By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The Roman Catholic bishops who attacked President Obama's recent appearance at Notre Dame and who've called for pro-abortion rights politicians to be denied communion constitute a minority. Most of the roughly 275 U.S. Catholic bishops have kept quiet about both controversies.
Liberal Catholics claim this silent majority disagrees with strident public pronouncements from outspokenly conservative bishops. Most U.S. bishops, they say, think Notre Dame was right to invite the president—and that Catholic elected officials should receive communion regardless of their stance on abortion.
Catholic scholar David O'Brien makes the case in the latest National Catholic Reporter:
As Catholic bishops gather in San Antonio this week, they face some tough questions. Their most recent engagements with politics sharpened divisions within the church and left the bishops shaken, even embarrassed....
The shrill reaction of many bishops to President Obama's election and visit to Notre Dame reflected a grim image of an embattled church hunkered down against hostile enemies....
Only a few seem able to resist. One who does so is retired San Francisco Archbishop Emeritus John Quinn. As the ugly rhetoric heated up this spring, Quinn argued that even "where there are grave divisions as there are on abortion," Catholics should recognize that it is in "the interest of both the church and the nation to work together in civility, honesty, and friendship for the common good."
Here's my question to Catholics, like O'Brien, who allege that outbursts of anti-Obama sentiment by some bishops has left the majority of U.S. bishops " shaken, even embarrassed": Is there any hard evidence for that case?
O'Brien cites one retired bishop who publicly broke ranks with the anti-Obama-at-Notre Dame bishops. That's a thin reed on which to claim that most Catholic bishops reject the hard-line anti-Obama statements coming from some of their ilk. I'd like to see some real evidence for this theory, widely held by liberal Catholics. For me, the silence of most U.S. bishops doesn't suffice.