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Is It Time For a Catholic Tea Party?

2-11-10 Posted by admin in Uncategorized 16 Comments

By Deal Hudson

Over 750 “tea parties” were held on April 15 of last year, protesting the excesses of the Obama administration — in particular, the pork-stuffed stimulus bill. Initially, the mainstream media tried to ignore the movement. They downplayed its size and influence, until the steady slide of President Obama’s popularity, the growing opposition to Congress’s health-care reform proposals, and Republican victories in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts forced them to acknowledge its influence.

Since then, the media strategy has been to portray the tea party as a gathering of disgruntled extremists, in spite of the fact that the limits on government spending they advocate would have been considered common sense in both political parties only a decade ago.

For American Catholics, the equivalent of centralized federal power is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The USCCB, the kind of episcopal conference authorized by Vatican II, has no canonical authority of its own. But its voice is considered authoritative by the media, and it is treated as such by those who applaud its lobbying efforts in Congress and the White House.

Criticism of the USCCB among lay Catholics, as well as many priests and bishops, has been a constant since its march to the political left in the years after its creation in 1966. Pastoral letters, including the ones on the economy (1986) andwar and peace (1983), created a clear line of demarcation between the liberal politics of the conference (aligned with the Democratic Party) and the Catholics, both lay and religious, who interpreted the Church’s social teaching differently (in a way inclining them toward conservatism and the GOP.)

The pro-life advocacy of the conference, along with its opposition to same-sex marriage, has always set it apart from other politically liberal institutions. Unfortunately, the USCCB’s choice of coalition partners and memberships often threaten to undermine the clarity of its witness.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the series of reports from the Reform CCHD Now Coalition. These reports show two things clearly:

1. Bishops have given Catholic money to organizations advocating abortion and same-sex marriage (two such organizations were defunded last November).

2. The bishops have joined coalitions, like the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, that also advocate abortion and same-sex marriage.

These reports differ from previous attempts to address the politics of the USCCB in two ways: First, their Internet links allow anyone to read the various smoking guns unearthed by the research. The second factor is timing — the reports come after both the 2008 presidential election and the furor surrounding Notre Dame’s decision to bestow an honor on a pro-abortion president.

The Notre Dame incident brought home to thousands of Catholics, in a way they had never understood before, that many venerable mainstream Catholic institutions were strongholds of dissent.

Yet the Notre Dame story might not have gone so far
if many Catholics were not already furious with the role a bishops’ document played in the election of Barack Obama in the first place.

The 2007 version of the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document, prepared in advance for distribution for the 2008 election, contained several passages that, if taken out of context, gave the green light to Catholic voters to ignore Obama’s aggressively pro-abortion stance. (Obama won the self-identified Catholic vote over Sen. John McCain 54 percent to 44 percent, though among religiously active Catholics he lost by 1 percentage point.)

That document did not emerge from the USCCB without a fight — a number of bishops opposed it; I am told that Archbishop Raymond Burke, then still in St. Louis, was literally shouted down when he tried to explain his opposition to the problematic passages. The best any bishop has been able to say to me regarding “Faithful Citizenship” is that “it was difficult, it was a compromise.”

But such compromises are brewing a tempest for a potential tea party revolution among the faithful. In some ways, the very notion of a tea party goes against the grain for Catholics, with their inbred sense of deference to authority. Those same Catholics, however, are beginning to realize that there are some matters where they can speak out without acting in disobedience to the authority of their bishop.

In response to my recent story on the USCCB’s membership in a pro-abortion civil rights organization, a Notre Dame alumnus from the class of 1965 sent me this message: “Is it time for us to start throwing tea bags at the USCCB?” This is a man who, ten years ago, would not tolerate a word uttered against either Notre Dame or the bishops. The times may be changing.

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16 Responses to Is It Time For a Catholic Tea Party?

  1. It’s about time we stand up for what is catholic and rebel against that which isn’t, The hierch need a shake down just like our gov, Remember 53% voted for an abortion president, Was it ignorance of faith, indiffeence, or have some re-defined what is catholic> We must not let this happen ever again, Education in the faith and holding catholics” feet to the fire” especially the politicians but cafeteria catholics who vote for them.

  2. Jackie says:

    In the blogosphere, it is becoming increasing hard to defend Catholicism because of the USCCBs actions supporting Obama, his healthcare plan, and pro-abortion groups. One article said “Take this religion and shove it”. It is written by a Catholic.

