Our ineffective bishops’ conference

Our ineffective bishops’ conference

Glad to see the US bishops conference tackling the really important work of evangelization. Bishop William Skylstad scolds Congress for passing an immoral budget bill.

The recent budget reconciliation bill fails to “meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us,” said Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a Jan. 24 letter to the House of Representatives, according to a Jan. 30 announcement from the bishops’ conference.

Because the only way to meet the demands of Catholic teaching is to spend more taxpayer money. Charity comes from faceless tax requirements dispensed by a government agency. When was the last time, we heard a leader of the USCCBureaucracy address a really important Catholic issue on Capitol Hill? Where were they when the nomination of Justice Sam Alito, a Catholic, was being browbeaten for not being sufficiently ecstatic about abortion by Catholic Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Pro-abortion Democrat says to heed religious leaders

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  • Sorry for such a long excerpt, but here’s an insightful passage from a lefty Catholic on the bishops’ anti-poverty efforts:

    Once upon a time, I was hired as a consultant for a public-policy arm of a state-level Catholic bishops’ conference. The bishops, according to the institution’s staff people, wanted to engage in rededicated efforts to confront the realities of poverty in their state.

    What the church bureaucracy had in mind was something on the order of a new lobbying initiative in the state legislature or perhaps an expert conference on poverty in the state.
    I told them that they should attempt to take every Catholic in their state on an intensive retreat, with follow-up programs upon their return. Nothing the Church could do would benefit poor people more, I argued, than to energize, inspire, and ignite the passion of larger numbers of the faithful. Without attempts to “convert the baptized,” in William O’Malley’s phrase, the stranglehold of self-interest, isolation, and religious indifference would continue to throttle the church’s attempts to deal seriously with poverty in a global capitalist order.

    My advice, to put it gently, was unappreciated. I was fired. They had an experts conference. As far as I can tell, poverty in their state remained indifferent to their efforts.

    -William T. Cavanaugh, “Killing for the Telephone Company” http://www.jesusradicals.com/library/cavanaugh.php

  • Yep, that’s it, Bishop Americano. Keep taxing the heck out of Tom Coolberth.

    Income redistribution is the way! (sarcasm)

    This graduate of the housing projects and welfare is not buying this socialist crap.

    Roman Catholic Bishops would have one eye on places like Haiti, one of the planet’s most impoverished countries, before bemoaning any American’s financial situation.

    Word on the street is that the USCCB is sitting on $5-$7 million surplus. But maybe that is earmarked for on-going AZT treatments.

  • What I read in Deus Caritas Est and what I have long believed is that there is no moral duty to insure state provided welfare. 

    Charity (love) is an individual duty given to each of us and we can’t love people via proxy, thats not how love works.  Sure, we have an obligation to protect life, and part of being prolife is making sure that there is a basic safety net, but their is nothing basic about Western Welfare systems. Imagine what would happen if every Catholic, rather than depending on the state to do it, went out and showed actual charity to the poor people who are often hidden in our own communities.

  • I will tell you what would happen:

    1.  The poor would be better off than today
    2.  We might start to actually spread the Gospel.
    3.  The radical prophetic witness would lead to a landslide of conversions.

  • Yet another reason to do what I do: ignore the irrelevant USCCB and go right to the top (the Vatican) for truth.

    I work for the military, and one principle of military organization is called “skip echelon,” which basically means in war time that you can skip one layer of bureaucracy normally found in peacetime in order to get the mission accomplished more effectively.

    Well, we are at war in our culture and Church so I will invoke “skip echelon” and follow orders right from the top, the Pope.

    Sorry, USCCB: You are like the Democrat Party you love: an irrelevant, morally bankrupt dinosaur.

  • What I read in Deus Caritas Est and what I have long believed is that there is no moral duty to insure state provided welfare.

    I must disagree. There is, in fact, a moral duty to provide social welfare, as Pope John Paul II explains:

    “If Pope Leo XIII calls upon the State to remedy the condition of the poor in accordance with justice, he does so because of his timely awareness that the State has the duty of watching over the common good and of ensuring that every sector of social life, not excluding the economic one, contributes to achieving that good, while respecting the rightful autonomy of each sector. This should not however lead us to think that Pope Leo expected the State to solve every social problem. On the contrary, he frequently insists on necessary limits to the State’s intervention and on its instrumental character, inasmuch as the individual, the family and society are prior to the State, and inasmuch as the State exists in order to protect their rights and not stifle them.”

