Bishops

Washington Post Praise for McCarrick in 2014 Contains an Ironic Comment by Pope Francis

Deal W. Hudson

September 4, 2018

When Pope Francis refused to comment on the letter by Archbishop Vigano enumerating his cover-up of ex-Cardinal’s sexual abuse, the public was bemused, if not angered. Now the Holy Father has explained the reason for his refusal — it’s too mystical to talk about.

In his Monday homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis pronounced, “the truth is humble, the truth is silence.” At first glance, this is strange comment given the issues at hand — charges he ignored the criminal past of McCarrick and sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI that McCarrick that end his public ministry. 

How can the truth be ‘silence’ on these charges? Pope Francis either did, or his didn’t know about McCarrick’s actions.  

Yet, Pope Francis goes further, he identifies this claim with the virtue of humility — “truth is humble.” What is he recommending here? Perhaps he believes that anyone possessing truth should never express it publicly? He may have in mind the humility described by St. Thomas Aquinas, which, “Consists in keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior” (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv.).  

However, Pope Francis would be contradicting himself according to St. Thomas — his notion of humility would imply the Pope does not know if Vigano’s charges are true or not. The Pope, however, would not not be going outside of “one’s bounds” in addressing the charges: Pope Francis knows the answers, and he won’t say anything about them. Why? Because, presumably, the truth is humble and silent.

Even more strange is how the Pope concocted his description of truth from Luke 4:16-30. In this passage, Jesus begins his ministry by visiting the Synagogue in Nazareth where he reads a passage from Isaiah and concludes, “This day is fulfilled this scripture in your ears, adding, “ Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.” When the crowd was angered and wanted to throw him out of the city, “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” 

The passage does not mention Jesus’s silence, rather Pope Francis infers it and bases his entire commentary on it. In doing so, the Pope is comparing himself to Jesus under attack for his claim that he represents the prophecy of Isaiah.  How is that a fair comparison? In the passage from Luke, Jesus had just proclaimed the truth about himself — he did not remain silent, he spoke the truth aloud, and it provoked the anger against him! 

Yet, Pope Francis ignores what Jesus said and focusses on his supposed silence after he had spoken to those in the Temple. The Pope, evidently, thinks Jesus was able to pass “through the midst of them” because he remained silent. Didn’t those in the Temple just see him and identify him while he was speaking? “Isn’t he Joseph’s son?”

It doesn’t make any sense to credit a supposed silence for Jesus getting away from the crowd when it was his speaking that aroused the crowd in the first place.  Clearly, for Jesus Christ, the truth is NOT found in silence. 

So what does Pope Francis really mean? Those familiar with the Catholic traditions of spirituality will know that ‘silence’ has a privileged place. As with the celebrated “silence” of St. Thomas, it denotes that boundary between what the mind can grasp, conceptual, and discuss and the supernatural reality that exceeds its power.  

St. Thomas Aquinas stopped working on his Summa Theologiae after telling his longtime secretary Reginald of Piperno, “After what I have seen today I can write no more: for all that I have written is but straw.”

Remaining in silence about what lies beyond the power of the mind, about a vision of the Divine, is revered in the tradition of Christian, and non-Christian, mysticism. 

What do the facts about the McCarrick scandal have to do with mysticism, with the silence provoked by an encounter with the supernatural? Pope Francis’s attempt to play a mystical trump card would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.  

One can imagine those hearing it on Monday at the Casa Santa Marta: the groupies present would start tearing up, others would scratch there heads, while others would be thinking, “How can he equate an experience of God with the facts about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of young men and boys?”

What’s next? Will all Catholic clergy be given the command – “the truth is silence” – regarding Archbishop Vigano’s letter about Pope Francis?

