View Full Version : RC Bishop tells RC Legislators how they should vote

Qadgop the Mercotan
01-10-2004, 01:13 PM
Interesting article here. I'm surprised it hasn't made more news nationally.

The Lacrosse Wisconsin catholic Bishop has informed a number of catholic legislators in his Bishopric that they must publicly renounce their support for abortion rights, and vote against any such rights in the future if they wish to receive communion.

So how do dopers feel about this?

Not being a catholic, I don't have as large a stake as some others. Nor are the legislators mentioned representing my district. Even so, I am ambivalent about this sort of thing.

I do support the right of a private organization such as the catholic church to decide how to treat its members. Yet I am uneasy with the idea of an elected official basing his vote not on either the will of his electorate nor his own conscience, but on the basis of direction from an unelected body.

And if the RC church is do to such things, should they not do them uniformly? Why just one Bishop telling only the legislators in his area? Will the Bishop who has jurisdiction over Supreme Court Justice Scalia (a devout catholic by report, yet a strong advocate of capital punishment) inform him that he must drop his support for the death penalty, or be denied communion?


01-10-2004, 01:16 PM
As long as the Catholic Church enters into the political arena on its own, it must take its victories and failures with equal importance. While the Arch-Bishop may have the authority to excommunicate, he runs the risk of hypocrisy which will only backlash upon the Church.

Considering the current abuse of the laity by selected members of the Church, I think this Bishop should work on rebuilding his House rather than striking out at its members.

FWIW, the Bishop is an ass.

01-10-2004, 01:19 PM
Well, I think this can be brought in relation with this topic of mine, titled :

"How secular is the USA when it comes to elect a president"


Salaam. A

Qadgop the Mercotan
01-10-2004, 01:26 PM
Your thread is extra-topical to my query here, Aldebaran. I wish to keep the focus on this specific issue, as much as possible.

But thanks for thinking of it.


01-10-2004, 01:33 PM
No problem.

Thus commenting on the OP :
Of course subtle influencing can happen all over the world, and I'm sure they do happen.
But I have never seen a Bishop threatening people, let be politicians, with what in my opinion leads almost to excomunication in practice.

So I should say this gives again a demonstration of how much religion and politics are intertwined with each other at several levels of society in the USA, if people want it or not.

Salaam. A

01-10-2004, 01:40 PM
I don't think it should be illegal, but I think it's a nasty thing to do. But then again, I also think discouraging birth control in developing AIDS-ridden nations is nasty, as is forbidding certain procedures at Catholic-owned hospitals, denying domestic partner benefits to secular employees, etc.

People are Catholics of their own free will.

01-10-2004, 01:41 PM
Unfortunately, it's not just the bishop of LaCrosse. What's sad about the new U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops guidelines ( in re: Catholic politicians is that 43 years ago, during the 1960 elections, the threat of Catholic politicians being told what to do by the Vatican was a dirty tricks lie that was used against Kennedy. Kennedy neatly met the lie head-on and denied that any influence from Rome would force his hand against the good of the USA.

Now the US bishops are digging their own hole on this issue by threatening Catholic politicians with various punishments if they vote against Church beliefs.

It's incredibly sad. :(

01-10-2004, 01:46 PM
Legislators have a responsibility to decide issues with regard to how it can benefit their constituents and whether or not they feel it is the right thing to do.

When the Catholic Church attempts to exert this kind of control, legislators must be able to respect the intended wall of separation between church and state and refuse to kowtow to Rome, or else resign.

01-10-2004, 01:49 PM
What the...see, this is one of the big reasons I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore.

Which does indeed, make me sad.

What's really disgusting is that they're not denouncing politicians who don't advocate social justice, or the death penalty, politicians who think it's okay to cheat and screw others.


01-10-2004, 01:51 PM
They are indeed. This drags the religion of a candidate into the legitimate realm of political discourse. From being a subject of personal and private conscience, it now becomes legitimate to ask a candidate, "Are you a Catholic? If your Bishop tells you to vote a certain way on an issue or be refused communion, will you obey him?" It drags religion from the personal to the public in political matters, which is a crying shame.

In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy buried the bigotry against Catholics on a national scale, and good riddance. It was a major step forward for us as a nation, and while it still rears its ugly head locally, and in some nasty religious tracts, as a country we have been able to move forward without such tripe polluting our national political debates. This threatens to disinter it, and bring it into legitimate debate again, because of the actions of Catholic bishops.

And I call that a crying shame.

JS Princeton
01-10-2004, 01:54 PM
What's so ridiculous about the bishop's position is that it fails to consider that one can have personal beliefs about social issues that do not necessarily coincide with their beliefs on the legislative applicability of said beliefs. For example, one can choose to be monogamous but not wish to legislate monogamy in the general population for very real privacy-concern issues that trump the social homogeneity concerns of wanting everyone to believe or behave the same way. I had always assumed that's the reason the modern Roman Catholic Church declared itself in favor of the separation of church and state. If one legislates one's beliefs without protecting others who have different beliefs, you can set-up precedence for legislating against the Catholic Church, for example.

One might be personally opposed to abortion but not wish to legislate against it. According to canon law, can the Catholic Church honestly say that such a person is excommunicating themselves (which is actually how excommunication works)? After all, there is no doctrine that I know of that says a Catholic must impose one's Catholic beliefs upon the rest of society. What the dilly, yo?

Canon lawyers, if you're out there, please respond!

01-10-2004, 01:59 PM
Well, he did more than just tell them. He called for them to be denied the sacrement of communion. Now to me as an atheist, that's a meaningless quibble. But if someone actually bought Catholic doctrine, this is tantamount to threatening someone's eternal soul unless they vote your ballot, which seems dangerously close to vote tampering if not over the line.

01-10-2004, 02:17 PM
Absolutely ridiculous.

Qadgop the Mercotan
01-10-2004, 03:41 PM
Well, I have heard stated on NPR that back in the 60's, a bishop excommunicated some politicians for their stance against civil rights and desegregation. I've been unable to come up with a verification of this, but if true, would this alter your opinion about the appropriateness of these sorts of actions?

Any practicing catholics out there want to contribute to this thread?

01-10-2004, 03:45 PM
Not mine. I'm as lapsed as last year's 2%, btw.

While I wholeheartedly embrace racial equality, the fact that the Church was trying to govern a politician's vote by threatening their eternal soul is, to borrow one of the Church's own terms, anathema to me.

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