    —Encyclical Letter “Centesimus Annus”

    In “Deus Caritas Est”, Pope Benedict emphasizes the principle of “subsidiarity”, so that social welfare does not transgress the higher calling of personal charity, but serves to encourage and support it.

  • Dom wrote:

    “When was the last time, we heard a leader of the USCCBureaucracy address a really important Catholic issue on Capitol Hill?”

    Uh, when was the last time we heard a Bishop address a really important Catholic issue…anywhere??

    Well, there was the time Bishop McGrath said the Gospels weren’t historical accounts of historical events. 

    I’m not saying he was right, but the Gospels are definitely important.  And sorta Catholic.  And I’m sure he only caused a few folks to leave the Church, which is a KIND of evangelism…if you really think about it.  I mean he was evangelizing…uh..something…

    And I am absolutely positive that his comments were well received by the brain trust running the Episcopal Church into the ground.

    So there.  It’s all good.

  • Jason,

    Sorry but, encyclical or no, Pope Leo XIII and JPII are wrong.  Factually wrong. 

    The state is NOT obligated to do anything.  The “state” is an abstraction, controlled by forces that are NOT listening to Papal encyclicals. 

    90% of the Church’s problems over the last 2000 years have flowed directly from its involvement with the “state”.  You’d think they would learn.

    Why doesn’t the Church demand the tithe?  Why does the Church not insure its members?  Why do we not have a “safety net” for our members.  Why are we not leading the charge in areas of Social Justice (arghh…did I actually say that?)  Do you not think the greatest, most amazing graces would flow from our actually living the Gospel?

    Why does the Church not do this?  Because the Bishops and, apparently, the Vatican wants to cede responsibility for Caritas to the “state”. 

    I don’t use the word “stupid” often, but how can PBXVI, the Vatican and the Bishops look at Europe and not see what happens when the Church relies on the “state” to provide what WE have been commanded to do?

    Twelve men changed the world with the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.  There are 50+ Million Catholics in the U.S. and the Bishops go to Washington and lecture them on wealth redistribution????

    Stupid.  There.  I said it.

  • Jason,

    I love JPII.  A HOLY man.  But to look to him as an expert on organizational administration and governmental responsibility is like asking Bishop Mahoney to teach a catechism class.  Not a good idea.

    The Church should take a page out of their failed evangelism plan (Wait! There’s a plan?!)  Instead of telling govenment entities what they oughta do, the “leaders” should actually lead our Church, and encourage each and every Catholic to know and live their faith, setting the Gospel loose on the world in a Radical, Spirit-filled way.

    I agree with Kevin and RPF.  Hey, and if we did this, we might actually have an evangelism plan!

  • Sorry but, encyclical or no, Pope Leo XIII and JPII are wrong.

    The Church’s social doctrine is part and parcel with her Divine mission.

    Note that John Paul doesn’t tell a nation how exactly they need to carry out this moral duty (for social welfare), or when social welfare does and does not transgress the principle of subsidiarity. This is where the rubber hits the pavement, and Catholics can disagree on the application of social doctrine.

    Yes, we must submit to the Church’s social doctrine, because it is based on moral principles. Like Just War doctrine, the Church provides principles and guidelines. It is our job to build on and incarnate those principles, in the imperfect situation we find ourselves.

    But those principles and guidelines are part of the Church’s doctrine, and we do owe them assent.

  • The mention of the State’s duty to ensure “social welfare” in that document does not necessarily mean government-funded programs. It could mean that the State must ensure that it fosters an environment in which private charity can be effective. It is only our own American ideological viewpoints that see those words and assume they mean Big Government anti-poverty programs.

  • Dom wrote:

    “It could mean that the State must ensure that it fosters an environment in which private charity can be effective.”

    But who is listening to the Church? 

    It reminds me of a guy standing by the side of a road, yelling at a car driving by at 200mph.

