Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bishops are often right to ‘go too far’

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One of the finest statements on the issue of whether Catholic bishops have the right to speak to their parishioners on the definition of marriage. An Op-Ed piece from the Winona Daily News. The statement is in response to a Daily News Editorial on September 22, "Church is Picking Unnecessary Fight."

Another editorial board, another bishop taken to task.

This time it’s the Winona Daily News chiding Bishop John Quinn. His purported fault: Asking Catholics to oppose efforts in the Minnesota Legislature to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

They impute to him the basest of motives: picking on gay people, cowardice, discrimination. They also call the Church’s teaching on marriage, “grossly uninformed and patently hurtful.” And the editors believe that because Catholic bishops are unmarried, they are thus prevented from having any say on the matter.

More importantly, they believe the bishops have crossed a line. Not just any line, but “a hallowed line,” the supposed line separating church and state.

“When Quinn and other bishops urge political action, they go too far,” the recent editorial stated.

Really? Then did bishops, priests and nuns who opposed racial segregation “go too far” when they called for legislative action and even directly challenged the secular state by civil disobedience?

Did the bishops “go too far” when they issued The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response, calling on the U.S. to eliminate nuclear weapons? Did they “go too far” when they issued Economic Justice for All? That letter spurred 60 percent of the dioceses in this country to further advocate on behalf of the poor.

Was that going “too far?”

One need not wait for the editors to answer that because it is already clear. Of course the bishops didn’t “go too far,” they would say — on those issues. But when it comes to defining marriage as being between one man and one woman and encouraging Catholics to take political action to define that in law, then the bishops “go too far.”

The editors’ bias is all too easy to see. As long as the bishops stroke their heads and keep them purring, they’re fine with bishops calling for political action. But pet the editors the wrong way and they hiss and spit, “Too far!”

Oh, but the editors will protest that this is a matter of “discrimination” and making a segment of the population into “second-class citizenry.”

If this is true, then does the state discriminate when it says first cousins can’t marry? Or brothers and sisters? Or aunts and nephews or uncles and nieces? Where, oh where is the editors’ outcry of, “Relatives, unite!”

The state defines what marriage is and is not for the common and future good of society. It’s not good for close relations to marry for one reason and one reason only — the good of the children.

Children do best with a father and a mother in a stable marital relationship. Even secular sociological data show this in abundance and our own experience confirms it.

Then the editors, rending their garments in two, lament: “In a time of such hurt, such need and such brokenness, it’s hard to believe bishops would even spend the money and the political capital to fight a war that denies rights to some individuals, while granting them to others.”

This is a red herring, and a two-headed mutant one at that. First, there is no constitutional right to marriage, period.

Second, in 2009, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Winona spent more than $2 million caring for those in great need. In St. Paul, that figure was north of $36 million. In St. Cloud, $22.5 million. That’s $60.5 million in three dioceses in one year and that doesn’t include charitable outreaches from individual parishes or groups like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Would the Daily News care to tell readers exactly how much the homosexual lobby spent on caring for those in “such hurt, such need and such brokenness?”

At the end of the DVD in question, Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis states that the issue of marriage is too big to be decided by either the courts or the legislature but that it should be put to a vote before every Minnesotan.

He’s right.

But apparently the Daily News fears entrusting a question about the people directly to the people.

Something’s terribly awry when bishops want the people to vote and a newspaper doesn’t.

Tom Szyszkiewicz has been a writer and editor in the Catholic press for 25 years and is a producer for The Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. He lives in rural Peterson, Minn.
Winona Daily News



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