The Catholic Bishops Aren’t ‘In Bed’ with President Obama. They’re In Court with Him.



I hate it when I have to spend my good time sweeping up the refuse from idiotic, politically-motivated attacks on our Catholic religious leaders.

Today, I’m going to address attacks from the right side of unreason, and to be honest, I’d rather not. Have to, that is. I’d much rather I didn’t have to keep doing this.

I’m not so pleased when I have to do the same thing for with the left side of unreason, either.

But … duty calls.

There have been a smattering of articles and combox vitriol floating around the internet accusing the Catholic bishops of all sorts of nasty things because they don’t/won’t/aren’t-going-to hate on Mexicans. After all, we’re deep into our bi-election brown-skin hate-off right now and every red blooded American is called to abandon all reason and blindly join in.

The cable news networks are discussing (they never report, they only discuss) the issue of large numbers of children coming over the Rio Grande. I watched a brief thingy on one of them Saturday night. They were proclaiming that one in four of these kids are “criminals” and that “gangs” are meeting them at the border to recruit them.

I know lots of people who’ve come over that border. Some of them are bad dudes. True. But most of them fall into the salt of the earth category of family-loving, deeply-religious goodness. You can hate me for saying it, but it’s just a fact.

To get back to the talking heads and their endless talk-talk on this border situation, I have one main point, and that point is …

They do this every single bi-election year.

I’m not saying that the problem with people flooding our Southern borders isn’t real. I am also not saying that this country should not control its borders. Far from it. A country that can’t control its borders is in big trouble.

What I am saying is that the this wall to wall reporting that has you so whipped up and miserable right now is politically-motivated. The cable news does this every bi-election The constant drumbeat of hysterical talk-talk-talking about “illegals” will stop like turning off a tap as soon as the votes are counted in November.

In the meantime, the good people of this country will have been ripped around and worked up into an emotional pitch for nothing. Again.

Because, you see, nothing is going to happen that will stop the flood of illegal immigrants coming over the border. Think about it. This big outrage has been whipped up every bi-election since the turn of the century. What good has come of it? Republican President/Democratic President/Republican Congress/Democratic Congress it doesn’t matter. Nothing changes.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops are doing their Jesus thing and insisting that these children are people and must be treated as people. If you will read the Bishops’ statements on this issue, they plainly support efforts to control the country’s borders. But they can’t very well drop kick the Gospels just to make the right wing side of unreason like them.

So … they get hit with the usual claptrap from the vicious pharisees to the right. I won’t go through the whole tired litany of hate talk. I’m going to focus on one bizarro statement that I’ve seen repeated enough to know it has traction in certain internet nut bins. That statement is the ludicrous claim that the Catholic bishops are “in bed” with President Obama.

That is so stupid that it deserves a trophy of some sort or other.

Have any of the little hive minds that are passing that around totally forgotten the dozens upon dozens of lawsuits filed against the HHS Mandate? How about the bishops’ requests for religious exemptions to ENDA and the fight brewing there? Who do you think was working against the Hobby Lobby vote last week?

The bishops are in bed with President Obama? Puleez.

What the bishops are doing with their support of the human rights of immigrants and their refusal to join in with the great bi-election immigration hate-off, is following Jesus.

You know, the Jesus Simeon said would be a “sign of contradiction.”

What Simeon didn’t prophesy, but which Christ the Lord promised when he said If they persecute me, they will persecute you, is that people who follow the Gospels, especially in a a post-Christian society such as ours, are also going to be signs of contradiction. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that our vocation as Christians in this post-Christian culture is to be signs of contradictions.

The bishops are succeeding in that vocation in a grand fashion. They are, for instance, being sued directly for their teaching that abortion is wrong. That’s from the left side of unreason.

Now, they’re being accused of pandering to our anti-Catholic president by insisting that people are people, no matter their legal status. That’s from the right side of of unreason.

What we are dealing with here is two sides of the same God-is-Made-in-My-Image coin. When people cut the Gospels down to fit their politics, they stop being a sign of contradiction to the sins of the world and become the sin’s enablers. They are salt that has lost its savor.

