Catholic Bishops: Neither Republican nor Democrat

The United States Conference on Catholic Bishops has attempted to influence politics in ways that support both of the U.S.’s leading political party’s arguments in the last few months. From February to March this organization along with others was involved in important framing contests over insurance coverage of contraception. The Bishops argument at that time appeared to align with Republican interests, furthering the perception that it is the party of American religious individuals. Today they also entered the fray over the Budget by critiquing the Republican Party. This time the argument was that the House budget, which passed along party lines, placed too great of a burden on the poor and demonstrated moral failing. Once again the Bishops used publicity and letter writing tactics to get their point across. It remains to be seen whether Democrats will be able to utilize this to claim any high ground relating to morality or whether this influences the Senate vote.

Complicating this issue further, the Vatican appointed a Bishop  to oversee a group of American nuns whose protest was deemed too liberal. A 4 year investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious resulted in a Vatican document that criticized the 0rganization for working “too much on poverty and economic injustice” and occasionally challenging the church on gender and sexuality issues. Following the work of Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Tricia Colleen Bruce examine intra-institutional social movement activism in the Catholic Church; as that work suggests this document is an attempt to constrain and define Catholic identity. It will be interesting to see how the Women Religious respond to these charges of not being Catholic enough..

How do you think these protests will affect forthcoming policy and politician changes (if at all)? How will the Catholic Church be affected by these public fights over faith and politics (not that they are new)?

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