How Bishops SHOULD Speak in Public Square

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, released a statement regarding the Supreme Court's decision last week to uphold the Affordable Care Act. You can find it by clicking here.

To my mind, Cardinal O'Malley's words reflect exactly how bishops should speak in the public square. There is no stridency. There is no attempt to appear like he is a scholar of the commerce clause. There is no doomsday-worst-case-scenario interpretations of the ACA. There is, instead, a restatement of the moral principles at stake in the fight for univeral health care and encouragement to all politicians to continue working to fix the parts that remain objectionable.

I would compare Cardinal O'Malley's remarks with the approach of then-Bishop William Lori I discovered in researching my article about the 2009 kerfuffle in Connecticut, which can be found in the current print edition of NCR or by clicking here. I do not know what makes a bishop think it is a good idea to accuse a state legislator of not doing his homework, nor for that matter, what possessed Archbishop Lori to pen his really snarky letter to the editors at America, which you can find by clicking here. I will leave it to the body of bishops, and to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the USCCB, to discern which approach, Cardinal O'Malley's firm but encouraging tone or Archbishop Lori's combative snarkiness, is best suited not only for achieving the results the USCCB desires, but for presenting the face of the Catholic Church in our political culture. For me, this is not a difficult call.


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