Is Chris Matthews a Dumb Catholic?

Profiles of Chris Matthews often mention that Chris and his wife Kathleen attend Blessed Sacrament Church in northwest Washington. But there are times when Matthews seems pretty dumb on the Catholic basics. This passage in his televised lecturing of Bishop Thomas Tobin stood out:

A lot of Catholics agree or disagree in every poll I’ve seen about what the law should be [on abortion]. They generally accept the teaching authority of the Church, the Magistar, your teaching authority, your Excellency. Where the disagreement is what the law should be, what the penalty should be.

The proper word for the teaching office of the Pope and the bishops is "magisterium." This guy thinks Sarah Palin is a lightweight?

Deacon Keith Fournier suggested Chris ought to be fired for that interview, and then go back to church for more schooling: 

Chris Matthews should be fired for his offensive and impolite Interview of Bishop Thomas Tobin. Then, he should sign up for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and learn the Catholic faith all over again.

It's quite clear that aside from Chris betraying his ignorance of eighth-grade lessons on Catholicism, he didn't really mean it when he told the Bishop that "a lot of Catholics" accept the teachings of the Magisterium on abortion. You can't accept the teachings of the Church and then turn around and promote legalized abortion. 

In 2007, Mark Finkelstein found that Matthews displayed the same animus toward the Catholic bishops withholding communion from abortion supporters:

Today you have the Roman Catholic church through its bishops challenging the rights of Catholic office-holders to take positions for abortion rights. They basically say you have to be for imprisonment of people involved with abortion or else you're not a Catholic and you'll be excommunicated. It seems to be an era, not just because of Islam, to keep religion out of politics...

Why are they foisting themselves, why are the religious leaders jumping into the political marketplace and saying to politically-elected people, who are duly elected, "you cannot take that position and be in our church, or we will excommunicate you"? That seems to be what's going on.

Matthews has touted his church attendance on occasion. In an October article he wrote in Boston magazine praising Ted Kennedy (called "The Best Kennedy"), Matthews began:

Ted Kennedy often went to Mass at the church my wife and I attend in Washington. Blessed Sacrament has long been Vicki's parish and, after she and Ted got together, he became a weekly presence there. No one paid him any special attention: He was just a guy who wore a leather jacket, taking a seat in one of the pews toward the back. It was easy to forget the history he carried with him.

So he's a Kennedy Catholic. Somehow, Matthews doesn't want to acknowledge that abortion-promoting Catholic legislators want to campaign in blue states as Catholics. Many blue-state Catholic voters are Kennedy Catholics, too. But these politicians couldn't imagine leaving the church as a brave move of dissent. It might hurt their political standing. There's no "profile in courage" there.

Chris and his wife Kathleen's church attendance also came up in Bethesda magazine, where readers could learn Chris also doesn't accept church teaching on homosexuality: 

Of the political debates Kathleen recalls fondly, Chris concedes that his "way-to-the-left-of-us" children have changed his mind on some issues. "Probably on gay marriage — they’ve made that case."

[Image from Unpolitical]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis