The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, led by Archbishop Charles Caput, has responded with the expected level of penitence, the t is to say, none at all; rather, Caput has led his clergy in a scorched earth PR blitz including ostracizing Catholic legislators who have voted for the legislation:
Ken Gavin, a spokesman for Chaput, confirmed that archdiocesan pastors this weekend in "many instances" shared with worshipers how certain lawmakers had voted on the bill.I'm not going to get into the legalities of this. Not really what I care about tonight. What I cannot believe is the same old playbook, the same old rationalization, and, most of all, the same old sense of their own rectitude, even against unassailable evidence, flaunted by the clergy.
"The bill is public and the voting records are public," Gavin said in an email Wednesday. "There's nothing wrong with sharing that information. Obviously, parishioners are very concerned about this legislation. For those constituents to contact elected officials to voice such concern is a very normal thing."
The push from the pews was not new or unexpected from Chaput. He used the same approach as bishop of Denver to help defeat a similar bill a decade ago. Other dioceses subsequently replicated the approach when statute of limitations reform took hold in their state capitals.
But some on the receiving end said they believed the effort went beyond simply educating the congregation.
Still, Rep. James R. Santora, another Delaware County Republican, said even stalwart church supporters like him were finding themselves under attack and unhappy about it.
"I believe everyone that voted for the bill is being targeted," he said, including himself in that list but declining to say how he had been targeted.
To Santora, the naming of lawmakers inside churches and in parish bulletins smacked of "electioneering." He questioned the propriety of the church telling worshipers, as he saw it, that they were not worthy of votes come November.
As a deacon, I meet many clergy from many denominations, and have been enriched by those encounters, including those with many wonderful Roman Catholic clergy. But a devotion to an ages-old system of clericalism threatens to engulf all the good they do--and yet they cling to it, seemingly unconscious of the fact that they do so.