National Catholic Register


Gov. Quinn vs. The Bishops

BY Matthew Archbold

| Posted 12/19/11 at 12:27 AM


Things were a little weird when Governor Pat Quinn, a Catholic, decided to present a pro-choice award for a pro-abortion rights PAC.

The bishops responded strongly by saying, “This approach is irreconcilable with any honest profession of the Catholic faith. While we deeply regret and oppose his actions, we continue to pray for his conversion and the protection of unborn human life.”

Things got a little stranger when the bishops publicly balked and arranged a meeting with the Governor to discuss Quinn’s “personal approval of laws permitting the killing of unborn children.”

But this weekend, things got downright bizarre.

Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois met with a group of bishops on Friday to discuss the Catholic Governor’s public stances on gay marriage and abortion.

After the meeting, Quinn emerged from the meeting and pretty much told the media that the bishops didn’t lay a glove on him. He held a press conference of sorts saying that the meeting wasn’t really about his support of abortion and gay marriage at all. In fact, according to the Sun Times, Quinn said,

“A lot of the discussion was how we could work together to fight poverty, help the people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand,” Quinn told the Sun-Times as he left a Christmas toy give-away on the Far South Side. “Getting people jobs, helping people who don’t have enough food to eat — that’s what the church’s social mission is all about.”

But what happened next is likely the most surprising turn of events in the entire affair.

Hearing of Quinn’s comments, the bishops reportedly issued a news release to make clear that the purpose of the meeting was to warn Quinn against using his Catholic faith as a justification for making decisions that are at odds with church teaching.

So clearly on top of his support of abortion we can pretty definitively add lying about the bishops to Gov. Quinn’s next confession.

The Sun Times reports on the bishops’ release:

“We share the Governor’s concern for the poor,” they wrote. “From our point of view, however, this was a meeting between pastors and a member of the Church to discuss the principles of faith, not the works of faith. On several occasions, the Governor has referred to his Catholic conscience and faith as the justification for certain political decisions.”

The letter continued: “As Catholic pastors, we wanted to remind the Governor that conscience, while always free, is properly formed in harmony with the tradition of the Church, as defined by Scripture and authentic teaching authority. A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience. The Catholic faith cannot be used to justify positions contrary to the faith itself.It is a matter of personal integrity for people who call themselves Catholic to act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The bishops said they were particularly concerned about Quinn’s influence on others “since he holds a highly visible and influential position.”

The letter concluded: “This concern on our part, as pastors of the Church, was the fundamental and primary topic of our conversation with Governor Quinn.”

Well that seems to have silenced Quinn at least for the time being as the Governor failed to issue any further updates about the meeting.

It seems to me that Quinn is playing a dangerous game here. The archdiocese already reportedly told the media that an individual priest could make the decision not to give Quinn Communion. I doubt if Quinn’s actions this weekend did anything to ameliorate that situation.