The evening the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed, I expressed the hope that a new era of pro-life politics had begun. For the first time, in a long time, the Democratic Party had an advocate for the unborn around whom others could rally.
That was four months ago. This afternoon the same man – Bart Stupak — who “made Nancy Pelosi cry uncle,” to quote the WSJ’s Bill McGurn, made her shout with glee. The health care bill, filled with funding goodies for abortion providers, was the legislative lodestar for Nancy Pelosi, a self-described Catholic who shrugged off every appeal from her bishop.
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Bart Stupak looked hollow and shame-faced as he made the rounds of cable news shows on Sunday explaining the reasons for his change of mind. For the past 160 days Stupak has become a hero to millions of Americans who believe the right to life is the basis of all other human rights.
Now, Stupak has become a hero to the other side and just another example of why our young people view politics cynically, not as a vocation but as an excuse to put partisan interests ahead of transcendent truths.
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
After seeing through the deceptions of Sr. Carol Keehan’s Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and NETWORK, Stupak couldn’t see through the deception of an Executive Order issued by President Obama providing “safeguards” against abortion funding.
“This is the principle we have fought for all these months — I am now comfortable voting for the bill,” Stupak told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News. Stupak admits an executive order can be rescinded at any time, does not have the force of law, and has authority over those implementing the bill in the private sector, but feels vindicated in his decision.
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
It was reported that Stupak relied heavily on support of staff from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in passing his amendment to the House bill barring abortion funding. Today Stupak turned his back on those who sat with him through the turbulence of the November debate and put himself in thrall to the Democratic leadership who want nothing less than abortion-on-demand paid for by the federal government.
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
This executive order is nothing more than a promise from one man to another, from Obama to Stupak. It can be withdrawn at any time, or, more likely, it can be ignored. Stupak should know that the promise of a man who once supported infanticide, and who on his first day in office repealed the Mexico City Policy, is not a man you can trust on the issue of abortion.
Stupak’s decision betrays Catholics and the faith he calls his own. As I said in my press release for Catholic Advocate, “Today’s vote will go down in history as one of the greatest expansions of abortion since Roe v. Wade.”
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Quotations above are taken from T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men,” Poems: 1909-1925. London: Faber & Gwyer, 1925.
Health Care Vote and Executive Order Betrays Catholics
Catholics Must Send a Message in November
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2010 — Catholic Advocate’s leadership provided the following comments on the health care bill.
“Today’s vote will go down in history as one of the greatest expansions of abortion since Roe v. Wade,” said Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson. “On November 2, American Catholics need to hold members of the House accountable for this betrayal.”
“History has shown no executive order can trump the law of the land passed by Congress. Do the un-born have a champion in the Senate willing to fix the bill and truly stop federal funding for abortion?”, asked Catholic Advocate Vice President Matt Smith. “Senator Ben Nelson and others who claim to carry the pro-life mantle now have an opportunity to return their pieces of silver from December.”
In a last minute attempt to influence enough votes to defeat the health care bill containing abortion funding, the Catholic bishops issued a strongly worded statement.
I fear it will be too little, too late. The bishops have wanted this bill so badly they have played a game of qualified support all along, criticizing the abortion funding and lack of conscience protections in the bill, but not screaming loud enough to endanger the bill’s passage through the legislative process.
Now, the bill is coming to the finish line, and screaming won’t help — the bishops’ timidity, speaking through the USCCB, was skillfully taken advantage of by fake Catholic groups such as Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, along with the Catholic Health Association, a trade association of Catholic hospitals. Those wavering Catholic members of Congress took the cover supplied by the deceptive statements and endorsements of the bill by these groups.
Even in this latest statement, issued today, the bishops spend too much time talking about their support for universal health care and not enough about the evils contained in the bill. It’s easy to see why so many Catholic members of Congress where able to ignore them.
Given all the verbiage devoted to the importance of universal health care coverage, these Catholic politicians probably thought these statements by the bishops gave them a kind of tacit approval to support the bill.
