Gun Banning Bishop's Incompetency

Bishops do the Church no favors when they weigh in on public policy debates outside of their competency.

Perhaps the person doing the most damage in this regard is Bishop Blaire of "we are so liberal we're bankrupt" Stockton, CA.

You may remember Bishop Blaire (with the defacto impramatur of the USCCB) from his ridiculous [some say partisan] criticisms of Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget during last year's election battle. At that time he called the Ryan budget, which proposed merely cuts to the rate of growth, “unjust and wrong” and asserted that they fail to meet “moral criteria.” These ridiculous statements were hailed by the left as proof that any cut to any program at anytime was against Catholic teaching.

This assertion led Bishop Boyea of Lansing to address a later meeting of the USCCB saying:
“There have been some concerns raised by lay Catholics, especially some Catholic economists, about what was perceived as a partisan action against Congressman Ryan and the budget he had proposed,” Bishop Boyea said in reference to the USCCB committee’s opposition to the House budget plan. “We need to be articulate only in principles, and let the laity make these applications … It was perceived as partisan, and thus didn’t really further dialogue in our deeply divided country.”

“I’m not sure that we have the humility yet not to stray into areas where we lack competence, and where we need to let the laity take the lead,” he added. “We need to learn far more than we need to teach in this area. We need to listen more than we need to speak. We already have an excellent, fine Compendium [on the Social Doctrine of the Church].”
Well Bishop Blaire is back and still in spectacularly bad form. This time, he takes leftist talking points on gun control and pretends they are Catholic teaching.
Banning guns builds a “culture of life” and lawmakers must consider more clamp-downs, not less, said one Catholic Church bishop in California in a written petition to U.S. senators.

“Sadly, gun violence is too common a reality,” said Bishop Stephen Blair, chairman on the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a letter to the U.S. Senate that was quoted by Catholic News Agency.

The “violence that occurs daily in our homes and communities should lead us to answer the call of Pope France to ‘change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.’”
Of course, this is not Church teaching. The Church rightly opposes gun violence, but not guns or particular gun features per se.  I am quite certain there is no relevant commandment that says "Thou shalt not have a folding stock, nor shalt thou have a pistol grip."

Catholics can and do have legitimately differing opinions on the prudence and efficacy of gun control initiatives.  Bishop Blaire's comments are partisan, pure and simple and not Catholic.

I think that Bishop Boyea's previous comments apply equally well here.  Bishops should articulate Catholic principles and stay out of legitimate public policy debates.  When Bishops stray into public policy areas where they lack competency, they undermine their own authority and thus damage the Church.


  1. They succumb to pressure from their Liberal flock.

  2. The bishops have been commenting outside their areas of expertise for decades. You're just noticing this now?

    In fact, given the poor state of Catholic catechesis, one could say that theology is outside their area of expertise.....

  3. "The bishops have been commenting outside their areas of expertise for decades. You're just noticing this now?"

    How to make friends and influence people.

  4. Thank you for this article Patrick Archbold. I guess we got Bishop Blaire to thank for Obama.

  5. Patrick, this is what happens when terms like "pro-life" and "culture of life" -- which, essentially, are propagandistic buzz words --become substitutes for sound thinking. This, sadly, is one of the legacies JPII left the Church.

    When individual bishops takes such stands, it demonstrates how pathetic seminary education has become -- and that's the result of decades of neglect.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. So, we're supposed to encourage a culture of life by allowing criminals to have a major advantage over the law-abiding citizen and removing our ability to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. Right.

  8. Bishop Blaine and many of his confreres at USCCB bring to mind a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

  9. Whenever any Bishop (such as Blaire) or a Priest refuses to actively and publically promote (even within his own Diocese) the reading of the "CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition" he should be viewed with suspicion - possibly teaching his own personal political and earthly view rather than that of the Church.
    He discredits the Faith when he deviates from the CCC.

    There is NO Church teaching regarding "gun control", but the CCC does teach on the goodness of SELF DEFENSE. (CCC 2263 - 2267).

    This coupled with the same Bishops who constantly avoid the Church teaching on "COMMUTATIVE JUSTICE" - "without which no other form of justice is possible" (-CCC 2411 - paying debts),
    and avoid the teaching of "SUBSIDIARITY" (CCC 1883, 1885,1894, 2209) - not always running to the Federal government first- does an injustice to our Faith by their deviations.

