My friend Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia always produces posts well worth reading. Today he outdoes himself with his post entitled Establishing the “Alternative” Magisterium.
Need “Catholic” sign off on your agenda, regardless of whether it actually meets the criteria of fidelity to the Church’s teaching? No problem.
Don’t bother with the Bishops. Do an end run. Get the imprimatur of the “alternative Catholic magisterium”.
A phone call to Father Hesburgh is helpful. A letter from a group of women religious currently under investigation by both the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops invokes just the right amount of radical chic yet also “Bells-of-St.-Mary nun nostalgia” to appeal to a broad range of “Catholic” sentiments. A visit from Sister Carol to key politicians to work against and undermine the Bishops’ stance is absolutely essential. An award of an honorary law degree from America’s flagship Catholic university ought to give just the right aura of “Catholic” legitimacy. Lining up a bunch of “Catholic” politicians to vote for the thing makes it all look downright “official Church policy”. Throw in a dead Kennedy or two for you to lionize on behalf of your cause, and that’s just icing on the cake.
Of course, you need more than just big names to lend legitimacy to your “alternative magisterium”. You need lots of little minions (not just mornings, but noons and nights, as well) to plant seeds of doubt regarding the collective wisdom of the Bishops and their priorities and to lay the groundwork for placing one’s trust in more “enlightened” yet “still authentic” Catholic voices. You know the sort of worker bees I’m talking about: Soros-funded groups who talk about being “united” and “in alliance” and working toward the “common good”, who bemoan the prominence of the unborn among the issues with which Catholics are most concerned, and who decry the “politics of division” all the while seeking to divide and conquer Catholics in an effort to separate them from their Bishops; “Catholic” publications that write about the Bishops as being out of touch with the times and impediments to “progress” and reform (i.e. the Bishops don’t buy completely into the Democrat agenda); bloggers proclaiming themselves to be speaking with a “new voice” or a “Catholic sensibility”.
So, why bother with the Bishops? No need to get your pet issue tied up in all the red tape and bureaucracy at the USCCB (which, anyway, everyone knows is staffed with a bunch of right-wing GOP party hacks working overtime to make the USCCB the “Republican Party at Prayer”).