Category Archives: Abortion
By: Anne Hendershott
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.
The Chronicle 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.
By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President
By: Deal W. Hudson & Matt Smith
In the wake of the 2004 defeat of John Kerry, leftwing Catholics, aligned with the Democratic Party, got down to serious work. The result was a coalition of organizations, publications, writers, academics, and activists that helped convince a majority of self-identified Catholic voters to vote for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history, Barack Obama.
That same coalition met late last week at a Washington Briefing hosted by the National Catholic Reporter. Coming on the heels of their victory in passing the abortion-funded health care bill, the standing ovation given to Sr. Carol Keehan comes as no surprise. The recipient of personal attention from the President, Keehan used her Catholic Health Association, a trade association of Catholic hospitals, to pronounce the health care legislation acceptable for Catholics. Her role was aptly rewarded when she was given one of the pens used by President Obama to sign the pro-abortion health care law.
Prior to the election, the media accurately reported that Sr. Keehan’s support of the health care bill was in opposition to that of the Catholic bishops. The bishops explained repeatedly they would not support a bill containing federal funding for abortion. Sr. Keehan refused to admit the presence of the funding along with her other differences with the bishops. Indeed, at the briefing she reiterated that she was in agreement with the bishops on the bill and on the non-presence of abortion funding.
Other leaders of the health care revolt against the bishops spoke at the briefing, including Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, who organized the religious order letter supporting the health care bill praised by Nancy Pelosi; Morna Murray, President of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Patrick Whelan, President of Catholic Democrats; and Speaker Pelosi herself who was there to rally her Catholic troops to help deliver on immigration.
It’s no surprise that Trinity University in D.C., a private, all girls, progressive Catholic University would host a forum of this nature with the liberal and Democrat-aligned National Catholic Reporter. It’s the alma mater of Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius, both of whom are featured prominently on the Trinity University website.
When Pelosi was first elected Speaker a special Mass was celebrated at Trinity with Rev. Robert Drinan, S. J. as homilist. There could have been no more appropriate choice to honor Speaker Pelosi, since Father Drinan was the central figure in the creation of the pro-abortion Catholic politician. That creation now outnumbers pro-life Catholics among members of Congress.
The issue of dissent by Catholic politicians, over abortion and marriage, has become increasingly contentious in recent elections. Republican Catholic Outreach was successful in 2000 and 2004 in securing support for the pro-life GOP candidates over the pro-abortion candidates put forward by the Democrats. The 2008 Catholic effort for McCain-Palin failed to take advantage of the momentum of previous presidential campaigns and the present RNC has done next to nothing to rebuild the effort.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele, himself a Catholic, did find the time, however, to appear at the Washington Briefing to make some remarks. That was probably a wise choice because it brought him face to face with the coalition that must be beaten for a pro-life candidate to take back the White House in 2012. The leadership of this Catholic Left coalition supports, helps elect, and provides cover for elected Catholic officials who routinely dissent from Church teaching. In short, the priorities of the Democratic Party are put ahead of the Church.
Considering ourselves to be Catholic first, Republican second, we have both worked successfully on behalf of the Republican Party and candidates to reach out to Catholics. We are regularly attacked by progressive Catholics for our involvement in politics and for engaging Catholics and Catholic politicians who seek to compromise on non-negotiable teachings of the Church for the sake of social justice arguments. We shake our heads at the charge of being GOP shills against Catholics who uphold the Church’s teaching on abortion.
RNC Chairman Steele spoke to the Catholic Left coalition about his faith. But, the leadership in this coalition has no interest in changing its mind on abortion and related issues – the Church’s message on life has been explained to them by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Cardinal George, Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal Rigali, and Archbishop Dolan, among many others. When the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic Health Association, and the Catholic Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious endorsed the health care bill they knew exactly what they were doing.
GOP leadership would be well-advised to stop speaking to deaf ears and study how these groups and their leadership spearheaded the Catholic effort for Obama in 2008. Their effort on Obama’s behalf in 2010 promises to be even bigger and better funded. GOP indifference to this effort is just another instance of what fuels the tea party phenomena and why a similar attitude is spreading among faithful Catholics.
We at Catholic Advocate are educating grassroots Catholics about the importance of keeping their eyes not only on who gets elected but those groups and individuals who feed and protect them in office. We are telling Catholic voters to make both parties earn their votes, or they will be taken for granted.
