USCCB

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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Some on Left, Right Don’t Get Trump Is Anti-Abortion

Deal W. Hudson
April 5, 2017

President Donald Trump’s executive order to defund the United National Family Planning Agency (UNFPA) sends a message to political foes both on the political left and the right.

The pro-abortion left will should not be too surprised since President Trump has already cut $400,000,000 in population control funds when he reaffirmed the Mexico City Policy a few days after his inauguration.

Anti-abortion leaders across the country are deeply gratified and congratulate the president for his decision.President of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, calls the defunding, “a tremendous sign to the nation and world about what we value and what we abhor. Removing funds from involvement in China’s coercive abortion and sterilization policies is the humane thing to do.”

Trump’s decision to defund was made on the same basis used by both President Reagan and President George W. Bush: UNFPA actively “partners on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies.” It’s well known that China employs coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization to enforce its “One Child Policy.”

The One Child Policy, begun in 1979, was “officially” phased out in 2015, to be replaced by a “Two Child Policy.” But as the nation’s preeminent expert of China’s population control, Steve Mosher, has said, “The one-child policy in China may be over, but the two-child policy will still mean forced abortions of second and third children, it may mean forced pregnancy in years to come, and it will certainly mean other abuses.”

Asked for his comment, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., responded, “The United Nations Population Fund has been involved with deeply troubling practices. Why would we give American taxpayer money to an organization with limited accountability, who have used these funds to participate in coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization? Public money should never harm life and the flourishing of families.”

UNFPA funding approaches $1,000,000,000 so the loss of U.S. funding — $32,500,000 will have only a marginal impact, but combined with the money lost by the Mexico City Policy population controllers have suffered a serious setback.

With the defunding of Planned Parenthood’s $500,000,000+ already moving through Congress, there must be panic setting in among those organizations whose budgets blossomed under the terms of the Obama administration. That will eventually add up to over 1 billion dollars in lost revenue to the abortionists.

In the lost of UNFPA funding, however, there is another loss — public credibility.

With federal funding comes prestige, a prestige that opens doors to private foundations and major donors. These foundations and donors themselves can profit from being connected to an organization who enjoys a close relationship to the White House and Congress.

Austin Ruse, President of C-Fam, regards UNFPA defunding as an important step toward President Trump keeping his promises to his pro-life constituency, “This is a very good thing because UNFPA is a wicked agency and the US should not be involved with it.

“However, defunding UNFPA is a bare-minimum of the pro-life things we expect from President Trump. It is an easy thing, an important thing, but an easy thing. We expect more and bigger things.”

The UNFPA, on the other hand, regards the decision as based upon “an erroneous claim” that the organization “participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China.”

This is hard to swallow, given the evidence, but the more incriminating part of the statement is this, “We have always valued the United States as a trusted partner and leader in helping to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.” (Emphasis added).

First, a “young person” who is aborted will never have the opportunity to fulfill any potential. Second, the UNFPA does not have the power — no one does, to “ensure every pregnancy is wanted.”

What UNFPA really means is that they will supply abortions to all women who do not “want” their babies. Finally, making childbirth “safe” merely provides another excuse for UNFPA to provide abortion to women who live in poverty or in the undeveloped countries.

This press release serves to corroborate the decision made by President Trump about the character and intentions of the UNFPA.

To the Never-Trumpers on the right, such as the neo-cons at the National Review, anti-abortion fundamentalists, and those marching under the flag of surrender represented by the “Benedict Option” — President Trump has once again proven his bona fides as being anti-abortion.

However, the Never-Trump crowd all share one regrettable characteristic: they are not interested in counter-evidence, it’s an affront to their pride.

To their shame, they will ignore the half-billion dollars in federal funding President Trump has taken away from those who pro-abortion, marching under the banner of population control.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had not yet issued a statement when I contacted them yesterday, but I received a note that a statement would be issued today. Given that the USCCB has been consistently critical of the Trump administration, I was not surprised in the delay.

Read Newsmax: Some on Left, Right Don’t Get Trump Is Anti-Abortion | Newsmax.com
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The U.S. Catholic Conference Strikes Again

Published December 1, 2000
DEAL W. HUDSON

Catholics must wonder sometimes why the U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) exists. On October 16, Catholic News Service (CNS) of the USCC issued a story with the headline, “Gore sees hope for ‘common ground’ movement on abortion.” Written by Patricia Zapor, based on an interview with the vice president, the article serves to provide official Catholic cover for a pro-abortion presidential candidate whose most ardent supporters are the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood.

