Special Issue "Catholic Bishops in US Politics"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2015)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Timothy A. Byrnes

Professor of Political Science, Colgate University, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: religion and politics; transnational relations; Catholic Church

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In a brilliant stroke of historical coincidence, the first Catholic bishop in the United States and the first president of the United States were both inaugurated in the same year. Ever since John Carroll and George Washington took their respective offices in 1789, the American Catholic hierarchy has played an enduring, persistent, and complex role in the political life of the United States of America. Over the course of this long history, Catholic bishops have aggressively defended the political, social, and economic interests of an “immigrant church;” confidently applied Catholic teaching to “the signs of the times” through pastoral letters on subjects like nuclear weaponry and economic justice; insisted on the centrality of the “right to life” to all political agendas in all political settings; and, most recently, struggled to credibly navigate the unprecedentedly choppy legal and political waters of the clerical sex abuse scandal. For this Special Issue of Religions, we are soliciting submissions that will individually address specific aspects of the political role of Catholic bishops in the US. However, our expectation is that, taken together, these submissions will also collectively reflect the extraordinary breadth and complexity of the role that Catholic bishops play in the US system of politics and governance. We are also anxious to attract submissions that examine what might be called the politics of the bishops, in addition to examinations of the bishops in politics. The public role of the Catholic hierarchy is articulated and defined by their own statements and actions, of course, and how the bishops interact with voters, office holders, and other political agents. However, the public role of the bishops is also powerfully shaped by intra-church dynamics that define their authority and, at times, set their priorities. For that reason, we also welcome submissions that address matters such as relations between the US bishops and the Holy See, the canonical authority of the national bishops’ conference, and the perennial struggle over the appropriate role of the laity in the leadership and governance of the Catholic Church.

Prof. Dr. Timothy A. Byrnes
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.



References:

Byrnes, Catholic Bishops in American Politics, 1991

Yamane, The Catholic Church in State Politics, 2005

McAndrews, What They Wished For: American Catholics and American Presidents 1960-2004, 2014

Keywords

Keywords:

