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Austin Cline

Anti-Catholic Editorial in Jewish Weekly?

By June 30, 2004

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New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice There has been growing criticism of Catholic bishops and their efforts to influence American elections. Even more interesting, though, are the responses of conservative Catholics to these criticisms - they reveal a great deal about their theology and politics.

  The Jewish weekly publication Forward offers this in an editorial:

We've long held the view that the campaign to ban abortion, resting as it does on a particular view of when human life begins, violates the rights of others whose view of life differs. Civil law does not and should not require Catholics to undergo abortion if their conscience forbids it. But those whose faith — or lack of one — tells them that life begins at some other point should equally be free to follow their consciences. The law should not bar citizens from access to a medical procedure they consider ethical and essential, simply because it violates the religious principles of another group of citizens.
Where democracy is affronted is at the point where a church — the nation's largest single church, as it happens — attempts to impose its view from above by threatening to withhold what its believers consider an essential religious rite. That's nothing more than bullying, trying to bludgeon believers into substituting obedience for conscience. It's unfair to believers and unfair to the system. It's especially egregious in the heat of a pivotal election campaign — a campaign in which one of the candidates is a believing Catholic.
If [the bishops] were consistent, they would have condemned all those who violate their traditions — war hawks, death-penalty advocates and free-market fundamentalists no less than abortion-rights advocates. They would be defending the rights of the born as vigorously as they defend the unborn. If the bishops were faithful to their creed, they'd be threatening virtually every politician in America this year. Goddoesn't belong to any political camp.

This is a very reasoned and carefully considered editorial. The Catholic League For Religious and Civil Rights, ever a voice of moderation and civility, labels this an “anti-Catholic” editorial and, according to Catholic League president William Donohue, Forward owes Catholics an apology.

Actually, I think that Donohue owes everyone an apology. He should apologize for prancing around all these years and pretending to defend Catholicism against anti-Catholic enemies when in fact all he’s doing is trying to protect extremely conservative Catholicism against the least little criticism or disagreement.

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