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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Outrageous: Liberal Catholics trying to lay health care reform blame on US bishops

    Hold on to your hats -I'm going to try to make something very complicated, well, a little less complicated.

    This is about the ongoing struggle between democrats (and their friends) who want health care reform to include money for abortion, and pro-life Catholics who don't want money for abortions to be included in health care reform.

    Here is a list of the most important players in this fight:
    1) Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the US Bishops' pro-life committee, and those who work for him
    2) The leaders of the democrat party who are crafting health care legislation, and are eager to appease their pro-abortion supporter
    3) Amy Sullivan (writing in TIME Magazine) and other media-type individuals (who falsely claim to present a "Catholic" perspective on health-care reform, like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good) trying to give cover to the democrats and malign the pro-life activities of Cardinal Rigali and other pro-life Catholics

    The latest salvo in this ongoing fight comes from Amy Sullivan, who wrote in TIME Magazine this weekend claiming that the US Bishops have been sending mixed and confused messages to democrats in Congress, making it impossible for democrats to honor the Bishops' demands that money not go to abortions in health care reform.

    She claims that democrats in Congress were taken by surprise when Cardinal Rigali wrote this on October 8th:
    "However, we [bishops] remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously."
    In fact, it is more accurate to say that Cardinal Rigali had seen through the democrat-sponsored Capps amendment as being nothing more than a shell game to sneak abortion funding into health care reform anyway, and so he wrote the above sentences with a clear message for the democrats in Congress: "enough is enough."

    Eliminating money for abortion in health care reform would be as simple as approving any of the multiple pro-life amendments (such as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) which have already been offered. But no - democrats have voted down every single pro-life amendment which has been offered during the long course of these deliberations.

    Which leaves us with a very cold, obvious fact: the reason there is abortion funding in the current health care reform proposals is because democrats put it there, and have repeatedly kept it there.

    Sorry, Amy, you can't blame the bishops for this one.

    If you are interested in this topic, do also read what Deal Hudson and Steven Ertelt have written. Deal Hudson takes a look at what may be happening internally at the USCCB during these negotiations, while Steven Ertelt has an expert source briefing us on what has been happening politically in Congress.

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    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    People who don't support Obama are racists, liberal Catholic claims

    I've discovered the application of Godwin's law which is most applicable to pro-Obama Catholics. It goes like this:

    "As it becomes more difficult to defend Obama, the probability of a charge of racism approaches."

    In all seriousness, Michael Sean Winters - a liberal Catholic who supported Obama during his presidency and continues to do so - actually wrote this in American Magazine about those who came to Washington DC for an anti-tax rally:

    "It is becoming well nigh impossible to deny the racist overtones of these protests."

    What, may you ask, is the strongest argument for this astounding claim?

    "Many of the virtually all-white crowd on Saturday yearned for an earlier time with less government involvement in society."
    You read that correctly: the fact that this crowd was predominantly caucasian (by Winters' account), proves that it must be racist. By Winters' logic, the United States Senate must be "racist" - it is "virtually all-white", after all.

    Winters goes on:

    "But, that earlier time [of less government involvement in society] recalls, for many of us, the memory of states’ rights being enforced through dogs and water cannons."

    So let's parse this argument:
    1. When there was less government involvement in society in America, there was also racial segregation
    2. The anti-tax marchers want less government involvement in society (specifically, over-taxation and regulation)
    3. ... the anti-tax marchers want a return to racial segregation.

    That is Winters' argument, in three easy steps.

    As I tweeted immediately upon being forwarded and reading Winters piece, "Liberal Catholics would do well to practice some fraternal correction." Let me explain:

    Liberal Catholics will go ballistic when a conservative Catholic writer makes an absurd argument, and demand that fellow conservatives disown the maverick's argument. Because, on the whole, we strive to be reasonable and agreeable people, we typically do so. We can call one of our own out of bounds without feeling we've eroded our common arguments. We can call crazy "crazy" because we try to avoid it. Winters seems to be reduced to just writing crazy.

    Well, in similar fashion, I'd like to see some "liberal" Catholic writers take Winters to the woodshed for this one. People who don't like Obama don't like him because they are racist - really?! Is anyone typically sympathetic to Winters prepared to defend this claim of his? There are many more people in America who did not attend this march who are sympathetic to the concerns of those who did attend. Are all of them equally guilty of the racism Winters ascribes?

    I'll be waiting for such logical reflection on these claims Winters has injected into the debate.

    But frankly, until Winters himself retracts this stupidity, I'll feel free to disregard him completely.

    After all, I shouldn't give my time to someone who writes for a racist magazine like America.

    I mean, just look at the complexion of that magazine's editors.

    [photo - boston college]

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    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    Papist Quote of the Day: National Catholic Reporter

    From arch-dissenter Father (he doesn't like using the title) Richard McBrien in arch-liberal publication National Catholic (they shouldn't get to use the title) Reporter:

    "Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward." (source)

    Yes, I'm sure Jesus doesn't want us worshipping His substantial presence (sarcasm).

    Seriously, remind me why the Catholic News Service Twitter (the official news agency of the US Catholic Bishops) continually publicizes National Catholic Reporter articles?!
    Here's my quote of the day:
    "Supporting NCR, perpetually or not, is a doctrinal, theological and spiritual step backward, not forward."

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    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    Open topic: Bishop Joseph Martino resigns

    Today Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, PA resigned, confirming a report I mentioned last week.

    Unfortunately my current level of obligations prevents me from examining the decision in detail (for that, see Rocco's reporting), but I think it is important the AmP community is aware of it and discussing the fall-out.

    Bishop Martino is a hated man for a simple reason - he has attempted to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, and to his episcopal vows.

    A brief report from the Associated Press:
    A Roman Catholic bishop in northeastern Pennsylvania says he is stepping down for health reasons.

    Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino says he suffers from insomnia and crippling physical fatigue.

    The 63-year-old leader of the Diocese of Scranton is resigning more than a decade before the usual retirement age of 75. He had led the diocese since 2003.

    Martino had been heavily criticized by parishioners who felt alienated by his imperious leadership style and staunch defense of Catholic orthodoxy. Supporters say Martino was simply enforcing church doctrine.

    Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Justin Rigali, who leads the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to oversee the Scranton diocese until the Vatican appoints a new bishop.
    A recap of his "controversial" actions as a bishop, as reflected by the Religion News Service:
    The bishop burst into the national scene during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he frequently criticized Catholics -- including fellow bishops -- who suggested that abortion was only one of many issues by which to assess candidates.

    Shortly after the election last November, Martino stood on the floor of the bishops' meeting in Baltimore and pledged to withhold Communion from Biden, who was raised in Scranton, because he supports abortion rights.

    Martino later issued similar threats to Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., after he voted to confirm Kathleen Sebelius, who supports abortion rights, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Martino also warned Scranton politicians that he would close the diocese's cathedral on St. Patrick's Day if they honored any politicians who support abortion rights; he tried to shut down a local Catholic college's diversity program after it hosted a gay rights advocate; and he refused to recognize a local Catholic teachers union. He also presided over mass consolidations of schools and parishes, many of which were contentious.

    "By the world's standards, perhaps I have not been successful,"
    Martino said Monday. "But I have been faithful."

    David Gibson - a religion reporter with whom I have disagreed in the past - writes in Politics Daily:
    But church insiders say Martino had also worn out his welcome with his brother bishops and the Vatican. So his resignation may be further evidence that the U.S. hierarchy is divided between moderate voices and a more strident conservative minority that is struggling in the wake of Obama's success with Catholic voters.

    Liberal Catholics are taking Bishop Martino's resignation as a vindication of their position, and as a sign from within the Bishops conference and from the Vatican that Bishop Martino's pastoral "style" is unnaceptable:

    But it was an event in late October last year, on the eve of the presidential vote, as religious rhetoric was growing white-hot, that may have pushed Martino over the line in the eyes of many.

    A parish was holding a regular voter-education forum on the election, featuring discussion of a document, "Faithful Citizenship," the election guide endorsed almost unanimously by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, or USCCB. Martino showed up at the parish hall unannounced, causing a stir. Then he took the microphone and proceeded to critique the organizers for not using his own letter on abortion as the basis of the discussion.

    When a nun at the forum reminded Martino about the document of the enitre bishops conference Martino responded, "No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn't speak for me," Martino declared. "The only relevant document ... is my letter. There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable."

    It was a bizarre episode and one that not only capped Martino's reputation as a divisive figure, but also seemed to set him against his other bishops -- a stance that may have been the ultimate cause of his downfall. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia was named Monday by the pope to be the temporary administrator for the Scranton diocese, which comes under Rigali's purview.

