The following comes from a November 17 Religion News Service article by David Gibson:
The nation’s Catholic bishops on November 17 passed an updated guide for Catholic voters ahead of next year’s elections, but only after airing unusually sharp disagreements on how much they can, and should, adjust their priorities to match those of Pope Francis.
More than any other item on the agenda of the bishops’ annual meeting here, the debate over the lengthy voter guide, called “Faithful Citizenship,” revealed deep divides among the bishops and provided a snapshot of the extent of the “Francis effect” on the U.S. hierarchy.
In the most impassioned objection to the voter guide, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy took the floor to argue that the document — which was a reworking of an 84-page treatise first written in 2007 — should be scrapped because it did not reflect the way that Francis has elevated the battle against poverty and for the environment as central concerns for the Catholic Church since his election in 2013.
“I believe that this document is gravely hobbled,” said McElroy, who was an outspoken advocate for the church’s social justice teachings even before Francis named him to the large and growing Southern California diocese earlier this year.
“Specifically, I think the pope is telling us that alongside the issues of abortion and euthanasia — which are central aspects of our commitment to transform this world — poverty and the degradation of the Earth are also central,” McElroy said. “But this document keeps to the structure of the worldview of 2007. It does not put those there.”
Instead, he said, the voter guide “tilts in favor of abortion and euthanasia and excludes poverty and the environment.”
Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockon, California, agreed that “the times have dramatically changed” and said the “cumbersome” new draft needed to be scrapped.
But members of the committee that spent nearly a year-and-a-half reworking the voter guide rejected the pushback.
“We still think it’s effective,” a clearly irritated Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo — chairman of the drafting committee and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — told Blaire and the other critics.
Another member of the drafting committee, Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair, also rejected the critiques, and he echoed comments by other conservatives who were disturbed by the idea that Francis has ushered in a “revolution” in Catholicism that their documents needed to reflect.
“There is kind of a rhetoric of regime change that is going on in the church” in the wake of the election of Francis in 2013, said Blair. “I think we have to be very, very wary of that.”