    I feel the USCCB are supporting some of these people and groups because of their “so-called” desire to help the poor, but you are not helpng the poor by handing out more entitlements. If you want to help the poor, you need to improve the economy, reduce the size of the federal government, raise wages, lower taxes, and lower the cost of living.

    Used to – a man went to work and the wife stayed home to take care of the kids. For most Americans today, that scenario means living in poverty. That is the shame of our society today.

    Bottom-line, I feel the USCCB does not represent the majority of Cathlics across the nation.

  3. Susan Kitchin says:

    I believe the USCCB got a GOOD taste of the displeasure of faithful Catholics during the Postcard campaign last year dealing with the Federal funding of Abortion, and even more so, when we rose up about Obama’s preferential treatment at Notre Dame. Many Bishops are paying closer attention, and I believe the younger Bishops are more conservative than the men they are replacing. Those retiring Bishops had been infected with the virus of feminism and modernity, and got so enamored of the ‘fundamental option for the poor’ they forgot what their more fundamental reason for being was, and that’s saving souls. If they catechize Catholics in the TRUE teachings of the Church, unadulterated, and unapologetic, they wouldn’t have to be preaching about Social Justice, because folks would be LIVING it, every day.

  4. PATRICIA says:

    If not a Tea Party, certainly it is time – long overdue – to take back our Faith with some kind of ‘Crusade.’ Those of us fortunate enough to have been grounded in religion in childhood in Catholic Schools are increasingly dismayed at the statements and actions of many of our Bishops. This has been further aggravated by many of those ordained from the 60s and 70s who refuse to condemn abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research and other “controversial” subjects from the pulpit. Many of us are tired of hearing the term “social justice” in place of defense of the tenets of Catholicism. We are, in fact, here on earth the Church Militant – as such let us courteously but fearlessly contact dissenting Bishops and/or the USCCB and express our disappointment in their lack of Catholicism! We can start by forwarding this excellent article to every traditional Catholic that we know and encourage them to do just that.

  5. BHG says:

    Heavens, yes!

  6. I agree with the basic premise of the argument. But, I don’t think that hostile confrontation against our bishops is a faithful response. Lay groups need to take the lead, while guiding the USCCB with a loving and strong hand. Should the USCCB listen to the Catholic people? In most matters, of course. But, we can’t expect a well thought out solution if the bishops feel they’re constantly on the defensive against their own people. God willing, the good points the USCCB supports will grow stronger and the controversial points will become more clear and be fixed.

  7. Neil says:

    The Bishop’s are not elected and therefore, I believe, will continue to hide behind what they preceive as their social justice mandate, especially in aiding and abetting a growing segment of the population that votes for pro-death and anti-family politicians.

    I think that a financial tea party is in order. Perhaps, tea parties could be held to warn that such an action may take place barring a change in direction. If annual Diocesan Appeal giving is scaled back or ignored, the Bishop’s will be deprived of some or most of the resources that are used to support liberal programs that, at best, equivocate on life and family issues. While I support my local parish generously, I myself do not participate in these appeals given the fact that I came to these conclusions about the Bishops some time ago. I believe it would soon get their attention. If the actions of the USCCB could be demonstrated to be more compatible with committed Catholics who vote their conscience consistent with Catholic principles, they may eventually find the level of support increased.

    If all else fails perhaps it would be appropriate to have US Catholics throw a tea party at the Vatican in Rome to let them and the world know the level of dissatisfaction with the direction of the USCCB. If properly timed or arranged, Archbishop Burke could witness it and advise his colleagues on the nature of the concerns.

  8. To Susan Kitchin – I say I really hope you’re right about the new priests and bishops coming up now. I’m a new Catholic (2004). I take every opportunity to defend the faith, but at times it is hard when the USCCB takes a stand the way they currently have. Many non-Catholics see the USCCB as the face of the wole Catholic church and don’t understand. Thanks for giving me hope that this could change around over time. The authority of the Catholic church is one of the main things that attracted me to the Church. I hate to see it led astray by a few rouge bishops. However, as we already know Satan always attacks the integrity of the Catholic Church, but we also know the Bible says “the gates of Hel will not overcome it”

  9. Joanne Schmidt says:

    I am a faithful practicing Catholic who is very disturbed at the liberal politics of many of our bishops. It disturbed me when our diocesan newspapers echoed the liberal policies of the liberal media, downplaying Obama’s extreme pro abortion agenda before the election, then hypocritically pushed a postcard campaign opposing the Freedom of Choice Act after the horses were already out of the stable.