    Whatever the ins and outs of the internal church maneuvering, the upshot is that a leading voice in the anti-Obama wing of the church hierarchy has been silenced while both Obama and Biden continue to take center stage.

    .... In addition, there are signs that some bishops are growing uneasy with the more strident and even partisan tone of many church leaders, especially in the wake of the shooting of Kansas abortionist George Tiller. The opposition of some bishops to health care reform -- which the pope has declared a fundamental human right -- as well as fallout from the fierce opposition by some to Obama's appearance at Notre Dame in May has also given some bishops pause.

    .... "By the world's standards perhaps I have not been successful here," Martino concluded. "But I did what I thought was right.

    Clearly not everyone agreed with that self-assessment, from Martino's fellow bishops on up to the pope. Where the hierarchy, and American Catholics, go from here is the question that remains unanswered.
    Again, it pains me to be currently unavailable to pause and reflect on this episode at length, but in the meantime, I'd invite AmP readers to fill in the context and add their helpful observations to a debate that is shaping up to be central in defining the identity of American Catholics in the years to come.

    For those who are interested, there is a Facebook group "I Support Bishop Joseph Martino" which has almost 500 members. I'm a member.

    Photo: CNA.

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    Wednesday, July 08, 2009

    "Rhetorical Strategy and Reality Reduction"

    I know I lamented in my previous post that certain groups of individuals produce problematic copy at a rate that far exceeds my freedom and ability to refute it, but I can take a stab at one or two as time provides.

    Michael Sean Winters always provides plenty of opportunities, like his short essay "legislative strategy and abortion reduction" published a couple days ago in the National Catholic Dissenter.

    It appears that liberal Catholics have all agreed among themselves in recent weeks that it's time for them to come out of the closet about supporting contraception, or at least the distribution of contraceptives when the alternative - supposedly - is pregnancies resulting in abortions.

    As brief backstory, there are currently two bills being discussed which focus on reducing abortion.

    Winters comes out - surprise, surprise - against the US bishops and supports the Ryan-DeLauro bill ("The Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act", which is bad) over the bill introduced by pro-life Democrats ( "The Pregnancy Women Support Act", which is good).

    Winters admits his Ryan-DeLauro bill "includes funding for contraception and extensive sex education." Now I bet, at this point, we are all somewhat aware of the sorts of things which are considered acceptable in public school sex ed. classes (Clearly, we need more lessons in pornography and masturbation in our highschools!). That last sentence in parentheses was sarcasm, by the way.

    I could point out Winters' sly rhetorical attempts to make the case for legislative pragmatism, to remind us that politics is the art of the possible, and recommend to us that compromise is the best path to progress, but really all his points boil down to the same thing - "give up your principles."

    I'll let him say that in his own words:
    "Compromise is not always a bad word and on the urgent matter of reducing the abortion rate, made more urgent by the economic downturn and consequent rise in the abortion rate, Catholics can in good conscience support a bill that is not their first preference but is still preferable to doing nothing."
    Why is this bill preferable to doing nothing? It floods the market with (more) contraceptives (which Winters apparently sees no problem with - sorry Pope Benedict and the Magisterum); the bill is far-and-out preferred by radical pro-abortion groups as a way to further their agenda (here's one example); and at the end of the day the bill is basically a massive money infusion for parasitic organizations like Planned Parenthood, who see abortion as darn good business.

    In the social encyclical Pope Benedict released this week, he says in Paragraph 28:
    One of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples ... [and] questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.

    Not only does the situation of poverty still provoke high rates of infant mortality in many regions, but some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion.
    Now, I don't think I'm stretching the pope's words one jot when I claim that Pope Benedict thinks it's a bad idea for governments to promote contraception. Frankly, it's more than bad - it's evil. As in never-to-be-done evil.

    Winters thinks its preferable for Catholics to support a bill that allows the government to promote contraception than for them to do nothing. And he doesn't even seem to admit the possibility that Catholics and other pro-lifers, standing strong, could lobby behind a far-better bill that doesn't have the same flaws I mention above.

    I disagree with him on both counts, and I would argue that I have the Pope and the bishops on my side. 

    What exactly does Winters have on his?

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    Jack Smith on America Mag's calumny

    Seriously, enough is enough:
    A number of recent editorials by Catholic Obama partisans have sought to discredit the U.S. Bishops and the pro-life movement as a whole by grossly misappropriating the words of Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn.

