A Time to Speak

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Last week, NCR’s John Allen flung down a bit of a gauntlet to Uganda’s Catholic bishops, urging them to take a stand against at least the most draconian provisions of the anti-homosexuality act now working its way through their country’s parliament. Today, blogging in the same place, Sean Michael Winters urges American Catholic bishops to join the wide array of Catholic and other Christian leaders who signed a statement condemning the bill that was released today under the auspices of Catholics in Alliance and Faith in Public Life. So far, however, not a peep out of any Catholic bishop anywhere.

Say what you want about the public silence of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury does not have the power to order any church in the Anglican Communion except his own to do anything. But the Bishop of Rome, well, he’s a different species of hierarch. When the Vatican criticizes, say, a Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets, Catholic bishops support such a ban at their peril. So why not send out word of papal disapproval of the anti-homosexuality act?

Catholics are the largest religious body in Uganda, constituting over two-fifths of the population. If Rome would speak, people would listen.