religion

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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Trump, Pope Have Opportunity to Forge Meaningful Alliance

Deal W. Hudson
May 23, 2017

When the pope and the president meet in the Apostolic Palace — the official residence of the pope in Vatican City — this Wednesday, they will be setting a much-needed example for a nation convulsed by post-election tantrums. Conservative speakers are disinvited on college campuses, conservative professors become objects of career-ending derision, the major media is obsessed with destroying the Trump presidency. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership shouts curse words and raises their middle fingers at the man America sent to the White House.

But these two men, who have exchanged harsh words in the past, and differ on significant public policy issues, are going to meet, converse, while seeking a better relationship — and greater mutual understanding.

Yet, we can be sure that whatever is wise or hopeful coming out of this first meeting will be ignored by the press, which will have already scripted a narrative of disaster and disagreement. On July 23, 2001, President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II) met for the first time. Their meeting could not have been more amicable. I met with the president at the U.S. Embassy immediately afterwards. Bush was filled with enthusiasm at meeting “that great pope of yours.”

But, press accounts of the encounter focused on the one caution that Pope John Paul II expressed to the president; about his upcoming decision whether to allow federal funding for fetal stem cell research.

In his speech at Castle Gandolfo — just southeast of Rome — the Pope decalred, “In defending the right to life . . . America can show the world . . . (that) man remains the master not the product of his technology.” The BBC headline read, “Pope warns Bush on stem cells.” While The New York Times headline told the same story,”Pope Urges Bush to Reject Embryo Research.”

On Aug. 9, 2001 President Bush went on television for the first time, announcing his decision not to fund research on new lines but allow research on lines already in use to continue. His speech to the American people did not entirely conform to the wish of the pope, but President Bush made the basis of his decision loud and clear, “I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your president I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.”

When President Trump arrives at the Vatican he faces a more complex scenario, but one not without parallels to Bush’s 2001 visit. The president has made his pro-life convictions extremely clear in campaigning, in his inaugural address, and with his executive orders.

In fact, President Trump has been noticeably more open about anti-abortion issues than the 43rd president. Pope Francis will find common ground with Trump on the defense of innocent life and some related issues — though not on immigration.

Unlike 2001, when both the pope and the president shared opening remarks with journalists present, this meeting will take place almost entirely in private with journalists having very limited access. Two journalists and five photographers will be permitted to witness them shaking hands in the antechamber to the Papal Library, and sitting at the opposite sides of a table in the library itself. After less than a minute, everyone will leave except for the pope, the president, and a translator.

Journalists will clock the length of the meeting, comparing it to the 50 minutes Obama spent with Pope Francis in March 2011, though visits normally run 20 to 30 minutes.

The press will then be allowed back in the library to watch the traditional exchange of gifts along with whatever words are used to explain the significance of the gifts. This will be, in my opinion, the most vulnerable media moment for President Trump since the Pope usually gives visiting dignitaries copies of his encyclicals, “Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si’,” and “Amoris Laetitia,” which contain any number of themes that could be used as headline fodder.

Even if the official statement from the Vatican press office contains nothing but a record of cordial conversation and exchange of ideas, the mainstream media will be scrutinizing every detail of the meeting for a hook upon which to hang their agreed-upon headlines about; perhaps headlines that would read, “Pope Francis Reminds Trump Not to Build Walls” or “Pope Francis Calls Upon Trump to Sign the Paris Agreement.” In other words, no mention of shared purpose or common ground will allowed into the reporting narrative.

Regardless of the subsequent headlines, I believe the meeting will be fruitful on many levels. Both President Trump and Pope Francis have outgoing, warm personalities which will immediately remove whatever tensions might be present at the beginning.

And the president has already shown a willingness (distressing to some) to reconsider strongly-articulated policy positions. Donald Trump is not afraid to compromise, for the sake of building a relationship important for the future of his administration.

Pope Francis knows that, in November of 2016, more than half of Catholic U.S. voters supported Trump over his liberal rival Hillary Clinton. He also knows those same voters ignored both the pope’s and U.S. bishops’ attempts to make the presidential election about immigration.

