Bishops rebut governor’s account of meeting

Bishops rebut governor’s account of meeting December 17, 2011

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.

Quinn said Saturday morning that the talk was “only a little bit” about his position at odds with Catholic teachings on abortion and gay couples’ right to adopt.

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.”

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22 responses to “Bishops rebut governor’s account of meeting”

  1. Well done, bishops of Illinois! Not only did they meet with the governor, but then they corrected his misunderstanding of the point of the meeting and expressed an important about conscience very clearly: “A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience.”

  2. I understand the bishops probably felt forced to issue a public rebuttal of Quinn’s account of their “pastoral” meeting with him; but I doubt any Catholic politicians in Illinois will accept their invitation again.

  3. It gives me a bit of thrill to see the bishops of Illinois demonstrate a little chutzpah and respond to the failure of Governor Quinn to recount accurately the gist of their meeting with him.

    More bishops like these will make the cacophonous Bill Donohue less necessary.

    Now, if only the Illinois bishops would take Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, NY, under their wing. In the spirit of the season, they could give him a gift of tutelage on how to deal with a tactless and tasteless governor who makes Quinn’s problem seem venial in comparison.

  4. Yes Deacon, but his being white, irish, or male is not really relevent to this type of discussion. We all know that there is a major issue between the non negotiable actual teaching of the Catholic Church as outlined by Pope Benedict XVI (which have been consitent through the ages) most recently in the private woodshed meeting with Nancy Pelosi concerning when life begins and also regarding Catholics who support pro abortion and pro gay special rights positions surround the Democratic Party. And you can be sure that it would have been trumpted as stated by the media if it had been a position by Newt for example being corrected.

    I suspect you begin to see a lot more of these private discussions that leak to the media between now and next November. I recently read that Cardinal Burke is beginning to make sure this is discussed with the bishops in the USA as required by his position within the Vatican. If so, it will be good to see some solid teaching from the pulpit in regard to the positions that the Catholic Church teaches with a lot more clarity on these two important non negotiable issues.

  5. “Solid teaching” I think you can find that on “Catholic Answers” but, Most of our priest and bishops are more concerned with hurt feelings than the souls of the congregation. YES! its nice to see them reach out to the Governor of IL. Why don’t they tell him the truth. He is responsible for the murder if these babies that he is helping to make it legal to kill. They don’t have to point him out directly. They could preach it from the pulpit. I was shocked at mass this weekend when for the first time my pastor spoke of abortion as a sin(pastor for about 5 years now). I’m not going to “hold my breath” waiting on him speaking out on the evil of homosexual marriage.

  6. Good for you Gov. Quinn ! Stand up to these bullies. If catholic bishops want to be lawmakers let them run for elected office. Catholic bishops do not make very convincing victims. Do other faith leaders get the same face time with the Gov ? It’s beyond me how these fellows can have such a superiority complex. I’ll say it again Good for you Governor Quinn.

  7. Our governor is not the bishop’s “to deal with.” He is not their employee or their servant boy. He is answerable to the electorate. If they want to address him as an individual Catholic, they should do so privately, and then it’s the governor’s business how he responds and his bishop’s business as to his standing within the Church. Instead, the bishops are trying to assert medieval influence over government. Quinn, to his credit, is not playing along.

  8. Of course we can see by their posts that neither Holly or Jake have truly formed Catholic consciences or they would not make such reckless comments.

  9. They did meet privately. The governor is the one who made the public comments thus forcing the bishops to respond publicly since he mischaracterized the meeting.
    “the bishops that met with Quinn issued a written statement saying Quinn characterized the meeting wrong: The primary purpose of the sit-down, they said, was to admonish the governor for using his Catholic up-bringing to justify views that they say aren’t supported by the church.”

    They had every right and duty to correct him on issues of faith and the people of Ill. should know that their guv is apparently misrepresenting what the Church teaches when he talks about his ‘Catholic’ views.

  10. Holly
    And if Gov Quinn wants to claim he is Catholic, it is up to the Bishops to address the fact that he is not living up to his religion and putting his very soul at risk. The bishops are not trying to play as victims, but as shepherds who see a lamb in very serious danger and who could be leading other Catholics over the cliff. Yes, he has a right as an elected official to do what he wants and it is up to the voters to determine if he should be retained. But the same applies to being part of the Catholic Church. It is the job of the Bishop to teach and when one is getting the lesson vastly wrong it requires correction. If the person continues to get it wrong after that with clear intent to defy, then the student needs to be removed. I would see this as the next logical step. He can be governor and Catholic, but cannot be Governor and Dissenting Catholic. The Bishop have done exactly the right thing in their role as shepherds.

  11. I say good for the Bishops. They catch hell when they don’t speak up and when they do. Can’t win with some INO Catholics.

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