The Catholic Hierarchy failed to agree on their “The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times” statement when two-thirds of the 230 gathered bishops failed to vote for it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting. Dropping the gavel on the hour of intense debate, Cardinal Timothy Dolan pronounced “this document is dead.”
Many of the bishops were frustrated that they could not make the joint statement on the economy and social issues such as same-sex marriage. The bishops did not get the document until they were at the meeting, and the 14-page document was criticized for ignoring the roots of the economic crisis and Catholic teachings regarding social justice.
The document repeatedly highlighted the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, but said less about the economic issues that it was suppose to focus on.
Retired auxiliary Bishop Joseph Sullivan stated “I think people will look at this document and say it’s a real ‘churchy’ document, they will say it’s in a language that is too abstract, and they will say that it is unrelated to their experience.”
One problem that the Catholic hierarchy faced was the growing number of Bishops who eschew government action on social ills. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island stated that “I think the best thing we can do is to scrap the document and go home and find some tangible and practical ways to help the poor.”
The document needed 152 votes to pass, but only garnered 134 with 85 votes against and 9 abstentions.
The Rainbow Sash Movement stated that “The failure of the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meeting in Baltimore to pass ‘The Hope of the Gospel in Difficult Economic Times,’is reflective of the growing dissension with Cardinal Dolan’s leadership and his public and private support of the GOP Agenda.”
RSM Executive Director Joe Murray said about this that “the document highlighted the church’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion and its support for school vouchers in ways that distracted from tax fairness, budget cuts to the safety net, the economic plight of the middle class, regulation of the financial sector, and greed and criminality in the lending industry: all issues that are at odds with the GOP agenda that is being promoted by a small fundamentalist group of bishops under the leadership of Dolan.”
Bishop Dolan got hit hard for many of his statements supporting the Republican platform and specifically Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.