Bishop Robert Morlino's contribution to this year's election season is to suggest that Catholics who choose to vote for President Obama ought also to leave the church.
In an issue of the Madison Catholic Diocese's weekly publication, "The Catholic Herald," devoted largely to attacking Democratic principles, the bishop called support of "human life from conception to natural death," opposition to same-sex marriage and opposition to laws that limit freedom of religion "non-negotiable issues for the formation of a Catholic conscience in this election."
He doesn't condemn the president by name, of course. He just suggests the president's policies are intrinsically evil.
In a letter to his parishioners, Morlino asserted "If one is called to be Catholic, one follows what the Church teaches: That is the correct understanding of conscience (as upheld also by Vatican II). And if one really cannot follow what the Church teaches, then one's conscience requires that one leave the Church. That is the adult decision. One's conscience does not require that one makes up one's own personal religion and then pretend it is Catholic."
I doubt that the bishop's message will change even a single vote, nor do I expect to see some large number of Catholic Democrats leaving the church.
Catholics long ago seem to have determined that their bishops serve a colorful function but are not to be taken seriously.
Especially when the bishop decides to equate his non-negotiable principles with other political ends. To wit:
"And if one's policies are intent on downsizing and even killing more and more of the future generation by promoting and making free-of-charge, on-demand abortion and contraception, why should we be surprised if there is no concern for those generations in terms of handing down massive debt?"
Or try this attack on same-sex marriage:
If the traditional view of marriage doesn't matter, Morlino says, "then humanity as it was created is diminished to the point that we now have people who want to play some sort of game, deadly to humanity, that says 'let the child be born and after some years decide whether they want to be ‘he or she'. . ."
What, in God's name, is the bishop trying to say?
Is he trying to say people choose to be either gay or straight? No one believes that anymore. And does he assume that gay men really want to be women and that lesbians really want to be men?
I mean, this isn't just bigoted; it is ignorant.
Religious leaders have a right to their political opinions, just like anyone else. I don't begrudge Bishop Morlino his Republican leanings. I tend to have political leanings myself. Democracy has survived.
But, come on! If you're going to don your official robes and speak for Christianity, then, at least, speak as if you've actually given some thought to what you're saying.