Crickets at the USCCB

The U.S. bishops must make some noise this summer on abortion legislation

Scientists tell us that 2024 is a unique year. Every so often, Americans in different regions experience the emergence of cicadas, insects that burrow underground until their new brood hatches and then announce their arrival with uproarious noise. What makes 2024 special is that two different broods — one that emerges every 13 years and one that emerges every 17 years — will come out concurrently. It’s one of those years in roughly two centuries that the two broods’ breeding coincides. The last time that happened, their cacophony was heard by President Thomas Jefferson.

A video of what the cicada emergence sounds like is here. They can be heard around Washington, D.C., this month.

Speaking of D.C.: This past week, and likely for the rest of June, Democrats will be pushing their “reproductive agenda.” The Senate last week rejected a bill sponsored supposedly to protect an “endangered right to contraception” (as well as to ensconce abortion and give lots of money to Democrats’ Planned Parenthood friends). Our nominally Catholic president denounced its failure. The volume will only increase as we approach the second anniversary of the Dobbs ruling on June 24.

Now, with all the noise in Washington on abortion and related issues, did the U.S. bishops sound like a cicada infestation? No. If you hung around Fourth Street NE — the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ headquarters — the sound wasn’t even like this (here). The USCCB did not include it on its “News” page. If the USCCB made a statement, they buried it better than Captain Flint’s booty in Treasure Island. The USCCB gave it no prominence if it existed. The USCCB does not have any “let’s mark the second anniversary of Dobbs” webpage anywhere. The 170-something “active” (i.e., not officially “retired”) bishops of the USCCB didn’t even make the sound of crickets. They clearly must all be auditioning to be Marcel Marceau wannabe’s, because only 170 mimes could be as silent as their graces.

We are in the midst of a critical fight for life. We have a political party betting its political fortunes on ensconcing prenatal killing as a “right.” We face efforts to write abortion into state constitutions in at least five states this fall. Control of the White House will determine whether we have an Administration that does everything it can to undermine Dobbs and promote abortion or one that does not. Control of Congress will decide whether that happens.

And, at this defining moment, where are the Catholic bishops of the United States? The bishops will be gathered in “plenary assembly” June 12-14 in Louisville. Will we hear anything about these central issues?

Crickets, much less the 17-year cicadas of Washington, should not be making more noise than bishops. Confirmation — making one a bold defender of the faith — was a prerequisite to Holy Orders.

 

John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views expressed herein are exclusively his.

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