The followers of the politically-trimmed Gospel that does not allow for the sanctity of human life or marriage on the one side, and that tries to enforce economics as a morality-free zone on the other, are both examples of fallen and useless Christians. When I say “useless” I mean they are useless to God in His great work of Kingdom building.

Is there anything worse I can say about a Christian than that they are useless to God?

Jesus told us cannot follow two masters, and I think He meant it. When we trim our faith to suit our politics, we are running away from the cross, just like Peter, Andrew, James, James, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Nathaniel, Simon the Zealot and Thaddaeus.

The Apostles repented of their shameful running away. They gave their lives for the same Jesus they had abandoned.

We can too.

I am not saying that we should not be concerned about the flood of illegal immigrants that have been coming over our borders for the past decades. This country needs to secure its borders. Period.

I am saying that we should stop letting ourselves be jerked around by the bi-election carrying on that happens so predictably that you could set your calendar by it.

This isn’t about shutting down our borders. In fact, the same corporatists who own the news outlets that are pushing this hysteria are themselves ardently opposed to shutting down the borders. They like and employ the cheap, off-the-books labor. I’ll write more on that in a day or so.

What this reporting and whipping Americans into a xenophobic hysteria are about is the universal goal of power politics: Getting power and keeping power.

Nobody is going to fix this problem, come November. The day after the elections, the talking heads will start talking about something else. Just like they do every bi-election.

In the meantime, the right-wing-of-unreason crowd will have scarred and defamed the name of Christ with their claims to be Christian while they say things that come straight from the pit.

The bishops are right about this, just as they are right about marriage and abortion and human trafficking and a whole host of other things.

They are being attacked because they are the sign of contradiction in American public discourse.

They get attacked from the left and right because they are not acolytes to either the right or left. Their job isn’t to give moral support to the immorality of power politics. Their job is to proclaim the Gospels and teach us what living for Christ means in this world.

When they tell us to treat immigrants as people, they are teaching us how the Gospels apply directly to us, in our current world. They are setting the cross before us and asking us to take up the unpopular position and lift the cross onto our shoulders and follow Him.

The Catholic bishops are in bed with President Obama? The plain facts of recent history make that charge ridiculous.

The fact that otherwise intelligent folks are bandying it about simply points to how nutty following the gods of this world can make people.

I am writing this with one goal, and it’s not to call in the lightning on my own head, although I will probably get a bit of that. I am writing it to urge you to regain your reason.

Think straight. Look at the simple fact that this happens every bi-election. Consider what that means in real life.

Look also at the fact that the bishops are hated on by both the right and left of the political spectrum. Consider for a moment that perhaps this is because they are actually being the “sign of contradiction” that we all should be.

If you follow Jesus, you’ll be treated the same way He was. That’s what’s happening to the bishops. It’s also what should be happening to you and me.

Use your minds and think people. Do not be whipped around by talking heads with a political agenda. Think. Connect the dots.

And support our bishops.

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  • FW Ken

    Actually, the bishops are in bed with Pres. Obama when it comes to immigration, and I say that’s exactly where they need to be. I read that the feds are getting ready to contract with Catholic Charities in California to care for some of the kids coming over. And I’ve commented on our local inter-faith work with the feds. I say we need a bigger bed!

    I’ve talked about this more than I should, but I’d like to address one other issue, with your indulgence: it’s not “borders” that people want to secure, it’s one border. And I often wonder if people have actually seen the border. Drive from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California, and tell me how that vast expanse of desert and mountains is going to be secured. And even if we built a 10 foot wall with a trooper stationed every two feet, if wouldn’t stop the people we want to stop. Drug deals have planes and boats, and an American customer base. They will get here. Supply will meet demand.

    25 years ago I worked in a large night shelter and the best group there were the illegals. They got up at 4am, went out to basically a day of slave labor, and sent the money home to the wife and kids. I want those people here.

  • hamiltonr

    I agree that our many of our Catholic universities have lost their Catholic identity. I also think that “star” priests such as John Corapi have proven a disaster.

    There is a danger anytime clergy of any sort becomes over-familiar with the lords of this world. I’ve seen protestant clergy sell out just about everything, including pro life, in order to be able to have “access” to powerful people.

