Bishops pull out of civil rights group

On May 19, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) pulled out of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition group founded in 1950, because that group chose to support the nomination of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.

In announcing the withdrawal, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre NY, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Peace, said the following:

" ... The interests of the Leadership Conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as the LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference. In recent years, the Leadership Conference has joined others in advocating or opposing nominees for the Supreme Court, a practice which clearly contradicts USCCB policy and compromises the principled positions of the bishops. The latest example of this is the LCCR support of the Solicitor General’s nomination to the Supreme Court. ..."

At the same time the USCCB reiterated its commitment to oppose discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, and said that these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.

What is not clear here is the reason for making this nomination into a litmus test for membership. If it is because this is a Supreme Court nomination, why did the bishops not withdraw when other nominations were championed or opposed by the LCCR? Or perhaps it is because of Elena Kagan’s views (still vague in the public eye) on issues such as abortion and gay rights.

The bishops have some clarifying to do.

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