From 2002 — Washington Post Calls Cardinal McCarrick, ‘Vatican’s Man of the Hour’

Deal W. Hudson

July 25, 2018

I am posting this article from the Washington Post as a reminder of how Cardinal McCarrick took hold of drafting the sexual abuse policy adopted by the U.S. Bishops at their June 2002 meeting. I have bolded some of the more interesting observations made by the authors, Carlyle Murphy and Alan Cooperman — about McCarrick’s ‘zero tolerance policy’; his ‘not tainted by scandal’ record; his filling the ‘leadership vacuum’; and how he would want ‘wiggle room’ in cases where the victim was not a child but an adolescent.’ The remainder speaks for itself as well.

Deal Hudson, Publisher/Editor, The Christian Review.

Vatican’s Man of the Hour

By Caryle Murphy and Alan Cooperman

Washington Post, April 28, 2002

Resplendent in their red hats and elegant black robes, the American cardinals stepped into the Roman sunshine and swept down the stairs of the fortresslike Pontifical North American College. Most passed in silence before a gaggle of TV crews and boarded a shuttle bus to their next meeting.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick was in no hurry, however. On a shady patch of grass off to one side, the 71-year-old Washington archbishop chatted amiably with reporters last Tuesday. After a half-hour, his press secretary gently stepped in to warn him that he had to move on — or he might miss the bus.

At a time when many leaders of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church have been criticized as arrogant, secretive and uncaring, McCarrick has given the scandal-battered institution what it so badly needs: an attractive public face.

Assuming the role of leading spokesman for the U.S. cardinals during their meetings with Pope John Paul II on the sexual abuse crisis, McCarrick came across to many as candid, compassionate and committed to strong reform. In one interview after another, he spoke of a uniform national policy of “zero tolerance” toward priests who molest minors.

“I think he has emerged as a national leader, and I thought his voice was the most sensible voice,” said Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “He does get it, and he understands the depth of the problem and the need to address it transparently. . . . If his style of leadership were emulated, I think the church would be in better shape.”

But at times it seemed that McCarrick’s public outspokenness was greater than his influence behind the scenes. A few hours after he told journalists that the U.S. cardinals had agreed on a “one strike you’re out” policy toward priests who abuse children, the cardinals issued a final communique that did not go that far. And though he was one of the four men who drafted the communique, McCarrick did not seem to realize, until a reporter pointed it out, that the document did not contain any reference to lay involvement in disciplinary decisions.

“We had it in there last night, but words are in and words are out,” he said, momentarily flustered. “We certainly want to tell the laity they must have a role.”

McCarrick’s political skills will be put to the test over the next six weeks. He will be actively involved in drafting proposals on sexual abuse policy that will be presented to the nation’s nearly 300 active bishops at their June 13-15 meeting in Dallas. The bishops’ challenge will be to adopt a policy tough enough to satisfy Catholics angry about past leniency toward priestly abuse, yet acceptable to Vatican officials who are protective of priests’ due process rights.

McCarrick, a former university president who speaks five languages, arrived in Washington 16 months ago after serving 14 years as archbishop of Newark. Although the Rome summit gave him a new prominence, he is a veteran of politically sensitive missions. The New York-born prelate has made Vatican-sponsored trips to China, Vietnam and Eastern Europe, among other places, and he has been an advocate for the church on human rights, religious freedom and Third World debt relief.

While in Newark, he also won favor with the pope by ordaining more priests than any other U.S. bishop. And he has been a prolific fundraiser, demonstrating an ease with the rich as well as the poor.

At last week’s meeting of the U.S. cardinals, McCarrick filled a leadership vacuum. Traditionally, the most influential voices in that group have been those of the most senior U.S. cardinal, currently Boston’s Cardinal Bernard F. Law, and the archbishop of New York, now Cardinal Edward M. Egan.

But Law and Egan are embroiled in the sexual abuse scandal, facing criticism for failing to report priests’ misconduct to civil authorities and for shuttling the priests from one parish to another. Another prominent cardinal, Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, riled the Vatican just before the summit by calling for a reconsideration of mandatory celibacy for priests.

