The Rise of Catholic McCarthyism – new report endorsed by former bishops and Catholic theologians

“My sense is that the new Catholic McCarthy era will not end until there is straight talk from those who are disturbed by how some of our fellow Catholics are using faith as a bludgeon.” – Todd Whitmore, Professor of Theology,  University of Notre Dame

As I’ve been working on issues related to the Catholic bishops’ interference in health care over the past couple of years, I’ve talked to many progressive Catholics who share the concern that the bishops are going off the rails – ignoring the social justice mission that appeals to so many Catholics in order to impose a very hard line on social issues that most Cathoics don’t even agree with.

The aggressive, mean-spirited approach to fighting same-sex marriage turned off many.  The very public fights to restrict access and insurance coverage for contraception turned off others.  And now, even former bishops are decrying what they see as a new “Catholic McCarthyism” at work.

For more, you might want to read the report entitled “Be Not Afraid? – Guilt by Association, Catholic McCarthyism and Growing Threats to the U.S. Bishops’ Anti-Poverty Mission,” which was released earlier this month.  You can read a summary of the report and download the original here.

Selected excerpts from the report:

“Rev Bryan Massingale, a Marquette University theologian who has consulted widely with Catholic Charities USA and dioceses across the country, warns that Catholic leaders should not be hunkering down in ways that isolate the Church.” – from the report

“There has been a huge change in the Catholic community.  I remember twenty years ago, Protestants and Catholics working together even when we did not agree on everything….There is a backing away from what I experienced as traditional Catholic teaching and involvement with justice issues.  It’s kind of astounding to see a shift from “what can we do to help” to “We have to toe an ideological line.” – Rev. Gene Nelson, United Church of Christ pastor, Santa Rosa CA – from the report

“Catholic leaders should resist efforts from the American Life League and other pressure groups to isolate Catholic-funded organizations from effective coalitions that are improving the lives of low-income citizens.”

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One thought on “The Rise of Catholic McCarthyism – new report endorsed by former bishops and Catholic theologians

  1. Howard Pellett

    You would think that there is enough “fallen away” Catholics and liberal Catholics to start a rebellion against the hard line bishops and their assault on justice and women’s rights.

    But nooooooo, they seem to all be silent on these issues. I guess they’re waiting for the hardliners “to come for them”. And they will.


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