Let me begin this post by generalizing the last post:
We can think of how much teaching authority a person accords to his bishop as existing on a spectrum, from "Everything his Excellency says comes directly from God" to "His saying, 'God exists,' would be a lucky guess." My claim is that there is a tendency among politically conservative Roman Catholics in the United States to push towards a minimal position.
I don't think this claim is particularly controversial, largely because it's not terribly specific. And I suspect the tendency toward minimization is largely explained by the fact that politically conservative Roman Catholics in the United States disagree with so much of what their bishops say.
But I wonder if a secondary effect is suggested by these words of Mike Liccione, commenting on the Robert T. Miller post at First Things:
Thus, it is possible for a Catholic to disagree with the pope and the bishops about when conditions justifying the death penalty are present, without thereby being a bad Catholic. One might still be wrong, but one is not a bad Catholic just for being wrong in that way.
What Mike writes is, of course, absolutely true, and I hope you remember it the next time you're taking a test in a for-credit course on Catholicism.
But when you're not taking a test in a for-credit course on Catholicism, I hope you say, "Frankly, I care a lot more about whether I'm wrong than about whether I'm a bad Catholic." Being a bad Catholic is a question of rules. "But is is true?" is a question of virtue.