“None was encouraged by Joe Biden’s election. Not one.”
“They had conflicting opinions about Donald Trump, but all were uneasy about Biden. And they were very critical of his vice president, Kamala Harris -- especially given Biden’s questionable durability -- for her track record as California’s attorney general and later as a U.S. senator,” he added.
“Several of the bishops I spoke with expressed concern about the Democratic Party’s shift to the left; its curious interpretation of constitutional rights; and its appetite for increased government controls fed by the COVID pandemic. None of this, by the way, translated into praise for the Republican Party. That’s another story.”
Maier said most of the bishops he interviewed felt that cooperation could and would occur between the new White House and U.S. bishops on at least some issues of mutual concern. But overall, their common view of Biden’s long-term impact on Church-related matters was strongly negative.
“One senior bishop compared Biden -- unfavorably -- with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,” he said. “Cuomo makes no claim to being a good Catholic, and thus in some ways is more honest and easier to work with because of it. The problem with Biden is precisely the appearance -- highlighted by the media -- of his piety.”
Maier argued that “Biden’s rosary beads, his public nods to saints, and his attendance at Mass all serve to normalize his administration’s policies and actions that directly attack key Catholic beliefs on abortion, sex, family, and marriage. This has the effect of marginalizing bishops as ‘doctrinaire,’ out of touch, and seemingly aligned against the message of mercy preached by Pope Francis.”
(Story cotinues below)
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“To the degree this is a conscious strategy, it works,” he continued. “It works, as several of the interviewees noted, because bishops may have the mandate to teach and lead, but in practice, in our current environment, they’re generals without armies.”
“We also need to remember that the civil war inside the Church over what Vatican II really meant, and which issues should have priority in working for the common good, is not over,” he said. “Quite the opposite: During the current pontificate, with its perceived ambiguities, the frictions have taken on new heat. Some of those frictions exist both among the bishops themselves and also within their staffs. And of course, civil authority and Catholic elected officials are happy to exploit that.”
Maier said that in his 43 years of working for the Catholic Church, “some bishops are mediocre or incompetent,” while “a few are bad guys with serious moral flaws, or toxic ambition, or simply a lack of real faith. But most -- and I mean the great majority -- are good and decent men doing the best they can for their people, and doing it pretty well, in a very difficult job.”