VIDEO: [American Pastors Network] Stand In The Gap TV: A Silent Church – A Corrupted Culture – Part 2. [Oct 16, 2018]
To be fair to the cardinal, major political figures who support abortion have rarely been censured. For instance, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House from California and the leader of the Democratic party, is still considered a Catholic in good standing both in San Francisco and Washington D.C. If Dolan did censure or excommunicate Cuomo, he would blaze a new trail in relations between the Catholic Church and the state. This would require an awesome amount of courage because, in large part, he cannot expect the support of his brother bishops. In fact, some would probably openly oppose him and even denounce him. There are examples of strong church leaders like Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who stated that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin should not receive communion; yet Paprocki and a few others are the exception. This begs the question: why aren’t the bishops speaking out and trying to bring politicians, like Cuomo, back to the fold? To venture a guess, it is because they do not want to lose the standing in American public life that they have gained over the last century and a half.
The formation of the Catholic bishops’ political mindset began in the late 1800s with Archbishop John Ireland of Minneapolis and his goal to Americanize the Church. He, along with many of his brother bishops, hoped to strip the parish churches of their ethnic identity and persuade their followers to become fully American. The bishops realized that until this happened, Protestant America would look at Catholics as immigrant outsiders, best barred from the country. In order to assuage the Protestants, the bishops knew they needed to develop American Catholics by breaking the ties between the new arrivals and Europe. Also, the Church had to come out in full force supporting American ideas such as freedom of speech and religion.
In time, the bishops were successful in becoming more American, championing American political values, and largely ending the phenomenon of ethnic parishes. In many ways the average Catholic looked like a Protestant. Along with Catholics emulating Protestants, a continuing wave of Catholics immigrating to the U.S. allowed the Church to develop real political power through the ballot box. Unfortunately, during the rise of the Church in the second half of the twentieth century, it did not seem to be concerned with the teachings of Christ. This, in part, led the Church to cover up the sex abuse crimes of its priests. With these crimes finally coming to the surface along with more and more Catholics leaving the Church in part due to disruptions following Vatican II, the bishops have experienced a precipitous loss of political power. Apparently, in response to this, the bishops have decided to quiet their voices and have refused to oppose publics officials as a way to restore some of that long-lost authority.
In some ways it is difficult to blame the bishops for their current stance. Their political power conveyed a sense of respectability. In decades past, they could promote their policies, notably through the Democratic Party which became a conduit to support and further the goals of the bishops, such as the building up of unions across the Northeast and Midwest. Yet, the bishops’ reach did not stop at the political realm. Culturally and socially they were able to set up committees to censor movies and support blue laws. Popularly, people from across the country tuned in to watch Archbishop Fulton Sheen give lectures about the Faith; he even won an Emmy. It was not uncommon to have a priest or saint as the protagonist in a major motion picture like “A Man for All Seasons.” The strongest manifestation of the Church’s influence was that even Protestant politicians came calling for the Catholic vote.