    It disturbs me that they now want us to push another postcard campaign championing citizenship for illegal immigrants when immigrants who waited patiently and obeyed the law are put at the back of the line.

    It disturbs me that the USCCB badmouthed faithful Catholics who opposed funding of Campaign for Human Development groups which support abortion, gay marriage and other issues opposed by the teachings of the church.

    It disturbs me that only a handful of bishops speak out against so-called Catholic politicians who support abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc.

    There seems to be no watch over renegade groups in the USCCB who go off and issue pastoral letters that many bishops disagree with, such as the one on homosexuality that sent a mixed message about its sinfulness.

    The health care bill seemed to be dead, and good riddance. The pro abortion funding and lack of conscience clauses earned the veto of the bishops, yet now the USCCB seems determined to resurrect this horrible bill instead of starting over. I am sick to death of the liberal mindset in the church, with even priests and bishops refusing to speak out against Democrat politicians who defy church teaching or actually supporting their election. Several priests in my diocese openly supported Obama.

    I will always pray for and support my bishops and priests, but it’s time to give them a good nudge as well. There’s a reason a majority of Catholics now vote for pro abortion politicians etc. The shepherds are not doing right by their sheep.

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  11. Luciano says:

    I must do some home work but I seem to remember a council at the time of the early church when the faithful besieged them until they got the gumption to do the right thing. Maybe someone who studied the events of the early church could shed some light on it.

  12. Jask Angelo Territo says:

    DEAL, CATHOLICS dont need a Tea Party, they need for the Pope to OBEY CanonLaw,follow Church Doctrine and excommunicate ALL bishops,priests,polititions,and laity who AID,ABET,and XCounsel ,abortions,and\or homosexuality??it seems there”s no punishment for MORTAL SINNERS??

  13. Jask Angelo Territo says:

    DEAL, CATHOLICS dont need a Tea Party, they need for the Pope to OBEY CanonLaw,follow Church Doctrine and excommunicate ALL bishops,priests,polititions,and laity who AID,ABET,and XCounsel ,abortions,and\or homosexuality??it seems there”s no punishment for MORTAL SINNERS??

  14. Emma R Clery says:

    Can we have a bit of a reality check here? First of all, there has not been a liberal bishop in the US in at least fifteen years. Read the writings of Bishops Robert Finn and Walker Nickless. Dioceses of Philadephia and Phoenix each gave $50, 000 to help defeat same sex marriage in Maine. The USSCB currently takes its cues from Princeton conservative Robert George (co-founder of National Organization for Marriage) — who has advised them to stay away from justice issues and focus on abortion and gay marriage. (The sex scandal has evidently blown over in this country.)
    So for those or you inclined to rant about the need to take the Church back — it’s already back. Relax.
    The anger of the Christian and Catholic Right though sometimes appears (as here) more feverish than righteous; when so it serves poorly as witness to the Lord. The need to be angry is everyday demonstrated in our news: tea parties, shootings even plane crashes. Anger is a virus that mutates every 48 hours — or every news cycle. Pax Christi, amigos.

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  16. orlando says:

    I am 56 years old, and I am a Roman Catholic. More than any other thing, I am a Catholic. I have never been a

    Vatican II type Catholic, though. When the conscience took the place of Catholic doctrine after Vatican II, I knew

    we Catholics, and the world was in trouble.

    Look at what Vatican II has reaped : marxist liberation theology, a pope praying at a mosque and a Lutheran

    church, praising the apostate Martin Luther who married an ex-nun, and destroyed unified Christendom. Since

    Vatican II we Catholics have brought forth Catholic politicians like Pelosi, John Kerry, Bart Stupak, and Ted

    Kennedy who nearly, singlehandedly have promoted late term abortion, no prayer in public schools, a

    monstrous health care bill, and have helped a president who is pro-infanticide and a rampant Islamist

    and marxist.

    Seminaries and nunneries have been emptied. Church attendance is at 35 percent. The sacrament of penance

    is near extinct. Seminaries are turning out priests, many of whom are pedophiles and homosexuals. In short,

    please do away with the conscience as the final arbiter of man.The consciences of Hitler, Stalin. Mao, and

    Castro have killed more than a 100 million human beings made in God’s Holy Image. Let Catholic Church

    doctrine take its supremacy back as our moral guide. I truly believe that through Vatican II the devil has

    destroyed much of our beautiful and once saintly church. In the end though, I know Jesus is in control, and he

    will never abandon his and our Holy Church. God Bless our Church, and God Bless America; please Lord

    protect us from the fruits of Vatican II.

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