Archbishop Dolan’s Letter Recognizes US Bishops Don’t Speak for US Catholics

I just re-read the letter which Archbishop Timothy Dolan, current president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent to President Obama last month expressing concerns that the Obama Administration is no longer defending legal challenges to the constitutionality of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act).

Dolan repeatedly notes that he is writing on behalf of the “Catholic Bishops of the United States,” and that the views he is expressing are shared by “millions of citizens who stand with us on this issue.”

What the good archbishop does not say, however, is that these citizens are necessarily Catholic; nor that he is writing on behalf of Catholics in the United States.  Perhaps this is because, given whatever limitations the logic of his arguments might have, Archbishop Dolan at least is able to read opinion polls and he knows that the views he and his brother bishops are espousing are not the views of most American Catholics when it comes to recognizing that even gays and lesbians are God’s children, with all the rights and responsibilities this brings.

The Sad State of Episcopal Affairs

“Just how deeply insular and inward-looking the conference has become was apparent in the fact that the agenda for this year’s meeting, conducted amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression, contained no mention of the poor, the jobless or the state of the economy.” (from Shake up in the bishops’ conference, NCR)

 

Is this the kind of bishop we need?

The Catholic News Agency reports this story about Scranton (PA) Bishop Joseph Martino, who showed up unexpectedly at a non-partisan voter forum held at a parish in Honesdale, PA. Speaking in reference to the USCCB’s document, Faithful Citizenship, Martino apparently dismissed the document and stated, as reported in the local newspaper.

“‘No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,’ said Martino according to the Wayne Independent. ‘The USCCB doesn’t speak for me….The only relevant document … is my letter,’ he continued, ‘There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.'”

So much for the good bishop’s understanding of episcopal collegiality and the responsibility that each of us has to form and inform our own consciences.