Remove the plank in your own eye

Throughout 2012, the U.S. Bishops have specifically insisted that business leaders must be allowed to follow Christian teaching when the government requires the opposite.

And during that same time the National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters has mocked the bishops for doing so. He has ridiculed them for claiming that any organization, except the church’s own institutions, has a public claim to obeying Christian conscience against Obamacare’s mandate to provide abortifacients, contraception and sterilization.

But now Winters is harshly criticizing the bishops for not creating a document that says businesses should follow the Gospel. This week, when the bishops were not able to create a document addressing poverty and the economy, Winters revealed that he is all for Gospel values in business if liberal causes are at stake:

A CEO might wish to follow Church teaching, pay a living wage to her workers, recognize their collective bargaining rights, ensure decent working conditions. But, if those humane actions cause the stock price of her company to decline, she will be fired, the company will move to a “right-to-work” state or aboard, and it will be back to business as usual. All, repeat all, the incentives of our hyper-financialized economy focus on the bottom line of profit, not the bottom line of human dignity. The economy in which we live not only invites, it often requires, actions that are antithetical to the Gospel. Multinational corporations flee a living wage like the plague and they pay no never mind to the social devastation of factory closings.

It exemplifies a “focus on the bottom line of profit” for Obamacare to deny conscience and impose crushing penalties on Christians in business to force them to provide items that violate Church teaching. Yet given the chance to make this exact point in a break with his partisan ideologues and the candidate he said he wanted to win, Winters didn’t congratulate the bishops for insisting on Gospel values in business: he attacked them for it, and continues the same attack to this day.

Winters insists that only Church institutions have a claim to conscience protection; following the Gospel is not the job of Christians in business, and to say otherwise (as Pope Benedict has done) is to “feed the individualistic beast.” But if the “living wage,” “collective bargaining rights,” and “decent working conditions” are at stake, suddenly Winters’ amnesia sets in and the left is once again the champion of living the Gospel in business.

Winters often claims that he laments that Catholics don’t rise above right-wing and left-wing ideology. But he took one position when it benefited the candidate he wanted to win, and the opposite position a few days after the election when it reinforces his narrative that Republicans are evil.



  • Bankrupt CV

    There’s been a considerable lack of posts here since the election. Are all the CatholicVote writers worried about where their paychecks are going to come from now that the anti-gay hate group that runs this despicable site is going bankrupt? Your reign of anti-gay hatred is over.

    • mominvermont

      Catholics are taught to treat all people with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. That is NOT an anti-gay mentality.

      • padma

        There is nothing dignified or respectful about arguing that a bakery should be able to refuse to serve cupcakes to gay people (which is what this very website did in fact do just search “cupcake” in the upper right),

        • Giacomo Sephard

          Nor is there anything dignified or respectful about attempting to destroy the institution of marriage, so that a relationship between a working-class man and woman, replete with insurance (mandate?) bills and biological children being raised by their mother and father, is somehow equated morally and legally with a couple of same-gender West Hollywood studio executives living in a $10 million home with their pet schnauzers.

          • Rick

            OMG, you know Bill and Trey too???!!! I LOVE them.

  • Jamie Candace Ward

    Bobby Jindal says that the Republicans should “stop being the stupid party”. I’d say that does not bode well for this website.

    • FuquaySteve

      And your point is, it’s good that voices are silenced? Are these voices you don’t agree with? Just how tolerant are you?

  • Katherine

    You might have a valid point about MSW. Here is where I am scandalized by the text of the Blunt Amendment, and the comments you, the bishops, and conservative leaders have made about conscience rights of business owners. Excluded from any relief in the Blunt amendment the USCCB endorsed and helped draft are the actual workers. Bosses may include or exclude contraception but if he includes contraception (or even abortion coverage as 2/3rds already do), the worker still must pay the premium and accept these benefits as a substitute for cash wages with no recourse. Why does the USCCB drafted and endorsed amendment only protect the conscience of boss’s?
    The message some receive is that workers and wage -earners don’t even have a conscience worth protecting. It is not a surprise to many that it is only the big boys that Romney and the GOP care about. But the Church too?

