Will U.S. Catholic Bishops Choose Life?

Update: The answer is yes.

By John Zmirak Published on November 13, 2017

Update: The choice was for life. On Tuesday, the U.S. bishops elected Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City as chairman of the conference’s committee on pro-life activities. The Catholic News Agency reports Archbishop Naumann got 94 votes or 54%. Cardinal Blase Cupich, who as seen below is not nearly as strong on the issue of life, received 82 votes or 46%. The Stream will have more on this breaking story later in the day.

We don’t look to The Wall Street Journal for its religion reporting. But a recent piece stands out. It shows American Catholicism at a crossroads. It’s rare that a single decision decides the future of a church in a nation. But we face such a moment now. As the Journal explains, the bishops will vote on a crucial staff post. Who will lead the Church’s pro-life efforts?

The vote is down to two candidates — Cardinal Blase Cupich, of Chicago, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of Kansas City — who represent the ideological poles of the U.S. church and have articulated different visions of what being pro-life should mean.

I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.

Read Christopher Manion at The Wanderer on what a fine pastor Archbishop Naumann is. Manion noted how

Archbishop Naumann ended diocesan ties to the Girl Scouts of America because it was pro-abortion. He and other Kansan bishops produced a video prior to the 2016 elections to be shown in all parishes that carried a statement to keep ‘the human rights catastrophe’ of abortion ‘at the forefront of their minds when voting’ as a ‘moral obligation’ for Catholics.

Cardinal Cupich represents the polar opposite approach. He has embarrassed himself repeatedly. How? Through blunt, foolish, partisan moralism on public policy. In a 2015 an Open Letter, Jason Jones called out Cupich. He cited Cupich’s

op-ed in response to the Planned Parenthood videos. As a victim of legal abortion who lost a daughter to it, I cannot imagine how you could have written this:

While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

Do you really not see what is uniquely evil about murdering children and selling their parts for profit? As Jesus told us, the poor we will have always with us, and we must advance their interests. But how can you compare the malice of organ-profiteering abortionists with the “indifference” that you (uncharitably?) attribute to fellow citizens who disagree with you about the optimal public policies helping the poor, reducing unemployment and violence and reforming immigration?

The Seamless Garment Is a Burial Shroud

I said it here three weeks ago. Cupich’s “Seamless Garment” or “consistent life ethic” is an intellectual fraud.

[It] pretends that on every possible topic, from gun rights to immigration, there is a “pro-life” position, and that it invariably entails all of the following:

  • More power for the government (i.e., grabbing guns).
  • More seizure of wealth to be redistributed by politicians (raising taxes, lavishing money on welfare programs).
  • Acting in what seems like the short-term interests of some people, without concern for long-term consequences (admitting millions of low-skill, left-wing, or sharia-loving immigrants).
  • Enforcing “mercy” for some at the expense of justice for others (refusing to execute murderers).

Many on the Christian left pretend that you can’t really be against killing unborn babies for our sexual convenience unless you favor open borders, gun confiscation, an end to capital punishment, single-payer health insurance and massive welfare programs. Oddly, in most of the countries that have all those other programs (see Western Europe), abortion is legal. In most, the pro-life movement barely exists.

A Fervent Partisan, But Lukewarm Pastor

LifeSiteNews recently published a very telling piece. Claire Chretien noted “the fervor with which [Cupich] defends liberal political causes.” She cited “the dispassion with which he speaks on abortion.” Chretien continues:

No matter how concerned you are about the “budget” and political leaders “cooperating” to craft that budget to your liking, what you consider bad economics may be a social ill, but abortion will always remain an intrinsic evil.

St. John the Baptist didn’t talk to Herod about his tax policies or whether he was giving enough government benefits to the shepherds.

No, Jesus’ cousin told him the truth, that Herod was committing adultery. And he lost his life for it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn’t fret about train ticket prices in Nazi Germany. He spoke truth to power about the genocide of Jews and eventually lost his life for it.

Debatable Policies vs. Human Sacrifice

At the beating heart of Catholic, Christian faith, two certainties stand:

  • Life is good, because God made it.
  • Sex is sacred, because it generates human life.

Ending life to make sex more convenient is profoundly evil. It’s not in the same ballpark as quarrels over optimal Medicaid budgets. Or background checks for guns. The latter’s a plate of bacon. You might be eating too much of it. The former’s a plate holding a human heart. An Aztec priest just plucked it out. Lumping the two together as “culinary issues” isn’t just foolish. It’s a lie.