    Sometimes with attribution, sometimes without, but never in context, they have ripped four words, “We are at war,” from a 3,981 word address Bishop Finn made to a pro-life convention April 18, and given it meaning and context of their own making.

    None have been so egregious as the Jesuit editors of America. This week’s Current Comment editorial in America disgraces the paper and the Society. It is vicious calumny in service to wicked ends. [Read on.]
    It's almost exhausting to keep up with everything they write. I wish I was paid to dissent and dissemble.

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    Monday, June 08, 2009

    AmP Challenge: No more claiming the US Bishops are "partisan" on abortion

    In the interest of dialogue with our liberal Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, I challenge them to explicitly and totally repudiate the pernicious claim that US Bishops, when they speak about abortion, are engaging in "partisan politics." This same claim is similarly made about American Catholics when they, essentially, mimic the talking points of the US Bishops.

    The claim that US Bishops, and those who agree with them, are "partisan" when it comes to abortion is deeply hypocritcal, because such a claim is, itself, a partisan charge made exclusively by liberals.

    How common is this theme of calling US Bishops and their supporters "partisan" when they speak about abortion? Well, it is very common (see below). Most recently, these liberal partisans have taken to using recent L'Osservatore Romano articles as proof that "their" side is the right one. Well, they are in for a surprise, as I will demonstrate.

    Here are some of the chief offenders (note how they all claim L'Osservatore Romano is on their side):
    • Joe Feuerherd at National Catholic Reporter: "Less than four months into the new administration we don’t plan a mea culpa. Rather, we agree with L'Osservatore Romano, that the administration has demonstrated thoughtfulness and moderation, even as some of its less temperate Catholic critics declare, "We are at War!"
    • Michael Sean Winters of American Magazine: "Chaput sneers at Jenkins. He sneers at Obama. (I am assuming he sneers at L'Osservatore Romano which had a far different interpretation of the President's visit to Notre Dame.)"

    And yet in L'Osservatore Romano's own June 5th edition, it said this:

    "Obviously the Holy See and L’Osservatore Romano have been, are and will be fully at the side of the U.S. bishops in their commitment in favor of the inviolability of human life in whatever stage of its existence.

    Other interpretations have no foundation, especially those that have wanted to use the newspaper’s articles to make it appear that the teachings of the U.S. episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion were an exercise in partisan politics, supposedly in contrast with a different strategy of the Holy See."

    L'OR is crystal clear: the interpretation that "the teachings of the U.S. episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion [is] an exercise in partisan politics" ... has "no foundation".
    With that said, will Joe Feuerherd again "agree with L'Osservatore Romano" on this point about US Bishops and those who agree with them? Will Michael Sean Winters cease his sniping at Archbishop Chaput and other teaching bishops, or will he do a 180 and himself "sneer at L'OR" now that the newspaper isn't agreeing with his liberal talking points?
    If they don't take up this challenge, we can be sure of three things:
    1. The entire time they were agreeing with L'Osservatore Romano, it wasn't because they were trying to be faithful Catholics, it was because L'OR was agreeing (they thought) with their liberal talking points
    2. They are in fact selectively picking-and-choosing what things they agree with the Vatican on, again filtering what they hear and agree with through a partisan, liberal a priori position
    3. They themselves are guilty of engaging in the sort of "partisan politics" which they have accused the US Bishops and those who agree with them of embracing. This is text-book hypocrisy.

    To make my case even stronger, I'd ask AmP readers to send me examples of Catholic columnists claiming that the US Bishops are engaging in partisan politics, and especially of recent examples where they claim L'Osservatore Romano is in effect "taking their side." I'd also ask AmP readers to note when this claim is made, in its various forms, from this point forward. I intend to call them on it every time they do it.

    Why am I being so blunt about this? Well, certainly there here are many, many things wrong with the current state of debate between liberal Catholics and other Catholics when it comes to the issue of abortion and politics in America, but with this challenge, I hope to begin systematically rooting-out and definitively putting-to-rest one of the most pernicious and offensive of these errors.

