Editorial: Catholic Bishops Lack Consistency in Moral Stances on Social Issues

May 22, 2004

Source: Chicago Tribune


On May 22, 2004 the Chicago Tribune reported, "For Catholics, there is no bright line separating 'private'faith from 'public'action. Within the Catholic tradition, the decision whether to vote for one politician or another is as fraught with religious significance as the decision whether to go to church on Sunday. Consequently, Bishop Michael Sheridan, the Colorado bishop who said recently that Catholics who vote for politicians who oppose church teaching should abstain from taking communion, was well within the tradition of Catholic political thought when he said that 'a]nyone who professes the Catholic faith with his lips while at the same time publicly supporting legislation or candidates that defy God's law makes a mockery of that faith and belies his identity as a Catholic.' What is disturbing and new about the recent statements by bishops is not the intermingling of Catholic faith with politics. It's the narrowness of the bishops' political focus. Without exception, the handful of bishops who have approved of denying communion have employed church teaching on abortion and gay marriage as their principal criteria for determining whether a Catholic politician or voter should take the sacraments. The Vatican itself has cautioned against the danger of expressing a 'political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the church's social doctrine," such as abortion, at the expense of others, such as poverty, war or the death penalty.'"