Pat Buchanan published a well-meaning piece at TownHall.com yesterday, blasting, “Obama sandbags the Archbishop.” On the particular issue he writes about, Buchanan is entirely correct, but the emphasis on Obama’s treatment of the Archbishop overlooks the greater problem.
Buchanan relates how the Church has officially denounced Obama’s policy directive “ordering all Catholic schools, hospitals and social services to provide, in their health insurance coverage for employes, free contraceptives, free sterilizations and free ‘morning-after’ pills.” He writes,
In forcing the Church to violate its own principles, Obama has committed an act of federal aggression, crossing the line between church and state to appease his ACLU and feminist allies, while humiliating the Catholic bishops.
Should the Church submit, its moral authority in America would disappear.
Now, undeniably, the church milquetoast of past decades that refused to discipline pro-abortion Catholics allowed the impression to form that while the hierarchy may protest, eventually it will go along to get along with a Democratic Party that was once home to most Catholics.
Obama’s problem today is that not only is he forcing the Church to violate her conscience, he dissed the highest prelate in America.
In November, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, held what he describes as an “extraordinarily friendly” meeting with Obama at the White House.
The president assured the archbishop of his respect for the Church, and the archbishop came away persuaded Obama would never force the Church to adopt any policy that would violate her principles.
Ten days ago, Obama sandbagged the archbishop.
All well and good, but the critique is really naive and misplaced. First of all, what conservative Christian leader of any stripe would in their right mind take Obama at his spoken word? The sense of shock here is more surprising than any lie the president could have told.
More importantly, if Obama is a problem for American Catholics, then American Catholics are a problem for American Catholics. In 2008, 54 percent of the Catholic vote went to Obama. This came despite an overwhelming “tidal wave” of public opposition against Obama from Catholic Archbishops before that vote.
Buchanan is worried that if Catholics don’t take a stand now, the Church will lose its “moral authority in America.” But the fact that anywhere near half of American Catholics would vote for an openly pro-abortion president suggests that moral authority is well eroded within that church itself already, let alone “in America” in general.
And why shouldn’t it? When the Catholic hierarchy tells its own nuns, for example, it will not support them in their old age, but rather they must go to the state for welfare, what message has it sent? As I wrote some time ago,
The nuns where directed to go to the State. Why did it come as a surprise that an organization representing 90 percent of nuns in America backed Obama’s health care reform, despite the fact that their own bishops unified against it? The very Church they should depend on directed them to the State for sustenance.
Moral authority, abdicated.
Sure, Obama sandbagged the Archbishop. So what? In doing so, he was only acting like the half of American Catholics who have been doing so their whole lives.
Buchanan fumes, “This affront should tell the Catholic hierarchy, if they did not already know, where they stand in the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Kathleen Sebilius.” But who didn’t know this already, even before 2008? If Buchanan wants Catholics to be outraged, he should point the finger at them: their votes clearly tell the Catholic hierarchy where they stand.
And the even clearer proof of this will come in November, when this misplaced outrage has little effect, and approximately half of American Catholics back Obama for a second term. I hope I’m wrong.
And what’s worse: at least one report notes how powerful the Catholic voting block is in America. twenty-two percent of the U.S. population in Roman Catholic. In short, “As goes the Catholic vote, so goes the election.”