national conference of bishops can overrule him or take on any of his powers. All Dolan needs to do is follow Burke who has shown that a bishop has the right and duty to take this kind of action.
Archbishop Dolan says he’s at peace with the way he’s been dealing with the problem, through preaching. I see, and has it made a discernible difference in a single Catholic politician? I am reminded of the parents who calmly tell their children not use the scissors on the curtains, but never punish the child for fear of “harming his development.” Meanwhile, he’s growing into an uncontrollable brat.
Even his formulation of the problem is troublesome.
It bothers me if any politician, Catholic or not, is for abortion. Because in my mind, we’re talking about a civil right, we’re not talking about a matter of Catholic Church discipline. We can’t allow the noble pro-life cause to be reduced to a denominational issue.
It’s not a civil rights issue and it’s not a Church discipline issue. It’s a truth issue. It is natural moral law issue: It is wrong to take innocent life.
You know, we American bishops – again (speaking as) the church historian – I look back to our stance on slavery, and it wasn’t a good one. And we look back and say, ‘Darn it. We missed an opportunity to be prophetic.’
To be prophetic or to stand up for the truth, for what is right and moral?
Bottom line: What do bishops have to lose by standing up to pro-abortion Catholic politicians? Do they think donations will drop off? Are pro-abortion Catholics giving that much money to the Church? If they are, then perhaps we don’t want that blood money anyway. Or perhaps bishops want to be able to say that they can be the “public face of the Church in the public square” and continue to smile and nod at Senator “Catholic Pro-abort” at rubber-chicken dinners and soup kitchen openings. Who knows?
I’ll tell you one thing though: by equivocating in this way, the bishops continue to alienate and discourage those Catholics who are the heart of the Church, who actually want to live by and proclaim the Truths of Jesus Christ. Who would the bishops rather be closer friends with and count as their more ardent supporters?