Humpty Dumpty's Catholics

October 15, 2009 09:00 AM

Many who have read Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice Through the Looking-Glass remember the classic lines of dialogue between Alice and Humpty:

 "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. "It means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Humpty’s words have developed a new meaning when discussing subjects such as Obamacare, Senator Ted Kennedy and what it means to be Catholic.

The ever-insidious (while always amusing) dissident Catholics United organization has taken a turn toward ugly with recent statements about American Life League’s September 12th poster reading “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy.” 

An unsigned blog entry on its web site states:

Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good today called on the American Life League – a group that bills itself as a “Catholic pro-life education organization” – to immediately suspend a campaign aimed at derailing health care reform and dishonoring the legacy of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. The American Life League continues to spread misleading information about so-called “death panels” and “taxpayer-funded abortion,” even as Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is praising health reform efforts in the U.S.

There’s nothing fair and balanced about this commentary, which offers a politically skewed perspective on the hot topic of health care reform and Catholic teaching. We have never expected intellectual honesty from Catholics United, and they did not disappoint. Their most recent diatribe is a case in point.

For the record, American Life League has not fostered a campaign to “derail” any program that is designed to serve the best interests of the poor among us. This is why we have taken great pains to point out that the Obamacare approach is deadly for the preborn, for the elderly and for the principle of subsidiarity — a principle which should put the government at the service of the poor, not in control of which among them will or will not receive care. The “dictatorship of moral relativism” is the fundamental basis for any of the existing Obamacare proposals. This is why the proposals are not in keeping with true democracy and why we oppose them.

Of course, we are aware that Cardinal Martino in the Vatican takes issue with our perspective on the various health care reform proposals, but we must not forget that there is room in a democracy for a disagreement now and then. Further, we are pleased to point out that Cardinal Martino does not speak for the Vatican, but is simply voicing a personal political opinion on a very controversial topic. 

Contrary to the Catholics United screed, there has been nothing in any report or commentary that we have published that has set forth false or misleading information. But let’s move on and see what else they have to say.

Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United, states: 

The American Life League's campaign is an outrage and an embarrassment to the Catholic community. The organization's interest in scoring cheap political points at the expense of common good solutions to the current crisis in the health care system constitutes a profound disservice to our country and our church.  With the number of uninsured teetering at alarming levels and health care costs spiraling out of control for American families, it is simply unfathomable that the American Life League would attempt to turn the moral urgency of health care reform into a reckless and destructive appeal that does irreparable harm to the health of the country and ridicules a much-loved Catholic leader.

Mr. Korzen must have American Life League confused with some fellow dissident organization in his core group or he would never allege that we are involved in pursuing a campaign of disinformation.  We are not quite sure what he means when he says that we are opposed to “common good solutions” to the health care crisis.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear in defining the principles that provide the foundation for pursuit of the “common good”: “the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person.”

Mr. Korzen should read the various health care reform proposals in light of this basic Catholic teaching. We are positive that once he realizes that these proposals provide taxpayer support for aborting the most vulnerable members of the human family, preborn children, he would realize that the documented evidence we share is indeed accurate, which means that Catholics who support these proposals are doing so in defiance of Catholic teaching.

However, Mr. Korzen’s elevation of Senator Ted Kennedy to the pedestal of “much-loved Catholic leader” probably means that he could care less about the “common good” as defined by the Catechism.  

And as far as much loved Catholic leaders are concerned, Pope John Paul II was most definitely one, as was Mother Teresa, Father Damien (one of our newest saints), Archbishop Fulton Sheen and others too numerous to mention. Each of these heroic Catholics stood on the shoulders of the magisterium of the Church and defended her teachings with total commitment to Christ. And each of these Catholics put the service of the poor, the downtrodden and the spiritually hungry ahead of everything, raising up the sick, the impoverished and the needy. 

On the other hand, Senator Kennedy defied Catholic teaching again and again throughout his public life. The reason our sign pointed out the relationship with Obamacare and Kennedy is a simple one: he was the architect of the plan. He was also a man who advocated the direct killing of the preborn with every ounce of energy he had for more than 30 years. We hope all of the “much loved” of Sen. Kennedy have joined with us in praying for his soul. However, that does not negate the fact that Sen. Kennedy was not a defender of Catholic teaching! 

Finally, we get to the crux of problems these misguided Catholics appear to have with American Life League:

“Senator Edward Kennedy, a man of deep faith, spent an entire career in public service committed to common ground and civility about the most pressing moral issues of our time: tolerance for immigrants, dignity for workers, and health care for the sick and vulnerable,” said Victoria Kovari, acting director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. “Senator Kennedy’s commitment to justice and human dignity deserves our deep respect. The American Life League’s attempt to dishonor his legacy by spreading misinformation and fear violates both the spirit and truth of the Gospels, and fails the most basic test of human decency.”

My dear friends, Senator Edward Kennedy was a man who may have had a deep faith — in political power, deception and delusion. He never advocated for the most needy in our midst, the preborn. That is not to say that he was always so misguided. In 1971, he wrote to a constituent, “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which much be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”

But that position ended after Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, leaving Kennedy in the incredibly tragic situation of being an alleged Catholic who advocated for abortion in every way he could, thus defying Christ and His Church. His views on “human dignity” never included the preborn, and anyone who examines his record is painfully aware of the pain and agony he caused to many by his hypocrisy, all of which is public information.

American Life League makes no apology for setting the record straight, for putting forth the facts in this matter or for continuing to defend Catholic teaching regardless of how uncomfortable that may make those who, like Humpty Dumpty, want words to mean what they say they mean.  American Life League is proud of our record in defense of the poorest and neediest in our midst: the preborn, the severely disabled and the elderly. We praise God for the gift of life and the ability to serve His Church in this struggle.

In the spirit of Catholic truth, we ask those involved with Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to examine their allegations in the light of Christ’s admonition to His disciples. Please explain how anyone can hear these words and still defend those who spent a public career committed to denying basic human decency by advocating the murder of little children not yet born:

Obstacles are sure to come, but alas for the one who provides them! It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone put round his neck than that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves! (Luke 17:2) 

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