Dear Bishops, We Need You Now!

I believe that the outcome of the coming election, a mere 12 days away, and every implication that it has for the pro-life movement in this country lies in the domain of the Catholic Bishops of the United States.

Democrats have installed the strongest abortion plank to date in their platform and their candidate Barack Obama has promised to make the signing of FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act) a priority of his administration. When we pro-life Catholics read on the website of our bishops a description of FOCA here and here, our hearts quail. We have worked so hard for small pro-life gains that to see them all overturned would be very hard. 

Like sheep that crowd around their shepherd for protection from a rampaging predator, we must crowd round our bishops now and beg them to help us.

I believe they can. I believe that we have been brought to a situation where we need their voices more desperately than we ever have before. Where the unborn need their voices. Where our nation needs their voices. 

What specifically do we need? What is the message that has to get out? Who is the target audience? Where and how can that audience be reached?

The target audience has to be those millions of Catholics who are still of the “seamless garment” mentality. Who in “good,” but ill-formed, conscience still vote for pro-abortion politicians when there is another alternative.

That audience has to be reached immediately through every medium — at weekend homilies, through diocesan organs, by mass-mailing, by television and radio spots, newspaper pages, and Catholic websites.

The message has two components and both of them are perfectly legal, meaning that neither one of them violates the rules regarding the kind of communications allowed to tax-exempt organizations.

The first component of the message is a repudiation of the “seamless garment” policy as popularly understood, that is, as a “loophole” for voting for pro-abortion politicians. A perfect example of how to communicate this clearly and unequivocally was the Joint Statement by Bishops Vann and Farrell.

Among the bishops who have so encouraged us by being similarly outspoken on this are: Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton,  Bishops Paul Loverde and Francis DiLorenzo of Arlington and Richmond, Virginia, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island and oustandingly, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput. But we need all our shepherds now! We need clear and unequivocal statements — by every bishop to every parish.

The second component is voter education. Voter education is perfectly legal. It is not endorsement of one candidate or another. It is abundantly clear that the campaign of Barak Obama has been engaging in subterfuge regarding his position on abortion. Out of the millions of Catholic votes to be cast a week from Tuesday are many that will be made by voters knowing neither how extreme the views of Barak Obama are on the issue of abortion nor the danger the pro-life movement faces from FOCA.

FOCA is on the bishops’ radar and the information about it on the USCCB website is extensive, but so far that website is not connecting the dots for Catholic voters. A vote for Obama is a vote for FOCA. What FOCA is and Obama’s promise to sign it into law should be part of the voter education. Archbishop Chaput has been making it very clear and we need more such exposure of Obama’s extremism.

bishop.jpgTriggered by Pelosi and Biden, a number of bishops spoke up this campaign to give abortion the unique priority it deserves in our discourse about national policy and to correct “pro-choice” Catholic politicians who misrepresented Catholic teaching. Among others, we have to thank Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, PA, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO and Bishop James Conley, his auxiliary, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, OK, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT, Bishop Fran Malooly of Wilmington, DL, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, MA. You have lifted our spirits by speaking the truth!

And with great directness the USCCB has responded both last week and this week to the argument that overturning Roe v. Wade is a “lost cause.” Thank God for the steadiness of Cardinal Justin Rigali, another shepherd who gives us heart.

We have just days left. Will we look back four years hence at the unraveling of every pro-life gain, at pro-abortion and anti-family judicial tyranny entrenched for another generation, and perhaps even at legal persecution of faithful Catholics and any other Christian who resists the culture of death? We pray not!

Please Shepherds, Fathers, help us!

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  • stutmann9

    What we need is good strong wording in pro-life legislation that will stop the exploitation of women and their babies at a time when they are most vulnerable-when a woman finds out she is pregnant and it is “not the right time” in her mind. She is then in a desparate situation. Planned Parenthood thinks the ONLY CHOICE is to abort and they will do everything to convince these women to do it without ever giving her other options. Pro-Life legislation needs to have language in it that mandates that the women be totally informed about the risks of abortion to her health, just like she would in a standard medical situation, knowing ALL the risks and or benefits involved before going full-steam ahead with any procedure or surgery. An abortion is surgery-it cuts into a person and is not without risk. The language is something that should be what pro-aborts cannot argue with-the woman’s “right to choose” to be completely informed and consider other alternatives before going through an INVASIVE PROCEDURE”. A choice is a choice only if the alternatives are presented. If no alternative to abortion is presented, the choice is not free and informed. Other choices to abortion MUST be presented. Let’s call on our pro-ife lawmakers to have a good strong bill advocating the rights of women waiting alongside, or better yet instead of FOCA called “The Right To Know and Choose” bill that uses their own battlecry against them. It’s pro-life bills that are being struck down because of their wording not focusing on “choice” enough. Women deserve choice-the choice to be pro-life and pro-active with their own health in refusing an invasive procedure that may scar them for life.

