As we informed our community back in April when Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) announced the introduction of H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act is an effort to fix the abortion language in the Obama health care bill. The Protect Life Act includes a bi-partisan list of 108 co-sponsors as of June 24, 2010. The Catholic Advocate community might remember the original pro-life effort to the health care legislation was the Stupak-Pitts amendment. While Congressman Stupak has announced his retirement, Congressman Pitts is demonstrating his commitment to life by continuing the fight.
Many may remember when President Obama told America on September 9, 2009 – “…and one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 marked the three month anniversary since the enactment of Obama-care. Since it was signed into law, there has been no progress on implementing Executive Order 13535, which President Obama claimed would bar taxpayer funding of abortion under ObamaCare and eliminate the need for enactment of the pro-life Stupak amendment.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, after Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, dodged questions about the implementation in a May 11 letter to Members of Congress, Minority Leader John Boehner asked President Obama directly about his administration’s plans regarding abortion in the health care legislation. The questions included:
Has the Department of Health & Human Services provided guidance to states to implement the president’s Executive Order on abortions?
When does the Obama Administration expect to issue a directive on abortions?
Will the new federal high-risk pools touted by the Obama Administration also ensure that abortions will not be covered?
What steps has the Health & Human Services Department taken to ensure that community health centers will not use federal funding authorized under ObamaCare to perform abortions?
As the Catholic Advocate community understands, relying on an Executive Order is not effective in protecting the sanctity of life in the Obama health care law.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) even acknowledges the bill “was profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights,…” In a May 20, 2010 letter announcing support for the Protect Life Act, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, implored Members of Congress to “…help give us a reformed health care system that respects the life, health, and conscience of all.”
The Protect Life Act is a positive step in restoring the Hyde amendment language to the health care bill and protecting the unborn.
Continuing her quest to marginalize the Catholic bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association used her association’s annual meeting in Denver this week to once again misrepresent Catholic social teaching–and diminish the teaching authority of the Church.
Employing yet another video—persuasive films about people in pain and in need of health care reform have been the primary mainstay of the Catholic Health Association for the past year—Sr. Keehan now claims that President Obama’s health care reform “draws on Catholic social teaching,” and “was an ethical necessity, a building block for the common good of the nation and the strength of its communities.”
This time, Sr. Keehan’s video gave a starring role to yet another Catholic Democrat senator with a dismal voting record on pro-life issues. Senator Robert Casey states in the propaganda piece that if the Catholic Health Association had not been involved, then it is unlikely that the bill would have passed.
Contradicting the bishops, Senator Casey states in the video that the health care reform legislation was “pro-life legislation.” Of course, this is the same Catholic Democrat senator who had no problem voting in favor of funding abortions overseas when he voted last year to allow President Obama to lift the Mexico City Policy, a Reagan-era policy that prohibited taxpayer funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas.
The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so deeply and emotionally that it no longer matters whether the idea is true. Calling the Obama health care reform “pro-life” is a lie. But, it is possible that the lie has been repeated so often and portrayed on film so compellingly that even the filmmakers are beginning to believe it.
Of course, the big star of the video is once again President Obama as the crowd of more than 800 participants at the CHA annual meeting applauded when President Obama appeared on the CHA video and thanked everybody at the association for their “help and courage in passing health care reform.” And, once again, in the video, the President singled out Sr. Keehan for the “extraordinary leadership she has shown in advancing our national discussion.” Sr. Keehan is obviously very special to President Obama—and he has shown how grateful he was in awarding her one of 20 silver-tipped signing pens after the signing ceremony.
In his video message, President Obama referred to Sr. Keehan’s biggest piece of propaganda—the one she made as part of the campaign of promoting health care reform entitled “I Can’t Wait for Health Care Reform.” This is the film where she depicts priests, nuns, and health care workers from Catholic hospitals holding up signs claiming that they too “Can’t Wait” for health care reform—implying that the Catholic Church can’t wait for health care reform either. In his video message, President Obama reassured all of those gathered in Denver that those in the CHA video “won’t be waiting much longer.”
Noticeably absent from this latest CHA video were the Catholic bishops who have recently called the Catholic Health Association’s action in endorsing the health care plan a “wound to Catholic unity.” Faithful Catholics are hoping that the bishops’ new ad hoc Health Care Concerns Committee will begin to heal this “wound.”
The first thing the bishops can do is to refuse to allow the Church and her teachings to be distorted and used as part of a propaganda campaign. Propaganda is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and the bishops must recognize this. The Catholic Health Association has been effective in using propaganda to gain the moral high ground on health care—they “look” like caring people at the same time they are promoting a culture of death. Archbishop Chaput has been courageous in saying that out loud. It is time for the other bishops to begin to do the same. Maybe they need a video.
As the Obama administration continues to clamp down on executive salaries at financial firms receiving government aid, the real money for executive salaries remains in the non-profit health care world. A 2008 Wall Street Journal study of tax exempt hospitals revealed that the average total compensation paid to top officials was $1.4 million. Some health care executives—especially those at Catholic health associations—make much more. But, we are seeing now that there is a price to pay.
Lloyd H. Dean, President/CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, a hospital system based in San Francisco, made more than 5.3 million in 2006—including the forgiveness of a $782,541 housing loan from his employer. Recognizing that hospitals stand to make even greater profits as more individuals are required to have medical insurance, Mr. Dean teamed with the Catholic Health Association’s Sr. Carol Keehan to lobby for Mr. Obama’s healthcare reform. In fact, Dean brought the resources of one of America’s largest hospital systems to help to shape the national health care reform debate. Their public campaign included a video highlighting the organization’s own town hall meetings, an advertising campaign which ran in major US media publications, as well as a Congressional outreach.
And, while the University of San Francisco thought so highly of Lloyd Dean’s efforts to pass health care reform that they honored him at last month’s Commencement, they might have looked more closely at how Dean’s Catholic hospital system is now handling the Church’s ethical and religious directives.
Drawing from an article in the Ventura County Star, California Catholic Daily reported that Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted declared that a nun at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center—a Lloyd Dean led Catholic Healthcare West hospital—had automatically excommunicated herself for approving an abortion in order to treat a mother’s underlying medical condition. The Star also reported that the excommunicated nun’s counterparts in Lloyd Dean run hospitals in Ventura County would make the same choice if confronted with a similar case.
On the website of the Phoenix Diocese, Bishop Olmsted writes, “I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese. I am further concerned by the hospital’s statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition…While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.”
Faithful Catholics know that the unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life and neither can be preferred over the other. They also know that Catholic institutions are obliged to defend human life at all stages from conception to natural death. Perhaps someone should tell Lloyd Dean (and the University of San Francisco) exactly that.
As the 2010 commencement season concludes, a review of the graduation speakers and honorees reveals, yet again, that Catholic colleges continue to honor pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage politicians on their campuses.
Drawing from research compiled from the Cardinal Newman Society, California Catholic Daily reports that several Catholic colleges—many of them in California—have invited commencement speakers or awarded honorary degrees to those whose public positions and actions are clearly at odds with fundamental Catholic teachings. Despite the USCCB’s 2004 statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” which maintains that Catholic colleges “must not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the reality remains that these Catholic campuses continue to defy the bishops’ instructions.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, a career Democratic politician who during 20 years as a Democratic state legislator compiled a nearly perfect pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood voting record addressed the graduates at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. California Catholic Daily points out that “O’Connell was a high profile opponent of Proposition 8, the initiative constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 that defined marriage in California as between one man and one woman.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, O’Connell was featured in TV ads urging voters to reject Proposition 8, claiming that public schools would not teach or influence students to favor same-sex marriage. O’Connell worked in direct opposition to the current Bishop of Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, St. Mary’s presiding bishop and one of the main promoters of the pro-Proposition 8 campaign. As a reward for his defiance of their bishop, O’Connell was given the honor of addressing the graduates of the Catholic college.
The pro-abortion Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, was the commencement speaker at Loyola Marymount University. Prior to serving as governor, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton administration where he claims to have “led the fight to keep discrimination out of the Massachusetts constitution and preserve the right of same sex couples to marry.”
Loyola Marymount also invited Marlene Canter, a former Democratic member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board, to address the Graduate commencement. In Los Angeles, Canter has called the legalization of same sex marriage “an issue of simple fairness and basic human rights.” The Cardinal Newman Society also reports that Canter has opposed a parental notification abortion law.
The University of San Francisco gave an honorary degree to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, and a strong proponent of Obama’s health care reform – replete with abortion funding. While Dean is not a politician, he has been a generous donor to the Democratic Obama campaign, and joined Sr. Carol Keehan in defying the bishops on passing the health care reform plan. USF also gave an honorary degree to Notre Dame President, Fr. John Jenkins, whose invitation to Barack Obama for last year’s Notre Dame commencement address helped to set a precedent for other Catholic colleges wishing to defy their bishops.
Beyond California, Mark Shriver, a 2002 pro-abortion Democratic candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives from Maryland was the commencement speaker at the College of the Holy Cross. The Cardinal Newman Society reports that while a 2002 candidate for the House, Shriver joined the rest of the Kennedy family in their pro-abortion advocacy by stating in a Washington Post interview that, “I will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose.”
And, although new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is the lone Republican in a long list of pro-abortion Democratic commencement speakers on Catholic campuses this year, Brown’s pro-choice position most likely made him a palatable choice for commencement speaker at Boston College’s Law School.
It is ironic that the same month that Jack O’Connell, the pro-gay marriage politician was honored to give the commencement speech at St. Mary’s College, a professor of music there was being reprimanded and forced to take a diversity training course because he offended one of his students by asking those in his voice class to perform a rendition of “Old Man River.” Beth Dobkin, the Provost at St. Mary’s, has told the Contra Costa Times that the professor will undergo diversity training and had to apologize to his students for forcing them to perform such a racist song. Dobkin also said that the professor’s “future at the school is being discussed.” This, despite the fact that several other students in the class have written letters of support for the voice instructor claiming that the instructor had performed the song himself many times and wanted his students to have the opportunity to do so also.
But, in the upside down world of Catholic higher education, Catholic students and their families are not allowed to be offended when a pro-gay marriage proponent who has directly defied the authority of the bishop is honored. Only certain groups—including gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals, and racial minorities—are allowed to be offended. Catholics are never afforded such protected status.
Five years short of its centennial anniversary, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) appears to have achieved a level of influence in American politics unsurpassed by perhaps any other health industry association, religious or secular, in history.
Its role in helping to pass trillion-dollar health care reform legislation is widely recognized as having been crucial, to the elation of the Party in power, and to the dismay of the Catholic bishops and the American Church.
Achieving such influence can exact a price, however, both to CHA’s finances and its Catholic identity. Indeed, one can question whether the CHA, the largest association of hospitals and health care providers in the nation, actually wielded any influence over the legislation at all, or if it is simply basking in the evanescent glow of a grateful, and relieved, ruling political party.
But in politics, as they say, perception is reality, and CHA’s support for the bill was publicly hailed as a crucial moment in the passage of the bill over the objections of the bishops.
We now know the story: After months of public statements alternating between passionate endorsements of Obama’s “universal health care” legislation, sometimes qualified by calls for the bill to respect the right to life of all persons, CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan had a chance to show exactly where the CHA stood.
Negotiations had stalled in Congress as Democratic leaders’ flagrant bribing and arm-twisting of hesitant colleagues had failed to achieve clear majorities in favor of passage. The bill was held up by a small cadre of “pro-life Democrats” who, like the majority of the American people, claimed to find the bill’s expansion of federal funding for abortion unacceptable.
This small group threatened to bring down their own party’s largest domestic policy initiative in generations rather than consent to the largest expansion of abortion since Roe. In the end, however, all but a handful caved in to party pressure to support the bill, and the backbone of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), their erstwhile leader, simply crumbled into dust.
Although feverishly denied by its increasingly desperate proponents, every serious analysis of the Senate bill (the version that would eventually become law) found that it would in fact expand federal funding of abortion. Through an accounting loophole at the level of individual “care,” and through a seven billion dollar appropriation to community health centers, including Planned Parenthood, the law would circumvent Hyde amendment restrictions on federal funding for abortions.
That fact is what led the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to oppose the bill, even after the bishops had made it clear that many would have supported almost any version of the bill that didn’t expand abortion coverage. The bishops have been publicly supportive of government-funded universal health care since 1996.
Yet the controversial law ended up earning Sr. Keehan’s and CHA’s 11th-hour endorsement which, along with those of a coalition of female religious and various “Catholic” leftist groups, were cited by the bill’s proponents as proof that it had Catholic support.
The assertion of support by the media, Congressional leaders, and the Obama administration went unchallenged by Sr. Keehan, and, as a result, the Church suffered immeasurable damage. Once again, the Church appeared divided even on the question of the value of the life of the most vulnerable Americans. Indeed, Cardinals DiNardo, Murphy, and Wester, speaking for the USCCB, issued a statement on May 21 singling out the CHA for its responsibility for sowing “confusion” and opening a “wound to Catholic unity.”
