Friday 1st December 2023

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Origins Of USCCB Political Authority

October 17, 2023 Frontpage No Comments


Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, writes a lot of letters to Congress. A lot of other bishops do too, and they usually identify themselves as the “Chair” of some conference committee or other.

I recently ran across Bishop Malloy’s April 2023 letter to Congress regarding the Foreign Aid Appropriations bill. In it, Bishop Malloy identifies over a dozen funding categories, offering the USCCB’s official recommendation of specific amounts for each of them.

For example, Bishop Malloy requests that Congress approve $2,728,500,000 for “USAID Malaria, TB, Global Health Security & other NTDs,” $4,725,000,000 for “DOS/PEPFAR HIV/AIDS,” and $1,600,000,000 for something called the “Green Climate Fund.”

He adds: “The U.S. Bishops strongly oppose any expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion,” but curiously, he does not insist that such funding decrease or cease altogether.

But while Bishop Malloy recommends funding this year’s appropriations for “Maternal Health and Child Survival” ($1,012,000,000), he does not oppose the Biden Administration’s funding for “family planning” that go to pro-abortion organizations throughout the Third World.

In fact, our bishops have endorsed federal foreign aid funding of abortion for years. In 2010, I wrote Bishop Howard Hubbard, who chaired the International Justice and Peace Committee at the time. He had recently written Congress with a request to continue legislation that included such funding.

“Your Excellency, I worked for many years on Capitol Hill, specifically on foreign aid legislation. Many Catholics, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, disagree with your particular prudential views. Nonetheless, speaking for the USCCB, you endorse specific legislative particulars on which good Catholics disagree in the name of Holy Mother Church. In your words, ‘it would be wrong’ to oppose your views.

“My question, then, is this: Does your public advocacy of such specific legislation constitute a teaching of the ‘authentic magisterium of their bishops,’ like Humanae Vitae, to which the ‘faithful are bound to adhere with religious submission of mind’ (Canon 753; Lumen Gentium 25)?  Is a Catholic of goodwill bound by Canon Law ‘to adhere with religious submission of mind’ to your prudential political views? 

“I make this request in ‘Charity and respect for the truth’ [CCC, n. 2489] and look forward to your reply.”

Bishop Hubbard sent me a gracious and helpful reply. The USCCB offers “moral guidance on the general direction of proposed legislation” because “the Church is concerned with the temporal aspects of the common good….” (CCC, n. 2420). “The role of the state,” he wrote, “is to promote the common good of all,” and “political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person…especially of families and the disadvantaged” (CCC, n. 2237).

In closing, Bishop Hubbard observed that “of course, it is possible for people of good will to disagree over how precisely to protect the rights and welfare of poor and vulnerable people, but the obligation to do so is without question. Sadly, this question is not a major element of the national debate on deficit reduction.”

“Financial Windows” And Other Magisterial Issues

A review of the USCCB website reveals that our bishops send literally hundreds of letters to Congress every year. They advocate spending in countless specific subcategories of federal legislation. They make authoritative statements regarding legislation on agriculture, the budget, taxes, the “Social Safety Net,” affordable housing, labor, “predatory banking” — even “Domestic Poverty in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.”

One wonders, where do our shepherds find the time to review millions of pages of proposed legislation and the accompanying reports before they write their letter and statements they give in testimony before congressional committees?

Bishop Malloy is ordinary of my old Diocese of Rockford, Ill. Right now, Rockford suffers economic decline bordering on disaster, yet the bishop apparently stays up night after night poring through data to identify those programs worthy of taxpayer funding.

Consider: He recommends that Congress “Increase U.S. funding of development banks” and support “additional replenishment of concessional financing windows.”

Does Bishop Malloy really understand the intricacies of “financing windows”?

Unlikely. For all we know, he might be recommending the waste of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that will lead to another international bank bailout like that of the early 1980s. Which is his right, of course, like any other citizen. But he does it in the name of the Catholic Church. And our bishops have been doing it for years. 

But by what authority? How did the funding of “concessional financing windows” become part of the Church’s magisterial teaching? And where did that authority — or at least the bishops’ claim to it — come from, anyway?

How It All Got Started

Over a century ago, when there was no U.S. Catholic Bishops “Conference,” James Cardinal Gibbons was the lead spokesman for the Catholic Church in the United States.

