George Weigel appears to be at odds with the USCCB. In a recent interview with Newsmax.com, Weigel said, “[T]he bishops [must] as a group to make clear that Senator Kerry is systematically misrepresenting the nature of Catholic teaching on the life issues… when Kerry says the Church's pro-life teaching is a sectarian position which cannot be imposed on a pluralistic society, he is willfully misrepresenting the nature of the Church's position – by suggesting that this is something analogous to the Catholic Church trying to force everyone in the United States to abstain from eating hot dogs on Fridays during Lent."
Unfortunately for Mr. Weigel, Kerry is not mis-representing the USCCB position. He has described the USCCB position to a “T”. Watch closely and you’ll see how it’s done.
Back in December 2003, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, the official pro-life spokeswoman of the USCCB told the New York Times in part, “when it comes to contraception as a policy issue - access, availability - the Catholic bishops do not get involved in that debate."
Now there’s an amazing statement. Catholic bishops don't get involved on a debate concerning mortal sin. One wonders why any of them bothered getting consecrated bishop. But wait – it gets better.
I held onto that quote because the thing was so remarkably odd. Now, the entire quote she made to the Times was pretty strange, but this was easily the strangest part of it. So, I recently asked her a straightforward question. If the USCCB was lobbying to abolish abortion, why wasn’t it lobbying to abolish contraception? Both are mortal sins, both take human lives. I couldn’t see how the bishops distinguished between the two.
She quickly set me straight. The bishops don’t distinguish between the two.
“No, there is no ‘lobbying to ban abortions for everyone’ as that too has been precluded by the Supreme Court, for the time being,” she wrote in reply, “rather, there are efforts directed toward achievable goals…” She then went on to list a few of the USCCB goals: “the partial-birth abortion ban, [work] against mandating inclusion of contraception in health benefits packages; against making its acceptance a condition for providing other kinds of developmental assistance; protecting parents' rights in the case of minors, [etc.]”
It takes one’s breath away. Instead of preaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception, instead of insisting on the total abolition of contraception and abortion, US bishops are merely attempting to maintain the status quo circa, say, 1975. Pope John Paul II has repeatedly asked them what they are doing to change the culture. Well, now we know the answer: nothing. They aren’t trying to change the culture, they are trying to freeze-frame the culture in one of its most delectable states – the year Maude had her abortion on a national sitcom. We all know people who yearn for the 1950’s. Some benighted souls even yearn for the 1960's. But who knew there was anyone that yearned for the seventies? The bishops have been told in very stern terms by the Unites States Supreme Court that they are to stop trying to abolish contraception and abortion, so… they scrape, bow and obey.
What might George Weigel say about Mrs. Ruse’s answer? Well, we can look at what he says about Kerry’s position "This is simply false," Weigel told NewsMax.com. "The Church's pro-life teaching is something that can be engaged seriously by anyone. You don't have to believe that there are seven sacraments to deal with this, you don't have to believe in the primacy of the bishop of Rome to engage this position. You don't even have to believe in God to engage this [pro-Life] position because it's a position rooted in basic embryology and in basic logic, and anybody can engage that."
But that’s part of the problem, you see. The bishops are ignorant as the babes about embryology and basic logic. Take a look at the insanity they show in regards to the morning-after pill.
According to the USCCB, the morning after pill is A Bad Thing. It causes chemical abortions, don’cha know. Well, yes, bishops, we do know that. And anyone who has bothered to read the Physician’s Desk Reference, the standard handbook on drugs in the United States, also knows that the morning after pill (MAP) is just a regular contraceptive at an unusually high dose. MAP works exactly the same way every other hormonal contraceptive works because it is simply another contraceptive – it tries to suppress ovulation, but even if ovulation is not suppressed, it always destroys the uterine lining so the embryo can’t implant, that is, it causes an abortion. All hormonal contraceptives do.
But MAP is high-dose. Low-dose contraceptives are not good at preventing ovulation. Because MAP is high dose, it is more likely to prevent ovulation than normal contraceptives are. Why does this matter?
Because it means normal contraceptives are actually much more likely to cause a chemical abortion than MAP is. After all, sperm can’t fertilize an egg that isn’t there. MAP prevents the egg from being there much more reliably than normal contraceptives do. Now, MAP also plays merry hell with the woman’s health and her reproductive system to an extent far beyond any normal contraceptive, but chemical abortion is much less likely to happen with MAP than it is with any other hormonal contraceptive you care to name.
So, why do the bishops oppose MAP but remain silent on other hormonal contraceptives? That’s a darned good question. I pointed all of this out and asked Mrs. Ruse to explain why the bishops fought MAP but none of the other contraceptives. Her answer? Simplicity itself. Cathy Cleaver Ruse simply stopped replying. To be honest, I couldn’t blame her. I would have done exactly the same thing in her position.
So, this is the situation. The USCCB is not working to ban abortion. It is not working to ban contraception. The Supreme Court has forbidden it to do either, and the USCCB takes its marching orders from the US Supreme Court on these two issues. Instead, the USCCB is simply trying to limit damage. That’s all. It is trying to keep the culture from getting any worse than it was in 1975. It opposes MAP primarily because MAP wasn’t part of the 1970’s status quo. If it had been, the USCCB presumably wouldn’t be working to ban it either.
George Weigel has a dream. "The most important thing for the bishops of the United States to do is to make very clear that Kerry is misrepresenting the nature of the Church's pro-life position..."
It is very important to have dreams.
The reality is this: if you want the situation to change, you need to do something about it. First, pray. Being a bishop means being crucified. Christ hung on the Cross for three hours – these men spend years on it, and sometimes the pain drives them to make mistakes of judgment that we who are out of the spotlight wouldn’t have made. Pray for them and for yourself. Pray hard.
Then, start making appointments with your bishop, start writing him, start calling him. Be respectful. But make it clear to him that you want to hear the whole Gospel, in the pulpit and in the newspaper. You have a right to hear it. He has a duty to preach it. Catholics don’t take their marching orders from nine men in black robes. We follow one man, with holes in His hands and His feet and a bloody crown on His head. We aren’t democrats or republicans, we are monarchists. The King is calling us out. It’s time to march.