This statement does not bode well for CHA’s future, but suggests the meaning of being Catholic in America will be readjusted by the bishops as a result of the controversy.
The bill of course passed, and Sr. Keehan, for her efforts and on behalf of the CHA, received a “signing pen” from President Obama, one that was used put into law a bill that was opposed by every bishop, and every Catholic organization faithful to the Church.
So the CHA’s historically unprecedented power affected neither the legislation itself, nor the highly questionable means of its passage—it merely made its being signed into law possible by giving cover to a small handful of wavering Catholic Democratic congressmen.
When presented a clear choice between the Church and the political party in power, the CHA chose the latter, eschewing the only chance it had to defend unborn human life in the law itself. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, claimed victory upon the bill’s passage, knowing full well the boon it promises for the nation’s largest provider of abortions.
When a Catholic organization blatantly opposes every Catholic bishop and finds itself sharing the joy of Planned Parenthood and the most radically pro-abortion president in the nation’s history, it may be time to reflect on that organization’s claim to identify itself as Catholic.
Sr. Keehan’s CHA sees its role as not only lobbying for the interests of its members, but as advocating a secular, statist view of health care policy in language that some Catholics might find reasonable. With the passage of “ObamaCare,” it has clearly succeeded at both. In defying the Catholic Church — and bizarrely claiming not to – Sr. Keehan made Obama and his Democratic Party her de facto moral authority.
It is difficult to understand why more Catholics don’t find this strange, even if they share CHA’s view on health care. If Sr. Keehan really has the influence in the corridors of power that she appears to have, why could she not secure meaningful protections for the unborn, the elderly, and the most seriously injured – those whose lives are already discounted or increasingly threatened in today’s secularized health care industry?
Wouldn’t a Catholic health care leader spend her hard-earned capital on making the health care law more “Catholic”, rather than simply promoting the President’s vision with Catholics?
This is where the thinking Catholic starts wondering what exactly is “Catholic” about the Catholic Health Care Association. Of course, the CHA does represent the nation’s Catholic hospitals in Washington. But, shouldn’t it also represent the Church?
One needn’t be a biblical scholar to recall numerous admonitions in Scripture against seeking the approval of worldly powers at the expense of fidelity to God. If this is too dramatic a comparison for some, then where is the defense of Sr. Keehan’s actions?
Let’s attempt one on her behalf, since she has yet to publish a serious, analytical response to the bishops’ and others’ many expositions of the bill’s problems.
It’s clear that Sr. Keehan shares the Church’s desire to have quality health care available to all at a reasonable expense. This shouldn’t be controversial, although it is worthwhile debating exactly what this means and whether a government-controlled system really is the best way to deliver on such a goal.
Sr. Keehan has also gone on the record repeatedly about her supposed agreement with the bishops on the need to defend the life of the unborn, to protect the conscience rights of health professionals, and to oppose the increasing threats to the elderly and those with seriously debilitating illnesses and injuries.
This is all well and good, but we don’t have to question the pro-life convictions and Catholic fidelity of Sr. Keehan and the CHA to question what happened to these convictions when they were most needed—when she faced a clear choice between the Church and the State, choosing the latter.
It is not enough to simply be offended by such a question and brush it off, as Sr. Keehan’s apologists have been doing since her baffling insubordination, as if the differences between Sr. Keehan and the bishops were merely of opinion. The bishops and other defenders of the Church’s position on Obamacare have published gigabytes of detailed analysis of the legislation and precise commentary on what the problems with the law are. Sr. Keehan has yet to demonstrate her acknowledged expertise with a serious defense of her actions: She has only replied with churched-up talking points that mirror those of Congress and the administration.
It should also not go without mention that the passage of health care legislation will be a boon to Catholic hospitals – the CHA’s membership – as currently uninsured patients will soon be paying bills, or having them paid, instead of skipping them. Look for an increase in dues and revenues to the CHA soon after this legislation takes full effect.
After the bill’s passage, Bishop Thomas Tobin wasted little time in putting an end to Rhode Island Catholic hospitals’ membership in CHA. Archbishop Chaput and a few other shepherds have also denounced the CHA’s betrayal of the Church in unequivocal terms.
Faithful Catholics are grateful for these rebukes to the CHA, but is this all that can be done? It is understandable that the bishops want to reach out pastorally to those who defy the Church, and surely this is happening to some degree behind the scenes.
