What is this Catholic conference anyhow?

Time, I say, to distinguish between the U.S. Catholic Conference, not to mention “the church,” as this AFP story does not:

WASHINGTON — The US Catholic church on Tuesday condemned Arizona’s “draconian” new immigration law, saying it would alienate immigrant communities across the United States.

“This new law, although limited to the State of Arizona, could have impact throughout the nation in terms of how members of our immigrant communities are both perceived and treated,” Bishop John Wester said in a statement issued on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Time was when “the church” was the pope and the bishops, neither of which has pontificated on the Arizona law, to use a familiar verb.  Then time was or is when it is the people of God — not sure: we used to talk that way a lot when Vatican 2 was news.

In neither case did we mean the DC bureaucracy run by staffers and a bishop director and a bishops’ committee.  AFP probably doesn’t know any better and/or doesn’t give a care about such inside-baseball information.  But who among the bishops is trying to educated it?  (That’s Agence France Presse, by the way.)

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Later, from a faithful reader:

Jim — I’m not the only Catholic among my friends who is about to “leave the USCCB” but stay in the church. The USCCB does NOT speak for me — in fact it speaks what I consider the language of the enemies of freedom of religion in this country.  I am tired of being treated like a dumb, lowly tax payer by TWO national entities.  I’m glad you are taking up this issue.
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