  • Grace Harman

    The duty of a nation and its leadership is to protect its inhabitants. (if it kills them by the millions, it has obviously failed in this and is no longer a true government.)

    This article is right. FOCA promotes a terrible evil. Bishops must speak out – and so should all other government/religious leaders if they want the peoples’ trust.

    Catholics should be able to see this, and some do not. Bishops need to shepherd their flocks by giving a warning about this grave danger to all human life.

    If the government chooses to mandate death for one group, it can do so for any other group as well. (like people over 70, the disabled, Catholics, Pro-lifers, etc.)

    Catholics MUST not vote uninformed or ignore the -LIFE of the unborn- issue. ALL Bishops need to speak up on the side of life. We all need to pray for our Bishops! (and current elected officials) – that they will speak out and reject this legislation and all who support it.
    The “values voters” of all faiths must unite and take back our country from the brink of destruction we face now with this issue.

  • stutmann9

    Can we trust the media to get this message out? NO! So how can we outline for people exactly what this means in less than two weeks? Pray the Rosary! Blessed Mother Mary promised we would obtain all that we ask by the recitation of the Rosary! See below:

    http://www.fathercorapi.com/PDF/ElectionNovena.pdf

  • yblegen

    Mary,
    Thank you for speaking what many of us are thinking. Why are you silent when your sheep need you now?

  • Mary Kochan

    Yes, stutmann, but the only way we can get pro-life legislation is by voting for pro-life legislators. And the only way that we can keep pro-life legislation from being overturned by the courts is by voting for a pro-life executive who will appoint pro-life judges. And the only way that is going to happen is if Catholics start voting pro-life. And unless they get some leadership from their bishops, they aren’t going to do that.

    All of us lay pro-lifers who knock ourselves out day after day on this issue cannot make enough of a dent in the entrenched false thinking that allows so many Catholics to vote pro-abortion. We need the bishops!

  • heinz

    I would also like to add to the list the Kansas bishops for their excellent voters guide they put out earlier this year: Bishops Jackels, Coakley, Gilmore and Archbishop Naumann.

    By the way, am I the only one that thinks it is odd that BHO left the campaign trail when there are only 12 days until the election, especially with rumors about his citizenship swirling around?

  • MICHAEL

    I agree with the points that Mary has made in this article. My suggestion is that TODAY you pick up the telephone or e-mail your archdiocese and either send them a copy of what Marty has written or simply let your bishop know that you want and expect that he will compose a letter that succintly and directly addresses this issue that will be READ from the pulpit by a Priest at EVERY MASS this Sunday or next. I would also suggest that the Bishop give his permission for priests to discuss the catholic viewpoint not only during homilies, but perhaps at parish meetind, etc.

    I also think that part of the problem is quite frankly some Catholics (and unfortunately I think a significant number) don;’t view abortion as sinful. I think it needs to be made quite clear to these people that abortion is murder and your material cooperation in supporting a pro-abortion candidate puts you in a grave moral situation. I just think this needs to be spelled out very clearly and in black and white.

    lastly, I don’t think this should be just a two week drive. Yes, we need to get this information out quickly now to stop what might happen on Nov.4th. But, we need to build upon this and teach our youth and yes others who are CINO. We need to think and act locally after this election even if the outcome is not what we want. We need to put pro-life candidates in local positions- our Towns, School Boards, Cities and states- then we can drive this to the national level.

    As stated above-we need to invoke prayer, but we also need to ACT.

  • http://americaschoicenow.com/ erivas

    Please consider posting this video and passing it along, it’s amazing. It’s great at showing the distinction between MaCain and Obama in regards to the abortion issue. Please pass this along to everyone you know. We have to get McCain elected… E

    http://americaschoicenow.com/

    “Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born.”
    Ronald Reagan

  • Mary Kochan

    Interesting that Obama with his pockets stuffed with millions should need suddenly to go to Hawaii where somebody, or a few somebodies, could be paid off to “fix” his little citizenship trouble. Or maybe I am just too cynical.

  • MICHAEL

    Your not cynical, just using your journalistic instincts-something unfortunatelt that the MSM has lost during this election cycle at least as it concerns BHO.

    For what it’s worth, I just send my diocese a request to have my bishop compose a clear and direct letter that would be read at all Massess with in the next two weeks. Let’s see if they even answeer?

  • siobhan32

    I was just explaining to Father Anthony last night, how wonderful it has been for us to have Bishops speaking out after having been mostly silent (not all, mind you) for the last couple of decades. Where he hails from the Bishops have always been vocal. It is such a blessing for us in the USA. And I for one am grateful!

