Once he finished helping to elect President Obama by claiming that John McCain had done things that had “made politics dishonorable,” Jim Wallis began work immediately to help push the Democratic agenda through his writings, his blog, and his willingness to team with anyone who would help destroy Republican opposition to the Obama plan for health care, immigration, and finance reform.
Most recently, Wallis appeared on the Chris Matthews Show to talk about how those who oppose Barack Obama’s plans for the country just do not understand the need to support the common good. Wallis told Matthews that Catholics should support the Obama agenda because of its concern for the common good.
The theme of “the common good” is woven throughout Wallis’ book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” And, although he often speaks of enlisting Catholics in his cause, it is clear that Wallis has little respect for the Catholic Church itself when he writes on the opening pages of his book that he is leading a movement that will “Take Back Our Faith” and then lists a number of those who have hijacked the faith: “from pedophile priests and cover up bishops who destroy lives and shame the Church.”
The choice to employ the theme of “the common good” is no coincidence. The fake Catholic group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (funded by George Soros and a host of anti-Catholic, pro-choice proponents) has partnered with Wallis several times in the past. Most recently, in the health care debates, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good teamed with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Catholic Campaign funded Pacific Institute for Community Organizations to provide Catholic congregations with a “Health Care Tool Kit.” While the kit’s brochure never denied that the proposed health care reform would fund elective abortions with public money, it stated rather neutrally: “How Congress applies current policy on federal funding for abortion to new systems created through health reform will be an important issue for the faith community.” It also reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was ever promised.
Now Wallis is championing finance reform. On his blog (www.god’spolitics.com) Wallis wrote that the finance reform passed in the Senate is a “historic accomplishment,” and he encouraged its passage. Claiming the high moral ground, Wallis blogs that in the process of passing finance reform “there were principles that — from a moral and even religious viewpoint — guided our analysis of this legislation. Each of these moral principles is incorporated into the new bill.” It certainly seems like Barack Obama is now consulting with Wallis.
Disparaging those who disagree with him, most recently he has taken on Fox News commentator and host, Glenn Beck. Wallis is especially critical of Beck’s definition of “social justice” because it does not agree with his own and published a posting on his blog entitled: “Why Glenn Beck is a Danger to True Evangelical Theology.”
Wallis is powerful—but probably not nearly as powerful as he thinks he is. In an article he posted on The Huffington Post entitled “Wall Street Repent!” he likens himself to Jesus when he recalls that in his conversations with financial leaders about ethics, some of the more recalcitrant have come to him “like Nicodemus, a religious leader who came to talk to Jesus in private—at night.” This is hard to believe.
Now, Wallis has joined Nancy Pelosi in lecturing to religious leaders to admonish their parishioners–those “sitting in the pews” that they need to support the democratic agenda on key issues. Using the same talking points—and same phrases (“sitting in the pews”) Wallis has demanded on his blog that religious leaders provide “some sermons on the repentance of Wall Street, some pastoral care for the financial giants who sit in our pews, and some prayer vigils outside the nation’s biggest banks.”
Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State? In the last election the Democrats were apoplectic when some of the Bishops even suggested that parishioners should look at life issues when they were voting. And, now Wallis is suggesting that parishioners should be holding prayer vigils outside banks and demanding financial reform?
It is difficult to know what Jesus would do about all of this – but it is hard to imagine that Jesus would be joining Wallis in supporting the pro-abortion policies this President continues to expand. Besides, it seems that Wallis is beginning to think he is Jesus himself…Maybe there really is a reason to keep politics out of our Churches.
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?
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.
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.
“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!
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.
“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.
While the polls have shown dramatic declines in approval for President Obama from most demographic groups, the President continues to enjoy strong support from many women—especially pro-choice women. Most recently, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards praised the President’s successful shepherding of health care reform—replete with its expansion of reproductive services to women.
Richards was especially effusive in her praise for Obama’s ability to attract the support of the Catholic nuns of NETWORK who defied the authority of their bishops in promoting health care reform. In an article at huffingtonpost.com, Richards writes that she was grateful for the nuns’ “brave and important move, demonstrating that they cared as much about the health care of families in America as they did about Church hierarchy.”
Most prominent on the long list of pro-choice women (like Richards) who are grateful that Obama continues to demonstrate that he is the most radically pro-abortion politician we have ever experienced, are the women from the Kennedy family. From Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg who wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Obama is a “man like my father,” and Kerry Kennedy Cuomo who claims that Catholics “are responding to the vision of hope that Barack Obama articulates,” to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who believes that Obama represents Catholics better than the Pope, the Kennedy women remain steadfast in their support for the President.
Indeed, the sub-title of last summer’s Newsweek column by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland, asks readers to consider: “Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics Better than the Pope Does.” In the article, Kennedy Townsend complains that “while the pope preaches love, listening to the other has been a particular stumbling block for the Catholic hierarchy as it is for many in power.” Townsend maintains that “Obama could teach the pope a lot about politics—and what a Catholic approach to politics could entail.”
Kennedy Townsend claims that although it is clear that Obama and the Pope disagree on reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, “Politics requires the ability to listen to different points of view, and to step into others’ shoes. Obama might call it empathy.” Townsend praises “Obama’s pragmatic approach to divisive policy (his notion that we should acknowledge the good faith underlying opposing viewpoints).” And, in contrast with Pope Benedict, Townsend maintains that Obama’s “social justice agenda reflects the views of the American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists.”
Likewise, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo has been steadfast in support of the President. When her uncle Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat was won by Republican, Scott Brown, Kennedy Cuomo made it a point to claim that Brown’s win had nothing to do with Obama’s healthcare or the Obama administration. On WOR News Talk Radio, Kennedy Cuomo lashed out at Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, claiming that Coakley exhibited a “lack of effort in the last few months to gain votes or speak on jobs that really brought about the loss of the seat.”
Kennedy Cuomo has been especially close to Van Jones, Obama’s failed “green czar” nominee. Jones served briefly in the Obama administration until he resigned after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush administration of involvement in the 9/11 attacks. World Net Daily reports that Jones called for “resistance” against the United States.
Still, the communist ties and revolutionary rhetoric did not stop Kennedy Cuomo from featuring Jones as a commentator on “RFK: Our Children, Our Future,” a documentary on the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy. In fact, Kennedy Cuomo found Jones so worthy of praise for his work on behalf of social justice that she awarded him with the “Kerry Kennedy Cuomo Human Rights Defender award.”
And, although Kennedy Cuomo and Kennedy Townsend had been early Clinton supporters in the Democratic primaries (in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, they wrote that “the loftiest poetry will not solve these issues”) before they switched their allegiance to Obama, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was an Obama supporter from the start. Yet, despite Mrs. Kennedy Schlossberg’s description of Obama as a “man like my father,” there is no evidence that JFK was pro-choice like Obama. Abortion rights issues were in the fledgling stage at the state level in New York and California in the early 1960s. They were not a national concern.
A strong abortion rights advocate, Kennedy Schlossberg was so concerned to assure pro-abortion leaders in New York that on the same day she telephoned New York Governor David Patterson to declare interest in filling the U S Senate seat being vacated by Hilary Clinton, one of her first calls was to an abortion rights group indicating she would be strongly pro-choice.
All of the Kennedy women have learned that anyone desiring higher office in the Democratic Party must now carry the torch of abortion rights throughout any race. They continue to support Obama because he continues to carry that torch.
“The President is not pro-abortion, the President is pro-choice. I think they are two very different things.” This is a mantra we often hear from Catholics who support pro-abortion politicians, but this time they were uttered in support of President Obama.
The words came from Sr. Anita Baird, the founding director of the Office of Racial Justice at the Archdiocese of Chicago. She was being interviewed by Kathleen Gilbert of LifeSiteNews.com on the upcoming event honoring Chicago priest, Fr. Michael Pfleger, who publicly announced Obama was “the best thing to come across the political scene since Bobby Kennedy.” He was serving, at the time, as a volunteer adviser to the Obama campaign and a member of the Catholics for Obama Committee.
Cardinal George, Pfleger’s ordinary in Chicago, suspended him from his parish for two weeks after his outburst praising Obama. Sr. Baird told LifeSiteNews.com Fr. Pfleger’s public support for Obama was “not an issue here,” since he had served a two-week suspension from his parish, St. Sabina’s.
One wonders whether Fr. Pfleger’s fondness for Obama “is not an issue” in the Archdiocese of Chicago simply because he accepted his punishment for endorsing a candidate publicly in violation of the Church’s non-profit status.
Kathleen Gilbert asked Sr. Baird to explain the difference between being pro-abortion and being pro-choice:
“To be pro-abortion is that you believe in abortion and you support it. And, I don’t think you’ll find that the President has ever said that.”
So you have to say you support abortion to be judged pro-abortion? What about Obama’s advocacy of infanticide as a state senator in Illinois, his termination of the Mexico City Policy on the first day of his presidency, his signing of a health care bill providing billions of federal dollars for abortion funding, and on and on?