By contrast, McCarrick does not question papal doctrine. He is a staunch defender of celibacy and the male-only priesthood. He is effusive in his praise of the pope. And he has not been tainted by the scandal.

When he arrived in Washington, the archdiocese had stringent child sexual abuse policies that had been in place for several years. They require the reporting of allegations to police and immediate suspension of the accused from priestly duties. As archbishop of Newark, McCarrick instituted similar policies there in the early 1990s.

Before that, as bishop of New Jersey’s Metuchen Diocese, McCarrick allowed a priest from Boston who had pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy to work in Metuchen parishes for seven years. McCarrick said he had been assured by the Boston archdiocese and by medical personnel that the priest was rehabilitated. The priest was not accused of sexual misconduct again. In a recent interview, McCarrick said he “would never” agree today to accept such a priest.

Although McCarrick achieved his visibility at the Rome summit in part by default, his folksy style and affable personality also played a part.

“He’s got a winsome way about him,” said the Rev. James Coriden, who teaches at Washington Theological Union, a Catholic seminary in Northwest Washington. “He’s articulate, cheery . . . and he speaks in ordinary human language, not like a lawyer. He sounds like a pastor.”

Part of McCarrick’s charm is his self-effacement. “It’s the dumb ones who give a lot of interviews,” he said last week of his propensity to talk with the news media. “I believe in the ultimate goodness of people, including the press.”

The five-point program that McCarrick wants the U.S. bishops to adopt in June includes reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities; placing the accused priest on administrative leave pending an investigation; having the priest undergo therapeutic evaluation; caring for the victim; and appointing a review board of lay people to advise the bishop on the priest’s future.

Yet while urging a policy of zero tolerance last week, McCarrick also sought some flexibility on that issue, introducing what some may see as necessary nuance and others as wiggle room.

McCarrick said he supports zero tolerance for future instances of abuse. But, like many bishops, he left open the possibility that some priests accused of abuse in the past might be allowed to remain in ministry if the incident took place long ago and there had been no whiff of misconduct since. He also suggested that some leniency might be appropriate if the victim was an adolescent rather than a small child.

“If the person has been diagnosed as a pedophile, goodbye. But if he hasn’t been diagnosed as a pedophile and if there have been no other incidents, do you say, ‘One strike you’re out’? I don’t know the answer to that,” McCarrick said. He added that in such cases, he would pray for guidance and “talk to the laity.”

McCarrick could well have been describing a recent case in his own archdiocese. Last month, Monsignor Russell L. Dillard, the popular pastor of St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Northwest Washington, was placed on administrative leave after a woman accused him of having a romantic relationship with her almost 20 years ago when she was a teenager. McCarrick has not decided Dillard’s future.

McCarrick’s high profile in Rome last week was evident to his flock, the half-million Catholics living in the District and five Maryland counties that make up the Washington Archdiocese.

“Hey, what about Theodore McCarrick? I tell you, he’s front and center!” said Andy Ellis, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County police and a Catholic. “I think it’s a positive thing.”

Although there was some griping among Newark’s 1.4 million Catholics that McCarrick spent too much time traveling and was perhaps too close to the rich and glamorous, those complaints have not followed him to Washington. In his brief tenure so far, he has won points with priests for asking their advice and showing his appreciation of their work, sometimes telephoning them to pass on a compliment. He also has made it a goal to visit every parish, hitting two or three on many Sundays.

Within weeks of his installation in January 2001, McCarrick hosted a dinner at his home for newly arrived President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. The archbishop demonstrated his political savvy, noted one observer, by also inviting to the dinner the then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The really important thing to say about Theodore is that he is a collegial fellow,” said the Rev. Raymond Kemp of the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington. “He is a great believer . . . that all the guys together will make more sense out of this than a few cardinals.”

McCarrick’s performance in Rome was not without blemishes. He used a poor turn of phrase while describing the pope’s love for children, saying that “the Holy Father is turned on by children.”

