Having been out of the country when the bishops' statement was issued, this commentary offers my first reflections, but I would like to start with a brief look at Jamie's further thoughts.
First, I must commend Jamie for taking time to revist his analysis. A closer look is always in order. This point bears emphasis in a sound bite society "in which television radically simplifies...our view of the world" and in which it is is difficult to get anyone to take even an initial look at a problem that lasts longer than a glance.
The second thing to be noted is that Jamie's second look is prudently and appropriately cautious. Thus, while he claims a distinction between the purported "authority" of the USCCB's Catholics in Political Life and the the Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians' Interim Reflections, he notes "the question of whether the USCCB has any real authority at all" and describes the difference in the following terms:
The latter is only a collection of "reflections," which lack even the pseudo-authority of the USCCB, and are simply the unambiguous "reflections" of a couple of theologians.[emphasis added]
I understand what Jamie is saying about the numbers, a point he proceeds to expand upon, but the Task Force is somewhat more than just "a couple of theologians" in that its members, who are bishops, were appointed by the same USCCB, whose "pseudo-authority" is appealed to. After all, Cardinal McCarrick led the discussion at the bishops' spring session by invitation—not usurpation.
As for the numbers, the Church, Deo gratia, is not a democracy, pace the dubious "authority" of episcopal bureaucracies, and, more to the point, a weak statement is not strengthened by "the collective weight" of the bleat of the sheep, er, shepherds endorsing it. As has been said elsewhere, God makes a majority of One. Thus I will continue to stand with the remnant of bishops who are defending the Faith, the Eucharist, and the unborn.
Which brings us to Jamie's principal point.
All of positions I liked, or at least found agreeable, were in the official statement itself. All of the positions I didn't like, or just found disagreeable, were in the Task Force's "Reflections." [emphasis added]
Hardly, a glowing endorsement, but I respectfully ask my esteemed colleague to reflect yet further. His initial assessment of the USCCB statement was not only sober but sound.
The Orwellian double talk that Jamie aptly cites may indeed have first appeared in the Task Force's Reflections, but it is "highlighted"—their word, not ours—by the USCCB in their Catholics in Political Life, hardly the mark of a statement that is "vastly different from McCarrick's reflections."
"Our obligation as bishops at this time is to teach clearly," the bishops declare. How disappointing, if predictable, that instead they have, once again, given us a statement that, as a wise observer once wrote, "is vague enough, in every aspect, to justify nearly any interpretation."
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.