Here is what I am talking about. The bishops’ statement begins:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops urged the House of Representatives to fix flaws in health care legislation or vote against its passage in a March 20 letter to House members. The letter was signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair on the Committee on Migration. The letter follows:
For decades, the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity. Our community of faith provides health care to millions, purchases health care for tens of thousands and addresses the failings of our health care system in our parishes, emergency rooms and shelters. This is why we as bishops continue to insist that health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all is a moral imperative and urgent national priority.
Things get stronger and more pointed, but I wish there were a lot more of the Old Testament prophet and less of the urbane diplomat found here. The bishops write, “We are bishops, not politicians, policy experts or legislative tacticians,” but it is “tacticians” that they have acted like, and sounded like, throughout this debate.
In the last paragraph, they practically apologize for urging Congress to defeat the bill:
With deep regret, but clear in our moral judgment, we are compelled to continue to urge House members to oppose the Senate bill unless these fundamental flaws are remedied. At this critical moment, we urge Representatives to take the steps necessary to ensure that health care reform respects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death.
Perhaps a miracle will keep our country from this impending disaster, and perhaps it will be the prayers of all the faithful who know the human cost of this bill that will, in the end, be our strongest weapon.
Catholic Advocate has created “Health Care Reform Central” for our community to have the latest information, along with previous materials, of importance to American Catholics when it comes to the health care reform legislation. Also take time to visit our Daily Action Alert Center to see what you can do today.
Appearing on “Meet the Press” August 24, 2008 Nancy Pelosi tried to speak for the teachings of the Church on the Sanctity of Life.
MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?
REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided…
MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…
REP. PELOSI: I understand that.
MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.
REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.
Now she is invoking prayers to St. Joseph the Worker on “his feast day”, March 19, 2010 as a reason to pray for the “life affirming” health care legislation. In her remarks, she also highlights the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Sisters of Notre Dame “both of whom taught her” and signed the March 16, 2010 letter supporting the health care legislation. Well that starts to explain it!
Speaker Pelosi is WRONG once again. The health care bill is NOT “life affirming”.
Catholic Advocate does not need to say anymore. Watch the video so you can see Speaker Pelosi’s remarks for yourself.
P.S. The Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker is May 1; small technicality, Madame Speaker. March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph of Nazareth, the Husband of Mary and Foster Father of Jesus. St. Joseph of Nazareth, the patron saint of fathers who knew what it meant to protect the life of the unborn…the one who would become our Savior.
I recently asked a senior Capitol Hill staff member about the little known “abortion fee” in the Senate health care legislation the House of Representatives will vote on Sunday.
“Federal subsidies for insurance policies that cover abortion are not allowed under the Hyde amendment. In order to get around that aspect of the Hyde amendment, the Senate bill employs an accounting gimmick by which funds are ‘segregated.’ Part of that gimmick results in a direct abortion fee for most users of the exchange. You should be aware that one plan on the exchange will not cover abortion, so in theory pro-life persons could buy a plan that does not charge the abortion fee. However, if their other needs dictate that they must choose a plan that covers abortion, they will be required to make a direct payment into an abortion fund (see page 2074-2075 of the Senate bill). According to the bill, the payment must be equal to at least a dollar per month and insurance companies may only provide information about the abortion fee as a part of the summary of benefits at the time of enrollment. Furthermore, insurance companies and the exchange may only provide information about the total cost of a plan without explaining the abortion fee. (see page 2076 of the Senate bill)”
Health care exchanges have gained popularity after being signed into law by then Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. The purpose of the exchange idea is to provide coverage for the uninsured; for example, those not eligible for an employer-sponsored plan or a public program such as Medicaid.
What does it mean when you break it down by the numbers?
The Census estimates 45.7 million people in the United States are uninsured. However, the “Numbers Guy” at the Wall Street Journal has raised legitimate questions about the Census’ calculations inflating the actual number. Others have reduced the number by 17 million. For illustrative purposes then, we will split the difference at 37.2 million.
37.2 million uninsured potentially enrolled into exchange system
$12 / year potentially paid into “abortion fund”
$446,400,000 potentially paid into “abortion fund”
The cost of an abortion depends on the stage of pregnancy and which clinic is providing services. First trimester procedures run about $500-$1,000. Second trimester procedures cost $600-$10,000. Taking into account potential needed follow-up or other complications, for illustrative purposes, we will use $7,500 as the average cost of an abortion.