    I’ve thought quite a bit about priests who are university presidents, earn large salaries and hobnob with the hoi pa loi end up identifying with the people they are around instead of the people as a whole.

    I believe that many of the criticisms Pope Francis has leveled at his brother bishops, and his brother priests are a reaction to this.

    On the other hand, to assert that the bishops have not, as a group, stood up against this anti-Catholic administration is simply not true.

    The fact that a good number of priests have sat on their hands and not helped in this fight, and that some of the Catholic universities have even gone the other way, is a scandal. But even there, I don’t think these priests and university presidents are “in bed” with President Obama as that they simply do not have the faith and commitment to do what they should.

    As for the two items you mention, they certainly are not the whole list of areas in which the bishops have taken a stand that was at odds with this administration. The attempt to go to war in Syria, the funding for Planned Parenthood, human trafficking, abortion (which crosses a lot of lines), ENDA, the administration’s position at the UN on a number of issues, come to mind immediately. I have no doubt I could fill a long column with examples.

    As for saying that the bishops should not take positions on matter of political concern, that is exactly what those who are trying to drive Christianity out of the public square maintain.

    The bishops are right about the immigrant situation in Texas. I don’t know if President Obama agrees with them or not. But they have taken essentially this same position on similar questions since at least the 1920s.

  • hamiltonr

    Ken, the Catholics I know in real life aren’t doing and saying these things — either on the left or right. These are activists with an agenda, and that agenda does not appear to be following Christ. I mean both left and right wingers, not one or the other.

    • Ken

      You’re right. Thanks for the reply. I’m only hearing the loudest yelling. I should have more faith in the church.

  • hamiltonr

    I’ve heard that Anne, but I don’t pay any attention to that sort of thing. I’ve been called too many things by too many people to believe it when someone else gets the same treatment.

    The only way to actually “fix” this problem is to address the underlying causes. Anything else is just politics.

  • AugustineThomas

    You don’t hate the most pro-baby-murder president in history who is responsible for intensifying the genocide of his own race?

    • Ken

      As a Catholic I try not to hate anyone. What good does it make me to hate someone? Does it change him in anyway? Is he going to stop all of his abortion policies if I hate him? What difference in anyway does it make if I hated him? Is it a badge of honor to walk around as the person who hates Obama more than anyone else? Does it make me more Pro-life to hate him? I pray that him and everyone else that is pushing his abortion policies to repent and to change.

      The concept that we would not help a group of people that are in desperate need of help because I don’t like someone is selfish and self serving. All it would do is make the Catholic Church look petty and would prevent us from serving the poor. What would the Bishops tell Jesus when they meet him face to face? We avoided an act of charity because they didn’t like the person who asked them to do it? Do you honestly think Obama would change all his policies if we refused to help these people? It’s such a bizarre and sinful concept that
      I can’t imagine it.

    • texasknight

      Don’t hate the sinner. Hate the sin. And make sure everyone in your parish knows what those sins are. He is a merchant of death (abortion), sins of the flesh (contraception, homosexual acts, abstinence plus education), theft (wealth redistribution) and despair (to those trapped by entitlements). May God have mercy on him.

  • Ray Glennon


    Another outstanding posting. Congratulations and thank you.

    You made three points that I found particularly noteworthy:

    1. The cable news “outrage” driven by the election cycle and the narrative that attracts attention, viewers, etc. “What I am saying is that the this wall to wall reporting that has you so whipped up and miserable right now is politically-motivated. The cable news does this every bi-election The constant drumbeat of hysterical talk-talk-talking about “illegals” will stop like turning off a tap as soon as the votes are counted in November.”

    2. The problem of “God-Is-Made-In-My-Image” and supports my politics that you effectively skewer: “The followers of the politically-trimmed Gospel that does not allow for the sanctity of human life or marriage on the one side, and that tries to enforce economics as a morality-free zone on the other, are both examples of fallen and useless Christians. When I say “useless” I mean they are useless to God in His great work of Kingdom building. Is there anything worse I can say about a Christian than that they are useless to God?”