The phrase “common ground,” of course, was brought into Catholic parlance by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago, who wanted to provide a forum for Catholics to discuss their differences on issues like Church authority and the role of the priesthood. Abortion was never put on the common ground table: To seek common ground on abortion is to accept that some number of innocent lives can be taken. This is Gore’s position. Cardinal Bernadin would have never accepted such a compromise with the culture of death.

The fact that such a story would come out of CNS makes one wonder how much the culture of death has a grip on the USCC. That those who edit these stories and write their headlines would not immediately reject such a wording indicates a serious lack of Catholic judgment at CNS. It is not the case that Zapor was simply quoting Gore with comment; she uses his language without quotation in the middle of the article: “Gore said he sees a bourgeoning grassroots movement seeking common ground on abortion.”

Anyone who is in the business of Catholic journalism knows full well that to use the phrase “common ground” is to draw on the moral and spiritual capital of Cardinal Bernadin’s legacy. I suppose we can look forward to further CNS articles on the search for common ground on euthanasia and partial-birth abortion.

The USCC also raised numerous eyebrows with the release of its presidential candidate questionnaire on October 17. The first nine pages of the questionnaire were released that morning, with the remaining eleven pages inexplicably added the next afternoon. For legal reasons, the USCC explains, the questionnaire contains “verbatim responses and comments” of candidates to questions posed by the conference. Legal arguments aside, the result is unfortunate, because once again a pro-abortion candidate is provided an official Catholic forum to mislead the Catholic public.

On partial-birth abortion, Gore is quoted as saying, “Al Gore opposes late-term abortion and the procedure of partial-birth abortion…. Al Gore believes that any law prohibiting the partial-birth abortion procedure must be narrowly tailored, and should include protections for the life and health of the mother.” (Note that Gore sent his comments to the USCC in the third person, which makes them appear written by the bishops, while Bush’s comments were published in the first person.) The leadership at the

USCC knows that the health exception effectively negates the partial-birth abortion ban, but the format allows Gore to mislead Catholics who are not fully informed on this issue.

This is a repeat of the 1996 USCC candidate questionnaire that allowed Clinton to get away with the same misrepresentation of his position on abortion. Catholics helped to elect Clinton, and the unborn have been his victims. Protests were lodged then, so this time the conference action is surely intentional. If the USCC cannot present the candidates’ views in a way that truthfully informs the Catholic public, then the conference should stop issuing questionnaires altogether.

There is no doubt in my mind that the USCC legal department is overly cautious: I am sure that Catholic bishops have the constitutional right to inform Catholics how a candidate’s position stands in relation to a clearly defined moral teaching of the Church. Moral guidance is a bishop’s job, and as far as I know, the IRS cannot and will not object. Such judgments do not constitute partisan activity, although they may affect the voting behavior of Catholic voters.

There are many issues of public policy where common ground should be sought between Democrats and Republicans in relation to Catholic social teaching—abortion is not one of them. Catholics depend on the USCC for accuracy in promulgating the teachings of the Church and representing them to those in the media and to Congress. These events during the crucial final weeks before the election demand scrutiny of the CNS and a reassessment of future candidate questionnaires.

Have the Bishops Become Tea Party Republicans?

Deal W. Hudson
November 24, 2014

“Since most of the Catholics in Congress are both Democrat and pro-abortion it will be a hard sell, and the dissident Catholics in Congress are not used to getting the hard sell from USCCB lobbyists.”

I’M SURPRISED at how few Catholics pundits have noticed the recent letter sent to members of Congress from the USCCB asking that Congress add “must-pass funding legislation” language to the upcoming continuing resolution that would fund the federal government until its next session.

In other words, the Catholic bishops are willing to risk a government shutdown in order to bring about a showdown with the Obama administration and the Democrats on the funding of abortion.

This strategy, needless to say, sounds both Republican, and dare I say it, the Tea Party.  These are hardly associations that most bishops, and especially the USCCB, have usually avoided.

At the time of the Obamacare debate, the Catholic bishops, speaking through the USCCB, urged defeat of the legislation because of its abortion coverage, a fact disputed by the Obama Administration along with Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Administration; Sister Simone Campbell, president of Network; the Nuns-on-the-Bus; and the National Catholic Reporter.

The voice rather tepid voice of the bishops was hardly to be heard over the media attention given to Sisters Keegan and Campbell.