    I think such charges against our bishops are corrosive to constructive dialogue. Let's at least agree that when they speak about abortion, they are speaking from the heart of the Church, not a partisan talking-points page.

    update: readers have asked for more proof of my claim that some notable individuals have systematically set themselves up against the bishops on the issue of abortion, along partisan lines. I have removed my quotation from Stephen Schneck for lack of further evidence. More proof for the other two:

    • Joe Feuerherd (Feb 22, 2008 - Washington Post): "[Bishop Doran] is not alone among Catholic bishops in his attempt to anathematize the Democrats, to make the party and its candidates illegitimate in the mind of the electorate." ... "Sounds like I'll be voting for the Democrat -- and the bishops be damned."
    • Michael Sean Winters (April 30, 2008 - America Magazine): "I hope the bishops who are in such high dudgeon about Obama will demand that Dr. Glendon be forbidden from receiving any Catholic honors until she renounces her association with the Bush administration."

    And for good measure, I've re-added a third:

    • Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ (November 7, 2008 - Washington Post): "This division between the vocal, partisan bishops and the silent, nonpartisan bishops will be a major issue at the Baltimore meeting."

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    Saturday, May 02, 2009

    L'Osservatore Romano's baffling take on Obama, and Winters' misleading take

    George Neumayr writing for Catholic World Report:

    "L’Osservatore Romano’s sympathetic front-page editorial by Giuseppe Fiorentino about Barack Obama’s first 100 days is baffling (full text available here). On every contested issue related to the natural moral law, Obama is advancing dangerous policies. Yet this editorial blithely says that even “on ethical issues…Obama doesn’t seem to have confirmed the radical changes he had aired.”

    Yes, he has. [find out how here.]

    ... It is more than a little disturbing that an editorial as ignorant as this one could appear in the Pope’s newspaper. At the very moment orthodox Catholics in America are reeling from Notre Dame's honoring of Obama, they wake up to find this editorial softpedaling his record. Et tu, L'Osservatore Romano?"

    On a related issue, I've been accused at times of having a political bias which effects my reporting of Catholic news, and especially Obama news. "Liberal" Catholics will often accuse "conservative" Catholics of loving the GOP more than the Catholic Church, or at least paying attention to the former more when it comes to political issues.
    What I always try to bring the discussion back to, when accused of this, are the facts of reality: what a given politician is actually saying and doing. This is an objective measure which I hope guides my reporting and should guide all of our critical thinking on these issues. Otherwise how are we to apply the teachings of the Church when we cannot even accurately assess the record of the person we are examining?
    Michael Sean Winters is particularly guilty of unfairly condemning "conservative" Catholics as partisan, when in fact they are trying to be faithful. I find this deeply ironic, considering, as I've pointed out several times before, and will now point out again below, Winters' own reading of current issues is more often guided by political/ideological affiliation than the reality of what, well, a given politician has actually said and done.
    For instance, see what Jack Smith of The Catholic Key blog (run by the staff of the newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City) said yesterday about Winters' claims.
    I'm not going to quote him because it is the volume of details that Smith reveals which matters most here (as in the Neumayr article above). In other words, taking the time to do the research and the background reading is important, because otherwise we'll be taken in by what the "experts" are trying to make us believe. Or, for that matter, what Winters wants us to believe.

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Front-group Catholics United slips into attacking Bishop D'Arcy

    I have zero patience for Catholics United.
    It's a front organization that abuses the name "Catholic" for anti-life interests, and is moreover funded by pro-abortion advocates like the billionaire George Soros, as others have exposed.

    So I wasn't surprised to find out that their executive director Chris Korzen issued a press release today welcoming ND's decision to invite Obama.
    It's not hard for Catholics United to think of ways to criticize orthodox Catholics of exploiting the faith for political ends ... because that's exactly what Korzen and company do. The difference is Korzen and co. (falsely and hypocritically) claim the other side is doing it.
    So how do you prove which side is disingenuous? Simple enough: you wait for one side to slip.
    And Korzen and co. just did.
    Here's some of what he said:

    As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the knee-jerk opposition to Notre Dame’s decision to confer an honorary degree on President Obama and invite him to give the 2009 commencement address. President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame will be nothing short of an honor for all Catholics.

    Attacking Notre Dame is simply disingenuous and reflects a larger pattern of manipulation of the Catholic faith for political advantage.

    Regrettably, the individuals leading the charge against Notre Dame are partisan operatives who routinely use a single-issue analysis to divorce the Catholic faith from its longstanding commitment to social justice and the sanctity of all human life.