“I didn’t know whether to cringe or laugh,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Catholic magazine America. “But when people see him on TV, they say, ‘This is an honest man who is answering the questions that are given to him to the best of his ability.’ “

Bishop Gracida Calls Excommunication Over Immigration Policy “Scandalous”

Deal W. Hudson

June 20, 2018

In a radio interview taped today with me, Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, sharply criticized comments made by Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon regarding canonical penalties for civil servants implementing present immigration policy.

“It’s scandalous for the bishop to say that! They did not write the law but are enforcing it….it’s absurd and it’s idiotic.”

In the early 1970s, Bishop Gracida was appointed Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration and Tourism with the responsibility for overseeing the work of the large Migration and Refugee Services Department of the N.C.C.B.  During his spent 14 years in that position, he worked with both the United States and Mexican governments, and their border patrols, on immigration reform — “to relieve the suffering of people crossing the deserts led by ‘coyotes.’”

He knows what he is talking about.

Bishop Gracida went on to say that Catholics must recognize, first of all, that the “current administration is charged with enforcing laws passed by President Obama.” Neither the Trump Administration nor the GOP has passed any immigration laws, he added.

This above is only a portion of what Bishop Gracida had to say about the present controversy over immigration. The conversation naturally turned to the issue of abortion which he said had become “toxic” among his fellow bishops.

My interview with Bishop Gracida on ‘Church and Culture‘ will be broadcast on the Ave Maria Radio Network this Saturday at 3 pm and Sunday at 7 am.

Prepare for some straight talk!

A Catholic Bishop Threatening Excommunication Over Immigration Policy?

Deal W. Hudson
June 20, 2018

Last week, Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson called upon his fellow bishops to issue a “prophetic statement” on immigration that would support “canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved” in implementing President Trump’s immigration policy.

Why would the thought of excommunication even enter the mind of Bishop Weisenburger? Does he mean to say that any Catholic Border Patrol Agent or ICE Officers enforcing the law are “obstinately preserving in manifest grave sin”?

If so, what is the “grave sin” that meets the criterion of excommunication according to Canon 915?

The 19,500 employees of the U. S. Border Control and the 20,000 of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have the job of enforcing the law of securing our national borders. (There are approximately 20,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements Officers. Of the 19,437 Border Agents, 16,605 are assigned to the Southwest Border.) None of these are responsible for our nation’s immigration laws or for the administrative policies of implementing them.

These are the same agents and officers who, under President Obama, deported a record 2.4 million immigrants between 2009 and 2016. Janet Murguia, the president of the National Council of La Raza called Obama the “Deporter-In-Chief.”

Where was the bishop’s outrage then, towards President Obama or the ICE and the Border Patrol employees enforcing his policies?

Bishop Weisenburger believes that these same employees, working under President Trump, are now in spiritual danger; canonical penalties are needed “for the salvation of those people’s souls.” It should be noted that Bishop Weisenburger mentioned other “border bishops” who shared his pastoral concern.

Imagine being a Border Patrol officer reading the paper at breakfast and learning you are targeted for “canonical penalties” just for doing your job. He asks himself, “Do I have to confess my occupation to my priest in confession?”

So much for the “who am I to judge” spirit expressed by Pope Francis.

The Bishops have already started preparation to deny President Trump a second term in office. I’m sure I’m not the only Catholic to think it unnecessary, even cruel, to threaten all the Catholics among the 39,500 federal employees of ICE and the Border Patrol with excommunication.

Some bishops justify their high dudgeon by arguing that asylum is a life issue, “an instrument to preserve the right life.” By using the term “asylum,” the bishops are trying to link immigration directly with escape from torture or persecution.

That argument digs the Bishop’s hole deeper. Let’s assume immigration actually has the status of a life issue. If so, where are the bishop’s public threats of excommunication toward all the Catholics in Congress who support abortion-on-demand and the funding of Planned Parenthood? (Only two of the 89 Catholic Democrats in Congress are pro-life.)

