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Chastened US bishops told they should confess their sins

After their outspoken support for the losing Presidential candidate, Cardinal Dolan tells bishops to examine their consciences and repent.

  • David Gibson
  • United States
  • November 13, 2012
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After sweeping setbacks to the hierarchy’s agenda on Election Day, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Monday (Nov. 12) told U.S. Catholic bishops that they must now examine their own failings, confess their sins and reform themselves if they hope to impact the wider culture.

“That’s the way we become channels of a truly effective transformation of the world, through our own witness of a repentant heart,” Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the 250 bishops gathered here for their annual meeting.

“The premier answer to the question’What’s wrong with the world?’ is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming ... none of these, as significant as they are,” Dolan said, citing many of the issues that have become favorite targets of the hierarchy.

Instead, Dolan said, quoting English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton, the answer is contained in two words: “I am.”

The three-day meeting falls just a week after the re-election of President Barack Obama, whose policies on contraception coverage and gay rights mobilized the bishops in what was widely seen as an effort to elect Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Many individual bishops spoke out in especially stark terms about the duty of Catholics not to vote for Obama, yet Obama won the Catholic vote 50-48 percent, according to exit polls.

In addition, voters in three states endorsed same-sex marriage initiatives and in another rejected an effort to ban same-sex marriage. All those votes represented major defeats for the bishops, who had invested prestige and millions of dollars in the campaigns.

On Monday, various speakers reiterated that they were not about to change their beliefs or policy positions, but they indicated they have to rethink their strategy. Dolan’s approach in his presidential address was to repeatedly stress the theme of humility and the need for bishops to go to confession to renew themselves spiritually so that they can then preach their message more effectively.

Dolan’s remarks marked a striking change of tone from the assertive and even aggressive rhetoric that the hierarchy deployed during the campaign season.

Now, with Obama back for another four years, the bishops recognize that they have an uphill task in trying to change the administration’s mandate that requires employers to provide free contraception insurance coverage, and in halting the acceptance of gay rights.

Full Story: Chastened Catholic bishops told they have to reform themselves

Source: Washington Post
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