    Dan Gilgoff of US News & World Report thinks Korzen and co. were unprepared for the ND backlash, and (my take:) in their rush to inject their unique style of rhetorical-spin into the debate, made a misstep. Gilgoff asks:

    The White House and liberal Catholic groups appear to have been caught off guard by the furor over President Obama's forthcoming appearance at Notre Dame. Catholics United, a progressive Catholic group with close ties to the White House, has just released a defense of Notre Dame and Obama's appearance there.

    ... [but did Korzen mean to] include the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has blasted Notre Dame for hosting Obama [as a "partisan operative"]?

    Until now, the new breed of progressive Catholic groups has been careful to avoid attacking the Catholic hierarchy, lest it appear that they're at odds with their own church. On Notre Dame, it looks like they're coming into conflict with church officials. Another sign of an action plan developed hurriedly, at the last-minute?

    Actually, this is not the first time Catholics United has run afoul of the clear teaching of the Catholic hierarchy, especially on life issues. Alternately, having helped deliver the Catholic vote to Obama in last November's election, complacency might have brought with it sloppiness. Lying, after all, takes longer than truth-telling.

    Nevertheless I would submit that duplicity on the scale practiced by Korzen and co. simply cannot stand up to sustained scrutiny. So yes, please Chris, continue sending out those press releases.

    (And for once, perhaps Doug Kmiec made the smart move and decided to remain silent on this one.)

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    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Blowup in Madison: Bp. Morlino Dismisses Feminist Pastoral Associate

    Madison, WI is what I'd call a "battleground diocese": a conservative Bishop overseeing a diverse Catholic community which includes a fierce strain of dissenting instigators.
    The problem with being on the front lines, of course, is that you get attacked frequently. That's the case here.
    Right now some dissidents are trying to claim that Ruth Kolpack, a pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit WI, is a martyr because Bishop Robert Morlino dismissed her.
    The anti-hierarchical spin machine is in full-tilt right now, with National Catholic Reporter leading the charge.
    Here's an example of a dissenting Catholic blog introducing a call to organize protests:
    "Make Your Voice Heard: This is like what happen to the choir directors last year and why I stopped going to church the lying and not being truthful of the real reason of wanting to get rid of the more Liberal wing of the church. Anyway, I hope those who live near enough to make their voice heard will speak up in this woman’s defense." [errors in original]

    Meanwhile, here's (what I understand to be) a staff memo from Call to Action:

    Please write to the Papal Nuncio today! See address at right.

    Support Ruth and the more than 30,000 other Catholic lay ministers in our country who can be fired at any time by a priest or bishop without due process!

    We are pursuing options for Ruth but in the meantime, our canon lawyer has encouraged us to send hundreds of letters to the Papal Nuncio, the Vatican's Representative in the U.S. He keeps files of the letters he receives and passes the information along to the Vatican. In the long term, this raises the issue of church worker justice in the eyes of the Vatican. Please see the information at right for his address.

    If you live in Wisconsin, please consider joining CTA/Madison at local protest vigils this weekend to show your support for Ruth and the thousands of men and women like her who give their lives to our church. (Local Catholic Reporter)

    This sort of activity has a long history in Madison, as Fr. Z covered in October of last year.

    So what's happening in this latest episode? Here's some local reporting:

    The firing came in a meeting with Bishop Robert Morlino. Kolpack said Morlino asked her to renounce her master’s thesis, make a profession of faith and take a loyalty oath.

    ... Morlino was in Janesville on Saturday for an unrelated meeting. About 45 people came to meet him to protest the firing.
    The protesters held placards that said “Hear Ruth out!” and “Who would Jesus fire?”
    Morlino walked up to the group and offered to talk to them later in the day.
    “You don’t know the whole story,” Morlino said.
    “I’m certainly sorry we have division in the church, but there it is,” the bishop said. “… If anyone is willing to talk respectfully at 3:30, I’ll be there.”
    Several people interrupted Morlino as he spoke, although there was no shouting.
    “You weren’t respectful to her,” someone called out.
    Kolpack was present but did not participate in the protest.

    ...Kolpack said her thesis discussed the evil that can come of blind obedience. She said she can understand how that could be a red flag for the bishop.
    “But if he would’ve read the whole paper, he would’ve understood it... he didn’t give it a chance,” she said.
    The thesis also criticizes the church’s language of worship, which refers to God with words such as “he” or “Father.”
    Kolpack said that’s harmful.
    “I’m concerned about women, about young girls, who grow up in a patriarchal, male-dominated society. What does it do to their self-esteem?” she said.
    Kolpack said she came to these beliefs as she studied feminist and liberation theology at St. Francis Seminary, where she earned her master’s degree in divinity in 2003. She said that 2003 thesis was never a problem, until now.