Part of the overarching problem is with the Church itself. As we are seeing in the aftermath of the health care debate, there are no consequences within the Church for groups that actively work among Catholics to promote abortion. Sr. Keehan and Speaker Pelosi, like most Catholics, are not used to being held accountable. Lay Catholics, however, may well use their votes this coming November, and in 2012 to do what the bishops are so reluctant to do.
By: Deal W. Hudson
Kevin Hall, an attorney in Columbia, SC, is a convert to the Catholic faith and has served on the board of the Sisters of Charity Foundation for eight years. He resigned from the board after the order joined a number of other women’s religious who endorsed the health care bill containing federal funding for abortion.
Providence Hospital in Columbia is owned and operated by the Sisters of Charity.
Kevin Hall’s letter of resignation, however, was sent to all the priests of the diocese of South Carolina and over 200 board members of all the Sisters of Charity foundations in Ohio, where they are headquartered, and South Carolina. Hall told me that he hopes other board members will begin to express similar concerns to the leadership of the order.
Hall also published an op-ed explaining his decision in The State, the leading newspaper in South Carolina. He made it clear that his position was the same as the Catholic bishops, as well as the ordinary, Bishop Guglielmone of Charleston. Rather than listening to the bishops,
“Providence and the Sisters of Charity ended up supporting a bill endorsed by the likes of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League. Such strange company should have been a clue to the sisters and Providence that their efforts were seriously misguided.”
Sr. Judith Ann Karam, president and CEO of the Sisters of Charity Health System, responded to Hall in a subsequent op-ed saying she wanted to “clarify several unfortunate misstatements.” Sr. Karam maintained, “To say that we would support any legislation that would enable federal funds to be used for abortion is simply not true.” This is a strange assertion, since the federal funding for abortion in the bill is widely recognized by the bishops, pro-life groups, and the pro-abortion lobby.
Karam argues, essentially, that the bishops are wrong about the presence of abortion funding in the bill. The Sisters of Charity, she says, are “in accord with the Catholic Health Association and other health providers, that this law would not provide federal funding for abortions and includes many safeguards to ensure this does not happen.”
If there is no federal funding for abortion in the health care bill why would you need safeguards?
As Kevin Hall pointed out in his op-ed, it’s not by accident that Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, applauded the sisters who defied their “bishops and the Vatican to announce their support for health care reform.” Would Richards be celebrating if the bill did not contain funding for abortion, i.e., “reproductive health care,” services? As Hall adds, “In Planned Parenthood’s parlance, ‘reproductive health care’ long has included aborting the lives of the unborn.
Hall’s resignation is one of several significant public responses to the defiance of Catholic medical institutions to the bishops’ opposition to the health care bill. The fact that Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, has receded from public view so quickly suggests that support is being withdrawn, and she is doing damage control. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI withdrew the two hospitals in his diocese from the CHA. Tobin did not mince his words:
“I am writing to request that St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island, sponsored by the Diocese of Providence, be removed from the membership list and mailing list of the Catholic Health Association as even the association with CHA is now embarrassing.”
Rev. Jay Scott Newman delivered a homily on March 21 at St. Mary’s in Greenville, SC containing a similar denunciation of St. Francis Hospital run by the Bon Secours Health System. Given its support of the health care bill, Father Newman said:
“Bon Secours Health System has now laid bare the terrible truth that St. Francis Hospital is a Catholic institution in name only. You may continue to need their services for medical reasons, but please do not make the mistake of supporting that institution simply because there is a crucifix on the wall. There is no essential difference between a secular hospital and a theoretically Catholic hospital when the latter does what the Bon Secours System has done: namely, accept and endorse material cooperation with evil against the teaching of the Bishops of the Catholic Church.”Father
Newman made national news after the 2008 election when he recommended confession for parishioners who had voted for Obama. Writing for his parish bulletin, Newman explained:”Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”
That evil, the killing of innocent life, has now received the official blessing of the Obama White House and the Congress controlled by the Democratic Party. The health care bill containing billions of dollars for abortions – funding explicitly denied by Sr. Keehan and Sr. Karam – will soon send the abortion rate in this nation skyrocketing.
The question remains, whether more bishops will remove their hospitals from membership in the CHA, whether more board members will step down from the Sisters of Charity, and whether more priests like Father Newman will be speaking plainly about the tragic consequences of the 2008 election.
See also LifeSiteNews’ coverage of Kevin Hall’s resignation.
By: Deal W. Hudson
The present White House is having a huge impact on the Church in America. It’s typical to hear talk about the influence of the Church on politics, but at the present moment the influence is definitely in the other direction.
The pro-abortion forces in this country and the “social justice/seamless garment” crowd in the Church have been empowered by the new Congress and presidency. The reason the Church is so weak right now is the sudden power of groups like the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good.
These groups, and their leadership, have straight lines of communication throughout the Church, through the USCCB, chanceries, parishes, and various Catholic associations. This is the network that drove the twisted interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” through parishes nationwide in 2008.
They plan to do an even better job in 2012, unless we do something about it, unless we stop them.
Obama’s leadership, along with that of Pelosi, has strengthened the hand of the most anti-Catholic, anti-life elements of our culture, both here and in Europe, at the EU and the UN.
The threat of arresting our Holy Father on his upcoming trip to the UK should be a huge wake-up call for what we are up against.
The Church will eventually exert its influence, but for the present moment it is up to independent groups, like Catholic Advocate, to minimize the influence of the fake Catholic groups, especially the psuedo-Catholic groups funded by George Soros, liberal foundations, and labor unions. The media must be forced to describe them for what they are, as we did with Voice of the Faithful.
If we claim the role of Catholic lay expertise in politics then we can’t constantly be looking to the bishops to solve our problems. We should resist the impulse to ask the bishops to do all this work for us.
If we’ve made any mistake since the election it has been focusing on the bishops rather than training Catholics to be politically active and building a coalition of Catholics with other like-minded people of faith.
The only thing we should ask of the bishops is to rewrite the “Faithful Citizenship” document, which caused so much confusion in 2008.
We should not allow the defense of life to be treated as anything other than a Catholic effort, rather than a partisan one. Not only you and I are accused of being “shills” for one party as a result of our emphasis on life and marriage, but several of the more visible bishops as well.
We cannot wait for the Church to reform itself from within so that it assumes a commanding role in shaping our culture and politics. Instead, we must win targeted victories against the kind of leadership that strengthens the hand of the left-wing in the Church and the culture.
If we have another election like 2008, Church reform will be put off for many years to come.
H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act, has been introduced in the House of Representatives to fix the abortion language in the recently signed Obama health care bill. Read more about this important effort to continue fighting for life!
On Thursday, April 22, 2010, Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) announced the introduction of H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act, to fix the abortion language in the recently signed Obama health care bill. The Protect Life Act already includes a bi-partisan list of 50 co-sponsors. 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.
According to Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R, KS-04):
“Specifically, the Protect Life Act amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to prevent federal funding for abortion or abortion coverage through government exchanges, community health centers, or any other program funded or created by PPACA. Additionally, the bill protects the right of conscience for healthcare professionals and ensures that private insurance companies are not forced to cover abortion.”
Thursday’s action follows on the heels of Catholic Advocate joining with 52 other pro-life organizations to send a joint letter to all Members of Congress on Monday, April 19, 2010 detailing the flaws in the Obama Health Care Executive Order.
The letter concludes by saying:
“The deadly effect of the new health care law will not go unnoticed by the American public. Pro-life organizations are working together to ensure that the anti-life policies included in the Act and reiterated by the Executive Order are removed and that the Hyde amendment principles are restored. We will not cease in our pursuit to respectfully and deliberately advance the right to life and protect the vulnerable unborn.”
The introduction of H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act is a positive step in restoring the Hyde amendment language to the health care bill and protecting the unborn.
Thank you Congressman Pitts and the 50 original co-sponsors!
Catholic Advocate is launching a new initiative to educate our community about upcoming activities on Capitol Hill and around Washington.
In some way, all issues on Capitol Hill either affect or are of interest to Catholics. We will strive to update our community about the issues and encourage you to share the information with your friends and family.
Week of April 26, 2010 – April 30, 2010
In the U.S. Senate…
On Monday, April 26, 2010 at 5:00 p.m., a cloture motion to proceed to S. 3217, the Financial Regulation Bill will be voted on in the Senate. This is a complicated issue and extensive piece of legislation that will affect the financial industry and thus impact Americans doing business with those institutions. Unfortunately, bi-partisan work on the legislation has met numerous roadblocks. Some key issues to pay attention to include: whether the bill continues tax-payer funded bailouts; does it continue the “too big to fail” philosophy; does it add another layer of bureaucracy in Washington to an already complicated system.
Senator John Kerry (D, MA) is expected to unveil the latest version of climate change legislation. Higher energy costs and increased taxes are issues that affect all Americans. Higher energy costs also will have a major impact on parish facilities. The climate change issue must be watched. It will be interesting to see if Senator Kerry’s legislation will be similar to the bill authored by Congressman Henry Waxman (D, CA-30) and Congressman Edward Markey (D, MA-07).