Cardinal Gibbons, the archbishop of Baltimore, was known as the “Primate of America.” In the late nineteenth century, Catholics, millions of them only recently arrived, weren’t universally popular in the United States. In the face of intense opposition and considerable bigotry, the cardinal fought tenaciously to prove that Catholics were good citizens, and proud of it.

That animosity continued into the early 1900s. The Ku Klux Klan, whose members hated Catholics a lot more than they did Jews or blacks, had an extensive membership in the South and the Midwest. My father had been fighting them in the Ohio River Valley since he was a college student.

As war broke out in Europe in 1914, opposition to U.S. involvement was widespread, including among Catholics. German-Americans didn’t want to be drafted and forced to fight their cousins, and Irish-Americans had no desire to fight for their English oppressors.

Woodrow Wilson responded by running as a peace candidate in the 1916 campaign.

On election night my father, a Catholic University grad student at the time, led the cheers in front of the Democrat National Committee headquarters in Washington. “We want Wilson one time more we want peace we don’t want war,” the crowd roared.

Of course, Wilson quickly changed his tune, and Cardinal Gibbons was there to help — and that help included ignoring Pope Benedict XV.

Pope Benedict had urged Cardinal Gibbons to convince Wilson to keep his commitment to peace, but the cardinal feared that Catholics would be branded as traitors if he complied. He assured Wilson that Catholics were good Americans and would serve in the armed forces in numbers greater than their proportion in the population, and he was right: They did.

On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany. In August, America’s bishops, confronted with an unprecedented challenge, formed the National Catholic War Council to help Catholics in the military as well as their families here at home. After the war ended in 1918, the Council did not dissolve. Instead, it went further, addressing social issues that had arisen because of the war.

And there were a lot of them. In response, countless organizations, churches, political parties, and other groups were publishing their programs for reconstruction. The members of the Council decided it had to have one of its own, so in in February 1919, they published the text of a proposal written by Fr. John A. Ryan, and called it the “Bishop’s Program for Social Reconstruction.”

The Program was nothing short of a manifesto. It called for federal government policies ranging from taxes and labor laws to establishing a “living wage,” national healthcare, old age and unemployment insurance, and dozens of other unprecedented powers with very particular applications in the political and economic sphere all in the name of “Social Justice.”

With those marching orders in hand, the National Catholic War Council became the National Catholic Welfare Council. In 1923 “Council” was changed to “Conference,” and the once-temporary organization became permanent.

And that’s how Bishop Malloy’s authority on “financing windows” was born.

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Pope reportedly confirms he is taking away Burke’s apartment, denies calling him his ‘enemy

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 29, 2023 / 17:31 pm Pope Francis reportedly has confirmed that he plans to take away Cardinal Raymond Burke’s Vatican apartment and salary but denied that he referred to the American prelate as his “enemy,” according to a web post by papal biographer Austen Ivereigh. The pope reportedly announced at a meeting of Vatican heads on Nov. 20 that he intended to take action against Burke, who has publicly criticized some papal initiatives,…Continue Reading

The Pope: “Away with Cardinal Burke’s house and salary”

Vatican sources close to the Daily Compass: Burke was defined as an “enemy” in an announcement made to the Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. The cardinal has not yet received a formal notice, but considering precedents, it is unlikely to be just a threat, which nonetheless would be very serious.

Bishop Barron in ‘frank disagreement’ with Synod on Synodality’s report on ‘development of moral teaching’

Bishop Robert Barron has said that he is in “frank disagreement” with the final report of the Synod on Synodality’s claim that advances in the sciences require an evolution in the Church’s moral teaching on human sexuality. In a reflection published this week, the bishop of Winona–Rochester, Minnesota, said it is “troubling” to see how members of the German bishops’ conference are already “using the language of the synod report to justify ma

">Interview with Deacon Fournier – Great Testament to Bishop Strickland

Cardinal Müller on Strickland’s Sacking: “It’s an abuse of the Divine Right of the Episcopate.”

What is being done to Bishop Strickland is terrible, an abuse of the divine right of the episcopate. If I could advise Mgr Strickland, he should absolutely not resign, because then they could wash their hands of his innocence. [Note: Which is why Strickland refused to resign, and was sacked.] According to the commandment of justice, a bishop can only be removed by the Pope if he has been guilty of something evil (heresy, schism,…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading