Bishops, North of the Border

Up here in Canada, from where I am writing, the prime minister called an election on September 7, and we had it on October 14. By the common consent of the five major parties, there was no discussion whatever of abortion, gay marriage, “human rights” tribunals, or any other of the civilizational issues that are, in Canada, decided exclusively by liberal judges. The governing party wasn’t going to discuss the economy, either (in fairly good shape after a generation of modest government retrenchment), but then the U.S. financial system began to melt down, so the topic did come up. A nominally “Conservative” Party — i.e., one that declares itself comfortable with abortion, gay marriage, and “human rights” tribunals that prosecute mainstream journalists who show conservative tendencies — was duly re-elected.
Our Catholic bishops had nothing to say about all this — or, at least, nothing audible. As Americans may soon learn, Catholics of any elevation are left with little to say, once the triumph of postmodern liberalism becomes so complete that any dissonant voice may be stifled in the cause of “national unity.”
The culture wars are over in the Great White North, and the other side won. “Unity” (really, “unanimity,” also known as “zero tolerance”) is the new standard, as the enemy mops up little pockets of continuing resistance. Opponents of the judicially imposed “Canadian consensus” may be charged with “hate crimes.”
In the once overwhelmingly Catholic province of Quebec, a Conservative candidate was verbally attacked by an opposition party leader for being a member of Opus Dei. Ugly spray-paint messages against her soon began appearing around the riding. This, in turn, never became an election issue. Instead, the Quebec media went hunting for other candidates who might belong to this family-values Catholic organization, and found one more.
The impending Democrat “supermajority” in the States (according to the MSM polls, they will soon hold the presidency plus sufficient members in both houses of Congress to shut down any Republican resistance, whether to their legislation or to their “strict deconstructionist” judicial appointments) promises a “third wave” of government expansion, building upon the advances of the New Deal in the 1930s and the Great Society in the 1960s. Disoriented by a financial crisis, it appears that Americans are about to endorse a leftward lurch that will make your country just like mine.
For American Catholics who have not already embraced Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi as their political role models, I expect this will mean practicing your religion the way we do in Canada, or as the ACLU has already stipulated in the United States. That is to say, you will be welcome to parade a Catholic ethnicity, so long as you do not publicly support any Church teaching.
What have your bishops had to say?
To start with, I see no evidence they would agree with the analysis I have just given. Many seem enthralled with the prospect of an Obama presidency and a Democrat junto (to use the old English term for extended one-party rule).
While I have read cogent and courageous remarks by, for instance, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, the general tenor of bishops’ statements through the interminable election campaign, including the USCCB’s, has been mealy-mouthed. They consistently oppose abortion, but with the same tone and force they also oppose, for example, “poverty in America,” global warming, capital punishment, the war in Iraq — thus burying a moral absolute under a series of Democrat-friendly moral imponderables, and wantonly confusing an unambiguous doctrinal issue with a smorgasbord of secular judgment calls.
Certainly, no serious attempt is made to justify, say, the anti-war stance doctrinally, for if the question of “just war” is mentioned at all, it is raised in a simplistic, purely rhetorical way. And so on down the line of moral imposture, into very strange territory. Can Barack Obama, who has repeatedly supported so-called late-term abortion (which crosses the threshold into infanticide), really be the “pro-life” candidate because he supports the more rapid extension of Medicare and the Nanny State? Does anyone honestly think such policies will reduce the abortion rate?
The “shopping list” approach to politics allows any liberal Democrat to argue — and, in fact, every liberal Catholic Democrat politician does argue — that, “Hey, we’re with the Church on more issues than the Republicans are.” It then forces any Catholic Republican who is pro-life into the humiliating position of having to explain why he hasn’t also supported an American surrender in Iraq. The Democrats have great fun with this, in the course of which Church authority is mocked.
I would make a further comment, expressing my extreme disappointment with most of the American bishops. I might say that believing Catholics are squelching across the Red Sea, with our fastidious bishops saddled on our backs. But such sarcasm is unnecessary. The facts speak for themselves.

David Warren

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David Warren is a Canadian journalist who writes mostly on international affairs. His Web site is www.davidwarrenonline.com.

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