The USCCB is getting together for some collective ... um, whatever it is that they do when they get together. Apparently, there's an issue that's not on the agenda, and it bothers Thomas J. Reese S.J.(though I think he prefers not to be so titled, Father, but the S.J. at the end is very revealing)
Reese notes that "the biggest thing about next week is what is not on the agenda — Iraq."
The late Pope John Paul II opposed the war, and the U.S. bishops spoke against it earlier. But, Reese says, "It's a message they need to be repeating. It's clearly the most important and visible moral issue in the minds of the voters, and the bishops are taking a pass on it."
Fr. Reese, you should be satisfied with the silence. Were the bishops expounding on the moral teaching they should, before the election, we'd have heard about Abortion, Embrionic Stem Cell research, and the position of the Magisterium on those issues. If the Iraq war was the leading thing on Catholics' minds this election, the bishops failed their charges miserably.
In other news about the heft of the USCCB's teaching authority, the Manchester, NH diocese is dumping the USCCB's vaunted Liability Avoidance Program, otherwise known as 'Talking about Touching'.
The diocese wanted something that incorporated parents into the program and was rooted in the Catholic faith.
So-called safe environment programs, designed to help children identify and resist potential abusers, have come under fire by some parents for the graphic nature of instruction and the fact that they place the burden on children to resist abuse.
Rather than cede to the USCCB's LAP dance, the diocese has come up with an alternative program.
Then, incorporating the writings of Catholic school children and the ideas of Manchester Bishop John McCormack — including the idea that parents are the best resource for teaching their children to become aware of both their right and responsibility to safeguard their own bodies, and for teaching their children that they will support them when they say “No”
Whoa, there's a concept, letting parents do some of the teaching instead of Planned Parenthood proxies. It's pretty sad when a group of Catholic bishops cannot come up with a program that sufficiently infuses Catholic teaching into it. Somehow, I don't think that Rev. Thomas Reese is really broken up about this lapse, in this instance. Let's just stick with the fuzzy areas.
Humanae Vitae just cannot get any traction in some places. Like San Francisco, for example:
Pope Paul VI, who wrote that encyclical, was merely reaffirming the church's standard teaching on artificial birth control with his absolute no-never. But many Catholics were surprised by his absoluteness because, well, it was the 1960s for one thing, but it was also public knowledge that Paul's handpicked papal birth control commission had just recommended a relaxation of the contraception rules, though not unanimously.
Why would San Francisco care if the Vatican relaxed rules on condoms in Africa, unless to use it as an ever-expanding exception rule, and undermine the entirety of the Church's theology of the body.
However, no matter how narrowly focused, any relaxation of the rules about condoms will have far-reaching consequences.
It is difficult, and one has to be precise, to cite nature as an argument against any natural human endeavor.
Paul VI praised man's "stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature." Condoms and contraceptives, like dams and appendectomies, seem like a good way to fulfill this duty.
So there's their theory: Man is Animal is Nature, and so the Church imposes it's morality against Nature. Perpetual chastity is impossible, as Man was created to satify his penis. I don't buy it, and I'm starting to think that the institution of Circumcision as the sign of the first Covenant was apt, as it was a strike against the sexual nature of Man. Just me thinking out loud.
I imagine that we'll hear less about this from the USCCB as well.