U.S. Bishops' PR Campaign Against Abortion

The hypocrisy in Michael Novak's whining "morality" column ("Say 'Morality' and the Cheering Stops," Op-Ed Page, April 13) was too much for this theologian to stomach. Novak contrasts the supposedly positive media reception accorded the U.S. Catholic bishops' recent letters on the economy and nuclear warfare with the criticism and concern now being expressed regarding the bishops' use of a PR firm to advise them on abortion policy (editorial, "The Bishops' Campaign," April 13). Novak sanctimoniously pretends to align himself with the bishops as a loyal Catholic and staunch upholder of "morality" against carping media critics and secular humanism.

What Novak doesn't tell us in the column is that he led the media charge a few years ago against those same bishops in a PR campaign orchestrated by capitalist think tanks attempting to undermine the credibility and cast doubt on the competence of the bishops to speak on economic and nuclear matters! Novak lectured them patronizingly then about their divergence from traditional Catholic moral teaching.

Theologian Novak in fact is a "hired gun" for the American Enterprise Institute; his job is to provide a theological rationale for capitalism, and attack from a religious angle any groups perceived by his handlers to threaten it, including bishops when necessary. So go ahead and do your job, Michael. Just spare us the hypocrisy and sanctimony.

PATRICK M. ARNOLD, S.J.

Theology Department, University of San Diego

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