ARLINGTON, Virginia, Jan. 16, 01 (CWNews.com/LSN.ca) -
Retired Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, the founding bishop of the
Arlington Diocese, has expressed great frustration at the
voting pattern of most Catholics in the United States
during the recent election.
"I find it most alarming because in this election there was
a clear-cut choice. We had the experience of the last eight
years of the political consequences of a pro-abortion
government-- all the things that they can do at the local,
national, and international levels," he said. The bishop,
who now lives in retirement in his native Allentown,
Pennsylvania, was troubled not only by hypocritical
citizens but also politicians. "What disturbs me, then, is
the politician, man or woman, who wants to have it both
ways," he said. "They say, 'I'm a Catholic,' then espouse
all sorts of things that the Catholic Church says are
wrong," he said in the interview with the Arlington
He lamented that the Church is constrained in what she is
allowed to say by her tax-exempt status. He noted lawsuits
have been filed costing the Church hundreds of thousands of
dollars to defend, centering on stripping the tax status of
the Church based on charges that she is too political. The
bishop suggests that the time may come when the Church has
to say she will give up her tax-exempt status since, "our
message isn't getting out." He noted his speech was
restricted, saying, "But with the responsibility of being a
bishop, I can't speak as a private citizen anymore. I would
like to. I should be able to."
"If you say the Church is wrong about one serious issue
like the pro-life stance, then you're undermining the whole
nature of the Church. The Lord didn't say, 'I'm with you all
the time, except on some major issues.' ... The Church is
supposed to be guiding people on a day-to-day basis on how
to get to heaven ... We are saying this (abortion) is
intrinsically evil. There's no time for anybody at any
place to have an abortion and say, 'this is right.' It's
always, always wrong."
Bishop Welsh said nothing is more important than the issue of life and family.
"It’s very fundamental, he added. "Some of these people are going to leave the Church or they’re going to have to have a conversion process to get back to the idea that the tenets of the faith have consequences."
"Why is there an increasing gap between Church teaching and the action of people who say they are Catholic?" Bishop Welsh asked. "I don’t know what the answer is, but obviously it is a serious question.
"It seems more and more of our people think it is acceptable to say, ‘I’m a Catholic,’ and yet think that allows them to disagree, not only intellectually, but in conduct with Church teaching," he said.
"I find it most alarming because in this election there was a clear-cut choice. We had the experience of the last eight years of the political consequences of a pro-abortion government — all the things that they can do at the local, national and international levels.
"There’s some theological problem at the basis of this," he said. "I think many people are trying to compartmentalize their existence. They need to go to Church. They need Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. They need marriage in the Church. And yet the other six days of the week, they say, ‘keep the Church out of the bedroom, keep the Church out of my day-to-day life.’ They think the Church doesn’t understand."
The bishop said there is a tremendous problem in education and motivation.
"Ideas have consequences," he said. "If your idea of faith is that you can pick a few Commandments and say, ‘I can keep them and not the rest.’ What are the consequences of that?
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