Catholic voters simply didn’t care that Trump was at odds with church hierarchy on immigration. Both Pope Francis and the bishops should know well by now, that last year they didn’t fully comprehend how Americans really felt about the challenges facing America.

Pope Francis has some fence-mending of his own to do, and, I believe, he will.

Read Newsmax: Trump, Pope Have Opportunity to Forge Meaningful Alliance | Newsmax.com
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Some Don’t See Blessing in Trump’s Protecting Religious Liberty

Deal W. Hudson
May 17, 2017

Some conservatives were less than pleased by President Trump’s May 4 executive order on religious liberty. I guess they didn’t read it very closely. Had they done so, they would have realized that it was a promise of welcome changes to come. It doesn’t declare any new rights, but it does direct the administration to amend regulations and issue guidelines to protect the free exercise of religion from the power of the federal government. After what had seemed like a war on religion under Obama, that’s an enormous sea change.

Still, the executive order didn’t satisfy “Never-Trumpets” such as Princeton’s professor Robert George and Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation — who have always been quick to attack the president. They announced that it was “meaningless” and “woefully inadequate.”

Shamefully, George pointed the finger at the President’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law, “Ivanka and Jared won. We lost.” Such acrimony from a leading Catholic figure, and former Chair of the United States Commission on Religious Liberty, is both unjust and unbecoming.

Now let’s look at the record. President Trump has repeatedly declared his intention to remove the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which dramatically limited the political participation of houses of worship along with their priests, pastors, and rabbis.

As a first step towards that end, the executive order specifically instructs the Department of Treasury “not to take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues.  . . . ” We can expect Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to make sure that happens.

President Trump’s order also contains specific language on the ongoing litigation regarding the impact of Obamacare on Little Sisters of the Poor and other institutions refusing to provide contraceptive healthcare coverage to their employees. Trump ordered the Departments of Treasury, Labor (DOL), and Health and Human Services (HHS) to, “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive care mandate.  . . . ” There can be no doubt that HHS Secretary Tom Price will be doing just that — and vigorously.

What is likely the most important section of the executive order is addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.” As head of the Department of Justice, which is still pursuing the case against Little Sisters of the Poor, Sessions has been effectively charged with realizing the promises made in the Rose Garden on May 4.

Given his conservative, pro-life record as an Alabama senator, no one doubts how Jeff Sessions will shape the Department of Justice. Session’s leadership is surely one of the reasons civil rights groups immediately announced their intention to oppose the executive order.

Not surprisingly, a group of atheists, under the banner of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed suit against the president and the IRS, fearing the IRS would “selectively and preferentially discontinue enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of the tax code against churches and religious organizations, while applying a more vigorous enforcement standard to secular nonprofits.”

The notion that the IRS would apply more “vigorous” standards to secular nonprofit organizations is of course bizarre. But again, much of the daily media bombardment of the Trump administration contains allegations based upon hearsay, leaks, unnamed sources, and postmodern paranoia. Today the progressive left has bought into the idea that freedom requires that all their opponents be silenced, even when they are exercising their sincere religious beliefs.

Sister Loraine Marie Claire Maguire, Mother Provincial of Little Sisters of the Poor has figured it out. Her statement was forthright and unqualified, “Today’s action by the government confirms that the government never needed to create this false conflict between women and religion.” One can imagine a smile coming to her face when she added, “The government never needed the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide these services,” that is, hand out contraception.

President Trump has been accused of making a media event out of his statement on religious liberty.

These critics should be asked: What is wrong with the president of the United States calling two of the Little Sisters of the Poor to the podium in the Rose Garden? How often have we seen a religious order of the Catholic Church featured in a nationally televised White House ceremony?

The image of President Trump, with a beaming Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. standing behind, welcoming the two sisters is a powerful affirmation to the nation’s 70 million Catholic citizens that they’re fully members of the American community.

You’ve have thought that that was pretty obvious. But apparently some people needed reminding.

Read Newsmax: Some Don’t See Blessing in Trump’s Protecting Religious Liberty | Newsmax.com
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