The bishops voice could have been louder, but was not due to two factors 1)  the bishops had advocated some form of universal care for over 20 years, and 2) USCCB staff such as John Carr were very cozy with the White House and trusted Obama’s promises regarding abortion funding made to then USCCB president, Cardinal Dolan.

Cardinal Dolan, to his credit, was the first to speak publicly about the broken promises when it became apparent to everyone but John Carr and company that Obama and the Democrats has no intention to forsake the abortion funding demanded by its constituency.

As reported by LifeSite News, the reason for the sudden change in tone and tactics is what’s about to happen in — surprise again! — California, headed by that Jesuit-trained elderly statesman of the Catholic left, Gov. Jerry Brown.

“The California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical abortions immediately. Even churches are not exempt from funding abortions.”

California’s decision is being challenged in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The letter sent to Congress noted that the state of Washington and some other states are moving in the same direction, creating an “the increasingly urgent need for Congress to protect rights of conscience with regard to the taking of innocent human life.”

The bishops point out correctly that California’s action violates the Weldon Amendment which has been approved by Congress annually since 2004 forbidding “governmental bodies receiving federal funds from discriminating against those who decline to take part in abortion or abortion coverage.” Since enforcement of Weldon has become so lax, the bishops urge Congress to pass the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) passed by the House in 2002.

Over the past two years, new leadership has been put in place at the USCCB, both at the staff level and that of the bishops themselves. It will be interesting to see whether there will be any serious effort on the part of the USCCB to persuade members of Congress to add “must-pass funding legislation.” Since most of the Catholics in Congress are both Democrat and pro-abortion it will be a hard sell, and the dissident Catholics in Congress are not used to getting the hard sell from USCCB lobbyists.

My guess would be that we will not hear much more about it — but I hope I am dead wrong.

Why Catholics Will Not Get Abortion Out of the Health Care Bill

Deal W. Hudson
Published August 3, 2009

The Congress and the White House have little to fear from the bishops’ official statements opposing the abortion provisions in the health care bill. Unlike with President Barack Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame, there is no chorus of bishops’ voices rising in protest against the bill; most of the Catholics in Congress support it, and mainstream Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association – which some assume speak for the bishops – have also voiced their support.

The overall impression given by Church leadership thus far is that universal health care coverage is so badly needed that they are not willing to endanger the legislation by protesting too loudly against abortion coverage.

The only notable resistance against the abortion provisions has come from a Catholic, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); an Evangelical, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN); and 20 “blue dog” Democrats, led by Catholic Bart Stupak (D-MI), who signed a letterasking explicitly that abortion coverage be removed from the bill.

Two official letters from the USCCB have been sent to members of Congress. Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Policy,wrote on July 17 asking Congress to remove abortion coverage. And on July 26, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wroteasking them to support an amendment to exclude the abortion mandate from any health care bill.

President Obama continues to talk about abortion reduction (as he did with Pope Benedict XVI on his Vatican visit) at the very moment the Senate version of the bill – which contains abortion coverage – is being considered in committee.

Obama also feigns indifference to abortion coverage as part of federally mandated universal health coverage. When asked directly about abortion and the health care bill in a July 21 interview with Katie Couric, Obama said any decision about abortion coverage would be left to experts, like pro-abortion Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Yet only a few days earlier, one of Obama’s closet advisers assured members of Planned Parenthood that the Obama administration would not buckle to pressure and remove abortion coverage from the health care reform package. Tina Tchen, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, supported her promise by quoting from a January 22 statement from the president praising Roe v. Wade.

Tchen’s reference to one of Obama’s presidential statements is ironic: Obama complained to Catholic journalists about the pro-lifers who expect “the worst” from him, claiming there was nothing in his record as president that should be cause for such concern. He argued, “It’s not based on anything I’ve said or done, but is rather just a perception, somehow, that we have some hard-line agenda that we’re seeking to push.” Tchen evidently disagrees.

Many Catholics are asking why Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association are backing a health care bill that two USCCB letters have sharply criticized for its abortion coverage. A LifeSiteNews (LSN) interview with the head of another mainstream Catholic organization supporting the present health care bill may answer the question.

When told by the LSN interviewer that the health care bill included an abortion mandate, Roger Playwin, the national executive director of the venerable St. Vincent de Paul Society, replied:

The bishops’ office has advised us that that’s not accurate. So I can’t speak to it, because all I know is that the bishops’ office has said that story is going around, but it’s inaccurate. That’s all I know.

