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Bishop Conley vs. Bishop Conley
What Is Going on Here?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
October 12, 2016

Back in October of 2014, Bishop James D. Conley of Nebraska said this about the coming 2016 elections:

Whenever possible, Catholics have an obligation to vote — particularly when critical issues are at stake.  Today, in our country, critical issues are certainly at stake.... Abortion remains our national shame.  Our failure to protect the unborn is a failure of the highest magnitude. The right to life is the foundational human right.

Bravo Bishop Conley!

Over the past two years, however, Conley has undergone a strange transformation that seems to mirror similar developments with other American prelates, such as Archbishop Charles (“no single issue stands in isolation”) Chaput. Conley and his confreres profess to be mystified — just mystified! — over which candidate in this election merits the Catholic vote.

Thus, after declaring that “[a]bortion is a grave, unconscionable, and intolerable evil, and we cannot support it in the voting booth,” as did Conley 2014, Conley 2016 proceeds inexplicably to muse as follows:

…[W]hen we vote, we need to carefully consider the specifics of each race. Blind partisanship can be dangerous, and we have to look past political rhetoric and media alarmism to make prudent discernments. 

In each race, we need to discern whether there is a candidate who can advance human dignity, the right to life, and the common good. When there is, we should feel free to vote for that candidate — whether they are a member of a major party or not. In extraordinary circumstances, some Catholics may decide, in good conscience, there is not a suitable candidate for some particular office and abstain from voting in that particular race. 

…. Choosing not to vote for “Candidate A” is not the same as actively voting for “Candidate B.” No Catholic should feel obliged to vote for one candidate just to prevent the election of another.

In good conscience, some Catholics might choose to vote for a candidate who, with some degree of probability, would be most likely to do some good, and the least amount of harm, on the foundational issues: life, family, conscience rights and religious liberty. Or, in good conscience, some might choose the candidate who best represents a Christian vision of society, regardless of the probability of winning. Or, in good conscience, some might choose not to vote for any candidate at all in a particular office. 

As a matter of conscience, faithful Catholics… will make different judgments about those questions, and come to different conclusions — this reflects the fact the Lord has given us free intellects and free wills.

This is nothing but a thinly veiled argument for abstaining from this election or casting a pointless vote for a third-party candidate. That is, it is a thinly veiled argument for the election of Hillary Clinton. Or rather not so thinly veiled: “No Catholic should feel obliged to vote for one candidate just to prevent the election of another.”

Really? From whence did Conley derive this novel principle of “conscience,” given that Catholics have a duty to mitigate harm to the Catholic good precisely by voting for one candidate so that a far worse one is not elected.  That is why Pope Pius XII declared that Catholics must, under pain of mortal sin, vote in the Italian elections of 1946 and 1948 in order to prevent the Communist Party from obtaining a majority in the Italian parliament. That necessarily involved voting for less-than-perfect candidates in order to block the election of completely unacceptable Communists.

Now, on the one hand, there is Donald J. Trump:

  • • He has promised to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, even providing a list of 20 conservative judges for us to vet. 

  • • His running mate, Mike Pence, vows that Roe v. Wade will end up on the “ash heap of history” if he and Trump are elected.

  • • He has further vowed to defend the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion.

  • • He has promised to seek repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which gags religious organizations concerning elections, silencing the voice of religion in politics. He even declared: “I figure it’s the only way I’m getting to heaven.”

  • • He has set up a Catholic advisory committee of 34 Catholic leaders, among which are some of the most prominent pro-life activists in the world.

  • • He has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood until it stops providing abortions.
  • No Republican candidate has ever made such specific and unambiguous commitments to the paramount pro-life cause. 

    On the other hand, Hillary Clinton vows to ram through federally-subsidized abortion on demand, right up to the point of delivery, and to pack the Supreme Court with three, and perhaps up to five, rabidly pro-death and pro-homosexual ideologues who would tyrannize America for decades to come.

    Yet, in the face of these salient facts, and forgetting that Catholics have a grave moral responsibility to vote for those candidates who are willing to promote laws based on the natural law and against those who promote laws that contradict the natural law, Bishop Conley strokes his rhetorical chin and says: “Hmm, very difficult choice here!” 

    Excuse me? What happened to Conley 2014’s declaration that “Our failure to protect the unborn is a failure of the highest magnitude” and that “[t]he right to life is the foundational human right”?  Apparently, Conley has suddenly decided that the magnitude of the mass murder of the unborn is not so high, after all, and that the right to life is perhaps not more foundational than other rights — such as the imaginary “right to immigration” without restrictions.

    OK. What is really going on here?  What’s this all about? Why are Bishop Conley and other American prelates so clearly in the tank for Hillary Clinton? The redoubtable Chris Manion at the Daily Caller believes that the $80 million in federal funding the bishops receive each year for immigration-related services and other projects, which Trump might well eliminate, is part of the explanation. He writes:

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference at the time, actually admitted to the Wall Street Journal that the bishops had suffered “laryngitis” regarding the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexual morality – since the 1960s!

    Coincidentally, that’s when the federal dollars began to flow.

    Today a big slice of that funding – tens of millions a year, at least – goes towards the Church’s agencies that care for illegal aliens as contractors of the federal government.

    Curiously, while our bishops have been vocal in their condemnation of Donald Trump (like Hillary, Dolan darkly warned of his “nativism”), they have been strangely subdued in singling out the pro-abortion record of his opponent.

    Exactly so, and I suppose that is a good part of the answer.  But the greater part from this Fatima perspective, I believe, is what the Third Secret of Fatima foretells and what we are witnessing today: apostasy in the Church that begins at the top.

    Only this would explain why Francis is constantly demanding open borders, environmental protection, unlimited immigration, and worldwide abolition of the death penalty, while curiously refraining from ever demanding worldwide abolition of the state-sponsored and state-subsidized mass murder of innocent children in their own mothers’ wombs. That’s a very peculiar order of priorities for a Roman Pontiff. What besides “diabolical disorientation,” to quote Lucia of Fatima, would explain it?

    May Our Lady, Patroness of the Americas, intercede for us in a miraculous way this election! For it is clear that we can expect no help from either the Vatican or the all-but-worthless generality of American bishops, who would lead us to slaughter in return for a mess of federal pottage.