Since the 2016 election, he said, "legal and political institutions are being atrophied" and we are in "a radically different moment", noting widespread opposition to immigration, profound racial divisions, and school shootings.
According to Bishop McElroy, Faithful Citizenship "doesn't reflect the full-bodied teachings of Pope Francis," mentioning in particular Gaudete et exsultate, saying that a wide variety of issues have "not a secondary, but a primary claim on conscience," and that Faithful Citizenship "undermines that by its tendentious use of 'intrinsic evil.'"
Bishop McElroy's comments seemed to invoke the "consistent ethic of life," or "seamless garment" approach of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Supporters say the "seamless garment" perspective served to raise consciousness among Catholics regarding a number of issues which threaten human dignity; while critics say that it implied moral equivalency between abortion and other issues, diminishing the significance of abortion, and suggesting that there was not room for a diversity of opinion on other economic and social issues.
This "seamless garment" approach seemed to be rebuffed by St. John Paul II, who identified abortion as a uniquely grave offense against human life, but it has been revitalized by some thinkers in recent years.
Archbishop Gomez responded to Bishop McElroy, praising Faithful Citizenship, and saying that it is already a particularly long document, and a new document addressing new concerns would be even longer.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark indicated he would vote against the proposal, echoing the need for new content in a revision or replacement of Faithful Citizenship, and expressed concern over the "chasm between faith and life," in which faith has been privatized.
Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles and a member of the working group on Faithful Citizenship, noted that the document is long, and the group didn't want to make it longer.
"We have to retain a lot of what's in there now, and we would just be making a much longer document" if it included the "Franciscan shift." He suggested that instead of a replacement document, video might be a much more effective means for conveying new priorities.
Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington responded that videos have to be quite short to keep people's attention, and that "we need to rethink" Faithful Citizenship.
Bishop Jaime Soto chimed in to mention the "new paradigm" introduced by Pope Francis, including his encyclical Laudato si', and said the proposal of supplementary materials might not take that new paradigm into sufficient account.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore suggested that the audience for Faithful Citizenship isn't Catholics in the pews, but pastors and state Catholic conference staff members, and that the working group's proposal to develop shorter, more consumer-friendly resources "would accomplish the goals I think we had set out for ourselves."
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Bishop George Thomas of Las Vegas called Faithful Citizenship lengthy and cumbersome, and said that it reaches state Catholic conferences and clergy but misses the mark in reaching the hearts of "ordinary people."
He charged that the document has "serious lacunae," and that there should be created a shorter, more user-friendly document which follows the model of Pope Francis.
In a carefully-composed piece of rhetoric, Bishop Thomas said the present pope has both substance (he "connects worship and compassion, liturgy and justice"), with an eye on the preferential option for the poor, and style ("he prefers dialogue over diatribe, persuasion over polemics, accompaniment over alienation"), and that the US bishops should take his example and "the content of his teaching" to revise or replace Faithful Citizenship.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois voiced his support for the working group's proposal, noting the importance particularly of video for reaching people today -- on his flight to the meeting, he said, no-one was reading, they were all watching screens.
He urged that another lengthy document not be issued, and suggested a series of videos rather than a single one be produced, which suggestion was agreed upon by Archbishop Gomez.
Another Los Angeles auxiliary, Bishop David O'Connell, agreed with the proposal and suggested, "we need to take time to think about how Pope Francis' teachings inform our pastoral practice."