A November 13 piece by Dan Merica on CNN’s Belief Blog, titled “Liberal Catholics Use Election Results to Battle Bishops,” promoted the same tired attacks from the left about the Catholic hierarchy daring to defend religious liberty and Catholic teachings on life and marriage issues.
Merica cited President Obama’s re-election as a spur to liberal groups to step up their attacks on the Roman Catholic hierarchy: “Emboldened by the re-election of President Barack Obama, a cadre of liberal Catholic activists and groups is waging a campaign alleging that America's Catholic bishops are out of touch with Catholic laypeople.”
The groups Merica cited were composed of the usual suspects: an op-ed from the liberal National Catholic Reporter and two dissent Catholic groups, Catholics United and Catholics for Choice. The piece cited the head of Catholics for Choice, Jon O’Brien, who complained: “The bishops had a miserable return on investment of Catholic people's money and we demand an accounting of how they spent it campaigning on measures that Catholics clearly did not support.”
What O’Brien means by “Catholic” is an open question. While Merica claimed that Catholics supported Obama by a margin of 50% to 48%, he neglected to mention that Mass-going Catholics supported Romney 57% to 42%.
But groups such as O’Brien’s, which spend their time trying to alter the Catholic Church’s teaching, are notorious for their cluelessness when it comes to what it means to be Catholic, actively twisting the Pope’s words to undermine the Church’s teachings. But journalists who care little for the Church in the first place don’t know (or don’t care), and lap up the ideas of dissenters.
Merica did cite Catholic University professor Stephen Schenck, the “Obama campaign’s national co-chairman for Catholics,” who gave a backhanded defense of the Catholic hierarchy, noting that the level of political involvement in the Catholic hierarchy was at the same level of 2008. But Schenck interjected an error of his own, arguing: “Most Catholics, whether they are politically liberal or politically conservative, are not interested in seeing their priests become politically involved. They want their parishes and archdioceses to become politics-free zones.”
But when attacks on Catholicism arise from the political realm, Catholics have a duty to oppose them in that realm. The Church may render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but cannot stand idly by when Caesar attacks it.
The depth of the media’s illiteracy concerning Catholicism is not surprising. Journalists blasted the Catholic Church for being too far in the Republican camp because they dare to support religious liberty – and also claimed that the Church opposed Paul Ryan for his supposedly anti-Catholic budget.