This is what one Jerome Donnelly claims in a letter written to the NY Times. He is commenting on an article by Peter Steinfels that talks about the upcoming voter guide being prepared by the US Catholic Bishops.
Donnelly writes that contraception used to be denounced from pulpits as a non-negotiable, but now the bishops seem fixated on abortion:
Catholic practices have apparently led the bishops to become more reticent in denouncing artificial birth control; perhaps a comparable prudence should now be exercised in the case of abortion.
Two problems here: first, Donnelly confuses what is appropriate for a homily with what is appropriate for a national election voter guide. To admonish parishioners not to use it is a bishop’s obligation; but to call a candidate’s view of contraception a deal-breaker is politically completely utopian and would effectively shut Catholics out of the political process. If they don’t mention it in their voting guide, this is a good reason why.
Second, let’s assume that some of the bishops have gone soft on contraception. I think it’s at least debatable whether that can be called “prudence,” and to suggest that it would be “prudent” to permit abortions . . . such a statement reveals a complete absence of prudence and a rejection of the natural law. Donnelly claims to have attended Mass “decades” but clearly he, like a sheep, has gone his own way. But the Times prints his letter because, Score!, here’s a Christian criticizing the leadership of his own church! The downfall of the “religious right” is at hand!
See the recent “Evangelical Crackup” for more of this nonsense. Chuck Colson summed this one up perfectly: the media create monsters and then take credit for slaying them. Richard John Neuhaus also had a great piece on this. A couple of quotes:
It seems the word somehow managed to penetrate the ideological bubble in which the editors live that, out there in America, there are a lot of people who think of themselves as conservatives. [. . .] So the editors sent out Mr. Kirkpatrick as their scout to discover why the natives are so restless. This week he returned to 43rd Street from his foray into deepest Indian territory—Wichita, Kansas—where he talked with three or four evangelical pastors who have had it with political activism and reports that we need not worry, the insurgency is petering out. Hence “The Evangelical Crackup.”
[. . .]
In the division of labor at the Times, David Kirkpatrick has the job of reporting and Frank Rich the job of gloating. In the same day’s paper, he gleefully rubs his hands over the evangelical crackup. [. . .] The evangelical threat has been vitiated, says Mr. Rich, by “the hypocrisies that have always undone Elmer Gantrys in America, from Jimmy Swaggart to Jim Bakker.” Mr. Kirkpatrick talks with three, or maybe four, disillusioned pastors in Wichita and Mr. Rich’s political hopes are buoyed. Thus is the Times bubble secured, at least temporarily, against further penetrations by inconvenient truths.