    CCC: “….the Catechism has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians, and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.” – Pope John Paul II (CCC pg xiv)

    Don't let anyone pull the wool over your eyes like wolves in sheep's clothing - - - read the CCC.

  10. His Excellency proves that brains are no requirement for clerical success.

  11. Wise up people. Rome agrees with him (even if the Catechism doesn't). The Church in this modern era does't want armed populations any more, and these Bishops will have no troubles upon their ad limina visits. It troubles me, but I think this is the truth. I think Rome has bought into the idea of a new, more civilized, more enlightened world in a big naive way.

  12. Basher, I believe you are absolutely correct. Much of Catholic commentary on social policies seems to reflect European secularism and the politics of the European Union more than Catholic teaching. Frankly, that shouldn't be surprising, since Rome is in Europe. That last statement might sound incredibly obvious, but it's tremendously naive to think that the Vatican would be oblivious to the academic and intellectual trends coming from the area immediately surrounding it.

    Think about this: Suppose the Holy See weren't in Rome but in Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Ephesus...even Beijing or Delhi. "Catholicism," as such, would be quite different from what we know now -- basically because the intellectual trends surrounding it would be vastly different.

  13. One other thing to consider: Why do Catholic bishops throughout the world feel themselves competent to speak on political and sociological issues? Because for centuries, the bishops had temporal power and secular influence. They were used to it. They liked it. Old habits die hard.

  14. I guess they have not heard of the Cristeros. Us catholic might need are guns one day.

  15. It's not a matter of the issue being outside their competence of Faith and Morals, but of their statement being in opposition to moral principles espoused by the Church's Magisterium.

  16. "I’m not sure that we have the humility yet not to stray into areas where we lack competence"...

    This is a terrifying admission. Now, this is the reasonable man talking, the sensible bishop.

    And he basically admits they're too darn arrogant to keep from falling in lock-step with every dictate of the Democratic party line, much less to intellectually evaluate what they are saying, either to their own lay people or to the president and Congress. The Democrats have had us by the balls for so long, we just aren't sure we can sever the connection yet.

    That's the plain English (or should I say Spanish) version.

  17. Its worse than just the comments, Blaire is practicing bad theology and bad ecclesiology. As noted by many above, Bishop Blaire is straying ourside his competence and into areas that the Church specifically reserves for the laity. Paradoxically, this progressive bishop, is usurping power and taking us back to the days of pay, pray and obey. Back then, contrary to the consistent teaching fo the Church, clerics road roughshod over the appropriate role of the laity. How disrespectful can he be !!

  18. Bishop Blaire needs to be dropped off in a high crime neighborhood. He would learn quickly why gun control won't work!

  19. Even worse, Bishop Pates is now counselling Kerry to sign the treaty:

  20. Yes, Bishop Blaire's comments make no sense! I mean what would have happened if our glorious Christian ancestors had not been properly armed with slingshots and swords to mow down the Roman 'government' lackeys sent to persecute them? They exercised their rights of self defense and so should we!

  21. Anonymous,

    And yet self defense, even with deadly force, is allowable for Catholics according to the actual teachings of the Church. By insinuating that every violence done to a Christian is persecution, you are twisting up reality to suit your opinions. A rapist is not interested in making someone offer a pinch of incense to the pagan gods. By observing the current kerfluffle over emergency contraception, we can see how serious the Church's stance on resisting unjust aggression can be. I also note that the Maccabees might have a thing or two to say on this topic.

  22. I, a Catholic who does his best by the Grace of God, own a rifle with pistol grip and break down stock. I use it to shoot rabid skunks that steel chicken food!
    The rifle works much better than simply saying "shoo, go away".
    Let us all pray for our bishops. We need them to start getting it right for the good of the Church!
    I wish they would speak more about being prayerful and Sacramental!

  23. One bishop's statement does not make it the Church's teaching, especially if that bishop is not the bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the Pope.

    Benedict XVI did a lot, at least from what I can tell, to try to make sure his appointments of bishops consisted of men of solid spirituality rather than being the popular recommendations of either the left-leaning "social justice by force of government" crowd or the right-leaning super-traditionalists that go ballistic over any minor deviation of liturgical rubric.

    Some may say that gun registration can be useful in investigating crimes, but that presumes that criminals register their own guns! This presumption is logically inconsistent.