The legislation passed in the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 will, for example, raise yearly household electricity bills $563 in Ohio, $500 in West Virginia, and $890 in Texas.
In the U.S. House of Representatives…
The House of Representatives will focus the beginning of their week on legislation managing the Department of Defense acquisition process.
In the Supreme Court…
President Obama is still contemplating his nomination for an Associate Supreme Court Justice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. There are different lists being batted around the media and Washington. What we do know is what President Obama will be looking for in a nominee, as he stated on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 when he answered a reporter’s question in the Oval Office.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Would you be willing to nominate someone who did not support a woman’s right to choose?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I am somebody who believes that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about their own bodies and issues of reproduction. Obviously this has been a hugely contentious issue in our country for a very long time. I will say the same thing that every President has said since this issue came up, which is I don’t have litmus tests around any of these issues.
But I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights. And that’s going to be something that’s very important to me, because I think part of what our core Constitution — constitutional values promote is the notion that individuals are protected in their privacy and their bodily integrity, and women are not exempt from that.
Important case being argued…
Supporters of Marriage under attack
On Wednesday, April 28, 2010, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding attempts by the Washington Secretary of State to publicly release the names of donors. Protect Marriage Washington filed a brief arguing “that traditional marriage supporters whose names were publicized have endured death threats, physical violence, and property damage in the state of Washington and across the country. He [Protect Marriage Washington lead counsel Jim Bopp] also asserted that “the Washington Secretary of State plans to release the names to groups who have stated their intent to post the information on the Internet, aiding those who wish to harass petitioners.”
Catholic Advocate encourages our community to pray for Jim Bopp, his team, and all those who support preserving the sanctity of marriage.
Other Issues to Watch
On April 22, 2010, the House voted to go to conference with the Senate on H.R.2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009. This issue has been moving slowly through Congress. It appears Congress was motivated, or the Obama Administration finally sent word they would start to engage on the issue, when Iran announced on April 14, 2010 that they had enriched uranium from 3.5 to 20 percent pure once again defying the United Nations.
Catholic Advocate has been watching this issue closely as it has moved through Congress.
Senate Passes Iran Sanctions on Gasoline Imports – January 29, 2010
Why Is the Obama Administration Going Soft on Iran Sanctions? – January 26, 2010
In addition, Catholic Advocate President Deal Hudson has met with leaders in Congress and joined with others to sign letters of concern on Iran to the Obama Administration.
Catholic Advocate will continue to watch these issues and update our community.
By: Deal W. Hudson
Karen Diebel is a pro-life, pro-family Catholic hoping to win the GOP nomination to run for Congress in Orlando, Florida’s 24th District. Diebel represents a very different kind of Catholic politician from Speaker Nancy Pelosi who led the charge for pro-abortion funding as part of the health care reform.
Topping the list of Diebel’s political priorities are the defense of life and family:
“It is critically important to have a strong pro-life, pro-family voice in this district. There is such danger right now, with both the incumbent and the administration. All the decision-making on economic and social issues is in opposition to the values that reinforce and support strong families.”
Seven years ago a run for Congress would have seemed impossible, when her husband, an obstetrician, was killed while helping a stranger on the side of a highway. “My life crumbled in an instant, into a million pieces.”
That was June 2002. Now Karen Diebel is 43 years old, her three boys are ages 10, 12, and 13, and she is feeling “older and wiser . . . suffering gives you a clearer perspective.” She thanks a priest in her parish, Rev. Richard Walsh, who baptized all her boys, for helping her survive the loss of her husband. When she once complained to him of being left alone, Father Walsh told her:
“The Lord has given you many gifts. Think of that as you are sad – how you have been blessed with many things. You have to use them.”
“Then I thought to myself, ‘I will not be tired anymore.’”
She was already working full-time for Verizon, as director of Global Solutions, to provide for herself and her children. As director, Diebel became an expert at solving business and technological problems for Fortune 100 companies.
“Thank God I had a job at the time, and I could pay the bills. Because I kept waking up thinking I am the only parent left, I’ve got to figure it out — I was 35.”
But, after the comment from Father Walsh, Diebel got more involved in her community, co-founding a health care clinic in memoriam of her late husband, providing health care to East Orlando’s uninsured. “The best way I knew how to give back was to help others.” She also entered local politics and became Vice Mayor and a City Commissioner of Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando.
