When Congressman Tom Davis (R, VA-11) announced he would not seek re-election in 2008, political forecasters quickly moved the district into a toss-up, lean Democrat district. Regardless of the 2008 national trends, the district would have likely remained a Republican seat due to Davis’ previous electoral success in a year when Virginia turned very purple.
The 2008 race for the 11th District, one of the most Catholic in Virginia, was between Democrat, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly and Republican, Northern Virginia businessman Keith Fimian. Connolly defeated Fimian by nearly forty-two thousand votes, and the district provided President Obama a fifty-five thousand vote victory, a dramatic shift from the previous two Presidential elections.
As a Catholic, who lives in the 11th District, there was one particular series of events in that year’s race that troubled me. On seven occasions the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee sent out attack pieces against Keith Fimian for his membership in a “radical group.” The radical group the mail pieces actually referenced was Legatus, the Catholic business leaders’ group. The mail pieces were inflammatory and extremely anti-Catholic toward a group of business leaders who follow their faith.
Two points to make on the bigoted mail pieces:
The seven mail pieces were dropped over several weeks and went unanswered by the Fimian campaign. The lone exception is a September 10, 2008 Washington Post article discussing the mail pieces.
Since they continued, it is clear at no point did Gerry Connolly, a Catholic originally from Boston who spent six years in a Seminary, call for them to stop.
Fimian’s 2008 comments to the Washington Post are hard to follow. “They’re engaged in the politics of personal assassination,” Fimian said. “Legatus is entirely a social organization. It . . . takes no position politically. The members are concerned with serving the poor and with social justice and family issues. To somehow imply that I’m in favor of these things because there are links from the Web site to other organizations that Legatus says it doesn’t endorse is essentially lying about my position.”
So what Northern Virginia Catholics had in 2008 was one candidate, awkward and timid in defense of his faith, and another condoning the anti-Catholic attacks.
The results have been to send one more Catholic to Congress to be a consistent vote against the Church. Gerry Connolly’s election has resulted in his votes for Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House, Obama-care, co-sponsoring the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and supporting same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C. These are just some of the ways he voted against non-negotiable Catholic teachings while agreeing with Nancy Pelosi on 97 percent of his votes. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, who regularly makes up Catholic doctrine, Gerry Connolly studied it for many years. Maybe he didn’t pay close attention during his time in the seminary.
2010 is now a different year though. The national trend is tilting in a different direction than 2008. Americans are finally more attentive than ever before to Washington’s runaway spending habits and the overreach of the Obama administration into our lives. Faithful Catholics are also paying attention, as a result of the election of the most pro-abortion president ever, to those in Congress, such as Gerry Connolly, who are enabling the Obama agenda.
Keith Fimian was quick to announce he wanted a re-match against the incumbent Congressman. Then in January, Fairfax County Supervisor and life-long Northern Virginia resident Pat Herrity entered the Republican primary. Both men are Catholic.
Shortly after Pat Herrity’s announcement, surrogates for the Fimian campaign began, what I would call, a whisper campaign against Herrity’s positions on the issues of life and marriage. It even went so far that people in other states were telling me where Herrity supposedly stood on the issues and that Fimian was better. Curious to see what each candidate was saying and annoyed by the veracity of the surrogates – I visited both websites. On Herrity’s website it is very simply stated, “I believe that the family is a core institution to our society. As a father of two wonderful children, and as an adoptive parent, I believe we should support and encourage adoption. As a practicing Catholic, I am pro-life, and I support the Defense of Marriage Act.” On Fimian’s website, I found not a single mention of the same issues, a fact communicated back to the Fimian surrogates. (Note: since then Fimian has placed this information on his site)
As Virginians enter the final week of the primary season, our mailboxes are filled each day with a different direct mail piece. The Fimian campaign claims Herrity raised county taxes. The Herrity campaign points out Fimian’s failure to pay taxes as evidenced by an IRS Tax Lien. Herrity points to specific county budgets where he supported tax cuts. Fimian states the tax lien is a result of the work of a contractor which is a troubling answer from a certified public accountant. The only real benefactor to all this primary debate is Gerry Connolly who gets to save his money to use for the election in November and, regardless of this back and forth, one thing I have only seen on Herrity’s mail pieces is a pro-life declaration.
I know Keith Fimian and have spent time with him. Elections must be less about relationships and more about who can win the privilege to be sent to Washington to get the job done. Not to be content with the information on Pat Herrity’s website or mail pieces, I met with him, looked him in the eye, and asked him some very tough questions. I left the meeting not only confident of Herrity’s commitment to life and marriage but also having met with someone who knows what it takes to run and win a campaign in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District.
Make no mistake – the top 2010 election year issues are jobs, the economy, and reigning in Washington’s spending habits. As we elect a new Congress, we need representatives who are able to address those important issues and who do not run away from non-negotiable ones such as the sanctity of life and marriage.
Catholics helped put President Obama and Gerry Connolly into office. Catholic Members of Congress like Gerry Connolly are helping advance the Obama-Pelosi agenda. Faithful Catholics in Virginia’s 11th District should take the time to educate themselves about all the Catholics running for Congress this year.
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.
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.
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.
The battle over who controls the Internet will soon come to a head. Is it the federal government, as the Obama administration is seeking to establish, or the many private companies who collaborated to create it and the millions of private citizens who use it for their entertainment and livelihood?
Soon we will find out if the federal government is going to take over the Internet. Under the Obama administration the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to force AT&T and Verizon to lease their Internet lines to rival companies.
Requiring Verizon and AT&T to share their lines, the FCC would effectively be putting the Internet under government control. Control of the Internet is precisely what the Obama administration wants with its support of “net neutrality” — the idea that there should be no restrictions or priorities on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs.
Obama’s support of net neutrality means that all Internet traffic will be treated equally, regardless of where it originated or to where it is destined. “I’m a big believer in net neutrality,” President Obama proclaimed only a few days ago while reaffirming his backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The groups backing net neutrality are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other groups have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.
Those opposed to net neutrality argue that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk, for example, allowing sex offenders and pornographers to have unfettered access to home computers.
A month ago, in a severe setback to the Obama administration’s push for “net neutrality,” a federal appeals court ruled the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to issue a 2008 citation against Comcast Corporation for inhibiting some Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.
The court ruled that the FCC had not been legally empowered by the Congress to regulate the network-management practices of an Internet service provider.
The White House and its allies in Congress, however, are moving ahead with their plans to take control of the Internet.
The plan is to insert net neutrality standards into regulations from the 1930s regarding landline telephones. In other words, by reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunication service the FCC will be given a green light to impose its will.
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.
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.