  • Catholic Church
  • bishop
  • hierarchy
  • politics
  • United States

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle American Bishops and Religious Freedom: Legacy and Limits
Religions 2016, 7(11), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7110131
Received: 3 March 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 8 October 2016 / Published: 8 November 2016
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Abstract
This paper explores continuity and change in the American Catholic hierarchy’s promotion of and later reliance on religious freedom. With an analysis spanning more than 50 years, it first traces the pressures for reform that created the Declaration more than 50 years ago, [...] Read more.
This paper explores continuity and change in the American Catholic hierarchy’s promotion of and later reliance on religious freedom. With an analysis spanning more than 50 years, it first traces the pressures for reform that created the Declaration more than 50 years ago, demonstrating that American bishops were crucial actors in the Declaration’s existence and passage, and that this was the case because of the strong legitimacy pressures they were under as Roman Catholic leaders in a predominantly Protestant country. The paper then turns to a summary of how the Birth Control Mandate of the Affordable Care Act once again created pressures for legitimacy for the American Catholic hierarchy, pressures which were again articulated in terms of critiques of hypocrisy. It demonstrates that although the specific critique changed, accusations of hypocrisy remain central in discussions of the Catholic Church’s stance on the Birth Control Mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Remembering to Ask the Boss: Priming and the Dynamics of Priest Reliance on Bishop Cues
Religions 2016, 7(3), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7030021
Received: 16 November 2015 / Revised: 14 February 2016 / Accepted: 16 February 2016 / Published: 26 February 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (419 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Though the degree of influence that US bishops have over Catholic parishioners is inconsistent, the institutional power bishops have over parish priests suggests that bishops enjoy reliable influence over their local subordinates. However, there are an array of competing influences over parish priests [...] Read more.
Though the degree of influence that US bishops have over Catholic parishioners is inconsistent, the institutional power bishops have over parish priests suggests that bishops enjoy reliable influence over their local subordinates. However, there are an array of competing influences over parish priests that, when made salient, might make priest reliance on bishop instructions for political behavior less reliable. Using data from the first ever survey experiment on a national sample of US Catholic priests, we assess the effects of randomly priming priests with varying considerations of their professional responsibilities and relevant constituencies (including parishioner expectations). Results suggest that priests opt to rely on bishop cues when primed to consider institutional responsibilities as part of their professional identity, but that bishop influence over priest political behavior is, at best, indirect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Religious Groups as Interest Groups: The United States Catholic Bishops in the Welfare Reform Debate of 1995–1996 and the Health Care Reform Debate of 2009–20101
Religions 2016, 7(2), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7020016
Received: 7 December 2015 / Revised: 18 January 2016 / Accepted: 22 January 2016 / Published: 5 February 2016
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Abstract
The United States has a long history of religious influence on public policy: the anti-slavery movement, progressivism, prohibition, civil rights, abortion, school vouchers, school prayer and nuclear disarmament are all issues that have involved religion and religious groups in policymaking. In recent decades, [...] Read more.
The United States has a long history of religious influence on public policy: the anti-slavery movement, progressivism, prohibition, civil rights, abortion, school vouchers, school prayer and nuclear disarmament are all issues that have involved religion and religious groups in policymaking. In recent decades, the number of religious interest groups (as well as interest groups in general) has greatly expanded, but the role that the religious organizations play as interest groups in the policy arena has received relatively little attention. How are they similar to and different from other interest groups? What tactics do they use? How successful are they? Under what conditions is success or failure more likely? This article examines Roman Catholic religious groups as interest groups in the congressional policymaking process. First, it places Catholic interest groups in the context of the interest group literature, and second, it examines Catholic interest groups’ activity in the passage of welfare reform in 1996 and in the passage of health care reform in 2010. In both cases, they played a greater role in context-setting than in actually changing provisions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Catholic Bishops in the U.S. Public Arena: Changing Prospects under Pope Francis
Religions 2016, 7(2), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7020014
Received: 9 November 2015 / Revised: 12 January 2016 / Accepted: 18 January 2016 / Published: 4 February 2016
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Abstract
The public profile of the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States results not simply from their own interventions in political life, but from the broad array of actions and actors within “public Catholicism” broadly conceived. This article assesses the contemporary profile of [...] Read more.
The public profile of the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States results not simply from their own interventions in political life, but from the broad array of actions and actors within “public Catholicism” broadly conceived. This article assesses the contemporary profile of the American bishops from this broad angle, particularly in light of new dynamics under the papacy of Francis I. It does so by documenting public Catholicism’s presence in ecclesial institutions, other public institutions, and lay-centered social movements (particularly faith-based community organizing) and via a case study of the healthcare reform debate around the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act. Cultural and institutional factors shaping Catholic public presence are analyzed in three dimensions of social life: institutional leadership; authority dynamics within the Church; and the culture of prayer, spirituality, and worship in parishes. Finally, the conclusion discusses the key dynamics likely to shape the future of public Catholicism in America. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Catholic Bishops and the Rise of Evangelical Catholics
Religions 2016, 7(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7010006
Received: 27 October 2015 / Revised: 13 December 2015 / Accepted: 22 December 2015 / Published: 6 January 2016
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Abstract
White Catholics are increasingly trending toward the Republican Party, both as voters and candidates. Many of these Republican-leaning Catholics are displaying a more outspoken, culture-war oriented form of Catholicism that has been dubbed Evangelical Catholicism. Through their forceful disciplining of pro-choice Catholics and [...] Read more.
White Catholics are increasingly trending toward the Republican Party, both as voters and candidates. Many of these Republican-leaning Catholics are displaying a more outspoken, culture-war oriented form of Catholicism that has been dubbed Evangelical Catholicism. Through their forceful disciplining of pro-choice Catholics and treatment of abortion in their quadrennial voting guides, as well as their emphasis on “religious liberty”, the U.S. bishops have played a major role in the rise of these Evangelical Catholics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Catholic Bishops vs. the Contraceptive Mandate
Religions 2015, 6(4), 1411-1432; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel6041411
Received: 31 October 2015 / Revised: 9 December 2015 / Accepted: 13 December 2015 / Published: 18 December 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States have publicly opposed artificial contraception since they first issued a public statement condemning it in 1919. Thereafter, the bishops were generally unsuccessful in persuading the public that contraceptive access should be restricted. Recently, however, the [...] Read more.
The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States have publicly opposed artificial contraception since they first issued a public statement condemning it in 1919. Thereafter, the bishops were generally unsuccessful in persuading the public that contraceptive access should be restricted. Recently, however, the bishops succeeded in a campaign to restrict access to contraceptives for Catholic and non-Catholic women alike. Their lobbying and public criticism of the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires employer health plans to offer preventive reproductive care coverage, forced Obama administration officials into a series of accommodations that gutted portions of the law intended to provide contraception to employees without copayment or cost sharing. In contrast to their earlier efforts to restrict reproductive freedom, the bishops successfully characterized their efforts against the ACA as a battle for religious freedom rather than against reproductive rights. This successful strategy may lead to future setbacks for women’s reproductive liberty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)

Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperOpinion The Politics of Clerical Sexual Abuse
Religions 2016, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7010009
Received: 13 November 2015 / Revised: 26 December 2015 / Accepted: 30 December 2015 / Published: 8 January 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article examines the complex politics surrounding the Catholic Bishops’ responses to clerical sexual abuse in the United States from the first, public revelations of the scandal in Boston in 2002 to the present. It asks a compelling leadership question on three levels: [...] Read more.
This article examines the complex politics surrounding the Catholic Bishops’ responses to clerical sexual abuse in the United States from the first, public revelations of the scandal in Boston in 2002 to the present. It asks a compelling leadership question on three levels: how did the Bishops respond politically as individual diocesan leaders; as members of their canonical organization, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); and as appointed officials of the Vatican? This article argues that the members of the hierarchy implemented disparate and often conflicting religious and legal responses to clerical sexual abuse in their various roles. They did this by accepting misguided psychological advice, relying on traditional religious exemptions, attempting to implement confusing institutional policies, and usually mounting ineffective legal challenges to canon law in civil courts. These actions reflected hierarchical ignorance and arrogance as well as a political underestimation of the compelling state interest to protect the safety of children over religious concerns to insure the autonomy of the Church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Catholic Bishops in US Politics)
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