That’s the title of an “On Faith” column by Tom Reese, the Jesuit political scientist cited in the post below on the bishops spring meeting in Texas. Father Reese’s take is that the bishops’ agenda “will keep it busy but it will not deal with the real issues facing the church: how to interact with Obama and how to respond to the exodus of one third of Catholics from the church.”
Absent from the agenda is a discussion of how the bishops should interact with the Obama administration. Will the vocal bishops continue to set a negative tone or will the conference seek common ground with the administration on issues of poverty, health care, nuclear disarmament, immigration reform, global warming, the economy, peace, etc., while politely disagreeing on abortion and stem cell research?
Since there is no episcopal leadership pushing for civil engagement, the Obama administration should not hold its breath. The only thing that may turn the bishops around is a roaringly successful visit of Obama with the pope in July. Word is that the pope is looking forward to the visit. How many bishops would meet with Obama if he visited their diocese?
Nor do the bishops give any indication that they know they are on a sinking ship. One third of Catholics have left the church. Any other organization would try to find out why and develop a plan to get back their members or customers. Have the bishops commissioned a study of these former Catholics? No. Data doesn’t count.
The bishops, like the leaders of GM, Chrysler and the Republican Party, think that old strategies (emphasize orthodoxy and play to your base) will work. They blame the exodus on secularism, consumerism, individualism and sin.