Let’s face it, the bishops have lost all credibility when it comes to abortion. Any attempt to connect the moral seriousness of abortion to immigration is a non-starter. The laity won’t buy it any more than they did in the 2016 election.

Bishop Weisenburger himself resides in a state where three of its Catholic members of Congress are rated 100 percent pro-abortion by Planned Parenthood (Tom O’Halleran, Raul Grijalva, and Ruben Gallego, all Democrats). Has he publicly stated any concern for the salvation of their souls?

What makes the situation all the more absurd is the fact that immigration is not a life issue the way abortion is a life issue. There is no single solution to the immigration problem — it’s a prudential matter allowing disagreement among Catholics regarding law and policy, including disagreements with the Bishops.

Many bishops have become dismissive of this point when it is raised. Newark’s Cardinal Tobin thinks those who call immigration a prudential matter are seeking to reduce its importance, concluding, “I don’t have a whole lot of time for people who reduce things to prudential judgment.”

What does the Cardinal think about the Catechism’s teaching on just war?

“The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good” (2309). Immigration policy is precisely that kind of issue. Abortion, however, is wrong “under any circumstance” (2258).

Cardinal Tobin has no time for such distinctions.

However, the crucial distinction is alive and well in the 2015 “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” — “Decisions about candidates and choices about public policies require clear commitment to moral principles, careful discernment and prudential judgments based on the values of our faith.”

The intention of using excommunication to force Catholics into line about immigration policy is demeaning. It won’t be viewed as an opportunity for spiritual healing but as punishment for being part of the Trump administration.

For decades, pro-life Catholics have begged the bishops to get tough with pro-abortion politicians. A few stepped up to the plate only to be scorned and isolated by their brother bishops (Bishop Gracida, Bishop Bruskewitz, and Cardinal Burke).

This level of hostility towards Trump, his staff, employees, and supporters is dividing even further an already divided Church. I’ve yet to hear a single bishop object to threats of excommunication over disagreements on immigration policy.

None of them, evidently, wants to disrupt the episcopal momentum towards the defeat of President Trump in 2020.

Read Newsmax: A Catholic Bishop Threatening Excommunication Over Immigration Policy? | Newsmax.com
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Catholic Bishops Gear Up to Beat Trump in 2020

Deal W. Hudson
June 18, 2018

The Catholic bishops met in Fort Lauderdale a few days ago. The dominating topic of discussion was politics, specifically, their official guide to Catholic voters, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

The Pope Francis faction, led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, called for a complete rewriting of the document since it no longer represented “the new body of teaching” as taught by the present pontiff, specifically mentioning climate change, poverty, and immigration.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego went a step further saying the present document doesn’t represent “Catholic teaching as it is now.”

These two are not the only ones who believe that in the space of five years, since Bergoglio’s 2013 election, the moral and social teaching of the Church has been so fundamentally altered Faithful Citizenship no longer speaks with the true voice of the Church. So much for an institution considered slow to change.

Other leading bishops, however, including Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles, opposed writing a new document, arguing what was needed was a more straightforward, significantly redacted version of Faithful Citizenship along with an accompanying video for YouTube, etc.

When the votes were tallied, 77 percent of the bishops voted for the creation of shorter materials — a letter, video, and other “resources” to supplement Faithful Citizenship.

During this discussion there was no mention of Trump being the most pro-life president in our nation’s history. It should not surprise us at that omission since the intent behind the beefing up of Faithful Citizenship is to deny Trump a second term in office.

The bishop’s present silence about the president’s achievement is only another iteration of their attempt during the campaign itself to camouflage Hillary Clinton’s pro-abortion stance by arranging with moral indictments Trump about “The Wall.”

The strategy didn’t work. Faithful Catholics would not be bullied into seeing moral equivalence between killing the unborn and insisting on secure national borders.

