The Corner

The Governor, The Ballot Initiative, and The Missing Bishops

During his interview with Morley Safer on Sixty Minutes last night, the Gubernator explained his support for Proposition 71, the California measure that would provide $3 billion for embryonic stem cell research. “I’m a Roman Catholic,” Schwarzenegger said (I quote from memory). “I go to mass every Sunday. But that doesn’t mean I’m against progress. I mean, why not?”

“Why not?” Well, there’s an obvious practical point for starters. As Mel Gibson put it in his interview with K-Lo, “Why is the state with the lowest credit rating and the highest debt cost in the country responsible now for borrowing money to pay for dubious research for the rest of the world?”

But of course the more fundamental point is that embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of embryos—that is, the ending of human lives. (If you doubt that blastocycsts are both human and alive, ask yourself why the researchers want to get their hands on them in the first place.) You don’t have to be a Roman Catholic to see the argument, of course, but by bringing up his faith Schwarzenegger has raised a question: Where is his bishop?

Bishop Weigand of Sacramento chastised Schwarzenegger’s predecessor as governor, Gray Davis, also a Catholic, for his pro-choice stand. As far as I know, Weigand has failed to chastise the pro-choice Arnold. But could the good bishop at least fill the governor in on stem cell research? If not Bishop Weigand, why not Cardinal Mahoney? Schwarzenegger attends mass most Sundays at Saint Monica’s, which (unless I’m mistaken, and I’m sure a reader will correct me if I am) lies in Mahoney’s archdiocese, the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Why not?” If the governor is to be believed—that is, if he truly has no idea why the Church opposes embryonic stem cell research—then he needs to be informed. If instead he is merely striking political poses, then he needs to be rebuked. In either case, Bishop Weigand or Cardinal Mahoney, charged, as bishops, with the exercise of the teaching office, has a duty to perform.