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Advice to Bishops (Sun Oct 17, 2004 11:03 am)

Here's some unsolicited advice from ARCC to those bishops who have made a big splash in the media during this presidential campaign. By refusing the Eucharist to Senator Kerry and by identifying "non-negotiable" issues, we believe you've done more harm than good.

We think silence, which was not appropriate during the sex abuse scandal, is appropriate between now and Election Day. Continuing to speak out on ?non-negotiable? issues risks further loss of episcopal credibility. God knows that commodity is in short supply because of poor judgment during the last 20 years of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

If the Catholic community sees the bishops as supporting President Bush, the bishops risk being seen as pro-war and anti-social justice. If the community perceives the bishops as supporting Senator Kerry, they risk being perceived as tolerating abortion.

Continuing to speak out between now and Election Day is a no-win situation. We recommend that you exercise restraint. We don't think it's part of your teaching role to dictate to American Catholics how they should vote. We recommend that if you say anything you tell people it?s their duty to vote and to follow their informed conscience as taught by the Second Vatican Council.

The bishops need to re-build trust. Old-fashioned monastic silence between now and Election Day would be not only appropriate but also golden.

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