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With this vote, America’s Catholic bishops will decide something huge. Will the Church in America confront the culture? Will She hew to Her core convictions? You know, like the Amish, the Orthodox Jews, the Mormons, and other serious religious groups?

Ending life to make sex more convenient is profoundly evil. It’s not in the same ballpark as quarrels over optimal Medicaid budgets. Or background checks for guns.

Or will it follow the example of the Episcopal and other Mainline denominations, which are quickly morphing into leftist NGOs?


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  • Patmos

    And last time I checked people aren’t shouting for those other issues like Planned Parenthood wants people to shout their abortions. Could you imagine? People shouting in favor of people dying for lack of medical care? People shouting in favor of gun violence? That’s how insane some pro choice people are.

    Okay yes, there are a few racists out there shouting for racism, but they are fringe and not generally accepted.

  • chestertonrules

    It’s like a bad dream. Nothing to do but pray.

    • Seamrog

      There is MUCH you can do besides pray. You can write to, and call your bishop and let him know your expectations.

      More importantly, you can also let him know that there be not ONE DIME more from you and your family to him, or to your parish if he does not abandon this political nonsense and stand unanimously with Jesus Christ to END abortion.

      If the pen of your checkbook has not run out of ink, tomorrow may be the prudent time for that to occur.

      STOP supporting them with your money. Stop having the Knights roll out the red carpet when they show up for Confirmation. Get up and walk out with your family when they play the stupid videos for the annual appeal. Ignore their convocations and ra-ra rallies. TOTALLY ignore them as long as they ignore the slaughter of innocent, defenseless babies.

      There is much you can, and should be doing.

      • disqus_UCEm93muyi

        The honor due a bishop is not a reward for his praiseworthy deeds, but a just reverence in virtue of his office. The material support of the Church is an obligation regardless of whether we believe our pastors are vocal or orthodox enough. Let’s pursue more communication with the clergy and not less.

        • Seamrog

          Where has that got us over the last 60 years?

          I am happy to honor the office of a bishop who honors it himself with something besides political nose rubbing and elegant lunches.

          These bishops who embrace the culture of death give the ultimate dishonor to their offices, and I will not support further indignity to the Apostles they unworthily succeed.

          Similarly, we are not obligated to support any efforts of the Church, the bishops or the clergy that usher souls to eternal separation, and unfortunately, that is precisely where we are today.

          I do support more dialogue with the episcopacy and the clergy. Unfortunately, most of them are not supportive of it – exactly the opposite.

        • Zmirak

          Send your money–send MORE money–to bishops in Iraq & Syria who are risking their lives to promote the faith of Jesus Christ, rather than risking the faith of Jesus Christ to lubricate their livelihoods.

  • disqus_G1fm6YhP4n

    This situation sickens me to the heart. Is there a petition we can sign and forward?

  • Seamrog

    Mr. Zmirak remains a clarion call for sanity, as usual.

  • Therese

    “The seamless garment is a burial shroud.” What profound truth!!!!

  • Grn724

    Jesus said once, you are either for me or against me. Well, the same will be said about the defenseless babies in their womb within their mother through God’s grace and love. How can it be that Catholic Bishops can even begin to hold a position that in the slightest, suggest we do not protect the most innocent of life? Is this child life? Is this child worthy of defense? Are you for this child or against this child? There is only one answer. If one has to ponder, speak in ambiguous language or make moral equivalent arguments then it is obvious what your answer is. Against

  • Let us see how they choose. I hope they choose correctly. I hate to now be fighting my church as well.

  • Micha_Elyi

    Ask any theological topologist, a seamless garment can even be fitted to Cthulhu.
    What is it about the Chicago see that its occupant can’t understand that?

  • Thomas Sharpe

    On the day I understood Humane Vitae, I picked up “the Book” and randomly opened it to that exact page:

    “I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.“

    20 years later I realize that going off contraceptives and the Pill was the best thing my wife and I have done. And 20 years later, I am still waiting to “Hear” a sermon on Humane Vitae. If anyone wants to understand the crisis in the Church, look no further.

  • Milord

    “Mormons, and other serious religious groups”

    Yer kiddin’, right? Or did I somehow misunderstand and you were being sarcastic?

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