[Abp. Lori: It is not a good idea for churches to engage in partisan politics!? If so, then why do the USCCCP and its bureaucracy as well as various of its state branches act on many issues and with many Demo-politicians if they were a political arm of the Democratic Party?]
March 7, 2017
Posted by Tantumblogo
I saw the following excerpt of a lengthy interview Archbishop Lori gave to the Catholic Register recently on the subject of the new presidency and the prospects it brings to the Church, and in addition to being generally disappointed with the bishop’s general view of much of the Trump agenda he was queried about, I was very surprised by this particular excerpt:
What is your assessment of the president’s proposal to eliminate the Johnson Amendment?
That’s, of course, a very complex question. We would certainly want to see, more specifically, what the president might have in mind. As a general rule, it is not a good idea for churches to engage in partisan politics. I believe that, generally, that proves to be a great distraction from our central task and mission, which is to preach the Gospel. Furthermore, I think it would have a tendency to unnecessarily divide our congregations.
I would recognize that the Johnson Amendment is lived out fairly unevenly, across religious lines, but in general, I think we would eye the adjustment of this amendment warily. I think that’s the best adverb I can give you. We are looking at this carefully and warily.
The Johnson Amendment, for those who don’t know, was something created by the corrupt, racist Lyndon Johnson in 1954 and tacked onto a defense appropriations bill to punish the churches who had opposed his 1952 candidacy to the US Senate from Texas. Johnson only won by literally manufacturing votes in magical ballot boxes, but he had faced criticism from various churches for some of his stands and he did not want to have to deal with that again. So, he created an amendment that churches that endorse or oppose specific candidates would lose their precious tax-exempt status. The amendment was shockingly non-controversial at the time, but it has had enormous ramifications.
Now why would the bishops not favor being freed from this restriction on their ability to speak freely and endorse the most moral, most worthy candidates, and oppose those who are unworthy? There are two reasons, really – money, and ideology.
Regarding the money, the USCCB – and Lori was speaking in at least a semi-official capacity for the USCCB in this interview – is wholly dependent on federal funding for almost all of their activities, activities which have come to be thoroughly politicized by this very same funding. Something like 90% of Catholic Charities and 92% of Catholic Relief Services funding comes directly from US taxpayers. One could imagine that, if freed of the Johnson Amendment the bishops would be placed in a very difficult position, not wanting to anger either party by openly opposing some or many (or all) of their candidates. Such politicking could place their precious, precious billions at risk. Can’t have that.
In addition, one can easily forecast how divided and lukewarm the bishops would be in determining which candidates to endorse or oppose.
Think how many very difficult, uncomfortable stands out milquetoast bishops would have to take should the Johnson Amendment be repealed. The house divided they worry about is their own conference’s alienation from faithful souls. Either way they went, they’d be angering a large proportion of their sharply divided flock, but in most of these cases, there is a clear, Catholic moral imperative to support one candidate and oppose another. Right now, they have the perfect excuse not to speak out much more forcefully against pro-abort, pro-contraception, pro-perversion, etc., candidates. They simply can’t speak out for fear of losing that “holy” tax exempt status. It’s great cover.
But it’s also a huge shirking of duty and conduct unworthy of a shepherd of souls. In fact, much of the division among those in this country who apply the name Catholic to themselves stems precisely from the bishop’s unwillingness to take clear stands on moral issues, and, more importantly, impose ecclesiastical penalties against politicians and others of notoriety who advocate for positions contrary to the Doctrine of the Faith. How many pro-abort politicians have been denied Communion, for instance? How many have been condemned by name? How many morally worthless, mealy-mouthed “voting guides” have been trotted out over the years, always containing just enough morally ambiguous language to give a shade of cover for those who want to vote for politicians who advance morally reprehensible positions?
Overall, this commentary reveals the moral corruption at the heart of the USCCB and most national episcopal conferences. Not only do they try to enforce a rigid conformity, blocking individual ordinary’s ability to speak out by imposing penalties against those who do, they also reveal a bureaucratic contractor more concerned with getting paid than saving souls. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would allow the Church and the protestant sects and others to have a stronger impact on the electoral landscape than they’ve had in decades, and thus materially improve the moral condition of this nation. In point of fact, one can trace the steady decline in morals in this country almost in a direct line back to 1954 – that is to say, the silencing of the churches played a significant role in the subsequent moral collapse of this nation.
But perhaps many of our shepherds today consider that much more of a feature, than a bug. Whatever keeps the gravy train rolling……is that their primary concern? And how many of them favor the Church to be a mute, subservient, loyal and dutiful NGO-type contractor to the government, rather than the radically countercultural Body of Christ and vehicle of salvation she is intended by our Lord to be?