That is potentially 59,520 additional abortions that can be funded by the federal government each year just from this section of the legislation 158 abortions occur every hour. Under Obama-care the number increases to 165 every hour. This does not include the $7 billion of federal money slated for community health centers to be used for abortion.
If President Obama was serious about making abortions rare, he would not be forcing Americans to subsidize an “abortion fund” that increases the number of abortions occurring each day.
Pro-Life Democrats led by Representative Bart Stupak (D, MI-01) and others in the House of Representatives have refused to let their voices be silenced during this debate. Now is the crucial time when they need our support.
Some of the biggest supporters of the current health reform bill—replete with public funding for abortion—are self-described “progressive” Catholic organizations, such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, and Catholic Democrats. These Catholic organizations, along with the Catholic Health Association have created confusion for Catholics because at the same time the USCCB has strongly opposed the current health care reform bill because of its inclusion of public funding for abortion, these Catholic organizations are providing “official” Catholic support for the bill.
This duplicity should surprise no one. In 2008, these so-called Catholic organizations encouraged Catholics to elect Obama because he would reduce the rate of abortion by addressing poverty as the “root cause.” Supporting and publishing a study by a Notre Dame professor which erroneously claimed that the data demonstrate that reducing poverty reduces abortion, they convinced many Catholics to support Obama’s strategy. Unfortunately, the study was quietly removed from the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good website after the election when its faulty methodology and erroneous conclusions were pointed out by several social scientists. Professor Bailey, the first author of the initial study, removed his name from the revised report. Joseph Wright remains as the sole author—and is listed as Chairman of the Board of Catholics United on the Form 990 EZ submitted by the organization in 2007.
Now these organizations are providing the same propaganda on funding for abortion in the health care reform bill. But, this time they have placed their people inside the Obama administration. Witness the appointment of Alexia Kelley, the co-founder and director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Last year, Obama tapped Kelley to direct the federal Health and Human Services Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. For the progressives, she is a perfect choice because for almost a decade, Kelley worked for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Campaign for Human Development. During the years that Kelley worked for the Campaign for Human Development, more than seven million dollars of parishioners’ donations were awarded to the notorious ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).
While at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Kelley teamed with Catholics United leaders, James Salt and Chris Korzen, in the 2008 campaign to neutralize the abortion issue by casting it in pro-Democratic Party terms. Salt and Korzen have plenty of political experience, as well. Salt’s political work has involved overseeing the Kansas Democratic Party’s dubious “faith outreach” efforts, including what he calls “messaging work” for the pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius and the development of “faith-based messaging resources.”
On its website Catholics United describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.” But prior to helping to found Catholics United, Korzen worked for several years as a union organizer for SEIU. Like Salt, Korzen has been a strong supporter of Kathleen Sebelius and organized support for her nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services by garnering signatures in an online petition entitled “Catholics for Sebelius.”
On its website, Catholics United describes itself as a 501(c) (4) non-profit organization—eligible to accept donations. But, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good emerged in 2005 as a kind of sister organization to Catholics United. A 501(c) (3) organization, donors can claim a deduction against personal income tax when they donate money to Catholics in Alliance. Reviewing the 2007 IRS 990 forms for both Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United raises some questions, because Chris Korzen is listed as having received $84,821 in compensation for 40 hours per week from Catholics in Alliance on the group’s 990 Form—even though the Catholics United website claimed he was the director there during the same time period.
Soros, An Early Donor to Catholics in Alliance
Despite their inability to engage in extensive lobbying, Catholics in Alliance has been extremely successful in attracting large donors. Never a friend to the Catholic Church, George Soros, one of the earliest donors, contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2005 and another $100,000 in 2006 through his Open Society Institute. Likewise, Smith Bagley, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, whose wife, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, is Chairman of the Board of Catholics in Alliance, came close to matching Soros with grants from his family’s Arca Foundation. With a long history of supporting progressive organizations like ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation, People for the American Way, and Planned Parenthood, Arca contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2007 and another $75,000 in 2008.