  • vtanco

    Mary,

    Thank you for highlighting our bishops Farrell and Vann, affectionately called Kevin of the east and Kevin of the west. Yesterday our parish prolife ministry got together to sign a card for Bishop Farrell in gratitude for his courage and leadership. One thing I find that my bishop’s strong moral leadership does is empower me to then speak authoritatively with others, because I know he “has my back”, so to speak. I am not inventing what I say and the highest authority in my area will back me up! Our own parish priest distorted the joint bishops’ letter at Mass, resulting in many disgruntled parishioners. We have since communicated our disappointment both to him and the bishop. There is a long way to go when your own pastor openly contradicts his bishop. Prayer is our first and last recourse, and while in line for early voting this morning I said a little prayer for all whose eyes have been blinded and judgment clouded. Thy will be done!

  • MICHAEL

    The latest Zogby poll (and I think we should be careful about all these polls)is showing Obama has opend up a 12 point lead in the Catholic vote. More fuel to Mary’s argument about direction from our bishops needed now.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=14125

  • bambushka

    “The latest Zogby poll (and I think we should be careful about all these polls)”

    This is the reason I signed up to do Zogby polls. If enough of the prolife crowd answered the polls then we could easily change what the polls report. I have seen polls that I participated in quoted in newspapers and on TV. For years I always wondered why no one ever asked my opinion, now I have a chance to actually give my opinion.

    Sign up, it’s easy.

  • irish_2171

    Great article and I agree with every word. That being said, I think one legitimate point should be made. In my mind the wording in the second paragraph is incorrect. It says “pro-life Catholics”. That’s like saying Catholic Catholics. Catholics support life. Period. Either you’re a Catholic or you’re not. To be pro-abortion/death and call yourself Catholic is a misconception of enormous proportions that should be corrected. If a person is in favor of abortion/death then they are not Catholics and I would rather they not assume the title under false pretense. I harbor no ill feelings toward them, and would gladly welcome a sit down conversation to explain the misconception. Hopefully they could see the error of their ways, repent, and join us Catholics in our fierce fight for life.

  • serreno

    With all due respect….why and I am saying this in love….why do we need to ask…beg our Bishops to do what they should have been doing for the last 35 years since Roe vs. Wade. Someone please answer me this….and think about it….how many of the “so called Catholic” pro choice/pro abortion politicians have ever changed their position …. on this life and death issue. I am saying none. Now….what does that say about the Bishops and the job they have done. It tells me that whatever they are doing and/or have not done in the past has failed….and…..they need to try something a little different. Putting out Pastoral Letters in the Diocesan newspaper isn’t “cutting it”. In my opinion….we need to “bombard” them with countless request to bring in privately each and every one of these “so called Catholic” pro choice/pro abortion politicians within their jurisdiction and personally counsel them with something like the following:

    Senator/Congressman so and so….thank you for seeing me today. I know you are very busy. I also know that you know what this meeting is all about. Sir/Madam…We can’t keep on doing what we’re doing. You have no idea what you are doing to Our Lord…Our Lord’s Church….to me….and to this country. Foty million children have been slaughtered from abortion and you have worked tirelessly to perpetuate this great horror and evil. Until you are reconciled with the Church…I am going to have to respectfully ask you to refrain from receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you…I care about you….deeply….I hate that I have to even ask this of you….but I…as the Shepherd of Christ children in this diocese…cannot continue to allow this. I think you can understand my position. I am asking you for the Love of Jesus Christ to please change. Come back to the Church…come back to the sacraments.

    You have to go face to face. One on one. Now…if the Church means anything at all to any of these people…they will ultimely begin to change. Maybe soon. There is something about coming to Mass and sitting in that pew…and knowing you cannot receive Our Lord that is incredibly powerful. I am afraid that the Bishops have forgotten the power of the Eucharist. It is I am afraid the only thing left that the Bishops can do. Will they do it? Some will…some already have. Some are real Bishops….some are real Shepherds….some are brave, faithful and courageous….but….sadly….most are not. You tell me. God Bless you all!

  • Mary Kochan

    I understand your point Irish — it actually occured to me when I was writing it. But the fact is that a lot of pro-aborts ARE Cathollic and we can’t decide they are not. They are bad Catholics, true. They are being unfaithful to the Church and her Lord, true. But they are still Catholic.

  • Mary S.

    Thank you for an awesome article!

  • DonnaMaria

    Don’t forget Bishop Robert Vasa, of Bend, Oregon–absolutely and totally pro-life, and not afraid to say it, even in liberal Oregon! God bless him, and pray others take his lead. He is the episcopal adviser to the Catholic Medical Association, and the implications of an Obama presidency were clearly spelled out at the CMA meeting earlier this month in Baltimore. Spread to word! Thanks, Mary!

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  • LarryW2LJ

    Mary,

    Please don’t forget the fine work of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Patterson Diocese here in NJ. Bishop Serratelli has been outspoken enough to cause Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State to ask the IRS to investigate the Patterson Doicese’s tax exempt status.