When asked for clarification about where he got that information, Playwin clarified that it did not come from the USCCB but rather from Catholic Charities USA. In other words, Playwin somehow received a message from Catholic Charities USA that abortion coverage was not contained in the House and Senate versions of the bill – which is simply not true, as the letters from Bishop Murphy and Cardinal Rigali attest.

Yet both Catholic Charities USA and the St. Vincent de Paul Society sent outlegislative alerts asking for support for health care reform and did not mention the issue of abortion services.

So why should either Congress or the White House be afraid of Catholic criticism of the health care bills as they now stand? Yes, the USCCB has made its official statements, but there’s no great roar of opposition to the prospect of federally funded abortion services as a part of universal health care.

As far as the public’s perception is concerned, the “Catholic” imprimatur on health care reform has come from Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. (God help us if L’Osservatore Romano weighs in on this!)

The good news is the two-month delay in voting on the bill. Richard Doeflinger, associate director of the bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, told the National Catholic Register, “Right now, these bills are a moving target… But we will stay on top of it and continue to educate the public.”

Whether or not abortion services remain in the health care bill will be a definitive test of the bishops’ ability to educate and to put the “fear of God” in the Congress and the White House. It is a test, I fear, they will fail.

Does the USCCB Understand Subsidiarity?

Deal W. Hudson
Published January 3, 2011

The plan of House Republicans to read the Constitution aloud on January 6, the second day of the 112th Congress, has provoked jeering from the liberal media. Yet in the midst of the jeers came a revealing comment from Washington Postcolumnist and blogger Ezra Klein in an appearance on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown:

The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago, and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done.

During the interview with Nora O’Donnell, Klein clarified the comment somewhat by confessing his cynicism: “It seems to me that these legal battles almost always break down along partisan lines and have very little to do with any sort of enduring understanding of the document.”

Whether Klein’s chief concern is the age of the Constitution or the inevitability of conflicting claims made about its interpretation, he appears to have given up on a shared and “enduring understanding” that would guide the work of government.

Thus, Klein misses completely the central purpose of this exercise: a symbolic reminder that our nation is founded on a specific set of first principles designed to limit government and protect individual liberty.

Republicans, however, hope to move beyond the symbolic gesture by changing the House rules so that each bill introduced must cite its constitutional authority.

The Democrats who accuse House Republicans of grandstanding have only themselves to blame: They ignored altogether the constitutional questions raised about the health-care legislation passed by the last Congress.

U.S. district court judge Henry Hudson, responding to a suit brought by Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, recently ruled the new health care law unconstitutional. Hudson found the legislation represented an “unchecked expansion” of congressional power. He explained that Congress does not have the authority, even under its power to regulate interstate commerce, to force a citizen to purchase private insurance coverage. The judge wrote:

At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance – or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage – it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.

Twenty other states have similar constitutional challenges pending, making it a certainty that what President Obama considers the greatest accomplishment of his administration will end up being adjudicated by the Supreme Court.

When I first commented on the Virginia decision, I noted that no official response had been released by the USCCB. That remains the case. But with the likelihood that the Obama administration’s version of universal health care will be dismantled either by the Supreme Court, the Congress, or both, the USCCB should be looking for other ways of reaching the same goal.

Perhaps this effort could begin with paying closer attention to the reading of the Constitution on January 6. Catholics, after all, should understand how institutions are rooted in first principles.

While the bishops objected vigorously to the presence of abortion funding in the legislation, they seem untroubled by the question of its general constitutionality, one that comports closely with the principle of subsidiarity as articulated in Catholic social teaching.

Why so much of the public policy advocated by the USCCB in the past 30 years seems oblivious to subsidiarity has been the topic of much speculation. Rev. Donald Boesch, writing for the Acton Institute, suggests it’s due to a basicmisunderstanding. In my 2008 book Onward Christian Soldiers, I traced it to the habit of the conference documents to portray “structures of sin” in social rather than individual terms.

Commentators on the Catholic culture wars focus on abortion, marriage, and homosexuality while completely overlooking the deep divisions over subsidiarity and the role of government in seeking the common good.

But now that a state court has found that the principle of individual liberty is violated by the health-care legislation, the questions of subsidiarity and individual liberty again come to the fore. As this case, and perhaps similar cases, moves toward the Supreme Court, the USCCB will no longer be able to duck questions about expanding the power of the federal government.

It’s a good moment in our nation’s history for all of us to take a fresh look at our founding documents. And while we are at it, Catholics can lay them alongside theCompendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church and note how a limited government with a separation of powers, as well as a respect for individual liberty and free enterprise, is not antithetical to what is found there.