Executive editor of Sojourners: Catholic bishops "worse than irrelevant"


Sojourners has always been a kind of contrarian magazine in the evangelical world. While its theology is orthodox, its politics are as left as World magazine's are right. But generally the magazine has maintained its evangelical credentials not just through its emphasis on biblicism and evangelism, but also because its social justice values include protection of the unborn.

As such, it represents an important wing of the evangelical Protestantism—though in its social values it sometimes sounds a bit closer to a Roman Catholic magazine.

This week, Sojourners really starts to sound like a Catholic magazine—more of the Commonweal than the Crisis variety—as executive editor David Batstone attacks the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as inconsistent, "narrow-minded," and "worse than irrelevant." In "An open letter to the Catholic bishops," Batstone writes, "You risk stumbling into hypocrisy."

Batstone isn't talking about the clergy-abuse scandal. He's talking about the Iraq war and abortion.

"I am perplexed why you have chosen the abortion issue as a litmus test for 'full communion with the faith of the church,'" Batstone writes.

Sorry to speak so boldly, but you have no basis for so selectively narrowing your rich moral tradition. … We recently have witnessed in the United States a decision and act by our political leaders to pre-emptively invade a sovereign nation-state. The social teaching of the Church explicitly prohibits and condemns such aggressive behavior. Pope John Paul II certainly understands this fact, as he made clear in an audience with President George W. Bush last month. …
I have not heard one U.S. Bishop even suggest ...
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