    3. Third, and in my mind most important, is your call for us to “…regain your reason.” One of the great strengths of our Catholic faith is that is is founded on both faith and reason. This excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (158-159) is directly relevant: In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.”

    Yes, the Bishops are attacked by the left and the right. The attacks from the left are most often from the “godless” or secular left. The ones from the right, as you correctly note can be more pernicious and damaging because, as you correctly emphasize, “the right-wing-of-unreason crowd will have scarred and defamed the name of Christ with their claims to be Christian while they say things that come straight from the pit.”

    Thanks again. (Sorry this got so long. You had a lot to say and it was worthy of comment.)

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Ray.

  • hamiltonr

    Hi Lisa! Welcome to Public Catholic.

    I have read the documents the bishops wrote on this issue a few years back. They explicitly state that this nation must be able to secure its borders. To my knowledge they have never said that the border “should be torn down.” The commentary I have seen, referring to these people as “cockroaches,” and the video coverage, which shows them in sepia, after dark, being arrested, is clearly racist.

    The claims that one in four of these children commit crimes, implying that they are violent felons is obvious hyperbole designed to make people crazy.

  • hamiltonr

    Note: I’m receiving one totally bizarre comment after the other, calling the bishops names, calling me names, and making over the top statements about both of us. A few of these comments also have actual arguments opposed to what I’m saying that I would like to allow, but I have to delete them because they are buried in long strings of verbally abusive nut talk. If you want to have your comments show up in the com boxes of this blog, you will have to stop the name-calling and invective.

  • hamiltonr

    I didn’t say anything one way or the other about retiring these children. I have, in a different post, advocated for the funding to speed this process.

    I was speaking specifically of the downright demonic hatred I see and the attacks on the bishops for simply following the Gospels.

    I know that following Jesus when He disagrees with your politics is tough. But it is what we are called to do.

  • FW Ken

    In my opinion, the guest worker program proposed by Bush 43 would have helped a lot. I don’t remember what happened to it.

  • hamiltonr

    I don’t think all of these claims are accurate.

    First, the United States Catholic Bishops voted unanimously to oppose the HHS Mandate. I repeat: UNANIMOUSLY.

    Their fight on this has been magnificent and I am proud to follow their leadership in it.

    You may live in an area with a weak bishop and that has given you a false idea.

    Second, I question that the bishops have 1 million employees. I think that number is wildly out of line.

    Third, I question that the bishop’s budget is paid for by the federal government. My archdiocese does not take any government monies.

    I would guess you’ve read some anti-Catholic something or other that attempts to get these numbers by conflating all employees at every university, hospital, etc, that calls itself catholic and then adding in every dollar from student loans and such to get that figure. None of these things are part of the bishops budget and their monies do not run the Church or its ministries. This is just political statistical gamesmanship used to confuse and outrage people.

    Fourth and finally, standing next to someone on a podium does not mean you agree with them about things that aren’t being discussed that day. In my time in office, I’ve shared podiums with all sorts of people. If the bishops stood up with Secretary of State Kerry while he made a speech supporting abortion and smiled and applauded, you’d certainly have a point.

    But if it was a speech about fishing rights in New England or something, not so much.

    I don’t know anything about the event you are describing. But I will say that just standing beside someone at a public event does not, in and of itself, mean anything at all.

    • Gary Beckwith

      “Third, I question that the bishop’s budget is paid for by the federal
      government. My archdiocese does not take any government monies.”
      I was really surprised to find out that the USCCB receives a lot of money from the Feds for their refugee/resettlement initiatives. Enough that they can be considered a Federal contractor. I would suspect anyone’s motives who had such a significant financial stake in something that they were promoting.

      • FW Ken

        Some years back, I billed refugee services from our local chapter to the USSCB. I want to say it was all fee for services, but that may wrong. It’s pretty much irrelevant. I doubt there is actual discrimination (or agency was run by a partnered lesbian and I was the only Catholic in my section and one of two Christians. The point is to force us to deny our faith.

  • hamiltonr

    I’m going to butt in and then butt back out. Without due process, they could deport anybody at all, including you and me. We need to be sure these aren’t citizens or people who are here legally, at the very least.

