U.S. Delegations Disrespect Holy See
The Mass of Installation Tuesday for our new Pontiff is a world event. All the diplomats from various countries assigned to the Holy See will be in attendance in the traditional formal tuxedos with tails. Countries are sending delegations to pay their respects or, in the case of the United States, their disrespects for the teachings of the Church.
With regular quadrennial attention to the Catholic vote in the United States and the recent attacks on our religious liberties, there is no misunderstanding among the Executive Branch or Legislative Branch in Washington D.C. about where the Catholic Church stands on the settled issues of life and marriage.
The White House is delivering a clear, dismissive message of disrespect for the teachings of the Catholic Church by sending the two poster children for dissenting Catholic politicians. The “official” U.S. delegation is led by our Vice President Joe Biden who on May 6, 2012 during an appearance on ‘Meet the Press’ endorsed same-sex marriage. He is joined by former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the United States House of Representatives. Any faithful Catholic who pays attention to politics is familiar with Leader Pelosi’s votes against life and marriage and her knack for attempting to twist Church writings to justify her positions. It is easy to understand why Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia, the oldest Jesuit institution in the United States is on the delegation. However, Pope Francis is not a “Georgetown Jesuit” and it is safe to assume he would not have allowed a pro-abortion Cabinet Secretary like Kathleen Sebelius to be honored during commencement activities. And, in a nod to bi-partisanship and American Latinos, the pro-life Latino Governor of New Mexico is being included as almost an afterthought. Seventy-five percent of the U.S. delegation personifies the persistent frustration with Catholics in public life and our institutions of Catholic higher education, something our new pope addressed as Cardinal and our last two pontiffs repeatedly criticized during their papacies.
The House of Representatives’ delegation led by Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is a little better by including pro-life members Sean Duffy (R-WI), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), but it falls short with very troubling additions. Even though the House of Representatives’ delegation was announced by the Speaker’s Office, these appointments are often done with each party in the chamber selecting their respective names for the delegation. Therefore, the names of the “Catholics” who consistently vote against the teachings of the Church were likely submitted by the Office of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Rep. Chris Smith should be applauded for his statement this past Saturday about leading the delegation, where he said: “The new Pope builds on the extraordinary work of his immediate predecessors—Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He calls us to imitate Jesus Christ Himself by loving God above all things, by loving and tangibly caring for our neighbor—especially the weakest, the poor and most vulnerable—by forgiving unconditionally and by courageously advancing the culture of life no matter the cost.” Unfortunately, Congressman Smith’s demonstration of respect is overshadowed by his traveling companions.
The inclusion of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the recipient of a special award from Planned Parenthood for her role in preserving abortion provisions in the new health care law, is one of the most out-spoken leaders in Congress consistently defending and encouraging the advancement of abortion. The remaining four members of the congressional delegation Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) have all voted in the last two years against defunding Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, against pro-life attempts to fix abortion funding in the new health care law, against preserve marriage as between one man and one woman, against access to education for poor children in failing schools, and conscience protections.
For some Catholics in the United States, the consistent knee jerk reaction revolves around calling on the Church to excommunicate these “Catholic” politicians. Another thought will be to blame statements and writings out of the USCCB. But is it really the Church’s fault? The Church doesn’t repeatedly elect and re-elect these types of politicians – we, the laity, do! The bishops in the United States have made “educational” statements about the intrinsic evil that accompanies voting for candidates that support anti-life and anti-marriage policies. While they stop short of specifically naming names and, yes, their message should be repeated more often, nonetheless the statements are made publicly and in diocesan paper columns.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s choice to be the first named Francis has led many to give a fair amount of attention to the words “Francis, repair my church” heard by St. Francis of Assissi during prayer. Many are taking a license to interpret what this might mean. One thing it does not mean, and this has been repeatedly made clear by Vatican officials, is that our teachings will change on settled issues, much to the disappointment of media and certain “progressive” elites.
When we, the laity, repeatedly elect and re-elect this type of politician it is no wonder there is not a second thought given to include them in official delegations. We thumb our noses at the teachings of the Church by electing them which makes it easier to do the same with their presence at the formal installation of our new pontiff. While those politicians in attendance at the Vatican tomorrow have a solemn obligation before accepting communion, we too have an obligation to pray for them, pray for our Holy Father, and in our own way accept responsibility to repair our house when it comes to allowing Catholic politicians to remain in office.
By Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate