Are There Republican Moles in the Lay-Staff of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops?


I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were talking about the position of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding healthcare reform and abortion.

Any time that anyone talks about their position, this morning, it was a law professor, the consensus is that the position of the Bishops is coming from somewhere in the Twilight Zone: There is simply no basis in realities of law, precedent, legislation, or the manner in which regulation is derived from statute to suggest the Senate language will allow for federal funding of abortion.

This raises an obvious question: Why does the professional staff of the Conference hold a position at such extreme odds with every lawyer, and almost every other Catholic organization out there, most recently the Catholic Health Association and 59,000 nuns?

The only answer that I can come up with is that the professional staff working in their offices have been captured by partisan Republican operatives.

Either there are Republican operatives working and generating legal and legislative opinions, or the staff has been browbeaten by the loud right wing lay activists, most notably Bill Donohue and his Catholic League, and so the staff is taking its talking points from Republican operatives.

In either case, it is clear that the staff is NOT providing competent or good faith advice.

Perhaps a look at the senior lay staff at the organization, and their backgrounds might be warranted by some news gathering organization. (I sent an earlier version of my theory to Josh Marshall, if you know of any other investigative organizations, please forward this to them.)

Note that I am not suggesting that the Bishops themselves are operating as partisan political operatives, simply that their staff may be operating as such.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.


Tags: abortion, Bureaucracy, Congress, Justice, legislation, religion (all tags)



Tip Jar

Of Course, I could be wrong, it could be that the Bishops have been captured by the Republican party.

by msaroff 2010-03-18 09:50PM | 1 recs
Something most definitely doesn't smell right

I think the Bishops sense that this is their moment to fundamentally transform the business of abortion in the U.S and they see it slipping away from them.  They like to talk about how they have been "at the forefront of universal health coverage for decades".  But I honestly can't seem to find anything suggesting that they were at all interested in pushing for action.  I can't recall a single protest of a single insurance company that provided abortions.  I can't remember any efforts to develop their own non-profit, abortion-free insurance program.  I can't remember any public statements urging any legislative action.  I can't remember this ever coming up in their endorsements of George Bush for President.

I don't begrudge them their beliefs that abortion is murder.  I have a less stringent opinion of abortion, but I respect the consistency of their arguments.  What I don't understand is why they are basically inventing reasons to be against this bill.  Even when the House version passed with the Stupak amendment last fall, all we got were some tepid statements of "well, gee, I guess this is okay then" along with a litany of scathing op-eds by Archbishop Chaput and George Weigel.  Where was the pressure on Catholic Republicans to support this?  Where was the call for endorsements from major Catholic organizations?

Think about it, if we got maybe a half-dozen pro-life Republican Senators voting with the supposed position of the most strongly pro-life religious organization in the country, we'd currently have the Stupak Amendment, the public option, and medical loss ratios.

The bishops never had any interest in supporting this bill.  They were as surprised as anyone when the Stupak Amendment passed.

by the mollusk 2010-03-19 01:02PM | 1 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

There isn't any sort of consistency to their arguement of abortion = murder. It's a classic case of self-delusion.

by vecky 2010-03-19 02:36PM | 0 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

You don't agree.  I understand.  But you can't say they aren't consistent.  That is, if you believe life begins at conception (as they do) then the intentional taking of that life constitutes murder.  Furthermore, given how many abortions are performed every year, more human lives are lost than are lost to lack of health insurance, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and DUI put together.

You don't need to believe what they believe, but it's very difficult to accuse them of being unthoughtful or inconsistent.

Personally, I find much more blame to be laid at the feet of "pro-life" politicians who were willing to vote against a Healthcare Reform Bill that included the Stupak Amendment just because they don't like Obama.  Those are the inconsistent ones for exactly the reasons stated above.

by the mollusk 2010-03-19 02:52PM | 0 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

But it's not consistent - see how hard it is for them to admit to charging women who have abortions with murder or homicide. The carve outs for rape and incest.The ignoring of miscarriages.

And if they were truly anti-abortion, their focus would be different too. Abortion is primarily a function of social and economic factors, not the legality. Fix things like poverty, social mobility, gender abuse, maternal discrimination in employment, maternal health and support and abortion rates drop by a far greater amount than simply making it illegal. But their not interested in such things...

by vecky 2010-03-19 03:08PM | 0 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

Miscarriages can be ignored because they would be considered a "natural death".  I know Catholic families that have named miscarried babies and consider them a lost child.

I think your first and third points can be considered two sides of the same coin.  They don't focus on prosecution of women who have had abortions precisely because they recognize it as a "function of social and economic factors" and so they work to change those factors to the extent that they can.  Usually this is by advocating for laws that would make abortions more difficult to obtain.  Again, I think this is a logical approach in that they don't believe you can stop it, but by making it harder to obtain you reduce the numbers overall.  Also, I don't think it's fair to suggest that the Catholic Church is not involved fighting poverty, gender abuse, or maternal health.  They are probably the single largest charity organization in the entire world.

The other point I'd like to make is that the Bishops represent one end of the spectrum of Catholic life.  They are a very conservative bunch and they focus (in my opinion) far too heavily on this aspect of Catholic belief.  That's a difference of opinion that I have with them.  But what bothers me is that they conveniently find reasons to oppose just about every liberal idea, while at the same time preaching a fairly radical doctrine of environmentalism, common good, and moral responsibility to help the least among us.  Maybe some of this is a result of being so close to the disasters of statism in Eastern Europe.  Maybe some of it is their own Machiavellian desire to be the big dog in civil life.  Maybe some of it is their (apparently correct) sense that they aren't welcome in the liberal tent.  But honestly, I think it's just a mindset that draws them to Conservative causes while ignoring the fundamental immorality of those causes.

by the mollusk 2010-03-19 03:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

"Natural deaths" are still investigated to determine that they were actually natural deaths or accidents. This is not the case with miscarriages, but it should be to be consistent.

Again, murder is not excused by "a function of social and economic factors". So if a "pro-lifer" holds such views and excuses abortion on such grounds they are basically admitting that abortion is not murder.

I never suggested that the Catholic Church as a whole is inconsistent. Many catholic organisations -  particularly those actually engaged in "on-the-ground" charity work (hospitals and nuns for example) view their role quite differently from the political hierarchy (Conference of Bishops). That difference is shown in their priorities - Nuns and hospitals in favor of HC reform, Bishops determined to hold health-care hostage to their political agenda.

by vecky 2010-03-19 04:10PM | 0 recs
RE: Something most definitely doesn't smell right

You'll get no argument from me about what certainly appears to be a political agenda by the Catholic Bishops.

by the mollusk 2010-03-19 04:18PM | 0 recs


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