Sr. Baird didn’t bring up anything Obama has done, only what he has said, for example, in his Notre Dame speech where he claimed, “his challenge was that we find ways to ensure that women – that would be their last choice, and that they would choose life.”
But then Sr. Baird says the most startling thing of all to Gilbert:
“I just think we need to be clear with our language.”
I’m sure, I am not the only one who will hear this and immediately think of Matthew 23:24, where Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” In other words, Sr. Baird wants to make sure we are “clear with our language” describing Obama’s stated view of abortion, but she ignores, completely, his actions as a politician. (This is not completely accurate since Sr. Baird is apparently not familiar with Obama’s speech in the Illinois state legislature justifying his support for partial-birth abortion.)
Speaking of Obama’s own utterances on the topic of abortion. Why do people like Sr. Baird think his words can be trusted? What about the public lie Obama told the Congress and the American people that there would be no federal funding for abortion in the health care bill?
Even if you judge Obama by his words, if you pay close attention to his promises, you will come to the conclusion his words cannot be trusted. Thus, attempting to be “clear with our language” about the President’s position on abortion is a waste of time.
What do we make of Sr. Baird’s defense of Obama as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion?”
First of all, we should remind ourselves that this distinction has been common among the media and Catholic “progressives” for years, so it is nothing new.
Second, it calls out for some sort of authoritative comment by Cardinal George showing that it is a distinction without a practical difference — both points of view, if they can be really distinguished, result in law and public policy of abortion on demand.
Finally, Sr. Baird’s defense of Fr. Pfleger’s support of Obama is a snapshot of how the Obama advocacy goes on inside the Catholic Church, through chanceries and parishes into the grassroots. Catholics who support Obama and work to convince other Catholics to vote for him, as Fr. Pfleger has done, ignore the myriad of evidence that Obama is pro-abortion. They parrot a handful of Obama speeches filled with promises his never intends to keep.
Regular readers may be taken aback by my headline. But I didn’t raise the question in jest – I am repeating a question put to Cardinal George by a reporter for the Catholic News Service.
A March 23 story from CNS, written by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, featured an interview with Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, in the aftermath of the health care bill being passed by the House. Cardinal George registered his concern about the abortion funding in the bill and the inadequacy of an Executive Order to remove that funding.
O’Brien proposed a question to the cardinal about the USCCB’s motives with regards to the health care debate:
“Cardinal George also rejected claims by some that the USCCB had allied itself in the health reform debate with groups that were primarily interested in advancing the Republican agenda.”
Before we continue, it should be noted there was no parallel suggestion regarding the possibility the USCCB was trying to advance a Democratic Party agenda, given the visibility of support for universal coverage.
Indeed, given the visibility of the bishops’ overall support for the bill, I can only come to the conclusion that those who accuse the USCCB of advancing a “Republican agenda” must have abortion in mind. Why? The only parts of the bill they objected to were abortion funding and the lack of conscience protection for medical workers.
It’s ironic when it’s implied that the pro-life cause is being lead by the Republican Party rather than the Catholic bishops. Isn’t someone putting the cart before the horse?
Other than stifling a laugh when I read that question in the CNS story, my only other reaction was to recall the many times I warned people not to trust the GOP to make the life issue a priority – any political party should know it has “to earn your vote.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the question to Cardinal George. During the 2008 election a number of bishops who questioned the pro-life claims made by Obama and his Catholic surrogates were accused of being “partisan” or Republican.
This points to one aspect of the tragedy of Bart Stupak. Stupak could have carved out a proud place in the history of American politics as the man who broke the strangle hold of abortion advocates on the Democratic Party.
America would have once again had a two-party system, from a pro-life point of view.
But to return to how Cardinal George answered the question of purported support for the GOP’s agenda.
“I really don’t think that’s true,” he said. “The principles are twofold — everybody’s taken care of, nobody killed. And I think that moral voice, while it doesn’t correspond politically to either party, has been consistent.”
True, the principles don’t correspond to either political party, but the two principles are not equal in moral weight. The aim of universal health care does carry with it a non-negotiable obligation for Catholics — the protection of innocent life – both Cardinal George and the USCCB have been pointing to this throughout the health care debate.
As implied by the question posed by the reporter, the pro-life principle has become so identified with the Republican Party that some regard the bishops’ own pro-life effort as partisan rather than, simply, Christian.
The sad state of affairs seems to be this: When Catholics object to abortion funding in health care they are accused of being Republican shills. But, when Catholics ignore the presence of abortion funding in health care they are applauded for their commitment to universal coverage.
Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say that President Obama loves some Catholics more than others. He loves Catholics like Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association because she successfully deflected the bishops’ concerns about funding for abortion by convincing the members of the House of Representatives that they should support the bill. She was so good at convincing lawmakers that the bill was one that Catholics could support, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL ) told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday last week that the bill had the support of the Catholic Church. And, when advised by Paul Ryan( R-WI) that the bishops were against the bill, Schultz responded that the nuns were in favor of it and asked Ryan why he believed that women could not speak for the Church.
Sr. Keehan has been a good soldier in the health care wars. In fact, President Obama loves Sr. Keehan so much that he awarded her 30 pieces of silver at the bill signing ceremony. Sorry, I meant to say he awarded her one of the 20 silver signing pens—the coveted souvenir pens that he gave only to his most faithful helpers in shepherding health care reform.
President Obama also loves Alexia Kelley, his pick to be the director of the Federal Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Kelley is a special kind of Catholic because she couples an ability to talk the Catholic talk with phrases like “seeking common ground” but then applies them to abortion at the same time she is heading a group called “Catholics for (the pro-abortion) Sebelius.”
As founder and director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Kelley somehow convinced people like George Soros, and a long list of labor unions, that they should love Catholics too. In 2008, Kelley was paid $110,000 a year to direct Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—but, it was money well spent because her Catholic organization received $100,000 from George Soros’ Open Society; $25,000 from the AFL-CIO; $75,000 from the ARCA Foundation; $50,000 from the PBL Fund; $50,000 from the American Federation of Teachers; $25,000 from AFSCME; $25,000 from IBEW; and $10,000 from IUPAT. Who would ever have guessed that labor unions loved Catholic teaching so much that they would spend thousands of dollars in 2008 to help Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good fulfill their stated mission of “promoting Catholic social teaching through media.”
When one looks closely at the funding streams for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, it is hard to believe it when their leaders claim that they are non-partisan. Funders like the ARCA Foundation have funded leftist causes for years including Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way. And, neither George Soros nor the long list of labor unions are known to be contributors to conservative causes.
Still, President Obama must have been really grateful for the role that Catholics in Alliance played in allaying fears about the health care plan among Catholics. Teaming with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Catholic Campaign funded Pacific Institute for Community Organizations, Catholics in Alliance provided Catholic congregations with a “Health Care Tool Kit.” While the kit’s brochure never denied that the proposed health care reform would fund elective abortion with public money, it stated rather neutrally: “How Congress applies current policy on federal funding for abortion to new systems created through health reform will be an important issue for the faith community.” It also reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was ever promised.
But, President Obama must love Chris Korzen’s Catholics United best of all because Korzen was so good at neutralizing the voices of the bishops. Formerly employed as an organizer for SEIU, and a master at messaging (he was one of the leaders of Catholics for Sebelius), Korzen once said in an interview that Catholics United does the “edgier” work. He’s right about that. Implying recently in a radio interview that the Catholic bishops are just not smart enough to understand the complexities of health care reform, Korzen enlisted 47 theologians who were willing to sign a statement on his website decrying the interference of the bishops in the debate over health care reform. Advising the bishops to stay out of the conversation on health care reform (unless of course they wanted to support it), the letter that the theologians signed stated that, “It is troubling to see some bishops sending messages that give spiritual sanction to narrow partisan agendas promoted by staunch opponents of reform.”
Once the health care reform bill was signed, Korzen dismissed the authority of the bishops on healthcare reform by stating on Kresta, an Ave Maria radio program that, “ It’s important to remember that they (the bishops) really don’t speak with authority on this, and as Catholics, we are free to disagree with them…they don’t have any particular charism in that field.” Rather than trusting their bishops, Korzen advises Catholics that, “When I want to know what’s in a piece of legislation, I don’t consult folks who are experts in ecclesiology, I consult folks who are experts in health care. The Catholic Hospital Association is one of those organizations…”
It seems that Korzen might trust some Catholics whose expertise is in ecclesiology and theology though, when he invited those 47 theologians to speak with authority on health care reform. But then again, by enlisting the theologians in advising Catholics on what Catholic teaching “really says” about health care reform, Korzen places the theologians in the position of providing a kind of Alternative Magisterium—a role that many of them have already assumed. I think lawyers call that venue shopping.
Regardless of their motivations, the reality is that Keehan and Korzen have diminished the authority of the bishops in the health care debate. They have attempted to silence the voices of those Catholics who are concerned about public funding for abortion. And, they have provided permission to Catholic lawmakers to support a bill that will dramatically expand abortion. President Obama must really love these Catholics.