Monday, May 7, 2007

Somebody feed the Sheep

We have this running joke in our family that priests and bishops save their fanciest hats for when they are meeting behind closed doors. Forget witnessing marriages or administering first Holy Communion, if you want to see fancy duds, watch EWTN when the US Conference of Catholic Bishops meets. Collegiality is the rule among the bishops. I suppose it helps to grease the wheels of progress among all the different strong personalities at these meetings. But, from what I can tell (and I am just a little catholic home-schooling mom from CT), collegiality just cost us Plan B in the legislature this session.

When asked why they voted for Plan B this session, 8 out of 10 legislators* responded, in some form or another, that the Catholic bishops were unsure of what their position was, so they just voted for it. The bishops alternately said a compromise was feasible (roll the tapes of Archbishop Mansell at Catholic Concerns Day), or they were waiting for an expert ethics opinion (see Haas OpEd in Courant), or, to top all others, that it was a matter of "faith" among the different bishops (see below). Sigh.

I hate to criticize Archbishop Mansell - he is a holy man with an awesome memory - but, what happened with Plan B this session? Only now are we starting to see a little life in the Archdiocese and Connecticut, organized by the faithful flock. And, honestly, that horse has left the barn. I am struck by the statements made by the spokesperson for the Connecticut Catholic Hospital Association, Barry Feldman:

"You're talking about religious beliefs and not facts. The bishops of New York have religious beliefs that they interpret in one way, and the bishops in Connecticut view the moral analysis differently,"
HeSaid already commented on this in an earlier post. But, what is going on here? Do the remarks, and the lack of perceptible action by our Archbishop, come down to the Connecticut Conference of Catholic Bishops being more concerned about collegiality among their fellow bishops than they are about fighting hard about Plan B here in Connecticut? I think so.

How is that, you ask? Only 1 state didn't fight Plan B because they determined it wasn't abortion. Unwilling to criticize Cardinal Egan of New York for their decision not to fight a Plan B bill, our bishops got all weak-kneed up at the Capitol. Unable to state clearly that Plan B was against Catholic teaching, lest they offend their NY brethren, they sunk into a kind of Catholic relativism, simply saying that it was a matter of "faith" and interpretation. Good grief, did they want the legislature to win? In the meantime, we the sheep are left to defend the Church ourselves in hand-to-hand water cooler combat. Sure, our bishops will file a lawsuit and spend $65 to $100 thousand of our weekly contributions fighting this battle in court. But, why not spend a little of your own "Archbishop Capital" getting dirty at the Capitol fighting for your sheep. Submit OpEds. Have letters read from the pulpit. Organize rallies! This isn't only about saving lives, its about defending our faith, making this a teaching moment, and giving your best to your flock.

I know the Archbishop is doing a lot behind the scenes - working with lobbyists, making phone calls, praying - but a public education campaign, that is sure of it's message and aimed at the flock, is desperately needed.

*as assertained by me reading the morning papers.