The new US ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, is another example of the Obama administration’s alliance with liberal Catholics. A member of the Catholics in Alliance Speakers Bureau, Diaz functions as a “theological consultant” for the organization. While Diaz has no published statements on abortion or embryonic stem-cell research, his affiliations, board memberships, and willingness publicly to endorse pro-abortion Democrats like Kathleen Sebelius suggest that he is part of the Church’s contingent that wishes to “move beyond” the “divisive” abortion issue and elect pro-abortion Democrats.
After the controversy emerged within the Catholic community over Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to give last year’s commencement address and receive an honorary degree, Catholics in Alliance published a full-page ad in the South Bend Tribune entitled “Catholic Leaders and Theologians Welcome President Obama to Notre Dame.”
It is likely that this strategy will continue, as former Gamaliel Foundation community organizer Victoria Kovara was tapped to replace Alexia Kelley as executive director at Catholics in Alliance. Obama got his start in community organizing at Gamaliel. It is another Soros-funded organization that has been successful in creating local community organizations willing to use confrontational tactics to gain power in progressive causes. Currently Gamaliel has enlisted religious leaders to lobby for health care reform as “a theological imperative.” It might be time for the Bishops to begin to distance themselves from some of these so-called “Catholic” organizations. At this point, there is little Catholic about them—except their names.
“Don’t mess with the nuns!” is a comment I’ve heard over the years from cradle Catholics who were taught by them. The question now arises whether the undecided Catholic members of the House will be influenced by the 60 nuns, each a leader of their religious order – who signed a letter to members of Congress urging passage of the Senate health care bill now before the House.
These 60 leaders claim to represent 59,000 nuns, and they make it perfectly clear they support the embattled president of the Catholic Health Association, Sr. Carol Keehan, who announced her support of the bill a few days ago.
The letter calls the Senate bill “imperfect” but simultaneously claims it is “the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.” The sisters call the bill “pro-life” in spite of the fact that thousands of the unborn will be aborted with the 7 billion dollars of federal money being given to community health centers, if the bill becomes law.
What the sisters extol is medical coverage for the uninsured; the end to denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions; support of pregnant women; as well as investment in preventative care and “community health centers that largely serve poor women and children.” These are the same health centers that the bishops insist will spend federal money on abortion.
These 60 sisters not only reject the bishops’ concerns about the Senate bill but also call them “false claims . . . the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions.”
The 60 sisters, and presumably the orders they represent, thus join organizations like the Catholic Health Association, NETWORK, Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics for Choice, Catholic Democrats, and publications like Commonweal, America, and the National Catholic Reporter in dismissing the Catholic bishops’ publicly stated position that federal funding for abortion is contained in the Senate health care bill.
Like the sisters in their letter, and Sr. Keehan in her statement, most of these groups fail to mention explicitly that they reject the bishops’ analysis of the health care bill. Is that a sign of respect or merely a refusal to deal with the bishops’ one-page fact sheet directly? Commonweal should be credited for offering a comprehensive, if tortured, refutation to the bishops’ position, but the sisters don’t reveal whose analysis they are relying upon.
A few days ago, I described Sr. Keehan’s betrayal of the bishops as an example of the failure of the USCCB’s qualified support for the health care bill. But the spectacle of 60 leaders of women’s religious orders points to the corrosive effect of the “seamless garment” approach to social ethics and public policy.
You can make all the arguments you want about the original intent of Cardinal Bernardin’s now-famous 1983 speech announcing a “consistent ethic of life,” but in practical political terms the seamless garment became nothing more than a convenient excuse for Catholic politicians to ignore the slaughter of the unborn and all its attendant effects on cultural and family life.
There are thousands of women religious at this very moment who are deeply embarrassed and troubled by the publication of this letter. These sisters can be found at places like the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI or the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN.
I can tell you with certainty that none of the sisters from NETWORK called Mother Assumpta Long (Ann Arbor) or Mother Anne Marie (Nashville) to ask either of them to sign that letter.