Trump/Pence won 52 percent of all Catholic votes and 56 percent of mass-attending Catholics. In the election aftermath, the weeping and wailing at the USCCB must have matched that of Hollywood, the EU, and the mass media.

As it stands, the 2015 version of Faithful Citizenship is a flawed document. A close reading of it offers the Catholic voters several loopholes allowing them to ignore a candidate’s abortion stand if other “morally grave reasons” prevail. It remains to be seen, whether the new supplements will magnify these flaws or keep them buried in theological mumbo-jumbo where they belong.

We can fully expect, however, the redacted version of Faithful Citizenship to put the immigration issue front and center. This placement will create the impression of a de facto moral equivalence with settled life issues such as abortion. The bishops approved language that virtually guaranteed these new shorter materials will “apply the teachings of Pope Francis to our day.”

But just as in 2016 when the bishops pressed the immigration issue, it won’t work in 2020. For one thing, Pope Francis has spent all the capital of good will created by his election and his successful U.S. visit. Pope Francis, as it were, has no ‘coattails.’

If the bishops produce election materials that recast Faithful Citizenship to fit the Pope’s vision, it will only create greater distance between the bishops and their faithful. They will be relegating themselves to becoming just another cadre of grumpy Never-Trumpers.

At the very least, the bishops could have expressed common ground with the Trump administration on his efforts to defuse the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. After all, doesn’t this come under the rubric of “world peace”?

The bishops, instead, focused on the president’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement. The USCCB itself has been asked to sign the Paris declaration by its own Catholic Climate Covenant created in 2006. How much money will it cost Catholics if the bishops decide to play in European politics on that issue?

Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the bishops ignored the opportunity of voicing solidarity with the president’s pro-life agenda and his the quest for peace between North and South Korea. Instead they prepared to sharpen their knives for the 2020 election. Is this what we now call “evangelization”?

Read Newsmax: Catholic Bishops Gear Up to Beat Trump in 2020 | Newsmax.com
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Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion

Deal W. Hudson
April 10, 2018

Pope Francis get’s it. He understands why 52 percent of Catholic voters helped to elect Donald Trump in the face of fierce resistance from nearly all the of the U.S. Bishops, and the pontiff himself.

What Pope Francis gets is precisely what has historically pushed Catholic Democrats to vote for Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump — the abortion issue.

To remedy this, the pope has published an Apostolic Exhortation, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World,” with the resulting headline from The New York Times: “Pope Puts Caring for Immigrants and Abortion on Equal Footing” (Jason Horowitz, April 9, 2018).

The headline, unlike most on the Catholic Church, is not an exaggeration, as seen in the following from the Pope, “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”

This is no mere throw off line; he reiterates it, connecting the issue of abortion and immigration directly to politics: “Some Catholics consider it [migrants] a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. (Emphasis added) “Such a thing is understandable,” yes, Pope Francis gets it — he realizes that a political candidate who is pro-life will attract Catholic voters when pitted against a rival who supports abortion-on-demand while insisting our national borders remain porous for the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross it each month.

The context of these statements in an exhortation on the “Call to Holiness,” suggests Pope Francis realizes the issue of abortion for Catholic voters is not a “single issue” at all — abortion connects to concerns about the moral dissipation of the culture in general.

Catholics regard a pro-life candidate as someone who will stand against the increasing tawdriness of culture which mocks religion and puts deviance on display. In other words, a pro-life candidate resonates with the still socially conservative America. (This is why I predicted pro-life Catholics would support Trump as early as February, 2016).

In 2016, Catholic voters rocked the liberal, Democrat-aligned, Catholic establishment by ignoring the nonstop attacks on Trump and his “wall” by Catholic bishops, priests, nuns, professors, and journalists. Indeed, their voices chimed in with the same message throughout the campaign: Immigration is a “life issue,” putting it on par with the defense of innocent life. Pope Francis now seeks to codify that message. But it won’t succeed, and I will explain why.

