Bayonetting Our Own Troops

I’ve never understood this. The bishops are urgently protesting the Obama Administration’s attack on religious liberty. Even the National Catholic Reporter and a number of lefty journals like Commonweal are figuring out the gravity of the assault.

So what does Judie Brown at ALL do? Attack the bishops for not being pure enough.

One of the measures of health is the preference for converts over the urge to squint at heretics. Unfortunately, many conservative Catholics seem to prefer to attack the insufficiently pure instead of thanking God for allies in this extremely important fight.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

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  • Faith Roberts

    I’ve never cared for Judie Brown (ever since she wrote that op ed about how it was okay to use the death penalty on someone who was mentally retarded.) but I guess it is hard not to say “I told you so” when you’ve been fighting this thing and warning people for years and then they suddenly wake up and say “What happened?” It would have been nice if she had taken the high road, but I don’t think she’s that classy.

  • I don’t see the problem either. She makes a fair point, especially when it did appear that to some this was merely #987 on the ‘things to care about list’, while others saw it as a major concern worth fighting. After all, we’re often quick to point out just because a certain Catholic is on our side here, doesn’t mean we should overlook that problem there. Fair enough. That’s all she’s saying, that perhaps this would have been avoided if more who are outraged now, would have been that outraged then. Could she have taken the ‘high road’? Sure. But she chose to do what folks do, point out the flaws where they happen to be.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    It’s true we ought to support our bishops when they do what is right. And, indeed, a number of the bishops will have recognized Mao-Tse Obama for what he is early on, and did *not* support him. So it isn’t fair to tar all of the USCCB with the same brush.

    On the other hand, many American Catholics, and indeed many non-Catholic Americans of good will may be bewildered about how we got to a place in our nation’s history where an increasingly totalitarian federal government dares to set aside legitimate restraint, and to intrude its tentacles into sacred spaces of conscience that all Americans once cherished as domains of liberty.

    Those of us who remember the rapidly fading ideals of liberty and freedom in this country ask ourselves, How could this have happened? How did we get here? These are legitimate questions, I think. And part of the answers lies with the previous behavior of some of the bishops, as well as some priests, and some among our fellow laity. There’s no getting around that.

    The real question is, what do we do now?

    I have been asking that question quite a bit in recent days. And the answer I have been getting is, “very little finger pointing. Lots and lots of prayer and fasting.”

    Because this kind does not come out but by prayer and fasting.

    • Confederate Papist

      We got this way because we (meaning all of us, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, et al) focused more on bread and circuses rather than the moment at hand, all the while Caesar was working behind the scenes unnoticed. I wonder what else is in store, and will people start changing the channel, switching off the TV altogether, and pay freaking attention to what the hell is going on out there?

  • orthros

    To use your own analogy, Mark, Julie’s letter seems to be an innocuous way of saying:

    We’ve been in the “What could it hurt?” stage for several years, wherein we’ve told the bishops that they need to wake the hell up.

    Now, they are howling in rage saying “How could we have known?”

    Frankly, the long-windedness was the most offensive thing about her post. She could have said it in about 20% of the words.

  • Becky

    I don’t care for the tone though she may have a point.

    But this is like a good friend of mine who has the same kind of MO- I had an article on my FB page about the mandate and her comment was basically “I will support the Bishops when they do what I want them to do and ONLY then- close hospitals, excommunicate a few people etc etc.

    Pretty appalling in my eyes. Even though I understand the anger. If we don’t stand together at this moment of history Obama “wins”.

    • Confederate Papist

      He wins anyway. Progressives and freeloaders are the majority and they will put him back in.

  • julian

    I’m struggling to hold back here…she is just so wrong. Wrong in her overall tone and approach and wrong on the particulars. The bishops did warn and even voice opposition to aspects of Obamacare. However, no one, (not even Nancy Pelosi apparently), knew all of the specifics of what was in that bill, so how in the world were the bishops supposed to respond with the sort of specific force that would have suited Brown? You want them to shut down Sister Keehan? Great, maybe you’d have gotten a nice little moral victory out of that but it would not have done a thing to stop Obama and Sebelius. Brown asks where these people have been the past few years. Was she paying attention when Cardinal George speculated that his predecessor would die in prison and that man’s predecessor would die a martyr? Is she going to bark at them as they are martyred that it’s their own damn fault?

    Her constant carping about the failure of this or that Bishop has been grating and grievous for a while. Show some respect for Pete’s sake! It seems to be a common trait among many self proclaimed prophetic types that they are oblivious to the family dynamic in our Catholic ecclesiology that is unique and essential to our faith. Do you mean it when you call your priest “Father” or are you just “pandering”? Is she just grumpy because they don’t consult her on political tactics? Does she realize that political tactics aren’t the mission of the Bishops? They are fathers first and foremost. Would you take out an add or vent your frustrations in an editorial on the shortcomings of your biological father? Sheesh! We don’t need your clucking at our bishops for failing to vet their every move by you.

