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Hudson and Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 38: Ryan, Biden and Selective Press Coverage

By Deal W. Hudson and Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier
September 30th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When a politician's own ordinary is willing to make such a statement in support of a seated political representation from his own diocese that, in effect, more than offsets the criticism coming from any other bishop.

WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - From the moment Congressman Paul Ryan was announced as Mitt Romney's running mate, the Obama Catholic supporters have been flogging him for a letter sent by two individual bishops to members of Congress critical of his 2012 GOP budget.  From the coverage, you would think that Ryan, a Catholic from Wisconsin, had been universally condemned by the bishops' conference. 

Not only is that wrong - and a complete misrepresentation - the Ryan story was told without any mention of the problems his counterpart, Vice President Joe Biden, also a Catholic, has had with bishops over many years. 

A recent article by Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, sets the record straight. Donohue, writing at Newsmax, lists 15 instances of bishops' criticism being directed at Biden.

To provide one example stemming from the 2008 presidential campaign, Biden made some inaccurate comments on Meet the Press about Catholic doctrine on the beginning of life.

Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine, issued a joint statement "to correct the misrepresentations" of Church teachings advanced by Biden. Indeed, they argued that "the senator's claim that the beginning of human life is a 'personal and private' matter of religious faith, one that cannot be 'imposed' on others, does not reflect the truth of the matter."

Archbishop Chaput, who was still in Denver at the time, considered it such a serious matter he stated, "I certainly presume his good will and integrity and I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for Communion."

It should be added that while Ryan was, in fact, criticized by two bishops, he also received a public letter from the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, praising him for his application of the Church's social teaching to the budgetary process. In fact,   

Perhaps even more importantly, Ryan's own bishop, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WS, published a column clearly intended to offset the growing chorus of criticism.  Bishop Morlino could hardly have stated his support for Ryan more plainly, without, of course, endorsing him:

"It was no shock at all for me to learn that our diocesan native son, Paul Ryan, had been chosen to be a candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States. I am proud of his accomplishments as a native son, and a brother in the faith, and my prayers go with him and especially with his family as they endure the unbelievable demands of a presidential campaign here in the United States. It is not for the bishop or priests to endorse particular candidates or political parties. Any efforts on the part of any bishop or priest to do so should be set aside. And you can be assured that no priest who promotes a partisan agenda is acting in union with me or with the Universal Church".

When a politician's own ordinary is willing to make such a statement in support of a seated political representation from his own diocese that, in effect, more than offsets the criticism coming from any other bishop. Case closed!

Speaking of our friend Bill Donohue, he has a huge fight brewing in his home city of New York which may quickly morph into a political hot potato for the Democratic party elites of that city.  Donohue is well known for taking on needless, reckless, and deliberate attacks on the Church and the Catholic faith -- this time it's another "exhibition" by Andres Serrano, called "Piss Christ". (Friends, we have come a long, long way from the days when artists, even those who did not believe, used as their subjects the great characters and narrative of Sacred Scriptures and the stories of the saints.) 

Donohue, believe it or not, was not allowed to enter the exhibit at the Edward Tyler Nahem gallery on W. 57th St. -- in direct violation of his First Amendment rights.  Here is what happened in Donohue's words:

"When I entered the lobby, I was stopped by a man who works for the building. He asked for ID and requested that I sign in. I said okay, and then asked if I could go to the gallery. He said the gallery and the building are two different entities, and that I had to ask the men from the gallery; they were right in front of me in the lobby. I then asked them if I could enter, and they said no, without explanation. At that point I turned to the crowd behind me explaining that my First Amendment rights were being censored by the same people who were proudly displaying Serrano's crucifix in a jar of urine.No one else was barred from entering the gallery. Just me. We have all of this on tape, and the quality of both the audio and the video are excellent. Stay tuned".

When Bill Donohue says, "stay tuned," you better believe it! Such an egregious slap in the face of a national Catholic leader who is seen and heard in major media every week could become an issue in the campaign, and become particularly tricky for the Obama-Biden team which always courts the money and influence of the arts community.
 
The story we broke at Catholic Online a few days ago about the "push calls" being made to Catholic voters by the Obama campaign continues to gather momentum.  Peter Roff, writing at US News & World Report, combines that story with one about a leading Obama supporter in the Diocese of Cleveland being allowed to lead seminars on "Faithful Citizenship," an attempt to repeat the tactics of 2008 when "Faithful Citizenship" was cherry-picked to make it appear the bishops didn't mind if Catholic voters voted for pro-abortion politicians.

When the bishops added a "New Introduction" to their document "Faithful Citizenship" this past November, they were asking that such liberties should no longer be taken with their intended meaning.

Here is what the administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' wrote:

"Although it has at times been misused to present an incomplete or distorted view of the demands of faith in politics, this statement remains a faithful and challenging call to discipleship in the world of politics. It does not offer a voter's guide, scorecard of issues, or direction on how to vote. It applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to 'conscience' to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological, or personal interests."
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Deal W. Hudson is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Networks and former publisher/editor of Crisis Magazine. Deacon Keith Fournier is the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online and a constitutional lawyer who is currently writing his dissertation for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America.

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