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Bishops Exposed! Washington Post Columnist Tells All! Pulitzer Prize On the Way?


Lisa Miller, the “On Faith” columnist of the Washington Post, in a strong defense of President Obama’s HHS regulations on abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilizations, exposed what she sees as deep flaws in the reasoning and character of Catholic bishops opposed to the regulations.

The bishops, writes Ms. Miller, are “a small minority” who are annoying the president because of their stand on their “so-called freedoms.” They exploit their “clerical garb” to trample on the rights of others. She compares the bishops with the National Rifle Association, just another Washington lobbying group, wanting their “priorities” to “take precedence over everyone else’s.” She reminds readers of the “the sex abuse scandal” in the church and says that “the moral compasses of a few American bishops are extremely out of whack.” What clerical garb or lobbying or the moral failings of some bishops have to do with the current controversy, or why bishops have “so-called freedoms,” Ms. Miller did not say.

Ms. Miller states that it is “far-fetched” to her “that God should have any opinion at all about contraceptive technology.” Whether God just might have ideas different from her own, far-fetched as they may be, she did not say.

Ms. Miller states that the bishops’ “ claims to moral truth are just that — claims. Their religious vows do not make them, in any objective sense, more moral than anybody else.” Since the bishops have never claimed to be “more moral” than anybody else, and since their vows do not enter into the argument, and since their opposition to the Obama regulations is rooted in their First Amendment rights, it is once again unclear exactly what Ms. Miller is talking about.

Ms. Miller writes that “Obama made the Golden Rule the moral foundation of his 2008 campaign.” To illustrate this point, she quotes from his recent budget speech in which the president said: “Here in America, the story has never been about what we can do just by ourselves; it’s about what we can do together.” Since that quotation refers to what Ms. Miller calls our “collective destiny” (she does not say what that means), and has nothing to do with the Golden Rule (which, even in the Washington, is still “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), it is once again not clear what Ms. Miller is talking about .

Ms. Miller dismisses the bishops as “zealots” (she uses the word three times in two consecutive sentences), the kind of people Mr. Obama should not condescend to “negotiate” with. Since the president has not attempted to negotiate with the bishops, and issued his “accommodation” without even talking with one of them, it is again not clear what Ms. Miller is talking about.

The Washington Post columnist’s exposure of the bishops as mere “zealots” may puzzle millions of American Catholics who until this piece of investigative reporting, in the Post tradition, have believed bishops are the successors of the apostles and supreme ecclesiastical rulers of their dioceses, teaching the truth of their faith, as they have for over 2,000 years.

Critics may point out that Ms. Miller, in her column, is guilty of ad hominem attacks and non sequiturs. But these are Latin terms, and Ms. Miller will no doubt dismiss such foreign-sounding, Popish nonsense as the last desperate throw of the dice by fanatics, eager to restore Latin to the vocabulary of their discredited lobbying organization as they parade shamelessly in clerical garb in the public square, exercising so-called freedoms, and happily endangering the lives of real, 100 percent American women everywhere.

— William F. Gavin is author of Speechwright and a former assistant to Senator James L. Buckley.