  • Sean O

    My guess is that Judie Brown is a Republican partisan and probably doesn’t realize it herself. She thinks the GOP is ” God’s own Party” and has a picture of St. Ronald Reagan with a candle under it. She is always pleased with herself because she is on the “right team.”

    Obama & his care plan are highly flawed. She is correct about that. But we’re the R’s ever going to look at the nightmare of healthcare for the millions outside the insurance rolls & w/o the money to self pay? The answer is no. And this unfortunately is a question that never occurred to Judie Brown. Here is another one. How come nothing ever changes about abortion no matter who is in power? How truly committed are R’s to rolling abortion back? Essentially zero progress on the legal front in 40 years. Hmmmmm? This question never goes thru her bean either. Sad.

    • Is she a Republican partisan who probably doesn’t realize it herself, who thinks the GOP is ” God’s own Party” and has a picture of St. Ronald Reagan with a candle under it, and who is always pleased with herself because she is on the “right team.” Or is that just your guess?

      • Sean O

        It’s my guess. But I would be pretty confident that I’m right. I know this type of Catholic. They don’t realize the the goals and aims of the Catholic Church are not those of either party. Sometimes there is alignment, but it is mostly accidental.

        Judy has probably been so happily Republican for so long, thinking they were aligned with Catholic goals because they SAID they were Pro-Life, that she has fused good/conservative Catholic in her mind with Republican.

        I say she is unaware of this because she probably doesn’t realize that this has happened and would deny it if you suggested to her.

        She does not realize that Catholicism is conservative because it wishes to conserve or preserve the traditional family and respect for human dignity. The family unit as St Augustine would tell you in “City of God” is THE foundation of a stable functional society.

        Democratic ideology does not respect the traditional family and wishes to give it no special place in our society. For them a family or marriage is whatever you want it to be. Everything is a choice, family, marriage and whether to have a baby-great or to abort a clump of cells, a fetus – equally great. No tradition, no respect for the learned wisdom of the past.

        Republican ideology does not concern itself with the family despite all the hot air. It is in full service of a corporate agenda, the golden calf [and to a lesser extent the Dems are too]. They talk family values but it is empty chatter. Judge them by what they DO not what they SAY. The Republican ideology or agenda is loyal only to unbridled Capitalism [except for the socialism at the top –bailing out wealthy Corps]. Unbridled Capitalism has no loyalty to this country, our citizens or our families. It will and has sacrificed all to the god of Mammon. Profit over people. Even that formulation gives them to much credit. The Republican agenda like its master unbridled Capitalism simple DOES NOT think of the people.

        • Again, you merely say you guess. And that’s sort of why I don’t have much to say to her for writing what she wrote. Whether she should have gone after the Bishops or not, I don’t know. But back when the healthcare legislation was going through, I watched the debates on many a blog. While several folks were concerned about what could happen, I noticed a tendency to take those who were ringing alarm bells to be categorized, well, the way you have here. More than once when someone said ‘we must oppose this’, the charge was thrown back, via the Catholic blog circular firing squad, that they were probably just a bunch of brainless, heartless tribalists in lockstep with the GOP, and not caring if little Johnny or Jane has healthcare or not as long as their party wins.

          Pretty tough charges. So I can see why now, when so many are running around echoing the sudden concern expressed by the Bishops, yelling ‘save us from the fury of the administration’s edict’, some of these folks who were so labeled are a bit miffed. Again, maybe it shouldn’t have been aimed at the Bishops. But against those who preferred to rush the charge of ‘tribalist’ a year or so ago? Why not.

          • Amen, Dave G.

            Even now, some of the Catholics followers of Obama are tempering their criticisms of the HHS mandate with big fat “BUTs” … “but the GOP is just so much worse …” as if opposition to the HHS mandate should be about polticial one-upmanship. In light of that sort of commentary, holding people accountable for their misplaced priorities is a perfectly appropriate response. Clearly, though, that response is NOT warranted where the Bishops are concerned.

            As for Sean O’s “guess” regarding Judie Brown, he couldn’t be more offbase if he tried. Although I’m not a fan of her style, and am somewhat loathe to defend her in this instance where her criticism of the Bishops is unwarranted, the notion that Judie Brown is some GOP shill is laughable on its face.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      I know you don’t mean this, Sean, but what you have written could sound as if you would support Joe Stalin himself so long as he provided health care insurance to all.

      Being a promoter of the Culture of Death, such as Obama is, is never OK. Even if that promoter offers the cure for cancer, world peace, a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, free trips to Disneyland for everybody, and an end to world hunger.

      To support the act of jamming scissors into the skull of a baby half-delivered from its mother’s body in the name of “health care” destroys the integrity of any form of so-called “health care” associated with those who support or practice such atrocities.

      A Bloodied Scissors award to our noble President! for his attempt to force Catholics to violate our consciences.

