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Planned Parenthood Funding and Catholic Bishops

A different sort of mathematical problem emerges from the title of this piece. What is the common denominator between the nationwide, unified pro-life efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)? The answer is that no such common denominator exists.

In fact, we at American Life League found it so amazing that the USCCB had not issued a public statement in support of our efforts to make sure tax dollars were cut off from Planned Parenthood that we began contacting the offices of the USCCB nearly a month ago. And, as of this writing, there has been no response to the query, “What is the USCCB’s position on the Pence Amendment?” 

Silence appears to be the USCCB’s official answer. And here’s the real kicker.

On February 18, when the vote to pass the amendment that would cut off all funds from Planned Parenthood was cast in the House of Representatives, with a 240-185 margin, a shocking 62 members of the House of Representatives, all of whom are Catholic, voted against Pence and for continuing the funding of the nation’s most egregious offender of moral standards—Planned Parenthood. This was determined and cross-checked using the published list of Catholic members of the 112th Congress provided by the USCCB itself. 

Surely one would have thought that the USCCB would have—at the very least—publicly upbraided these men and women who claim to be Catholic yet who support continuing the spigot of tax dollars that runs into the coffers of Planned Parenthood at the rate of more than 300 million dollars a year.

The silence has been deafening.

Into this ocean of nothingness dove American Life League. We dutifully wrote to each of the bishops, asking for a response that would indicate their willingness to meet with these errant members of Congress and we laid out the reasons why a vote in favor of continued funding for Planned Parenthood was a vote for crimes against God—crimes that include abortion and birth control. So far, we have not heard a resounding tone of agreement.

In view of the fact that the USCCB has publicly announced its formal opposition to federal funding of abortion, we are curious about what has transpired not only prior to the February 18 vote, but also in the month since. As anyone who has been following this herculean effort to cut off the river of money might imagine, we all could have used the full support of Catholic bishops, particularly since the United State Senate has already exposed its unwillingness to do as the House has already done. Curious, yet perhaps not at all surprising.

While this battle has been raging, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, announced on March 9 that the bishops of New York State will not be denying Holy Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion and other sins against the laws of God. 

Bishop Hubbard is the prelate who has given the Body of Christ to pro-abortion New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The fact is that New York’s bishops have met privately with Cuomo, not at the communion rail at all. Catholic Culture’s Phil Lawler reports,    

So again, did the topic arise? Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo responded: “That kind of issue has to be discussed not at the altar rail.” Right. Understood. But there was no altar rail in sight during the meeting today.

So let’s try again. Did the bishops mention the topic? No, said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. You see, “this is probably not the best place to talk about something that pastorally sensitive.”

OK. You can’t talk to the governor about it when he presents himself for Communion. You can’t talk to the governor about it when you’re meeting to discuss legislative priorities. When can you talk to the governor about it? 

And if Cuomo is scandalizing the faithful by receiving Communion, and jeopardizing his own salvation, what other topics are more important for bishops to discuss with him?

The reason I bring up this incident is twofold. First, it occurred during the same time frame as the struggles were heating up on the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C. Second, Dolan is not only the leader of the New York State Catholic Bishops’ Conference but the president of the USCCB.

The bottom line is that, if it is not appropriate for the USCCB president to protect Christ from sacrilege by obeying Canon Law 915 in New York, perhaps it is not the right time to oppose taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood in the nation’s capital either.

You decide!