But, it isn’t only the authority of the bishops that is at stake, although one would think that alone would be cause for severe sanctions against the CHA. The very possibility of unity on the clearest teachings of the Faith is at stake, not to mention the very definition of the word “Catholic.” Great violence has been done to the Church by the actions of the CHA, not to mention the violence that many expect will be increased against the most vulnerable Americans once this law takes full effect.
The Catholic bishops will be meeting in June, and we can be sure that the health care debacle and CHA’s role in it will be discussed. The May 21 USCCB statement descrying “the wound to Catholic unity” in the health care debate was merely the opening salvo in that debate. Without doubt, there are difficult hurdles to doing what needs to be done to this rogue organization – problems having to do with its independent status and the possibility of collateral damage.
But, this concern only strengthens the need for the bishops to do something as a whole. Bishop Tobin’s response was perfectly reasonable given the CHA’s intransigent belief that it has no need to justify its actions. Allowing the CHA to defy the bishops and pretend as if it remains in harmony with the Church is a continuing scandal and violence against the faithful, and to postpone action in order to preserve what remains of a disintegrating façade of unity is to deny the reality of what this event means to the Catholic Church in America.
Late on May 19, 2010, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced they had withdrawn their membership from The Leadership Conference.
In response, Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson commented:
“It’s a sad fact of politics that organizations originally founded for one purpose undergo changes over time that affect their mission. With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops removing itself from the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights, the bishops have recognized, as Bishop William Murphy put it, ‘The LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference.’ No one will doubt the ongoing commitment of the Catholic bishops to upholding civil and human rights, but this action was necessary to avoid any confusion about its protection of the most basic human right, the right to life of the not-yet-born.”
The announcement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is below:
WASHINGTON-The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has pulled out of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition group founded in 1950.
At the same time the USCCB reiterated its commitment to oppose discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, and said that these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.
The bishops withdrew from LCCR after the coalition took one more position in opposition to USCCB policy, this time taking a stand on a Supreme Court nominee. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Peace, announced the withdrawal May 19. His statement follows:
In light of recent events, it has become increasingly clear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ continued membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is not possible because of the LCCR’s expanded and broadened agenda. The interests of the Leadership Conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as the LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops’ Conference. In recent years, the Leadership Conference has joined others in advocating or opposing nominees for the Supreme Court, a practice which clearly contradicts USCCB policy and compromises the principled positions of the bishops. The latest example of this is the LCCR support of the Solicitor General’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The USCCB deeply regrets this action has become necessary and pledges to continue our ongoing work on civil rights, racial and ethnic justice, and the protection of human life and dignity. While we cannot continue as a member of this coalition, we will work with those, including members of the Leadership Conference, on particular issues that advance the bishops’ commitment to oppose all forms of racism, unjust discrimination and bigotry.
As the bishops said in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:
It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity. Where the effects of past discrimination persist, society has the obligation to take positive steps to overcome the legacy of injustice, including vigorous action to remove barriers to education and equal employment for women and minorities. (86)
An organization called The Coalition for Constitutional Values has put on its web site a 30 second ad supporting Elena Kagan, Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a member of the LCCHR, and as a member pays an annual membership fee. The Leadership Conference claims to work toward creating an America as good as its ideals.
Do those ideals for the bishops include putting pro-abortion justices on the Supreme Court, thus thwarting any efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade? This endorsement of the Kagan nomination is typical of public positions taken by the LCCHR for many years.
In February, I published an article, “Why Did the USCCB Join This Civil Rights Organization?” That article catalogued the various positions taken by the LCCHR that directly conflict with Church teaching. Support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception were among them.
It’s no surprise that the web site of the Coalition of Constitutional Values also features the endorsement of Elena Kagan by the Human Rights Campaign, the powerful gay rights lobbying group. Make no mistake about it, the Coalition for Constitutional Values speaks for all the membersof the coalition, including the USCCB!
The Leadership Conference has long been active in shaping opinion on the confirmation of judges. As I wrote in February,
“For many years, LCCHR has lobbied hard against the confirmation of pro-life judges and justices. In the midst of the debate of pro-abortion nominee Dawn Johnsen, [Deputy Director] Nancy Zirkin asserted that civil-rights groups are upset that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) hasn’t made the abortion advocate a higher priority. ‘There’s frustration she’s not at the top of the list,’ Zirkin said.”
