Scapegoating a Bishop

It’s one thing to disagree with the Church’s judgment on prudential matters. It’s another to suggest that a Catholic bishop is an ill-informed political pawn. Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen makes such a charge in an online column for The Washington Post.

Using Obama’s campaign rhetoric, Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recently wrote to Congress declaring that Ryan’s budget “fails to meet [the Church’s] moral criteria” because it does not require “shared sacrifice,” which Blaire [like Obama] defines as tax increases and cuts to “unnecessary” defense spending. Some of the proposed spending cuts in Ryan’s budget, Blaire said, are “unjust and wrong.”

Blaire has it backward. What is “unjust and wrong” is this bishop’s attack on a good Catholic layman.

Put aside for a moment the fact that “shared sacrifice” appears nowhere in the catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a reelection slogan for the Democratic Party. Put aside, as well, the fact that the bishop of Stockton, Calif., has near-zero competence to judge what military spending is necessary or unnecessary.

If Bishop Blaire were in cahoots with President Obama’s re-election campaign, his collaboration would be nothing less than a scandal. But Thiessen supplies no evidence for this accusation. He flings it at the bishop willy nilly.

Thiessen is also mistaken to direct his ire at Bishop Blaire. He should re-direct it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As the USCCB said through a spokesman, Bishop Blaire speaks for them on domestic policy.

Thiessen’s column makes an unsubstantiated charge and scapegoats a church official. Who is being unjust and wrong not only as a Catholic but also a columnist?



15 thoughts on “Scapegoating a Bishop

  1. Esther says:


  2. Robert says:

    When are you going to stand up and back Bishop Daniel R. Jenky? Everyone who truly believes in the freedoms protected under our US Constitution SHOULD be standing up for Bishop Daniel R. Jenky and his right to TELL THE TRUTH.

  3. Lewis Kapell says:

    I don’t see where Thiessen is accusing the Bishop of being in “cahoots” with the Obama re-election campaign. He merely says that the bishop is using Obama’s rhetoric. And it is undeniably true that the notion of shared sacrifice is a part of the president’s rhetoric.

  4. Luke says:

    “Who is being unjust and wrong not only as a Catholic but also a columnist?” It appears to me that you are being unjust and wrong as a columnist; I’m not qualified to judge whether you are the same “as a Catholic.”

    I don’t see in the quote you provide from Thiessen any suggestion by him that there is collaboration between the Obama Campaign and the Bishop. I think he’s merely describing the Bishop as someone who parrots the party line and is not qualified to offer the opinions he advances; a useful idiot, in other words.

    He mentions elsewhere in the article that Congressman Ryan’s plan is merely to reduce the rate of planned increases in spending, and the Bishop describes this as “unjust and wrong.”

    Is a Bishop immune to being an ill-informed political pawn? When my own Bishop was ordained, he said to the audience in the cathedral, which included our Democratic Governor, that he was glad to be in a State with a Governor who was a Democrat. It’s obvious that many of our Bishops think that liberalism is political view pleasing to God.

    Perhaps I should not criticize you, however, but should criticize, since it lets you present your views here. I would hate to scapegoat you for views that are advanced with the approval of

  5. Mary says:

    I think that the author makes a valid point that ,whether or not the bishop is trying to play favorites, he is in fact aiding and abetting the Democratic party. These is no real validity to the bishops objections. The federal govt has already accumulated over nine years.worth of revenues in debt and promised future services. That is an entire generations wealth that they are taking from them.It is “unjust and wrong” to encourage government to continue that path. Even after 1/3rd of the current graduating classes has been eliminated by abortion, still half of the graduates cannot find proper work. How are they going to get married and start families, buy homes and continue the fabric of society with this situation? Where is the “shared sacrifice” of the older generations who are consuming all of the resources, retiring early on way more income (tax free in many places) than new hires can hope for, living in new homes and having all of their medical expenses paid for. What do the young get? To be born with 120,000 in federal debt alone, to expect to have enormous college debt, and then to get a job at Starbucks. Enough about the programs and services. Jesus never said “have Caesar take from people and give to others.”. Further, if the Usccb wants to have credibility on the budget, it does not help to have those living in California making public statements. Try someone from a state that is not so mired in debt itself, and does not have such nationally embarrassing “Catholic” politicians selling the same arguments.

    1. Crosseyed Mary says:

      Fighting against the Bishops? Somebody here is a cafeteria Catholyc. Sounds like Jesus as Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko. So much for the preferential option for the poor.

      1. Mary says:

        Incorrect. I greatly respect their guidance as to our responsibilities as Catholics. I do not believe that they have been told directly by God how much that help should cost, or whether the Federal government should be providing all of it. And again, the fact that the government is spending way more than they are taking in is creating an entirely new group of poor, if you know anyone under thirty who is trying to start their adult lives, as we had the opportunity to. The government’s policies have led to a collapse of the job market. And things are worse than they look. Those numbers of people visible on the unemployment rolls do not include people who have dropped out of the job market, and many of the self employed who are in eligible for unemployment benefits. Again, more new poor people. I have been responsible for the hiring and pay of employees so I can say with certainty that things are not better for them with food stamps and unemployment benefits. Things are better for people when they have work. The government must stop sucking all of the life and money out of business, and get back to the key principles of its purpose.

        1. crosseyed mary says:

          Sounds you are like those nuns who “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” And if people are better off when they have work, as if that isn’t obvious, why complain about government support of the US auto industry because without that support, more people would be unemployed? Y’think maybe companies taking jobs overseas where workers (and children) get miniscule wages has something to do with the loss of jobs in the US? But then you probably are filled with animus against unions, too. What would the blessed John Paul II have thought about that?

  6. Tracy says:

    You may be correct, but I do find using the President’s own political language a bit unsettling. What does that mean “shared sacrifice”? I would have been better to use a different term, or to spell out exactly how that is supposed to manifest itself in a budget, does he mean higher taxes for the wealthy, something else- more charitable giving? It is very vague and it is a political talking point with no real meaning.

    1. Joe M says:

      I agree. I see Mark’s point. I think that Thiessen does go too far. However, if this is a matter of prudential judgment as the Church teaches, it seems like the Bishops should at least frame it that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Receive our updates via email.