When the bishops of the United States gather later this month in Baltimore for their autumn meeting, they ought to take some time to ponder a simple question: Were their words and actions during the recent election season the kind of discourse that informs and persuades or did they contribute to the partisan shrillness that we hope our teachers are educating youngsters to rise above as they mature into voting citizens, writes NCR Online in an editorial.
In the aftermath of the election, the activity of the loudest and most extreme voices in the USConference of Catholic Bishops have left America with the most politicised and divided church in recent memory. They have not only done a disservice to the cause of unity, they haven't done much to advance the causes they so stridently champion.
Those members of the hierarchy - and we're led to believe they are in the majority - who bristle when the conference is characterized by its most extreme elements need to overcome their reticence and the unspoken rule that bishops don't argue in public.
They need to let their brother bishops know that outlandish pronouncements and empty threats further diminish the hierarchy's already compromised authority.
Not one episcopal voice was raised in objection to the slanderous and absurd claims of Bishop Daniel Jenky, who last April compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
Not one openly questioned the wisdom of the extreme partisan fight against health care reform, a fight, as it turns out, that was waged on the false claim that the reform would lead to federal dollars used to procure abortion.
It didn't and it won't. Not one episcopal voice questioned the validity of trumped-up threats to religious liberty or of the ill-conceived "Fortnight for Freedom," which turned out to be a fortnight-long seminar on how not to organize a campaign.
The bishops are so beholden to the huge sums of money dumped on them by the Knights of Columbus that they can't imagine pushing back against the political agenda of an organisation led by a longtime, high-level Republican operative.
What will it take to make them aware that they are preaching to a small choir already convinced of their narrow and partisan view of politics while further alienating the rest?
FULL STORY Extreme voices lead to politicised church (NCR)