  • Rob

    As long as the Bishops are OK with ALL business leaders of ALL religious faiths following their own religious teachings, despite government laws, then I’m OK with it.

    So the business leaders who by their own religious conscience recognize the right of same sex couples to be in a union together, the government can’t tell them that they cannot offer the same benefits as they could to a heterosexual couple. Of course, the government does…a company can’t offer Medicare benefits for a gay partner, nor Social Security benefits for a gay partner. The company pays into both systems for heterosexual partners, but legally cannot for gay partners.

    Of course, the Bishops wouldn’t support this violation of “conscience” because they don’t agree with it. As the Bishops said in the ENDA debate, the government should not legislate against discrimination of homosexual conduct.

    So apparently, the Bishops don’t believe that all conscience rights should be protected, unlike what Mr. Bowman claims in his article.


    • naturgesetz

      Employers don’t get to choose among private vendors of Medicare and Social Security programs. They are not programs the employer provides, they are programs the government provides. I don’t recall the bishops ever saying that private employers must not be permitted to provide benefits for the partners of their employees. Your analogy is faulty.

      • Rob

        Completely false. If you never work, you do not qualify for Medicare Part A and you do not qualify for Social Security benefits.

        A married heterosexual partner who has never worked automatically qualifies for these benefits. A homosexual partner who has never worked cannot qualify, even if his employer wants to offer this.

        Therefore, the benefits package offered by an employer is automatically different. This could definitely be a conscience violation for an employer, since they are paying for these services in a discriminatory manner.

        Further, the Bishops DID argue that homosexuals should be denied equal protection in the workplace.

        “While we regret we cannot support ENDA for the above stated reasons, the
        Conference would, however, be interested in discussing legislation that
        would protect persons with a homosexual inclination from unjust
        discrimination, without protecting homosexual conduct.”

        There you go–if non-Catholics choose to not follow Catholic teaching as related to homosexuality, the Bishops argue that employers should have every right to penalize AND fire those employees.

        Get your facts straight.

        • Paul

          The proposed ENDA legislation would protect employers from being fired because they are gay. lesbian, or transgender. It says nothing about them engaging in homosexual acts.

          It’s like saying that businesses shouldn’t be able to fire a person because they are Catholic, but they should also be able to fire someone for drinking the body and blood of Christ.

          I find the distinction that the Bishops want to draw quite dishonest and frankly quite offensive.

          • Rob

            Hi Paul. I think we are in agreement…but I want to clarify my comment.

            If I read correctly, the Bishops are opposed to ENDA because they want a bill that would allow businesses to fire employees who engage in a homosexual relationship.

            It’s beyond offensive…it’s theocracy.

          • GREG SMITH

            Rob – I would support employers being able to fire people for “homosexual conduct” on the job. Oh and heterosexual conduct too. People should be working when they’re on the job, not having sex..

    • Papal Marriage Laws

      NO, NO, NO. We believe the religious beliefs of Catholicism should be reflected in the law and that other people should be prevented from exercising their beliefs. Have you not been paying attention???

    • FuquaySteve

      Who cares what you are OK with – you are a gnat on the backside of an ass.

      • Rob

        I’m sorry you feel the need to personally insult me because you disagree with me. I hope we all can discuss our disagreements civilly.

        • FuquaySteve

          Arrogant and sensitive – what a terrific combination. Next week I’m sure you’ll work on the virtue of obedience.

          • GREG SMITH

            FS: I hope you’ll agree that we’ll all get a lot more out of this forum w if we do without vulgarities and name calling

          • FuquaySteve

            Sorry I forgot – the tolerance (or lack thereof) demonstrated by the anti-Catholics here in the comments gave me the impression that name-calling (especially of bishops and other dignitaries of the Church I hold dearer than anything else) is in fact the preferred method of communication. My bad. I’m sure you will enlighten me if I slip. I’ll try to remember that it’s ok to be tolerant of you but let’s not expect tolerance from the anti-Catholics.

