U. S. Bishops Reject Pope’s Agenda?

As usual, George Weigel keeps his head while all about are losing theirs.

The American media (and, sadly, this too often includes the Catholic media in America) insists on two points when reporting on the Church:

First: couch everything in terms of secular liberal v. conservative terms, and

Second: report on the pope as if the only Catholics in the world he has in mind when acting or speaking are those in the United States.

As a result, the vote earlier today among the U. S. bishops to choose a new chair of the pro-life committee of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in which Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City was elected over Blaise Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, is being reported by both secular and even some Catholic news outlets as a rejection by the bishops of Pope Francis’ “agenda.” What agenda might that be? Well, the non-existent liberal Catholic pipe dream agenda that depicts Pope Francis as regarding abortion as a non-issue when compared to other life issues and where the pontiff wants the Church to stop being involved in the politics of abortion.

Can we be clear, for the record, that Pope Francis has consistently condemned abortion and consistently called on Catholics to involve themselves in the political life of their countries? Those Catholics who ought to be involved in the political life of their countries presumably include bishops who are, after all, citizens of their respective countries. When the Holy Father stated early on in his pontificate that there were other life issues as well as abortion, somehow that was interpreted by a press all too eager to shut the bishops up on abortion as a direct command from the Holy Father to, well, shut up about abortion. Later statements by Pope Francis condemning abortion and encouraging the Church to be involved in politics were conveniently ignored. The press heard, or thought they heard (or, more truly, twisted what they heard) what they wanted to hear from Pope Francis on the matter, so there was no reason to continue reporting on it.

That meme, that Pope Francis doesn’t care about abortion and doesn’t want the Church involved in the matter, is mainstream media gospel at this point, and all Church activity is interpreted according to that gospel. Just so, the Naumann-Cupich vote.

Cardinal Cupich, who is regarded by the press as liberal and an ally of the pope, presumably doesn’t care much about abortion, either, and doesn’t want the bishops to be involved in the matter politically. This is rubbish, of coarse, but it serves the “Pope Francis agenda” meme, as well as making sure Catholics who still waste their time reading what the secular press prints about the Church and non-Catholics who don’t know any better to recognize the bunk for what it is, that the Church in America is hopelessly divided between liberals and conservatives, just as is Congress and the American people.

Here is what will come of the election of Archbishop Joseph Naumann as chair of the pro-life committee: a firm commitment by a long-time pro-life soldier that the rights of the unborn will continue to be championed by the Catholic Church in the U. S., even as the Church continues to give proper due to the other several essential life issues, all of which are tied together by the Church’s commitment to the intrinsic dignity of the human person.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, it could not be otherwise.


Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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