LOPEZ: As you know, Catholic bishops have been accused of using prayer during the Fortnight for Freedom as a cover for political activism. How do you respond and perhaps grapple with that concern?
BISHOP CONLEY: I go back to American history. When John Quincy Adams argued the Amistad case before the Supreme Court that led to the freedom of a group of African slaves (which was the beginning of the end of slavery), he pointed to a copy of the Declaration of Independence and appealed to the laws of nature and nature’s God. We are in good company when we appeal to our religious principles and values in promoting the common good.
: There’s also the complaint from both Catholics and others that the leadership of the Catholic Church is in no small way to blame for the current state of affairs, because it didn’t make clear during the last presidential election and during the health-care debate that Barack Obama’s radical views on abortion, in particular, are not acceptable for Catholics to support. How do respond to this, and how can we constructively move forward here?
BISHOP CONLEY: I think the U. S. bishops have spoken clearly and consistently regarding the foundational issues of the sanctity and dignity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. The bishops have also spoken out against the intrinsic evils of our day that attack these foundational truths. Unfortunately, some other so-called Catholic voices have muddied the waters and have confused Catholics. The bishops, in union with the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth, constitute the authentic teaching office of the Church on matters of faith and morals. Those dissident voices, who are not in union with the pope and the bishops, do not represent the true teaching of the Catholic Church. Catholics need to know their faith and they need to be able to discern whether or not someone is truly representing Catholic teaching.
LOPEZ: Beyond the Novena, what’s your prayer as we approach the elections? What should every American’s prayer be before we cast our ballots?
BISHOP CONLEY: Whomever is elected in November, we need to continue to pray for our country, through the intercession of our patroness, the Immaculate Conception, that we, as a people and a nation, remain true to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” and that our sacred rights and freedoms — “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — remain protected and secured.
LOPEZ: As you hinted at, the praying ought not to stop on Election Day. What might be a good morning-after prayer?
BISHOP CONLEY: The Memorare of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.