Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Dogs That Do Not Bark
The Illinois bishops are rightly upset with the “Catholic” governor of that state, Pat Quinn. Quinn plans to make an appearance and present a “Pro-Choice Leadership Award” at an upcoming event for a political group. Read the bishops’ statement here. (And thanks to CatholicVote for reporting on this.)
These bishops have issued a statement with some strong language. They even state (emphasis added):
Governor Quinn not only accepts these [pro-choice] laws, he promotes them and publicly presents awards to their advocates. This approach is irreconcilable with any honest profession of the Catholic faith. While we deeply regret and oppose his actions, we continue to pray for his conversion and the protection of unborn human life.
To our Catholic institutions statewide, we reaffirm our desire and policies that those acting in the manner of the Governor should not be given special recognition on Church property or at functions held in support of Church ministry.
This is all well and good, and I’m happy that the Illinois bishops are taking a firm stand, but truthfully, there’s no bite to their statement. In fact, the (non-Catholic) reporter following up on the issue wondered whether the strong language in the bishops’ letter meant that the governor would be denied Holy Communion. The response? A spokesperson said, “The bishops have not banned Quinn from receiving Communion. An individual priest could make the decision not to give Quinn Communion.” But the spokesperson did make the point that the bishops have expressed “extreme disappointment in Quinn’s intention to give out the Personal PAC award”.
So, the bishops are extremely disappointed; they see the governor’s overall actions with regard to “pro-choice” legislation as irreconcilable with the Catholic faith; and they oppose his actions and pray for his conversion. But they won’t make a public statement that the man should be denied Holy Communion!
This type of scenario has repeated itself time and again over the last several years. Bishops don’t like what so-called Catholic politicians are doing, but they won’t stand up for the truth of the Church. They won’t protect the souls of those politicians by pointing out that they are receiving Communion in such a way as to bring condemnation upon themselves. And they don’t protect the rest of the faithful from scandal. The message they convey is, “Gosh, Catholics really should follow the teachings of the Church…but if they don’t…oh well. Go ahead and receive Holy Communion. That’s what we do on Sundays, after all.”
I think I hear St. Boniface speaking to the bishops from the Office of Readings (June 4):
Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ’s flock. Let us preach the whole of God’s plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season…
But I don’t think very many bishops are listening.