Bishops Lobbying Congress – Was this Part of the Great Commission?

I was glad to see that the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops included the need to reduce “unsustainable deficits” in his offer to help congressional leaders avert a government shutdown. Phil Lawler had emphasized this very problem last Thursday in The debt limit as a moral test, though he also noticed that limiting governmental debt has seldom been an episcopal priority.

Nonetheless, one wonders why the Conference should have a specific political agenda at all, or why it should offer its own political brilliance to avert a government shutdown. Far better to do a good job at evangelization, instruction in the Faith, and moral formation—in short, conversion—and let politics take care of itself. Or, as Our Lord put it: “Let the dead bury their dead.”

Christ was quite capable of speaking harshly, and he offered this startling advice to a man who wished to begin following Him only after he had completed the funeral arrangements for his father. Our Lord’s whole statement was “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Mt 8:22). One wonders if this disciple, after the Resurrection, went on to become an ambivalent bishop—or at least a player in the world—for whom governmental lobbying points are frequently more important than preaching the Gospel. When did Our Lord take time out to “help” the government? When did he ever lobby the authorities? When did He preach that the shortest distance between two Providential points runs through political action?

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