CORRECTED: US Bishops Have No Case in Court If They Won’t Stand for the Faith at Home

CORRECTED: US Bishops Have No Case in Court If They Won’t Stand for the Faith at Home August 29, 2015

CORRECTED:  Kathy Schiffer graciously reminds me that Bishop Finn has asked NCR to stop calling itself Catholic.  So on to the next step, then.  My original post below.


Remember when “Real Catholic TV” was told to drop the word “Catholic” from its name?  Quick refresher from CNA:

During its time as “Real Catholic TV,” the apostolate was told by the Archdiocese of Detroit that it did not have permission to describe itself as “Catholic.” The Roman Catholic Church’s current Code of Canon Law states that “no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’” without authorization.

Now called “Church Militant TV,” the group errs conservative and a bit prickly, and occasionally even a bishop loses patience; if you search around you can see reports that this has happened recently.  It’s also a popular outlet with Catholics who are fed up with seeing the faith trampled underfoot by those who should know better.

Meanwhile, if you search on “National Catholic Reporter Planned Parenthood” you’ll pull up a number of good columns condemning abortion, and also this:

The U.S. bishops and their national staff are deeply and heavily invested in the view of Planned Parenthood as the evil opposition to a “pro-life” view of the world. Would the U.S. bishops as a whole be open to working with Planned Parenthood in a collegial, cooperative manner to reduce abortions? If Francis’ wish for a poor church for the poor and one filled with mercy, the answer would be yes. However, it would take great courage and fortitude to pursue a national adoption strategy working hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

As we have seen during the past several years, contraception is very important to many bishops and they want nothing to do with it. Yet, Planned Parenthood, like most lay Catholics, has a different view of the value of contraception and it’s a big part of Planned Parenthood’s services.

Just this past month, the New York Times reported that dramatic success of the use of contraception in the reduction of teen pregnancies in Colorado. . . .

. . .  Would the U.S. bishops deny this vulnerable cohort free contraception knowing that an abortion is the highly expected result of an unplanned pregnancy?

The bishops have attempted to argue that Catholics should not have to pay for contraception (and abortion), as doing so would violate our freedom of religion.  These arguments will rightly be struck down in court if the bishops themselves can’t be bothered to assert that these positions are an essential part of our religion.

The National Catholic Reporter is an independent newspaper, not controlled by the USCCB.  But the bishops do apparently have the right to tell them to drop the name Catholic, because they’ve asserted that right with other media outlets, as the Church Militant case demonstrated.   They should act on that right.  If the newspaper persists in using the name “Catholic” after being instructed to drop the name, the bishops likewise have the duty to actively denounce the organization for doing so, and for its anti-Catholic propaganda.

To do otherwise is just nonsense, or something worse. Various bishops across the spectrum have shown they have no objections to using their authority to ask an unauthorized media outlet to drop the name “Catholic.”  They have shown they have no objections to using their authority to openly correct a media outlet they find has overstepped its bounds.  To continue to let The National Catholic Reporter claim the name “Catholic” uncontested would be to assert that they in fact approve of the NCR’s stance on abortion and contraception, and that all this bluster in the courts about conscience rights and Catholic teaching is really just, at best, so much posturing.


Related: How to Protect Religious Freedom? Practice Your Religion.

File:Michelangelo Caravaggio 021.jpg

Artwork: Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons in honor of the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, which is today (8/29).  Click through to see it big here, as you will want to do. Because: Caravaggio.

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