The avid support for Elena Kagan, whose support for abortion “rights” has been widely documented, must be regarded as the final straw, a clear signal that the USCCB needs to withdraw from membership in the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights.
Now, the folks at Cybercast News Service have obtained video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussing immigration reform during her remarks to the gathering and elaborating on her directions to the Catholic Hierarchy on the issue.
In the video we are providing for you here as well, she goes into immigration as part of the “dignity and worth of every person.” Pelosi then continues to tell those assembled about how the hierarchy needs to take to the pulpit if immigration reform is going to pass. Alluding to “whatever the instruction in the pews…” and stumbling over her words.
As a Catholic, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t know what priests do during Mass? Well, we know she confuses feast days and the teachings of the church on the sanctity of life…so maybe she just doesn’t pay attention during Mass.
As a Catholic, Nancy Pelosi thinks it is appropriate for the hierarchy and our priests to advocate for immigration reform from the pulpit, but why not talk about the dignity and worth of the unborn lost from the health care bill, Madame Speaker?
As a Catholic, does Nancy Pelosi think they should also use their homilies to support traditional marriage? Or, would she rather they ignore that non-negotiable issue and hope no one notices the Obama-Pelosi effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Let’s just drill down to the basics – I didn’t realize white smoke came from the south side of the Capitol when she was elected Speaker, so what makes Nancy Pelosi think she can give direction to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church?
As the courts continue to be confronted with demands from gay men and lesbian women for access to marriage, and activist lawmakers continue to try and pass same sex marriage laws, the Church remains steadfast in her teachings that same sex marriage is impossible. Well, except on Catholic college campuses—where the concept of gay marriage is open for debate—and there are often faculty members who are ready, willing, and able to provide Catholic cover to politicians looking for help in passing same sex marriage laws.
The latest controversy involves Professor W. King Mott, a gay professor of political science at Seton Hall University. Mott is scheduled to teach a course in gay marriage in the Fall. And, although he claims that the course is “not about advocacy, but about studying the issue from an academic perspective,” Mott has a history of advocacy for homosexual rights and open criticism of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.
In 2005, Mott wrote a letter to the editor of the New Jersey Star Ledger arguing that the Catholic Church “attacks gay men as a scapegoat instead of addressing problems of pedophilia within the priesthood.” As a result of the letter, Mott, who was then associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall, was asked to step down and resume his former tenured faculty position.
TheChronicle of Higher Education reports that the reason for Mott’s demotion was because he signed his letter to the editor as a university official. According to Thomas White, a university spokesman, the issue was not that Mott was critical of the Church, but that “he was critical of the Church while representing Seton Hall.”
While Mott was quoted in a 2005 issue of The Chronicle as planning to “leave Seton Hall once he finds a new job,” it appears that he has not yet found that job. He continues at Seton Hall as a tenured professor of political science, Chair of the Faculty Senate, and as one of 12 members of the Presidential Search Committee—the committee charged with hiring the highest ranking person on the Seton Hall campus. He is hardly a marginalized man.
Still, Mott will most likely assume “vulnerable victim status” now that Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, has indicated that Mott’s course will conflict with Church teachings. Academia loves a victim—and all rallied to his side in 2005 with faculty protests, letter writing campaigns, and angry pleas to the administration when he was returned to his tenured faculty position. In the strange drama that takes place on Catholic college campuses throughout the country, there is nothing that gives a faculty member higher status than when a bishop even questions something that a faculty member does.
Still, the Star Ledger reminds us that at Seton Hall, “The archbishop serves as chairman of Seton Hall’s Board of Trustees and is president of its Board of Regents, the governing body that oversees academic issues. Archbishop Myers is just doing his job. But, because so few bishops are willing to take the courageous stand the Newark Archbishop has taken, it is shocking for most of us to see a bishop actually confront a faculty member.
The bishops should know that professors like Mott have tremendous influence both on and off campus. A recently released Georgetown study shows that Catholic students enrolled in Catholic institutions were less likely to move toward Catholic Church teachings on abortion and gay marriage than those enrolled in non-Catholic institutions. The study indicated that in addition to moving toward increased support for abortion, Catholic students enrolled on Catholic campuses showed dramatic increases in support for gay marriage.
Thirty-nine percent of Catholic students enrolled in Catholic colleges and universities claim to have moved further away from the Church’s definition of marriage as a union of one woman and one man. This movement away from the Church has repercussions far beyond the campus as both faculty and alumni have become activists in favor of same-sex marriage.
