• http://www.authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    “Has anything in recent years made the bishops more leery of taking funding from state and federal governments for health care, adoption, aid to the poor?” Government money always comes with strings, and those strings have become increasingly numerous and entangled…

    I think the reporter may have meant to say “modern [or contemporary] Catholic social teaching” rather than “traditional.” But it is an interesting phenomenon, that today’s progressives are actually traditionalists insofar as they are resistant to changing what they believe they have achieved, while the hitherto traditionalists are now progressives insofar as they want to change what has been in force the last generation or so. We are on the cusp of a confusion between goals of traditionalism vs progressivism and the processes that originally gave rise to the terms. “Progressives” still want to achieve a liberal agenda (and “traditionalists” the opposite) in terms of goal, but progressives are now in a position not of changing things but of keeping them from changing (and traditionalists the opposite), so in terms of process the labels are ironic. Yet we may be seeing evidence of this phenomenon in the use of “traditional” by the reporter.

    But as you say, without more about the document’s contents, the debate, and the reasons for voting it down, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on here.

  • Dan Crawford

    I would have appreciated some comparison of the document with the Bishops’ previous statement on the economy: the richly resourced and thoughtful document produced nearly 20 years ago.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    I would challenge the reporter with the question of how much he knows about traditional Catholic social teaching. Has he read Rerum Novarum? Quadragesimo Anno? Mater et Magistra (to which William F. Buckley infamously said, “Mater si, magistra no.”) Pacem in Terris? Laborem Exercens or Centesimus Annus? If he knows those documents and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, then he can be qualified to talk about “traditional Catholic social teaching.” Until then, he should not make any ignorant statements about what Catholic teaching is and is not.

  • Becky

    Moreover, there was criticism that the document repeatedly highlighted the church’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion and its support for school vouchers in ways that distracted from the economic issues that were supposed to be at the heart of the message.

    The bishops also complained that the document overlooked issues of tax fairness, budget cuts to the safety net, the economic plight of the middle class, regulation of the financial sector, and greed and criminality in the lending industry.

    To me, it sounds like opposition came from the old left, not the new right.

    It sounds like they wanted the document to say, as usual, “government should take from the rich to give to the poor.”

    Tax fairness? Does that mean a flat tax, say 10% from everybody, or does that mean a more steeply progressive tax code? More progressive than when 1% are paying 40% of federal taxes and 50% pay nothing?

    I hope that younger bishops are onto the fact that the first defense against poverty is a family, a mother and a father caring for a child, and it is the point of the church to keep families together in Christ, so that government is NOT the only thing we all belong to.

    Obama’s Post-Family America

  • http://www.pilgrimage.subcreators.com Lori Pieper

    I listened to the bishops debate live thanks to Catholic TV, and the reporter’s take was a total travesty. The majority of the bishops who spoke against the statement thought that it “lacked bite” or that it was some months behind in chronicling the actual state of the economy, or that it failed to adequately address the structural causes of the economic downturn, etc. Some simply said it was too long to be an effective statement of hope to offer to people, but thought it could be reworked into a great pastoral letter.

    Many of the bishops spoke warmly of that classic statement on the economy from 20 years ago. So no, this was not a body of men who thought the Church should deal with matters of faith only! Did the reporter even notice that the bishops voted unanimously in support of pursuing a canonization process for Dorothy Day?

  • http://www.post-gazette.com Ann Rodgers

    Opposition to the document was a mixed bag. There were some more conservative bishops who opposed drafting anything back in June because they argued that the topic was beyond the competence of the bishops. Here’s my story on that meeting: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/at-national-conference-catholic-bishops-see-a-broken-economy-640296/ They clearly stated a fear that such a document would be seen as an endorsement for Obama.
    The resulting document was, by all accounts, a rush job that skipped many of the usual steps in the drafting process. So there were some ideologically neutral comments to the effect that it simply didn’t reflect the bishops at their most thoughtful and informed best. (I would interpret Bishop Tobin’s comment as falling into that camp).
    But there was clearly a group of bishops, led by retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, a former president of the conference, that believed the document dragged in hot button issues such as gay marriage while failing to address obvious poverty-related issues, including the current gridlock in Congress over the budget.
    The first draft did not include any reference to the bishops 1986 pastoral letter on the economy. However, Archbishop Vigeron, head of the drafting committee, was very responsive to criticism from the floor the day before the vote. His committee did a major rewrite overnight, including putting the economy pastoral in and taking the gay marriage reference out. However people who opposed it from all angles still felt it still wasn’t good enough to represent the bishops, and it went down to defeat.
    Here’s my story: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/us/bishops-fail-to-agree-on-economy-but-push-dorothy-day-sainthood-661945/
    Sorry for the late post on this. I ‘ve been traveling ever since the meeting and never even had a chance to do a blog post with any of the inside baseball. Alas, there is simply no room today in standard print stories for the kind of nuance and detail that people are asking for on this. My own editors cut Bishop Tobin out of my story, and he’s a Pittsburgher who still has a following in his hometown.