His apostolic exhortation ignores the basic moral problem in equating immigration with abortion: prudential judgment (see my explanation here). Any Catholic’s opinion and action on what the bishops have called “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us” has no single answer.

Do we support the “catch and release” ordered by President Obama? Do we support enforcing our laws pertaining to entering the United States? Do we build walls? No church teaching obligates a Catholic to a specific answer to these questions of public policy.

On the other hand, the question about whether to abort or not to abort has only one answer — no. Abortion is not a prudential matter. Some have called it one of the “non-negotiables,” others a “settled issue,” but the moral difference is clear.

Certainly Pope Francis is right about this: at a general level, both abortion and immigration do meet on equal ground — the principle of loving one’s neighbor. But, as has been explained, that moral equality doesn’t confer equality on type of moral judgments Catholics are obliged to make, one is liable to a variety of answers, the other is not.

To give an example of the distinction, here is a portion of letter written by then President of the USCCB, Archbishop Wilton Gregory to President Bush about the Iraq War: As Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, then president of the USCCB, wrote to President George W. Bush: “People of good will may apply ethical principles and come to different prudential judgments, depending upon their assessment of the facts at hand and other issues” (“Letter to President Bush on Iraq,” Sept. 13, 2002).

I’m not convinced that Pope Francis recognizes the “good will” of those Catholics who disagree with his view of immigration. As he puts it, “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God.”

Pope Francis has done his best to prop up the those Catholic Democrats who continue to promote abortion, support government funding of Planned Parenthood, and ignore the church’s teaching on life. His apostolic exhortation does not to change Catholic moral teaching because, as I have shown, the claim the Pope is trying to make cannot be rationally defended.

In spite of the headlines, the Pope’s gift to the Democrats will not be of much use to them in propping up their Catholic credentials. Lay Catholic voters will see through this claim just as they saw through the church’s barrage of anti-Trump rhetoric in the historic 2016 presidential election.

Read Newsmax: Pope Can’t Equate Caring for Immigrants With Abortion | Newsmax.com
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Archbishop and Trump May Have Much in Common

Deal W. Hudson
November 28, 2017

A few days ago, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby was asked if he understands why Christians in the U.S. support President Trump in such large numbers. “No, I don’t understand it,” said Welby. “I really, genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.”

Nevertheless, there are clear signs that Trump and Welby will hit it off famously when the time comes to meet. And that might happen shortly, since the president is scheduled to visit the UK early next year. Asked he if would attend a state dinner, the archbishop said he would, “You know, part of the job is to meet people you disagree with, and to testify with the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them in to a different way.”

From my perspective, the two have a lot to agree on. For example, Welby calls himself an “evangelical” even admitting to speaking in tongues: “It’s just a routine part of spiritual discipline — you choose to speak and you speak a language that you don’t know. It just comes.  . . . ”

It’s well known that President Trump has become good friends with number of leading evangelicals in the U.S. — Ralph Reed, Jerry Fallwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins, and Paula White. They have nearly unfettered access to the president and, recently, he took six evangelical leaders on his trip to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

Welby’s evangelicalism can be trace back to his conversion while at Trinity College, Cambridge after years of spiritual indifference. In 1975 while praying with a Christian friend, he suddenly felt “a clear sense of something changing, the presence of something that had not been there before in my life. Though he told his friend that the experience “embarrassed” him, it didn’t keep him from declaring his evangelicalism even in the face of a hostile press.

President Trump, it must be said, has gone through some sort of conversion himself, though it probably was not as dramatic as some have claimed it to be. Trump had spoken to evangelical groups such as Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition for several years prior to his decision to run for the White House. Further, anyone who followed the trajectory of his campaign, and its rhetoric, will have noticed the gradual increase of references to Christianity.

Both men are willing to stand firm against left-wing media pressure. Last year, Welby bravely contradicted those in the UK who refused to connect ISIS with the Islamic State, “If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult — probably impossible — to overcome it. . . . This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Isis is ‘nothing to do with Islam,’ or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.

Such directness befits a cleric whose mother was private secretary to Sir Winston Churchill for six years during Cold War.

There’s evidence, as well, that Welby’s appointment to Canterbury was held up because of his acknowledged evangelicalism and his less than enthusiastic support for same-sex marriage. As recently as April, a Guardian headline read, “Justin Welby unable to give ‘straight answer’ in whether gay sex is sinful.” On this issue, the archbishop may well be to the right of our president.

They also have business acumen in common. After graduating from Cambridge, Welby became a businessman before turning to the ministry and being ordained in 1992 at the age of 36. He worked for several oil companies, one in France, and learning perfect French, which must have given him a understanding the kind of economic issues the president is seeking to correct with new trade agreements.

The president and the archbishop have also experienced the vicissitudes of marriage and family. It was only four years ago that DNA tests revealed that Welby’s father was not whom he had thought. Given his personal experience, it’s highly doubtful that the 105th archbishop of Canterbury would jump on the bandwagon of some religious leaders who have judged Trump as morally unfit to be president of the United States.

The similarities between the two men will undoubtedly make their eventual meeting much more genial and fruitful than the archbishop’s comments suggest. They will discover themselves on the same side on important issues and will encourage each other to bear the cross of a rancorous press.

Read Newsmax: Archbishop and Trump May Have Much in Common | Newsmax.com
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Cardinal Dolan’s Praise for Trump Interrupts USCCB Pattern of Criticism

Deal W. Hudson
April 13, 2017

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has issued a statement that “welcomed the State Department’s April 4 announcement that it will withhold federal funding from the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) because UNFPA monies go to Chinese agencies that perform forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations.” Cardinal Dolan goes on to praise the Trump administration, but without a specific mention of President Trump who is primarily responsible for the defunding.

“This is a victory for women and children across the globe, as well as for U.S. taxpayers,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We are so grateful to the Trump administration for taking this important action to end U.S. support for UNFPA so long as it remains committed to China’s coercive abortion and sterilization programs.”

Why mention the lack of President Trump’s name? In the month of January alone, during President Trump’s first 11 days in office, the USCCB issued five public statements critical of the president, by name, on the issue of immigration: January 25January 26January 27January 30January 31. However, Cardinal Dolan did praise President Trump for restoring the Mexico City Policy:

“We applaud President Trump’s action today to restore the Mexico City Policy, which withholds taxpayer funds from foreign non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas (often in violation of the host country’s own laws).”

In the month of February, the USCCB issued two more statements critical of President Trump or his “administration” on immigration, February 17February 23, while on February 10 praising the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for overthrowing President Trump’s Executive Order for a 90-day moratorium on issuing visas from seven nations on the Middle East.

On February 16, the USCCB issued a statement complaining, “The President has not yet signed the executive order on religious freedom.” On February 16, the USCCB praised the “Message from Modesto,” which specially called for the “disruption” of administration policies, and on February 17, the USCCB urged the “Trump administration” to “Care for Creation.”

In March the basic pattern continues: On March 6, a statement from the USCCB says President Trump’s latest Executive Order still puts vulnerable populations around the world at risk. A “pastoral reflection” on March 22, reiterates the bishop’s concern about immigration policy. And on March 29, the USCCB states, “President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Order on March 28, 2017 that rescinds and weakens numerous environmental protections, and effectively dismantles the Clean Power Plan (CPP)…”

Press statements are always carefully worded. The avoidance of addressing the president by name, or the substitution of “administration” or “Trump administration” signifies the unwillingness of the USCCB to treat the new president fairly. The attitude seems to be: use “President Donald J. Trump” when criticizing, but avoid the same when something positive has to be officially recognized. Among all the USCCB statements, only Cardinal Dolan has given the president the respect he deserves.

Read Newsmax: Cardinal Dolan’s Praise for Trump Interrupts USCCB Pattern of Criticism | Newsmax.com
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