    Others say that gun banning (only certain types, we are assured...) will "dry up the supply" so that even criminals will find it harder to get them, but that presumes there are no other places on earth where those banned guns can be made or that our border is so secure that they can not be smuggled here. Neither is true.

    What does that leave as a reason for banning/registering guns? Either shallow thinking fueled by emotional propaganda or as one of the initial steps before either a government repression of all citizens and/or a specific government sanctioned pogrom against a segment of the population deemed troublesome - I think the current popular word in misuse by propagandists is "terrorist".

    Now I read that at least some (hopefully a tiny number with no real power) in the current Obama administration consider anti-abortion Catholics (it saddens me to have to qualify the term "Catholics" in that way, but the complete lack of use of Canon 915 has led to this) to be a "potential terrorist" group. It doesn't take too much thinking to conclude in this political atmosphere of highly charged emotions that Catholics could be specifically targeted, for instance, as a group to have their registered weapons confiscated in order to "prevent terrorist acts" and the emotionally-charged, non-thinking rabble that now appear to be the majority in this country will swallow this action hook, line and sinker. Of course, the weapons seizure of a "marked" group historically is a step before a pogrom against that group... Likely in today's political climate to be carried out as a "protest" action by one of the "occupy" mobs against a select few "anti-abortion extremists".

    I personally don't like guns with large capacity magazines and I certainly do not relish the prospect of even having to aim one at another human being. However, if that other human being is attacking those I am responsible for I have a responsibility to do all I reasonably can to prevent the taking of innocent human life in my care (Luke 22:36, which has been twisted to both extremes).

    That is why I write this, in the effort to contribute to the debate - so that the real solutions to the evil usage of lethal weapons come forth - and to expose the currently proposed gun control "solutions" as being not merely misguided but the dangerous instruments of satan that they may well be.

    In my opinion, the Feb 12, 2013, testimony submitted on behalf of the USCCB to the U.S. Senate should have only included the "mental health" recommendation and the 3 gun control recommendations should not have been on the list at all. The government already has too much unconstrained power, and since human beings (even in the government!!) are subject to the old rule that "power corrupts" (Luke 4:5-8), it seems to me that proper application of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity would be a wiser course. Even if that wiser course can not be described in a conveniently propagandized, emotion-filled sound byte.

  24. Oh, how wonderful of His Grace to address a convention of the world's illegal arms dealers and traffickers.

    Huh... what? Pardon me. Uh, never mind.

  25. "right-leaning super-traditionalists that go ballistic over any minor deviation of liturgical rubric."

    Way to read your audience. Not.

  26. Benedict XVI did a lot, at least from what I can tell, to try to make sure his appointments of bishops consisted of men of solid spirituality....

    Really, ArtND76? So how, then, can you write....

    the complete lack of use of Canon 915...


    Why are Catholics so willing to let popes off the hook for the bishops they appoint (such as Wuerl, Burke and Dolan, to mention three)?

  27. If you receive communion on the tongue, you are pro-gun rights. If you take communion by hand, you are in favor of gun-control. If you kneel AND receive communion on the tongue, you're against gay marriage and in favor of gun-rights. If you hold hands during the Our Father, you want to ban all guns. If you do NOT hold hands during the Our Father, you think Obama is bad for our country. If you like Latin and organ music, you hate Obama. If you like "Gather" songs, Spanish, piano & guitars, standing and hand-holding, you love Obama. So what are you? A Tabernacle-hating, hand-holding, standing, piano lovin' gather-geek? Or a genuflecting tongue twit?

  28. Joseph D'Hippolito:

    "Why are Catholics so willing to let popes off the hook for the bishops they appoint (such as Wuerl, Burke and Dolan, to mention three)?"

    Because for all the flaws others find in them, they are better than their predecessors. So why, if some of us are happy because there is improvement, is that construed as "letting popes off the hook"?

    To Anonymous at 10:22 PM:
    Your comments look like you stereo-typically categorize people's political preferences according to their liturgical preferences at Mass. I personally know people who violate every one of your stereo-typical liturgical/political pairings. The pairings you cite appear to me to be the kind of material used to propagandize and/or emotionalize the topic, which leads away from thoughtful analysis.

    I was not trying to reason from a political partisan's point of view, but from a Christian servant's point of view concerning the topic of gun control as a solution (or not) to the mass shootings that have been in the news headlines.


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