    ...Kolpack responded: “The pope speaks infallibly in matters of faith and morals. Bishop Morlino is not infallible. … The Holy Spirit speaks through everyone.”
    As a representative of the church, if he would publicly display disregard for church teachings, that would be grounds for dismissal, King said.
    Morlino did meet with protesters for about 15 minutes but said he could not get into personnel matters, protester Jim Andrews said.
    Morlino said the issue was less about the thesis and more about “a certain mentality in the way of teaching,” Andrews said.
    Morlino did agree to meet with St. Thomas parishioners at some future date, Andrews said. (GazetteXtra) [More from Beliot Daily News]

    I think it's pretty clear that we don't know the whole story yet. The diocese is claiming her civil and canonical rights were not violated:

    "You can be assured that the canonical and civil rights of each individual have been upheld absolutely. The Church takes this very seriously. I cannot make statements regarding Ms. Kolpack [director of communications of the Diocese], as they could injure her good reputation. The statement went on to say that church personnel "must uphold the faith and morals of the church" ... through what they publicly teach and claim to believe, what they associate themselves with, and by their actions."

    Scanning the National Catholic Reporter coverage, here is one perhaps revealing paragraph:

    "She's been through four priests, and we always knew she would be there. She's the heart and soul behind everything that goes on. Our priest is only 40 percent, so she was responsible for sacramental work as well. People converted and were brought back to the Catholic faith were crying because their friend was dismissed. Five- and six-year-olds were crying because they lost their teacher."

    First of all, she better not have been doing "sacramental work" (according to the technical terminology). Something like that ought to get you fired. Second, as you can see from this excerpt, NCR is playing up the "sob story" card big-time. I mean, crying five-year-olds?!

    My primary observation at this point is one of reactions. I think one's reaction in these situations should be to support the bishop's decision while charitable enquiring into his thinking. As the reporting points out, Morlino is perfectly willing to discuss it with them.

    The reaction of these Madison dissenters, however, is to blow up and plan mass protests.

    ... which makes me think that this is all they really wanted to do in the first place.

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    National Catholic Reporter editors endorse Obama, and I lose it

    Well, in effect.
    Here's how the editors of NCR begin:

    "Another presidential election cycle is nearly ended, and once again the Catholic bishops in the United States have sadly distinguished themselves for the narrowness and, in too many cases, barely concealed partisanship, of their political views."

    Notice, for the NCR editors, bishops who defend the teaching of the Church must be partisan if that teaching conflicts with the liberal viewpoint of the NCR editors. The fact that these same bishops are perfectly willing to accept pro-life democratic candidates completely eludes them.

    Fundamentally, the NCR editors parrot the "get over Roe" talking point which has been made popular by pro-Obama catholics. Moreover, the NCR editors sign onto this position even after it was explicitlty condemned by the competant authorities in the US Bishops Conference.

    The NCR editors even criticize the bishops for being narrow minded, for "turning the abortion issue into a partisan rallying cry" for "damaging the church and the pro-life cause" and for "erod[ing] the legitimate authority of an already beleaguered episcopal conference."

    And all this crosses a line. How dare they.

    How dare they claim that it is "partisan" affiliation which has prompted 60+ bishops (at last count) to speak out about the radical centrality of respecting human life in this election?

    How dare the NCR editors claim that it is some sort of affinity for the GOP party (why? what do the bishops have to gain, exactly?) which prompts the bishops to council against supporting a candidate who would overturn every restriction on abortion in the books, who radically supports the right of a mother to have her child dead even in cases of a live birth, and who would have catholics and other Americans pay for it?!

    And finally, how dare the NCR editors claim that they say all of this because of their Catholic faith?

    Essentially, they are claiming to be more Catholic than (at least) 1-in-4 American bishops.

    And they have intentionally put themselves under the condemnation already leveled against those who have similarly employed this nonsensical, disingenuous "the way to reduce abortions is to increase funding, support and access to them" argument.

    How dare they.

    (Oh, and having this photo - of young people walking in the annual March for Life, petitioning the Supreme Court to repeal Roe - serve as the accompaniment to their editorial? You know what I'm going to say.)

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