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When the New York Times ran a series of articles this week connecting Pope Benedict XVI to the practice of moving pedophile priests to new assignments and the failure of the Church to defrock them, New York Archbishop Dolan accused the Times of being anti-Catholic with an "agenda of bias" and "frenzied to implicate the man." Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio urged his parishionners to "besiege The New York Times. Send a message loud and clear that...our Church...will no longer be the personal punching bag of The New York Times." Cardinal William Levada and Bridgeport Bishop Lori accused the Times of "attacking" the Pope. Yet when Fox personality, Glenn Beck, actually did try to damage the Church by urging his audience to "run as fast as you can" from any religious organization such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which uses the phrases "social justice" or "economic justice" on their website, there was silence.

After episcopal leaders joined other Republicans in lying about the health-care reform legislation, we could chalk up their failure to challenge Beck as just another manifestation of hierarchical support for return of the corporatocracy. But in this situation, their silence is more ominous.

For the past two decades, Catholic bishops have been dismantling and defunding the Church-organized network of aid to the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the homeless. They have closed inner-city schools, severed ties with community organizations and cut programs for the disadvantaged. Denver's Catholic Charities regularly reminds potential donors that less than 4 percent of their funding comes from the archdiocese.

The USCCB website states: "The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Its mission is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education." Theocon Fr. Richard John Neuhaus wrote in 2008 that the CCHD has been "using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians." The USCCB stopped CCHD donations to ACORN, the community-centered organization falsely accused of voter fraud in that election year. Relentlessly, CCHD monies are being pulled from non-Catholic charities whose leadership hasn't taken strong anti-abortion and anti-gay positions. Obviously, the number of organizations which help the poor but have to declare themselves upfront as unconcerned with the health of pregnant women and human rights is limited.

The CCHD is funded by a special collection taken once a year in U.S. parishes. As of now, seven bishops have refused to allow the collection in their dioceses according to LifeSiteNews.
The newest target of Republcian Catholics are community health centers. Following the lead of the USCCB in uniting with other Religious Right organizations to kill health care legislation, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has joined with anti-choice activists Douglas Johnson and Ernie Ohlhoff from the National Right to Life Committee and Focus on the Family Action lobbyist Tim Goeglein in spreading lies that publicly funded clinics "plan to ration Medicare and enact death panels" in addition to performing abortions according to Wendy Norris of RH Reality Check. Norris notes that "'community health center' will become right wing code to attack health care for minorities and low income people under the guise of a so-called pro-life agenda" and Pavone and Ohlhoff are encouraging their followers "to lobby their pastors with prepared materials for parishes to conduct what can only be described as non-partisan-in-name-only electoral activities and pre-written sermons on conservative social issues to rally church-goers to the polls."

This is not to say that individuals or groups of Catholics are no longer striving for "social and economic justice." But the overwhelming majority of their efforts occur outside the auspices of the official U.S. Catholic Church which is husbanding its diminishing resources toward the goal of electing Republicans.

Originally posted to Betty Clermont on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 09:28 AM PDT.

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