Thursday, March 01, 2012

rhetoric, church politics, and a pendulum swing.

So I read this in America Magazine (the cryptically-named Jesuit publication) this morning.
The bishops have been most effective in influencing public policy when they have acted as pastors, trying to build consensus in church and society, as they did in their pastorals on nuclear war and the economy. The American public is uncomfortable with an overt exercise of political muscle by the hierarchy. Catholics, too, have proved more responsive to pastoral approaches. They expect church leaders to appeal to Gospel values, conscience and right reason. They hope bishops will accept honorable accommodations and, even when provoked, not stir up hostility. In the continuing dialogue with government, a conciliatory style that keeps Catholics united and cools the national distemper would benefit the whole church.
Ahhh, dialogue. I mean, read Obama's revision/clarification/accommodation announcement and tell me he's not winning the rhetoric game. He knows what he's talking about. He's offering a compromise. We're going with the doctors on this one.

And that line about how the US Bishops were effective before, "in their pastorals on nuclear war and the economy" - actually, and coincidentally, we read some of "The Challenge of Peace" [pdf] from 1983 in my class this week. It's lovely.
The experience of preparing this letter has manifested to us the range of strongly held opinion in the Catholic community on questions of fact and judgment concerning issues of war and peace. We urge mutual respect among individuals and groups in the Church as this letter is analyzed and discussed. Obviously, as bishops, we believe that such differences should be expressed within the framework of Catholic moral teaching. We need in the Church not only conviction and commitment but also civility and charity.
Right? And then take a look at, oh, everything that's happening at the USCCB right now. Can you imagine them urging mutual respect and discussion about insurance coverage of contraception?

Yeah, me neither. It's interesting to note the changes Church politics in the past 30 years.

I want the pendulum to swing again.