      • Sean O

        What I have said is exactly what I have said. Catholic goals and aims which at core support the dignity of the human person and the centrality of the traditional family are not the goals of EITHER party.

        Taking care of the sick and the poor is what Jesus and his Church would want us to do. The Dems would do it in a way or ways we don’t want and the R’s would blow it off–leave it to the market.

        We need to craft a way to help people and take care of them which supports or encourages their independence and dignity but does not abandon them if they fall short.

        And we must do this in the real world which is why it is so hard.

  • D. Kelly

    We did not lose the abortion war at Roe v. Wade in 1973, the target of all of our abortion rage. We lost it at Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, which found an unwritten privacy right in the Constitution.

    We did not lose the so-called “gay marriage” war (or the first skirmish in Massachusetts) in 2004, we lost it in the 1970’s and 80’s when no-fault divorce statutes were passed in nearly all states with barely a peep from our side.

    Notre Dame did not sell its soul when it hosted Obama as a commencement speaker in 2009, it sold its soul when it designed and signed the Land o’ Lakes Statement in 1967 repudiating episcopal authority over Catholic universities.

    We did not lose this battle on the HHS mandate two weeks ago, we lost it when Obamacare became law in 2010 (where the peeps on our side were all about abortion).

    By all means, let’s continue to battle on all of these fronts, but let us not be so dim as to not see how we got here in each case, and how we can maybe win the early battles in the next wars, rather than constantly having to fight them uphill.

    By the way, the bishops rightly care about this mandate as applied to Catholic institutions. It is a fair question to ask whether they care about this mandate as applied to all other affected businesses in this country run by people of goodwill for whom this is also an unconscionable law. If so, it would be nice to hear the bishops say that, too.

    • Timothy of Seattle

      THIS. So much this.

  • Arnold

    I donated regularly to ALL until several years ago when they used donors’ contributions to wage a campaign against the then-archbishop of Los Angeles. I shared her feelings about the man but thought that was a waste of funds better used elsewhere. So, I stopped donating.

  • Franciscan

    I hear your argument, Mark. And I think it has validity. There’s a time and a place for these kinds of statements. Now is not the time.

    I would make a similar one in relation to the up-coming elections (there are differences, but I think there are more important similarities). We’re going to have one of two candidates for president: Obama or the Republican nominee. That’s a virtual certainty. We need people to see the battle lines more clearly so they can make a sound choice. Bayonetting the person who will be our best ally because he’s not pure enough doesn’t make much sense to me. It just confuses the troops. Granted, some of them have some pretty ugly warts, but any of the standing Republican candidates would be a significant improvement over Obama, imo – especially now.

    At some point, you have to pick a side in the battle, unless you’re really convinced that both of the viable choices are equivalent from a Catholic moral standpoint (which is another discussion). You’re either with Lincoln (warts and all – no pun intended – Lincoln was a *very* imperfect candidate, even on slavery. Seward was a much better choice in terms of “purity”) or you’re with Douglas/Breckinridge and slavery. I don’t understand choosing someone who has no chance to win, because he’s more pure, and who basically just fires at Lincoln, Douglass (pro-slavery) and Breckinridge (pro-slavery) in the process.

    I have no disagreement with voting for Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. The more support he gets, the more influence he may have on the Republican agenda at the convention. But if he loses, I hope people don’t decide to vote for him as a write-in or if he runs third party like Ross Perot. Similarly, I don’t think it makes the best sense to vote for any other candidate with no chance of winning – no matter how pure he or she may be.

  • Chris

    At risk of sounding like a chauvinist, she sounds like a wife who confronts her newly sober husband and starts berating him in public for being an alcoholic in the first place.

    Nonetheless, I seem to recall the Bishops favoring universal healthcare, but only in the context of promoting and protecting the dignity of every individual. The bishops didn’t support Obamacare, they supported the concept of giving all citizens access to affordable healthcare.

  • “Attack the bishops for not being pure enough.”

    I can see it from her perspective. The U.S. bishops have been wedded to the Democratic Party for the longest time. For a long time, the bishops have been silent about abortion while Catholic politicians have remained “personally opposed to abortion” while giving full support pro-abortion laws. The bishops instead chose to promote Social Justice, but it remained a curiosity that abortion was never a social justice issue. Still, the Democrats could claim cover by promoting a national healthcare plan. Yes, healthcare is a right, but does it actually need to be a national healthcare plan? People could oppose the plan in its implementation without necessary being opposed to healthcare. It’s a generation later, and it seems that the U.S. bishops are no longer in the pocket of the Democratic Party. Indeed, the ugly divorce is in process now, with Democratic politicians seeking retribution against the U.S. bishops for daring to oppose Obamacare.

    I don’t see it as Julie Brown saying the bishops weren’t pure enough, but rather, she saw them as sleeping with the enemy. The irony is course, the fact that it was a pro-abortion Catholic and Democrat, Kathleen Sebelius, who shoved this dagger in the backs of the U.S. bishops.