Green Bay Bishop warns “cafeteria” Catholics
By: Robert E. Meyer
Bishop David Ricken of the Catholic Diocese in Green Bay, Wisconsin has been roundly criticized for saying in a letter to his flock, that they could jeopardize their souls by voting for pro-abortion political candidates, as well as other issues considered non-negotiable aspects of faith.
Ricken, along with other Roman Catholic bishops across the U.S.A., are taking a stand against political positions that are characterized as intrinsically evil.
Far from imposing a theocracy on society, Bishop Ricken is connecting the dots that have been obscured under the iron boot of ridicule and political correctness. Ricken spells out that it is dangerously hypocritical for individuals to compartmentalize between political and moral issues.
Does it make any sense for the Catholic Church to oppose abortion, yet remain silent and unresponsive toward lawmakers which celebrate it’s legality, along with voters who rationalize away the issue?
Ricken speaking out on the travesty of abortion isn’t an instance of the church delving into politics, but rather exposing the fact that moral issues have been politicized to the detriment of society. In so doing, the bishop restores the church to its rightful role as the vanguard of culture, rather than sitting motionless as a gargoyle on its contemporary, irrelevant perch.
Of course Ricken, and those taking up his mantle have met their share of detractors. Most of the nominal church-going public, have been living their lives in the shadows of the post-Johnson Amendment era. In 1954, congress passed a law, promoted by Lyndon Johnson, that prohibited churches from maintaining their tax exemptions if they speak out on “political issues.” This altered one of the traditions roles of churches as the watchdog of cultural trends. Church organizations that fear stepping over a line that could jeopardize their tax-except status, won’t go anywhere near that boundary. As a result, you have had a proliferation and latter-day tradition of wishy-washy messages that focus on personal piety, and humanistic social-justice motifs, at the expense of taking demonstrable stands on cultural issues according to biblical standards.
We should also observe that so-called “political issues” are nothing more than moral issues that have been politicized in order to grasp some ideological advantage. The whole complaint about the church weighing in on political issues is a rhetorical gambit to restrict the sphere of influence of biblically-minded Christians.
The contemporary church population is probably unaware of the role Christian clergymen have played in shaping historical movements. For example, The Black Regiment promoting the War for Independence, the activism of William Wilberforce in England to end slavery, and a host of other achievements leading up to civil rights demonstrations in the 1960’s. People unfamiliar with that history of the church might consider efforts like Ricken’s to be over the top, when they are, in fact, historically normative.
One may wonder why there appears to be so much dissonance between lay Catholics and clergy of Ricken’s persuasion. Part of the answer is apathy, along with the encroachment of predominant secular values, but others claim the moral high ground based on a principle known as the “consistent ethic of life.” Originally the principle sought to bring together both those opposed to abortion and capital punishment, but it has been largely deconstructed in order to provide rationalizations and loopholes for unprincipled politicians and inconsistent voters. It’s current iteration goes something like this: “You pro-life zealots stop caring about people once the umbilical cord is cut. I’m pro-choice, but I’m voting for elected officials that support medical insurance for all, increases in school lunch programs, and youth soccer leagues. These issues support life after it leaves the womb.” You can decide if the issue of moral equivalency is valid.
In any case, why is this an either/or proposition? If people are so adamant about the value of midnight basketball, why shouldn’t they be just as passionate about ending abortion? On what basis is it presumed that someone who in staunchly pro-life, doesn’t care about people after they are born?
The Christian values professed in the church pew on the weekend, ought to be the same values considered in the voting booth on a given Tuesday. Anything less is spiritual apathy or worse. Ricken is doing his duty to remind his people of their moral responsibilities. Unfortunately, too many clergyman have abrogated that duty.
Notice that liberal politicians often want to stress a separation of church and state when it comes to morality, where it doesn’t apply, but call for ignoring it when it comes to charity, where it should apply constitutionally. Understanding proper jurisdiction would eliminate so much of aberrant social justice advocacy that conflates Christianity with Marxism.
While Bishop Ricken does not endorse any political party, it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that one of our major political parties has taken upon itself many tenets of godless secular humanism in its platform planks. Actions ought to have consequences.