Beacons of Light

American politics seem to be taking a decided turn against life. A number of President Obama’s new policies and nominations are an offense to what we hold dear–especially the sanctity of human life.

There are beacons of light. Many Catholics have been angry that our bishops haven’t loudly and definitively reaffirmed the Church’s teachings on life issues. But here are some bishops who are making headlines by tackling important issues. (I note with pleasure that all of them are episcopal advisors for CUF.)

Cardinal Justin Rigali on President Obama’s executive order on embryonic stem cell research:

President Obama’s new executive order on embryonic stem cell research is a sad victory of politics over science and ethics. This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested. It also disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life. Finally, it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support. (USCCB)

Archbishop Joseph Naumann (Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas) on President Obama’s nomination of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (The whole column is worth a read. What particularly caught my attention was his pastoral concern for both Sebelius and the faithful of his diocese, as well as his concern for guarding the sacraments.):

Normally, it would be a source of joy and pride to have a Catholic from Kansas named by the president to an important Cabinet post. Unfortunately, I experience neither with President Obama’s selection of Governor Kathleen Sebelius as his choice to serve as the secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

. . . [O]n the fundamental moral issue of protecting innocent human life, Governor Sebelius, throughout her career, has been an outspoken advocate for legalized abortion. For this reason, her appointment to HHS is particularly troubling.

. . . As you are aware, because of her long history, both as a legislator and governor, of consistently supporting legalized abortion, and after many months of dialogue, I requested Governor Sebelius not to present herself for Communion. I did this in the hope that it would motivate Governor Sebelius to reconsider her support for what is an intrinsic evil — the destruction of innocent human life by abortion. I also took this pastoral action to protect others from being misled by the governor’s public support and advocacy for legalized abortion.

. . . I am also concerned personally for Governor Sebelius. Her appointment as secretary for HHS places her in a position where she will have to make many decisions that will in all probability continue her personal involvement in promoting legalized abortion and her cooperation in this intrinsic evil. (The Leaven)

Bishop Joseph Martino (Diocese of Scranton, PA) in a letter to Senator Casey regarding his vote on the Mexico City Policy:

On Respect Life Sunday, October 5 . . . I vowed to be vigilant in correcting Catholics who are in error with regard to the sanctity of life. Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children. This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women.

. . . As I have done on several occasions, Senator, I urge you to consider that Church documents speak clearly and compellingly on the special responsibility that falls to you as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils, including contraception, infanticide, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research.

. . . I recognize and respect the burdens that you bear as a United States Senator; however, I remind you that your responsibilities as a Catholic bound by the faith of the Church exceed even those of your office. Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy.

As I have done several times before, I offer to make myself available to you to discuss the grave concerns that I raise here. (Jan. 5 letter to Senator Casey, with a follow-up letter on Feb. 26)

Also from the Diocese of Scranton, an Official Notice regarding worthiness to receive Holy Communion, with these two “action points,” if you will:

Therefore, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, reminds all ministers of Holy Communion, ordinary and extraordinary, that:

  1. To administer the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord is a serious duty which they have received from the Church, and no one having accepted this responsibility has the right to ignore the Church’s law in this regard;
  2. Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.

Of course, one might wish none of the above was necessary. But it is necessary, and I’m grateful to our bishops for their pastoral care.

Let’s follow our bishops’ lead. Please call, write, or visit your elected representatives. We need to speak up. Just as importantly, keep them in prayer.

And let’s not lose hope. As we heard in the readings this past Sunday at Mass, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”

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