  • hamiltonr

    Thanks Ken. That’s what I mean when I say the media talking heads are making people irrational.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Nobody seems to have noticed that Obama wants to send these children back to certain death in their home countries to “Send a message that the Border isn’t Open”. Which the Bishops are also against.

  • hamiltonr

    I didn’t say the crisis was imaginary. I said the current hyped-up press coverage is politically motivated and will go away the day after the votes are counted in November. It’s a real problem, being used a a vote-getter by demagogues. No one is going to fix anything Jude. They don’t intend to.

  • hamiltonr

    It sounds as if I was right, they are counting things like student loans to people attending Catholic universities in this number. Also, the figure of millions of Catholic employees is inflated or statistical gamesmanship or both. I’d bet quite a bit on that. Do you have any idea how many 2-3 million is?

    Here’s my question Richard, if you are Catholic, why are you so dedicated to hating our bishops? When they do something really and uncontrovertibly wrong, I don’t mind disagreeing. However, what I’m seeing is people who are gathering up hate-stuff from everywhere to build a case for some odd reason.

    As for only three bishop’s dioceses (is that the plural of diocese or is it diocesi or some such???) filing suit, I haven’t correlated the lawsuits by diocese, but I really doubt that figure, too. It’s a long list from lots of places.

    My Archbishop has spoken out repeatedly about this, as well as contraception. I could, if I wanted to take the time — pull up documents from all over on this subject.

    As for your guilt by association thing, I think you’re reaching way too far. I’ll bet you work with people who aren’t as pure as you evidently are. You maybe have a few relatives who don’t quite fit your standards.

    For that matter, I don’t fit your standards. I deal with people all the time who do all sorts of things that violate Church teaching. I call them friends and enjoy their company.

    Jesus ate with sinners and prostitutes. Remember that?

    You can not convert people if you won’t talk to them, and you cannot convert people if all you do is denounce them.

    So now, you can lay into me if you feel like it. I’m a sinner. And I actually like and spend time with people who violate Church teachings. I was even pro choice myself once.

    People who called me names and denounced me back then made it terrifying to change. In fact, quite a number of them continued to denounce me even after I changed. They called priests and even the Archbishop denouncing the priests for letting me into the Church.

    You’re not perfect Richard. You’re a sinner, too. There is no righteousness in hatred. Hatred comes from the pit.

    As for the Cardinal, are you seriously saying that he’s not pro life? If not, what ARE you saying?

  • hamiltonr

    I’m going to allow this once to make a point. DO NOT ATTACK THE POPE ON THIS BLOG.



    You weren’t talking to me, but yes, I support the Pope. I’m Catholic.

  • hamiltonr

    It seems that way Anne.

  • hamiltonr

    Lisa, the Church is a highway to heaven. Follow it, believe it and you will see Jesus, face to to face.

  • FW Ken

    A fair few have claimed they were being recruited into gangs. That often goes with economic issues and games can be very hard to resist. .

  • hamiltonr

    Frankly, after reading you description of the John Kerry thing, I find it disturbing too. However, no, I don’t have trouble thinking Cardinal O’Malley is pro life. I believe it.

    I agree that student loans have become a big problem. However, they are not government monies that are going to the Catholic Church, which is the original claim.

    I don’t know the number of employees the Church has in America, but the difference between 1 m and 2-3m is, well 2-3m. I don’t read the Economist, but they also published a raggedy piece just a week or so ago claiming that Pope Francis was “following Lenin.” Minus a retraction, that pretty much takes them off the reliable list for me.

    As for the use of the word hate, it fits.

  • hamiltonr

    Richard I misspoke when I said that you “hate” the bishops. However, the word is sooo accurate that it aches for the nonsense people have tried to post on this blog because of this post. As for the “money trail” all I see is indirect government monies for things. I certainly do not see that the government is funding the USCCB or the bishops.

    Having said that, I have advised friends of mine sit on the boards of ministries to never take government money. You are right that it is a trap. No question about that.

    However, the bishop’s position on the treatment of immigrants is consistent with the Gospels.

    I don’t understand the hatred (there is no better word for it Richard) that these commenters direct at the bishops — and at me for defending them. It reeks.

