The Huffington Post has sunk to a new low in inviting the director of Dignity, a militant anti-Catholic group, to “explain” what happened at last week’s general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Marianne T. Duddy-Burke wrote, in an op-ed titled “U.S. Bishops Conference Betrays Catholic Church,” that:
While there were certainly some who objected, the strong majority of US Bishops set forth an agenda that has little to do with the Gospel of Jesus, is opposed by the majority of US Catholics, and will squander Church resources, even as parishes, schools, and service programs continue to be shuttered due to decimated diocesan budgets.
To which I say, “Stupid.”
Duddy-Burke had a problem with the bishops’ focus, as reflected in their Priorities and Plans through 2020. These top priorities included:
- Family and marriage (including attempts to rollback same-sex marriage and support for government officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples)
- Ending abortion and limiting access to contraception
- Vocations to priesthood
- Religious liberty
The Bishops’ insistence that Catholic employees at Catholic institutions reflect Catholic teaching rankles Duddy-Burke. She is offended that the bishops voted overwhelmingly to support a Voters’ Guide for Catholics that instructs Catholics to evaluate candidates based on their positions on abortion and same-sex marriage.
What Duddy-Burke wants to see instead is greater emphasis on:
- ending poverty
- ending climate change and its “devastating effect” on our God-given planet
- ending structural racism, misogyny, human trafficking, and terrorism
- immigration reform and assistance for refugees fleeing war and violence
First, all of these things are, in fact, of concern to the U.S. Bishops. One needn’t spend a lot of time looking to see each of these concerns reflected in the greater list or priorities.
But the Catholic Church is not a social service agency; its primary purpose is to help its members to grow in holiness, and to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It accomplishes these goals by evangelization, by strengthening marriages and families, and by offering (through its priests) the sacraments to a hurting world. Carl Olson, in an excellent article in Catholic World Report, said:
“…the paramount duty of the Church and the faithful is not to aid those in need, but to bring all men into communion with God, through Christ, and into the fullness of the Kingdom.”
Sometimes the Church accomplishes this goal through charitable works, aiding those in need of material assistance. And charity and love for our neighbor, while not the first responsibilities of faithful Catholics, are the fruits and the natural expression of our love for God.
But what the Catholic Church does NOT do is relinquish her constant teaching, built upon the teachings of Christ Himself, in order to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Duddy-Burke seems to hold onto the unrealistic hope that one day, the Catholic Church will “see the light” and embrace same-sex marriage, welcome abortion and contraception, and in essence reconfigure itself to Dignity’s easy peasy faith which demands nothing of its adherents.
If the Huffington-Post is serious about wanting to understand what happened at the USCCB, they should consult with someone who understands the players and the action. I’d suggest starting with the bishops themselves; but if they want to reach out to an academic or an expert, try John Burger or Edward Pentin, George Weigel or Fr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Peter Kreeft or Dr. Scott Hahn or Dr. Edward Sri, or any of a long list of authentic Catholic thinkers. Duddy-Burke, by aligning herself with the dissident organization Dignity, has rendered her opinion irrelevant.