It’s turned into a he said/they said, with some disagreement about what actually happened at a meeting Friday.
Gov. Pat Quinn apparently did not understand that when he met with Illinois’ Catholic bishops Friday, they were taking him out to the woodshed.
The 10 bishops Quinn met with issued a news release Saturday saying that was wrong — the primary purpose of their meeting with him, they said, was to admonish him about using his Catholic up-bringing to justify views at odds with those of the church.
Quinn said he agreed with Chicago’s Cardinal George that the meeting was “pastoral,” — the bishops are kind of like “pastors” to Quinn, who often touts his credentials as a Catholic product of Catholic schools.
But Quinn said that most of the talk at the two-hour meeting was about areas where he and the bishops agreed, such as helping the poor.
“A lot of the discussion was how we could work together to fight poverty; help the people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand,” Quinn told the Sun-Times as he left a Christmas toy give-away on the Far South Side. “Getting people jobs; helping people who don’t have enough food to eat — That’s what the church’s social mission is all about. And I’m well versed.” Quinn continued, even repeating some of the scripture he said he quoted to the bishops.After reading his comments in an online story Saturday, the bishops issued a letter of rebuttal.
“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with Governor Quinn. We share the Governor’s concern for the poor,” they wrote. “From our point of view, however, this was a meeting between pastors and a member of the Church to discuss the principles of faith, not the works of faith. On several occasions, the Governor has referred to his Catholic conscience and faith as the justification for certain political decisions.
“As Catholic pastors, we wanted to remind the Governor that conscience, while always free, is properly formed in harmony with the tradition of the Church, as defined by Scripture and authentic teaching authority. A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience. The Catholic faith cannot be used to justify positions contrary to the faith itself. It is a matter of personal integrity for people who call themselves Catholic to act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition, since he holds a highly visible and influential position, the Governor’s statements about conscience or other matters of faith can affect many other people for whose spiritual care bishops are responsible.
“This concern on our part, as pastors of the Church, was the fundamental and primary topic of our conversation with Governor Quinn.”