US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Bishops backing Obama appearance?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

U.S. News and World Report blogger Dan Gilgoff questions National Catholic Reporter contributor David O'Brien's claim that the "silent majority" of U.S. bishops supported, or at least weren't strongly opposed, to the president's appearance at Notre Dame. O'Brien points out that most of the 270ish U.S. bishops didn't have anything to say about the issue, and one, retired Archbishop John Quinn of San Fran, argued that the bishops should work with Obama on common concerns.

I'm not sure if the perceived silence of the majority of bishops indicates approval, but I do think if there had been majority support for the most voiciferous of ND's critics, the bishops' conference would have issued a statement, especially since conference president Francis George was among those who raised his voice. Bishops don't like to disagree in public, of course, so the loudest critics probably got a pass from their colleagues who would have taken a different course. That is the real problem among U.S. bishops today, by the way: The loudest of them are often uberconservative, while we lack a prominent moderate voice to provide a different viewpoint.

I think what is also likely is that most bishops thought the responsibility to respond lay with local Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend. In other words, most bishops would prefer if their brother bishops would tend to their own dioceses. That's the impression I get from John Allen's interview with USCCB VP Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, a moderate who is the presumptive next president of the conference.