Are Catholic Bishops Tilting to Hillary?

Font Size:

Apparently they are. They’re not only giving her cover, they are giving her some of her best lines.

At a recent fundraiser, Mrs. Clinton branded “half of the Americans supporting Donald Trump” as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”

Of course, these epithets resonate those of Obama and the rest of the secular Left, but they are not alone. In fact, these radicals can claim a religious authority for their calumny – a rather high authority, in fact: Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the bishops’ longtime point man on immigration issues, often condemns the  “nativism,” “racism,” and “xenophobia” that, he alleges, motivate opponents of amnesty for illegal aliens.

The bishops’ national leaders insist they do not dabble in politics, they preach only “principles” – and that’s what church teaching and tradition require them to do.

Yet when elections come around, our Catholic shepherds apparently can’t resist.

Some of the reasons are cultural. Most bishops are around my age (I graduated from Notre Dame in 1968). Like me, most of them grew up in Democrat homes (Abp. Gomez grew up in Mexico). They came of age during the civil rights movement and hated racism (curiously, in 1979 the bishops condemned racism as a sin which only whites could commit).

Of course, it was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – but that memory quickly faded when the bishops saw the promise of what today amounts to tens of billions of dollars from Democrats in Congress over the years.

Fifty years ago, using Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty as a springboard, the bishops started receiving federal funding – lots of it. At the funding increased, they moved to the Left on politics while attenuating their teaching of moral truths of the faith that had become unpopular during the sexual revolution. In 2012, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference at the time, actually admitted to the Wall Street Journal that the bishops had suffered “laryngitis” regarding the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexual morality – since the 1960s!

Coincidentally, that’s when the federal dollars began to flow.

Today a big slice of that funding – tens of millions a year, at least – goes towards the church’s agencies that care for illegal aliens as contractors of the federal government.

Curiously, while our bishops have been vocal in their condemnation of Donald Trump (like Hillary, Dolan darkly warned of his “nativism”), they have been strangely subdued in singling out the pro-abortion record of his opponent.

And that is a sordid record indeed. When Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, her Prime Mandate did not address the destruction of the Middle East, the disaster at Benghazi, and her generally gross malfeasance in matters of foreign policy. No, these were all distractions from her highest priority: “abortion, free and safe, worldwide.”

Yes, Hillary is the Sweetheart of Planned Parenthood.

The bishops know this, to be sure. And yet they imply that opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens is just as sinful as Hillary’s worldwide pro-abortion campaign. In fact, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, recently told an interviewer that that supporting the enforcement of U.S. immigration law is the moral equivalent of supporting abortion.

I wrote Bishop Flores and asked him to clarify his remarks, since they seem to fly in the face of basic Catholic teaching. It is worth noting that he would not respond to my repeated requests for comment. In fact, not one of the leaders of the bishops’ pro-amnesty drive has responded to similar requests.

Why not?

The reason might well be that, by answering, the bishops would have to admit that their partisan political advocacy is not supported by the teaching of the Church.  Naturally, we should respectfully listen to their views, but their political opinions on practical politics are no more authoritative than those of anyone else.

To be sure, our shepherds must be clear and forceful regarding any legislation when it comes to the non-negotiables – intrinsic evils like abortion and euthanasia. But when it comes to what we call “prudential issues” – particulars of policy that invite a variety of moral approaches ­– it’s the job of the laity, and not the clergy, to lead.

Immigration is one of those “prudential issues.”

The Second Vatican Council affirms the rights of the laity, according to their experience and expertise, to deal with the prudential particulars of political and social policy. Good people can champion a variety of approaches to issues regarding the economy, education, health care, foreign policy, and so on.

In fact, good Catholics can even disagree on these particulars. And they often do. When it comes to immigration policy, for instance, both advocates of amnesty for illegal aliens and opponents of such a policy can make a good case for their position on the basis of Catholic Social Teaching.

But Catholic bishops are in a bind. As Cardinal Dolan has noted, preaching on sexual morality doesn’t make a bishop very popular. Moreover, our bishops are receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars a year for programs that they fear might be curtailed or even shut down, should Donald Trump win the election. And that’s not all: since more than thirty million Americans now identify themselves as “ex-Catholics,” bishops might hope to fill those empty pews with newly-arrived Hispanic immigrants (Hispanics already constitute a majority of Catholics under thirty).

As an advocate of open borders, a president Hillary Clinton would undoubtedly expand such programs, as well as their funding, bringing more Hispanics into the country, into the church’s federally-funded agencies, and into the empty pews. On the other hand, her appointments to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court, would be as dependably pro-abortion as Obama’s are.

Donald Trump speaks up in support of American families whose children had been murdered by illegal aliens, while the bishops insist that we must welcome more of them. Now Hillary has condemned not the criminal aliens but Americans, millions of us, employing hijacked moral language cordially provided by our bishops.

America’s bishops have repeatedly defended illegal aliens. Will they now stand up in defense of legal Americans?

Christopher Manion, Ph.D., has written extensively on Catholic social and political thought. He is writing a book on federal funding of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century.