As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.C.C.B.) met earlier this week to elect a new president, Vincent Miller, writing for America, had a message for them: Preach the fullness of the Catholic doctrine, not just those hot-button issues (namely, abortion and same-sex marriage) that grab media attention. “Every Catholic and every American citizen knows the church’s teaching on abortion and marriage,” Miller writes. “The same cannot be said for the rest of Catholic social teaching.”
Miller argues that the U.S.C.C.B.’s response to the recent U.S. midterm elections—a response that said the Bishops’ agenda was “unchanged”—is insufficient, pointing out that it has not historically been Democrats that have been against programs the assist the poor. Indeed those on the far right, such as Glen Beck, put Catholic teaching “under fire”:
Unfortunately it seems that Miller’s memo wasn’t delivered to the U.S.C.C.B., which has elected Timothy M. Dolan as its new president. By all accounts Dolan will be a leader in the culture wars, focusing on same-sex marriage and abortion. The election left one observer criticizing it as “evidence of a rising ‘Catholic Tea Party’ among conservative church leaders.”
Here’s hoping that Miller’s message gets through to the U.S.C.C.B., because as he concludes, “The American public and the next generation of the church desperately needs to hear the fullness of the church’s social doctrine.” Better late than never.
And to those who will undoubtedly argue that the church’s teachings should simply be left out of politics, well, that argument ignores the place and time we are currently living in—one needs look no further than the recent healthcare debate to see the influence the U.S.C.C.B. has on public policy. If that influence is going to be there, we can only hope that it takes into account Miller’s version of the Catholic doctrine, rather than a version that focuses solely on one issue.