The tone deafness of the Roman Catholic Church in American is in full regalia as the church's bishops this week rejoined the culture wars by recasting their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage as a struggle for "religious liberty" against a government and culture that are infringing on the churc'’s rights. Yes, as in the pedophile priest scandal, the church is casting itself as the victim.
The move came as an increasing number of states have legalized same-sex marriage and the Obama administration has signaled that it will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which established the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"We see in our culture a drive to neuter religion," declared Archbishop Timothy Nolan of New York, president of the church's bishops conference. Injecting a note of paranoia in the church's long-held opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, Nolan claimed that "Well-financed, well-oiled sectors" were trying “to push religion back into the sacristy." He did not name any such efforts nor do they appear to exist, although some liberal Catholic commentators have criticized the bishops' priorities, saying they are playing into the culture wars.
John Gehring, Catholic outreach coordinator with Faith in Public Life, a liberal religious advocacy group, said, "The bishops speak in hushed tones when it comes to poverty and economic justice issues, and use a big megaphone when it comes to abortion and religious liberty issues."
Photograph by Patrick Semansky/Associated Press