A few years ago, Boston College graduate Kara Suffredini, a legislative attorney for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told an alumni gathering of the Lambda Law Students, “I want to begin by saying that everything I know about queer activism, I learned at Boston College….put that in your admissions brochure.”
The Jesuit University of San Francisco recently announced that their Public Interest Law Foundation is honoring California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno for his support for gay marriage in his dissent in the Proposition 8 decision. Moreno’s award follows a similar award in 2008 when USF honored Therese Stewart and Shannon Minter for their “courageous” work in gaining rights to same sex marriage for gay men and lesbian women. USF Professor Julie Nice was recently interviewed on KCBS radio where she denigrated the “whim of the voters” who voted against same sex marriage and claimed confidence that the voters’ will would be overturned by the California courts.
Providing platforms and awards to gay marriage supporters on Catholic campuses creates confusion—not just for students, but for lawmakers and voters—far beyond the campus. Professors like Mott can capitalize on that confusion by continuing to convince others that social justice demands that gay men and lesbian women have access to marriage.
Do not be fooled by some on the Left claiming President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is not to their satisfaction. The questions being raised by the Left are nothing more than a Washington red herring. Liberal Activists have been wanting Elena Kagan on a federal court for the past twelve years, and today they begin to have their chance.
Elena Kagan might not have served a single day on any federal court. But, there is plenty known about her from working in the West Wing for Bill Clinton, who even tried to nominate her for a position on the D.C. court eventually occupied by John Roberts, to now serving as President Obama’s Solicitor General. Some on the Left are calling her the Souter nomination, trying to imply that people don’t know where she stands on issues. However, just as there probably were about David Souter, there are some clues.
Even though she recently went through the confirmation process to become Solicitor General, here are a few of the items senators on the Judiciary Committee should ask about before confirming her to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
1. Elena Kagan needs to be asked about her willingness to look at international law when deciding domestic cases.
Under questioning by Senator Specter during her Solicitor General confirmation she responded:
“At least some members of the Court find foreign law relevant in at least some contexts. When this is the case, I think the Solicitor General’s office should offer reasonable foreign law arguments to attract these Justices’ support for the positions that the office is taking.”
There are many Americans that believe we need a Supreme Court Justice who interprets the U.S. Constitution and does not look to other countries for input.
2. Elena Kagan needs to explain her tendency toward anti-religious bias.
In Bowen v. Kendrick, the Supreme Court disagreed with Kagan that federal grants to religious organizations violated the Establishment Clause. She argued, “It would be difficult for any religious organization to participate in such projects without injecting some kind of religious teaching. … [A]ll religious organizations should be off limits.” She later recanted.
Faith-based organizations, such as those run by the Catholic Church, offer some of the best solutions to dealing with society’s ills and should not be discriminated against. From the above logic used in Bowen v. Kendrick, it is not a stretch that Kagan would also agree with the Massachusetts ruling striking down the Department of Health and Human Services executive order providing funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to combat human trafficking.
3. Elena Kagan needs to be asked point blank about her position on federal funding for abortion, her work in the Clinton White House on abortion policy, and any legal work done on behalf of Planned Parenthood.
4. Elena Kagan needs to be asked about her position on extending benefits to same-sex couples.
The national news frenzy has already picked up on her opposition to the military recruiting occurring on the Harvard Law School campus while she was dean. Catholics need to pay attention to the reason why – her opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – a policy compromise reached by her previous boss Bill Clinton but now being overturned by President Obama. There is anticipation that positions she took at Harvard reflect the institution and not how she would side in a potential ruling, however, she was the dean and set the tone for leadership.
In the coming month, the Senate will begin the confirmation theatrics. Elena Kagan has commented about the “confirmation process” – in a 1995 book review of “The Confirmation Mess” by Stephen Carter.
“The real ‘confirmation mess’” she wrote, “is the gap that has opened between the Bork hearings and all others.”
“Not since Bork,” she said, “has any nominee candidly discussed, or felt a need to discuss, his or her views and philosophy.”
“The debate focused not on trivialities,” she wrote, but on essentials: “the understanding of the Constitution that the nominee would carry with him to the Court.”
Elena Kagan thinks nominees should candidly discuss their opinions. Catholic Advocate AGREES and hopes the Senate gives her the opportunity.