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