The statement signed by eight bishops and two cardinals unfortunately ignored the main message of my letter to them. I urged them to recognize that they are overly fixated on issues like contraception, abortion, and same sex marriage to the neglect of issues like peace-making, ecological destruction of God's good earth, poverty, racism, and sexism-issues on which liberal and conservative Catholics could and should unite. Good people from all the world's religions (including Catholics) differ on the sexual and reproductive issues on which the bishops seem impaled. The bishops treat them as defined dogmas and they are not.
When I speak I speak as one theologian. When the bishops (who are not theologians; they are pastors and administrators) speak on moral issues they pretend to speak for the whole church. It is arrogant of the bishops to claim a monopoly on insight in the Catholic community. According to Catholic teaching the Holy Spirit does not restrict illumining grace to three thousand bishops and the pope. History shows, as Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. has written, that there are multiple magisteria in the Church (including the wisdom of the faithful, sensus fidelium, and the wisdom of theologians) which historically have been mutually corrective.
In my letter, I pointed approvingly to the example of Cardinal Roger Mahony who entered the immigration debate citing his obligation to a higher law and as a matter of fact his words changed the national debate in significant ways.
According to the criteria that the bishops taught in their 1983 pastoral letter on Peace, the current war in Iraq is unjust and immoral. I urged them to rise to prophecy and point out that an unjustified war is collective murder. Why are these bishops so obsessed with what I call "the pelvic issues" and so mute as a group on the ongoing slaughter in Iraq? Why can they not direct their moral passions to the ongoing double-basting of the planet in CO2.
I wrote to the bishops because I believe most theologians stand by mutely as the bishops pronounce on issues where they have no privileged expertise.
The bishops chose not to answer me on those questions. They stuck to their obsession with sexual and reproductive matters. That is "a pity beyond all telling."
Here is Dan Maguire's original letter to the 270 American bishops:
Letter from a Catholic Theologian to All 270 U.S. Catholic Bishops
Pamphlets sent to the bishops: Moderate Roman Catholic Position on Contraception and Abortion and A Catholic Defense of Same Sex Marriage
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