Her experience in municipal government coupled with the direction of the country led her to run for Congress. “In government, both here and in D.C., there are too many competing agendas, rather than a clear focus on solving problems.”
Diebel also observed that those involved in local politics often had great intentions but lacked the needed skills. “I had the advantage of having leadership skills, not just the ability to redistribute money and collect more taxes. We need to get more efficient, ensure personal freedoms, and not waver on first principles.”
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame (Class of ‘89), Karen Diebel is well versed in the teachings of the Church and applies them to her views on public policy.
Diebel is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants: Her father, a McGuigan from Belfast, met her mother, a Reilly from County Mayo, in Chicago where most of her family still lives. Her brother, Michael McGuigan, just returned from his second tour in Iraq.
When asked how she would raise three boys while being a member of Congress Diebel said, “I am already doing it — we are a very, very tight knit family. My boys are fun and they are strong because they’ve had to be along the way. Even today, professionally, I have to travel, but we often go as a family. They can understand and learn along the way.”
If elected to Congress, Karen Diebel will not leave her faith at home, as so many seem to have done. “My faith gives me strength, a faith that is very clear on the values I need to carry forward in my personal life. We have to make time to do the things we believe in.”
Year after year has gone by with pro-life activists being accused by pro-abortion groups of being one-sided partisans. Speculative conversations often occurred among activists – if only we had some bi-partisan pro-life support, we could build on the progress made from the successes of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
For months, Catholic Advocate and numerous other pro-life organizations around the country, praised Congressman Bart Stupak (D, MI-01) for his stalwart defense of life during the health care debate and thought we finally had a pro-life Democrat willing to fight the culture of death. Congressman Stupak roared like a lion in the savage jungle of Capitol Hill. He handled tremendous pressure from his own caucus and countless rumors and speculation about compromises and deals.
Then, on that fateful weekend in March, pro-life Americans shook their heads with disappointment and disbelief upon hearing the news Congressman Stupak had compromised. He cut a deal worse than the Senator Ben Nelson (D, NE) Cornhusker kickback. By endorsing a meaningless Executive Order, Stupak cleared the way for pro-life Democrats to vote for the Obama-Pelosi pro-abortion health care bill.
After attending the Executive Order signing in the Oval Office, Congressman Stupak’s press release stated:
“Throughout history, Executive Orders have been an important means of implementing public policy. In 2007, George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13435 restricting embryonic stem cell research – a pro-life policy that was applauded and welcomed by the pro-life community. These same groups have been opposed to President Obama’s pro-life Executive Order.”
President Bush’s Executive Order’s being cited by Congressman Stupak was narrowly focused to actions by the Executive Branch. As the courts have ruled over time, when Executive Order goes beyond, into the actions of the Legislative Branch, the law dominates.
In a weird twist of irony, the very same week President Obama was signing Congressman Stupak’s Executive Order, a Massachusetts judge sided with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) striking down an Executive Order relating to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and money granted to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
The most important casualties from the fights on Capitol Hill over abortion funding in the health care bill were the unborn.
Now, the source of one of the worst compromises against life in the history of the pro-life cause is calling it quits. Rather than be held accountable by the voters in his district, Congressman Bart Stupak announced retirement on Friday, April 9, 2010.
On the Washington Post website, Congressman Stupak’s sources “describe him as burned out from the long fight over health care in which he emerged as the leading voice of pro-life Democrats wary about the possibility that the legislation would allow federal funds to be spent on abortions.” There are also sources saying he was disappointed at the harsh reaction he received from both sides of the aisle following the health care debate.
Most people, when they come out victorious after a long hard personal fight, usually catch their breath and return invigorated by their victory. It is only when you have truly lost a challenge that you have trouble finding your motivation, and worse yet, if you are the one responsible for the loss.
Congressman Stupak has served the people of Northern Michigan for nearly twenty years. He has endured the tragedy of losing a son to suicide and worked tirelessly to focus on the role prescriptions might have played in his son’s decision, so other parents would not suffer the same pain. He consistently stood for the cause of life, but when it came to the biggest battle in years, could not go the distance.
Congressman Stupak unsuccessfully tried to have it both ways on health care. He made a drastic error in judgment that will ultimately further abortion in the United States.
We wish him and Laurie well as they begin the next chapter in their lives. Even after a long career in Congress, in Washington, you are, unfortunately, most remembered for how you depart. Many pro-life activists feel Congressman Stupak quit on them, so it is only fitting he retire from the arena if he has lost his heart for the battles.
By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President