Catholic Leadership Gone Rogue

There is a certain time of year that seems to bring out the worst among Catholic leaders who foster political agendas. It happens every January 22—the annual memorial for babies killed by abortion. And this year was no different.

We witnessed a surprising announcement from the president of the Catholic Health Association—Sister Carol Keehan of Obamacare fame. Only this time she had a little twist in her public comments—she actually attempted to sound doctrinally correct. Sister Keehan has endorsed legislation that would limit tax funding for abortion. In a letter to Congressman Joe Pitts, author of the Protect Life Act, Keehan wrote, “While we continue to believe the current provisions of the Affordable Care Act prevent federal funding of abortion, your legislation will provide further protection by codifying the ‘Hyde amendment’ relative to the new health care reform law.”

There are two points of interest about Keehan’s apparent middle-of-the-road approach. The first is that she did not back away from Obamacare, extolling it as probably already protective against tax dollars for the aborting of preborn children. The second is that she is striving to “codify” the flawed Hyde Amendment, which permits subsidizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother, while failing to address medical abortions and the killing of human embryos. In other words, “Hyde” permits more death than it prohibits.

One can presume therefore that support for the Hyde Amendment is not causing Keehan to lose much sleep. Pity!

Just prior to the memorial events, we learned that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did not support the House of Representatives’ vote to repeal Obamcare. In fact, in a January 18 letter to the House of Representatives, three of its committee chairs, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Coadjutor Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California wrote, “Rather than joining efforts to support or oppose the repeal of the recently enacted health care law, we will continue to devote our efforts to correcting serious moral problems in the current law, so health care reform can truly be life-affirming for all.” 

Of interest is the fact that, in that letter, the signatories did not address the abortions caused by medical methods such as RU-486, chemical methods such as the birth control pill or reproductive technology methods such as IVF and the resulting human embryonic stem cell research. Further, no mention was made of the Obamacare funding for Planned Parenthood’s insidious programs.

In a similar letter written on January 14 to the members of Congress, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, on behalf of the USCCB, wrote, “Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground, reducing the number of abortions by providing compassionate and morally sound care for pregnant women and their unborn children. We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion. We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion.” This letter nearly sounds like the bishops have given up on ending abortion, but are working hard just to hold the line.

So when someone asks me why the bishops have not done something forceful to see that Keehan is removed from her post, I point at statements like the above. It isn’t only Keehan who has gone rogue, but apparently there are many within the USCCB itself who have no problem embracing politics as usual.

Pope John Paul II advocated consistency, never wavering from truth—never compromising. In Veritatis Splendor he taught, “Circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice.”

There is never a reason to approve a single act of abortion, most particularly if you are a Catholic bishop or a Catholic leader. Why is that so hard to preach, teach and proclaim? Let us pray the Catholic rogues awaken!