The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has managed to be on the short end of the stick on a policy issue: Health Care. Rather than trying to understand the health care bill, they hitched their cassocks to the Family Research Council coattails. As a result, not only have they split with several Catholic health care institutions and nuns who are pro-life, but their craven belief in a lie about the funding of abortions in the health care bill has left hem looking inept and embattled.
The recent attempt of the USCCB to remain relevant after their own debacle with the sexual abuse scandals in the united States is a reminder of the stripping of their moral authority to make a difference, either in their dioceses or the political realm. After all, how can anyone bother to listen to their protestations about abortion, when their extent of care is politicized? How is it that the USCCB expects anyone to trust their pronouncements, given their lousy track record in the American Sexual abuse scandal? The constant haranguing about withholding the Eucharist and other scare tactics designed to keep the faithful and Catholic politicians at bay is at best, grandstanding, and at its worst, the preening of the irrelevant. While Rome is BURNING, the USCCB tries to fan the flames of its irrelevancy back to life.
Seriously, the USCCB needs to sit down, and consider the cost of not only being on the losing side, but being on the losing side by embracing a lie: that lie being that the health care bill would provide payment for abortions.
It isn’t surprising that they chose to take a lie to support what they believe is an ultimate truth about abortion. What is amazing is that they have decided to follow someone else’s battle strategy to remain relevant to a constituency that is not their own. Think about this for a minute… they are hitching their fortunes up to the Tea Partiers whose ranks spit at and yelled the N-world at John Lewis. They are hitching their futures to the Family Research Council, whose membership most likely think that the Vatican and its followers are one step away from the Antichrist, and certainly aren’t Christians.
This alliance is certain to become strained with immigration reform on the horizon. Sunday, while Republicans and Democrats were jockeying for last-minute votes, outside of Congress 200,000 people marched for immigration reform. Cardinal Roger Mahony, a Champion of immigration reform but of dubious repute in the sexual abuse scandal, was smart enough to show up at the DC Rally.
Even with his impending retirement, Mahony understands where the future of the American Catholic church lies… and it’s not with the Family Research Councils’ constituency. It is with those 200,000 protesters, many of whom may be anti-abortion, but they also want citizenship and health insurance. The USCCB will lose that constituency to the Evangelicos (Pentecostals) if they don’t tighten up their message, and tend to their own weed-filled garden of missed opportunities.
It may be difficult to repair the breach with those Catholic Health organizations and religious who supported the health care bill, but a miscalculation on immigration could seal their irrelevancy for good.