The latest salvo from the theocon-dominated bishops is a thinly-veiled argument that lay Catholics have no right to engage in their own civic and moral reasoning on questions like the recent health insurance reform. It comes by way of an attack on the magazine, Commonweal, one of the few remaining Catholic venues where freedom of thought is not regarded as somehow hostile to true faith. Money quote from the editors:
Catholics seeking full and equal participation in American democracy have long battled the canard that they cannot think for themselves, and instead take political orders from their prelates and from the Vatican. Historically, however, American Catholics have shown a great degree of political independence from the hierarchyand from political parties themselvesand there is little reason to think that will change. If the authors of “Setting the Record Straight” wish to seize a “new opportunity for the Catholic community to come together in defense of human life,” they can start by not questioning the motives of those Catholics who disagree with them about how best to interpret the provisions of the new health-insurance law. On questions such as this, disagreement should not be understood as a threat to unity, but as a sign of the church’s intellectual vitality.