    The people that will listen to the Church are…uh, Catholics.  Well, at least some of them.

    “In order for the forest to be green, the trees must be green.”  The “state” will never fulfill the Church’s vision of the Holy City, until the citizens are Holy.  And this is NOT the state’s responsibility.  It SHOULD be the responsibility of the Church. 

    Nature abhors a vacuum, but it is also merciless when it comes to competition.  If the Church cedes responsibility to the state for the welfare and education of its people, the Church will not emerge from the marketplace of ideas as the moral leader.  It will be the loser.  And disappear.

    The way to change the world is to fill it with more Christians.  THAT is what the bible says for us to do.  That, and to give “Caesar” his due. 

    Who knows?  If the early Church had decided that the best way to change the world was to lecture Rome about its welfare policies, we might still be speaking Latin.

  • “A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church.”
        – PBXVI

  • DaVinci Decoder raises an interesting prospect for our bishops and other leaders to challenge us personally.

    Given the results and after effect of the scandal, the Church is now an easy target—who are they to moralize about abortion, blah blah.

    What will correct this is when we individually start striving to live the Gospel.

    I know have failed to do this in my own life, and perhaps I’m looking for an excuse, but it would be great to lead, pushed and inspired from the pulpit.

    Guess we cannot wait for our bishops to lead us, so we need to lead them for awhile.

    DaVinci used the example of “why doe not the Church insure its members.” In recent years, I have entered into a management position and have seen first hand what rising medical and healthcare insurance costs are doing to companies. To control expenses of our small/mid-size company, we have laid off people or left positions unfilled.  Health insurance is our fastest growing expense. Employees are afraid to leave their companies because of uncertainties with insurance.

    I have a strong distaste for government controlled insurance, but something is going to give here shortly as companies will likely revolt against covering health insurance.  Over this time, I have wondered why the Church has not step up and created a health care system for us.

    I know there are real challenges and limitations to such, but the day is coming when the state will decide our healthcare.

    Peace and thanks to Dom for this forum!

  • About the insurance idea, as a business owner, I have always wondered why I can get group insurance for a company with as few as 2 employees, but a parish with 2000 members can’t get covered?  Especially since, ostensibly, the Church members will be less likely to engage in high risk behaviors.

    There are so many issues today, that could and should be addressed by Christians, singly or communally.  What about elder-care?  Why do so many of us send our aging parents to a for-profit “home”?  I know there are situations where families can’t provide the level of care in the home.  Why does the Church (and here I am talking about us, not the Vatican.  Although the Bishops could lend a hand…) not LEAD in providing these kinds of needs.

    But it goes further.  How many times have we read and heard the “commandment” to multiply our gifts and to use our gifts for the glory of God?

    Are you telling me that in a parish of 2000 people, there aren’t:
    Auto Mechanics
    Retired teachers
    …and on and on…

    Wouldn’t it build community to know that your parish was there to provide you with whatever help you needed?

    I am blessed to have this kind of parish, but it is sort of an organic result of there being a lot of fired up Catholics on board.

    If I was a Bishop (hee,hee), I would try to set up a program like SCORE, parish based, but within a diocesin structure.  Any person with a particular skill, trade or gift would be on a list to help people to the extent that they can.

    If we work for money, can we not pitch in a little for LOVE?  And do you not think the bonds of the community would be strengthened by this sense of support and interdependency?  By interdependency, I mean a reliance upon my Christian brothers and sisters instead of the state or corporation.

    That leads back to my original point.  We are supposed to be the seeds of God’s Kingdom.  No secular state will ever fulfill Pope Leo, JPII or BXVI’s directives.  In fact, the closer they get to it, the more likely the Church will get pushed out of the picture.  Both politcally/culturally and personally.  Europe is our test case.

  • If I was a Bishop (hee,hee), I would try to set up a program like SCORE, parish based, but within a diocesin structure.  Any person with a particular skill, trade or gift would be on a list to help people to the extent that they can.

    My sister and I have been talking about this for my parish. When I need to hire a plumber or a lawyer or an electrician, I’d prefer to patronize someone in my own parish if I knew who he was, even if I wasn’t getting some kind of discount.