The dividing lines in the Church are, sadly, all too clear, and the effort of women religious, Catholic academics, Catholic journalists, and Catholics representing the medical profession to pass a health care bill with abortion funding will be, for lay Catholics, a wake-up call, a déjà vu moment of Obama being honored by Notre Dame.
Catholics in the pews are being made more and more aware that something has gone wrong in many of our venerable Catholic institutions and religious orders.
For those who are interested, here is a list of the religious who signed the letter:
Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Joan Chittister, OSB
Co-Chair Global Peace Initiative of Women
Sr. Mary Persico, IHM
Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Sr. Susan Hadzima, IHM
Councilor for Missioning and Community Life
Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Mary Genino (RSHM)
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Western American Province.
Nancy Conway CSJ
Congregation Leadership Team
The Congregation of St. Joseph
Debra M. Sciano, SSND
Milwaukee Province, School Sisters of Notre Dame
Josephine Gaugier, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
Holy Rosary Mission Chapter Prioress
Kathleen Nolan, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
Office of the General Council
Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
La Crosse, WI
Servants of Jesus Leadership Team
Adrian Dover OP
Dominican Sisters of Houston, Texas
Rose Mary Dowling, FSM
Franciscan Sisters of Mary
Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(from Mary Martens, BVM, Administrative Assistant)
Beatrice Haines, OLVM
President, Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters
Joan Saalfeld, SNJM, Provincial
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Jo’Ann De Quattro, SNJM
Sisters of the Holy Names
U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team
Sharon Simon, OP
Maryann A. McMahon, O.P.
Dominican Sisters of Racine, WI
Agnes Johnson, OP
Pat Mulcahey, OP
Prioress of Sinsinawa Dominicans
Pam Chiesa, PBVM
Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco
Patricia Anne Cloherty, PBVM
Leadership Team, Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco
Gloria Inés Loya
Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco
Gloria Marie Jones, OP
Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Congregational Prioress and Council
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity St. Francis Province
On November 7, 2009, Congressman Joseph Cao (R, LA-02) became the lone Republican to vote for the House passed health care legislation. Democrats touted the singular support for the bill as a victory for bi-partisanship.
Members of the Catholic Advocate community might not be familiar with the freshman Member of Congress from Louisiana. Cao is the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress who came to America in 1975 at the age of 8 as part of the U.S. military evacuation of Saigon. A Jesuit, Cao is open about the role his Catholic faith plays in his life.
Louisiana’s second congressional district is one of the most Democrat districts in the entire country. Political pundits would say a Republican winning the seat likely has the same odds as you or I winning the weekly Power Ball drawing. Cao succeeded by beating embattled and indicted nine-term Congressman William Jefferson.
Recently on CNN, and then again yesterday, Congressman Cao has publicly stated his opposition to the Senate version of the legislation because it retains federal funding for abortion. His remarks are below:
(House of Representatives – March 16, 2010) [Page: H1471]
(Mr. CAO asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)
“Mr. CAO. Madam Speaker, the basic tenets of a democracy are those that protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Accessible, affordable health care that protects life is one of those tenets. This is why I applaud President Obama for his strength and determination in pushing for health care reform in the face of great adversity.
I support H.R. 3962, the Health Care Reform Bill, that passed the U.S. House on November 7, 2009, because it tries to provide affordable health care while protecting life. And I stand ready to support health care reform again so long as the reconciliation bill seeks the same goals.
“As of now, the Senate health care bill falls short and even contradicts the most basic principle of civilization: Thou shalt not kill. The Senate bill willfully excludes the language of the Hyde Amendment and seeks to expand funding and the role of the Federal Government in the despicable killing of the unborn. It also fails to incorporate provisions to protect the conscience of medical providers regarding abortion, as found in the Hyde-Weldon Amendment. These flaws are so devastating in their effects that they override any good the Senate health care bill seeks to promote.
“Until this House fixes the abortion language and incorporates a conscience protection clause, I stand firmly in opposition.”
Congressman Cao is taking a path worthy of being held as a profile in courage. He has been a top target for Democrats even before he was sworn into Congress. Congressman Cao deserves praise and support for his stance on the health care bill.