  • Dandee
  • Let Peeps Vote

    Perhaps if the Bishops spent less time and money (over 15.6 MILLION DOLLARS SO FAR THIS YEAR) in banning gay couples from getting a marriage at city hall, they might have more time to devote to protecting the poor and needy in our society.

    If you think people should vote on the civil rights of their neighbors, don’t be surprised when someone votes your rights away.

    • Joe M

      This rambling is irrelevant to the post.

      • GREG SMITH

        Joe M: As a parish finance committee member, I have to say that what the priorities ought to be in spending our money is always relevant. – Pax, Greg

        • FuquaySteve

          Greg – If you are in charge of the $, who directs you? Your own conscience as formed by the grace of God through Church teachings, or some secular special interest group – who espouses anti-Catholic activities and threatens it’s very existence? Inquiring minds want to know – although i can guess by the tone of your message.

          • greg smith

            Dear FS: I’m not in charge. Finance committees as a group advise the pastor on financial matters. Our consciences are formed by what we believe needs to be done to ensure that our parish has the resources to continue to meet the spiritual needs of the children of God of our members. – Pax tecum, Greg

          • FuquaySteve

            Hm… your Church has members? Sorta like a country club or social club or perhaps a Congregational Church of some form. The Church I attend refers to us as parishioners – as we are all part of a parish. I’m also curious as to what you mean by “….Our consciences are formed by what we believe,,.”? Huh, how does that even remotely answer the question, in fact it requires me to ask the same question again. Surely, what you believe is consistent with Church teaching and doctrine or have you all re-interpreted Scriptures individually to find what you are looking for? Scriptures and Church teaching can be read in so many different ways you know. Thankfully our Church has experts in the field and our less than perfect individual interpretation can be set aside for the correct one. God bless you and the parish you are a ‘member’.

          • Joe M

            Obviously, he was making some awkward appeal to authority. Translation: “I am involved with my liberal San Francisco church at an administrative level and I believe gay marriage should be legalized. My authority should shame you into not disagreeing with this gay marriage heckler.”

        • Joe M

          GREG SMITH. The post is about Michael Sean Winter’s contradictions about the relationship between businesses and church teachings.

          What “Let Peeps Vote” wrote is completely irrelevant to that topic. It is obvious propaganda.

          What is your motivation for trying to defend its relevancy under this topic?

    • mominvermont

      Statistically, an intact family is better off financially than single parents or disrupted families. So defending pro-gender marriage is good for families and their finances.

      Why did anti-gender marriage activists outspend the pro-gender side by 12 to 1? Would that money be better spent helping the poor?

      • FuquaySteve

        Statistically, natural law supersedes unnatural law 100% of the time. “The poor will always be with us.” Why covet what other groups do with their resources? Don’t you have enough to worry about up there in Vermont?

        • Chris


          I think you may have misunderstood Mom in vermont.

          She has defended the magisterium on several occasions on Catholic Vote. I won’t speak for her, but based on both of your comments, its possible you are arguing the same points.
          btw, I love the line ” statistically, natural law supersedes unnatural law 100% of the time.”

          • FuquaySteve

            If i understood – mea culpa mominvermont.

      • Disrespect and Prejudice

        And banning gay couples from marriage is bad for their families and puts them at a disadvantage. If you think that the children of gay and lesbian couples are at a disadvantage already, why would you try to harm them further by banning their parents from marriage?

        • Mark Hartman

          In case you hadn’t noticed, D&P, gay/lesbian couples cannot, by their very nature, engender children.

          But, then again, since you favor gay “marriage,” this point is probably lost on you, as it is based on the natural law.

        • mominvermont

          Since two men cannot procreate, they would need to adopt to get children. Typically adoption is very expensive. Can we assume that any two guys who adopt children are wealthy and don’t need the financial benefits that come from marriage?

          Is it right for the state to sponsor adoptions by anti-female couples? Isn’t that sexism?



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