    • Richard W Comerford

      Ms. Hamilton:

      Thank you for your reply.

      Our Bishops are successors to the Apostles. Without them there is simply no sacraments and no Church. We owe them respect and due obedience.

      However there are three areas IMO which have caused a ground swell of resentment against the Bishops: 1. For a half century our Bishops enabled, protected and then lied about sexual predators. There is no getting around this horror. 2. The closing of parishes with the subsequent disappearance of the protective “Catholic ghettos”. Some closings were undoubtedly unavoidable; but almost all the executions were at best ham-fisted. 3. Many of the post Vatican II reforms which were presented to us as “mandated” by the Council and which drove so many out of the pews turn out to have been either not mentioned, not mandated or actually forbidden in the Conciliar documents.

      IMO the only sure answer to these resentments are saintly Bishops.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

    • CathyLouise

      This has been an interesting discussion to follow. I wonder, Mr. Comerford are you talking about all government monies used by any Catholic entity? Because, yes, we do accept government monies when we can. For instance, my local parish school gets some money to help pay for tutoring children who are failing academically and have a certain income bracket. I think they used to call it title 13 money, but maybe not. But I do doubt govt. money is used to actually fund the entity that is the USCCB.

  • James

    Agree re ND and Cardinal Dolan, but don’t follow your “If we use political ideology to leave then without aid”

    Re “Well, Jesus did eat with Pharisees … clearly hooked into the power structure in Judea.”
    + The fact Jesus dined with religious leaders but never political leaders makes my point.

    Re “Jesus didn’t say much about a lot of things, including same sex acts.”
    + Those who point to Jesus “never specifically said” type points immediately belie a deep ignorance to the language and cultures of the time. The language at the time, due in large part to the pagan world dominating cultures and the structure of the languages, didn’t have many words to differentiating the types of sexual act. Hence why the bible uses “laying with” language. Also, e.g., the word “homosexual” didn’t exist until the ~1880s.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Actually, based on the testimony of many of these refugees from Central America, there is GOOD reason to question the “economic reasons” story.

    There’s a battle going on in Central America right now, one that we’re ignoring, one that could be ended if rich Americans would stop taking illegal drugs.

  • Theodore Seeber

    One way it is different is that in Chicago and Detroit, they aren’t killing farmers to establish smuggling routes.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Archbishop Sample does this quite regularly.

  • Theodore Seeber

    If your state is anything like my state, don’t bother. The deductible is worse than the fine; and even medication is on the deductible.

  • Richard W Comerford

    Mr. FW Ken:

    Thank you for your reply And thank you for the correction. So that is 15 Ordinaries out of 198 who have chosen to serve Christ rather than Caesar on this matter.

    You also posted in part: “How do you know that no bishops teach on those issues? How do you know that no bishop has addressed HV over the past 46 years?”

    My answer: The evidence that our Bishops have for a half century failed to teach their flocks sexual morality can be found: 1. The failure of Catholic marriages 2. The breakcown of Catholic families. 3. The paucity of Catholic children (and the subsequent closure of parishes and school for want of Catholics. 4. The Papal exhortations of Paul VI, JP II, B XVI and our Holy Father Francis. 5. The public admissions of Prelates such Cardinal Dolan that these matters are simply rarely if ever taught to the faithful. 6. And the observations of this old man.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  • hamiltonr

    TexasKnight, there would be no pro life movement in this country if it was not for the Catholic Church and the leadership of the bishops.

    What you’re espousing is just the right side of the wing nut dichotomy. The left wants the Church to forget the sanctity of life and marriage. The right demands we forget the poor and disadvantaged.

    As an individual, you may have to choose where you put your volunteer time. But the bishops have to speak for the whole Gospel of Christ.

    The bishops have taken and continue to take constant guff because they stand for the very issues you name here. They also take guff from the other side of the political spectrum for standing with the poor and disadvantaged, including immigrants.

    Now … Who can you think of Who told us to do that?

  • hamiltonr

    Richard what you seem to want is to be an archbishop yourself. Based on your comments here, I don’t think any bishop could please you unless he did exactly what you think you would do.

  • FW Ken

    I found this refreshing after reading through this thread.