Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meet the Bishops

Before anything else, 1011 officially announced earlier today that, in their final pre-election joint appearance, the presidential contenders will serve as co-guest speakers at next month's Al Smith Dinner in New York.

Lest anyone not recall, this was news a month ago -- in other words, before that (now-famous) Page 4 statement got the Gothamites all kinds of abuzz. Again.

On the national front, however -- as if everything wasn't unprecedented enough already -- six of the US bishops' top brass are seeking pre-vote roundtables with both candidates... that they might be briefed on the church's "concerns":
Neither Republican John McCain nor Democrat Barack Obama have replied to the invitations offered last month, said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the conference.

A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign said the senator wants to accept, but does not yet know if such a meeting will fit into his schedule. A spokesman for the Obama campaign could not be reached for comment.

Five bishops who lead policy committees -- delving into matters including abortion [Rigali], education [McManus], migration [Wester], international affairs [Wenski] and communications [Niederauer] -- want to discuss the candidates' views on social issues, said Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre diocese in New York state. He is chairman of the bishops' domestic policy committee. The meetings, if they occur, will be private and off the record, he said.

"This isn't born of any concern or worry or problem," said Bishop Murphy. "We think it would be helpful for us to have that time and we think it would be helpful for the candidates to hear from the teachers of the Catholic church …as to what our concerns are."
In other joint appearance news, the Claretian monthly US Catholic recently ran replies from both nominees on questions relating to church teaching. Apparently, the head-to-head is a first in the Chicago-based mag's 73-year history.