Friday, November 4, 2011

Proposition 26: Sticks and Stones...

Conservative!  Liberal!
I hear (and say) that saying such binary things is not helpful. But it happens. And we all do it. Maybe it's less confusing to assign labels to things. To our chagrin, the Church sometimes can force us to think beyond labels. The Prop 26 issue has been such a time.

Exhibit A:
The Clarion-Ledger Wednesday included a blog excerpt from Jere Nash (who is the "Blue" in the Red/Blue Blog on the labels??!!). He calls the "Catholic Bishop of Mississippi" a "conservative".

Then today, in the same paper, we have a group of religious leaders (and, realistically, non-religious social justice advocates) who represent their churches. A representative for the Catholic side was Fr. Jeremy Tobin, an activist who's known to rally for so called "liberal" causes. He's also a writer for the Bishop's "voice": The Mississippi Catholic. Here's Fr. Jeremy at a worker rally.


Obviously, to gently correct Nash's statement; there are two Catholic bishops in Mississippi. Bishop Roger Morin from Biloxi and our ordinary, Bishop Joseph Latino. When it comes to some issues, our bishops (Biloxi and Jackson) would be seen as politically conservative as they are pro-life and, obviously, strong on the freedom of religion. Sometimes unpopularly so as was Bishop Latino in his letter a few years ago concerning President Obama's honorary speech at Notre Dame.
However, both bishops can be cast as liberal when they are seemingly aligned with "liberal causes" such as support for undocumented persons from Mexico, Central and South America. And again, they are marked as unpopular.
Bishop Morin of Biloxi got his bona fides in social justice from being chair of the CCHD
But it's not a popularity contest or it shouldn't be. It should be hard and messy. It's life!

Some think our bishops care too much for fetuses and not for people after they're born. Some think our bishops are worried about the rights of those who can't speak English and don't care for the unborn who can't speak for themselves. And, believe me, during an election year? It gets crazy up in here!

Bishop Latino said that a Catholic can vote either way on Prop 26. Actually, he follows the USCCB as they urge all Catholics to know the issues and pray over them before voting. Not a real controversial or newsworthy stand, eh?

Maybe this is salient: A friend of mine in seminary once told me this adage that I'll always remember: "There are three political dispositions for a priest: conservative, liberal and chancery."

Or another good one: "There are two types of people in the world, those who think there are two types of people in the world, and those who do not."