    When the pro-abortion wackos start doing things like this then Bishop Serratelli must have touched a raw nerve, indeed!

    Thank you Bishops! But we need ALL OF YOU to stand as an OUTSPOKEN united front against abortion during this critical election. Whoever our next president will be will certainly get to make one or perhaps two Supreme Court Justice nominations. A ton is at stake here!

    Larry

  • techwreck

    Mary, You mention my bishop in your list of those who care, and I applaud him for speaking out.

    But, at the parish level in our Diocese, we don’t speak of unpleasant things like abortion. We just selectively speak of the gospel message of love in terms of giving to the poor and other “United Way” types of social action that make people feel good. We don’t talk about things that might upset people.

    You see, the Church has a lot of problems, what with the shortage of priests and the combining of parishes. We are turned inward and have important tasks that take priority, like personnel policies, fund raising, and planning. We have no energy left to expend in the public square.

    That is the reality of the leadership of our bishops. Their public statements show concern for moral issues, but their actions send a different message to the faithful.

    So the few laity who care act independently in organizations like Right to Life. But, many in our parish will vote for pro-abortion candidates because they have not been challenged to do otherwise by their Church.

    The few who are looking for guidance get lost in the twaddle of the bishops document on “Faithful Citizenship” with its admonitions against single issue voting, and confused by the bishops’ debates about communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians. In their confusion, they respond to carefully crafted political messages from pro-abortion candidates that are aimed at Catholics.

    At the “retail level”, as they say in politics, the Church is not a player in the abortion debate because of a lack of real leadership. Real leadership requires action, not documents.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    Serreno,

    you’ve asked why we have to suffer with bad bishops, who do not do their pastoral duties.

    I do not ask why God wants me to suffer. I merely accept that He does, and that His reasons are good, as He is good.

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  • irish_2171

    Mary…..come on. A bad Catholic? Is there such a thing as a good abortionist? Or a good rapist? Then why a bad Catholic? I think you mean that a lot of pro-aborts ARE “attending” a Catholic Church. Have them stand up and let their Priest know what their position is and we’ll quickly see how long they call themselves Catholic. I can guarantee you it won’t take long to make that distinction. I don’t want to drive anyone away from the Church, but we need to make a stand on Catholic fundamentals and get away from this liberal business.

  • irish_2171

    Mary,

    Again……this was good article.

  • irish_2171

    Last comment….then I’ll shut up. I just read today’s reading and I think it sums this all up. Where would we be without Paul’s inspiration?

    Reading 1
    Eph 4:1-6

    Brothers and sisters:
    I, a prisoner for the Lord,
    urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
    with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
    bearing with one another through love,
    striving to preserve the unity of the spirit
    through the bond of peace;
    one Body and one Spirit,
    as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
    one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
    one God and Father of all,
    who is over all and through all and in all.

  • pghpr

    Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh was also among the Bishops of the United States to “correct” Ms. Pelosi’s understanding of our Church’s teaching.

  • MICHAEL

    I love the letters of Paul and isn’t it a coincidence (although are there really any coincidences) that this is the Year of St. Paul. In a year where there is so much turmoil and doubt, where so many Catholics and other Christians appear to be siding against the Church, we are remembering and celebrating the life of one of the Church’s greatest converts and defenders. In a sense isn’t this what we need now-conversion or re-conversion?

  • MICHAEL
  • Jakes

    Mary,

    Thanks for your article. May all our bishops emulate the strong defense of human life that particular bishops have shown, as you have identified.

    I have a few suggestions that I would wish the bishops to consider strongly. First is the counsel in Michael’s 10/23 post: that, whatever the results on Nov 4, “We need to put pro-life candidates in local positions – our Towns, School Boards, Cities and states …”

    Then I’d suggest the bishops adopt as the root of their teaching, God’s Command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself“, recognizing every innocent, helpless human being in its mother’s womb as neighbor to us all. Americans can protect (love) these neighbors by simply electing government officials who will respect the dignity of each of the more than 3,000 of such neighbors deprived – each and every day through the brutality of abortion – of their rights to live, grow and love.

    Bishops ought to appeal to ALL (not just those who are catholic) of the 50% of citizens eligible to vote who consistently refrain from doing so. Clearly these aren’t abortion ideologues, else they’d certainly vote with such ideologues’ consistent enthusiasm to spread abortion and other, related means of legal killing.

    God’s Commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself“ applies to each of these non-voters, just as it applies to all the rest of us. That non-voters (whether caused by their indifference, sloth, forgetfulness or whatever), waste personal ballots that could be critical in saving lives of innocent human beings from merciless death, is an injustice that they, personally, need to correct by caring and voting. After all, they (and we) have been COMMANDED to love, not to kill, our neighbors and, surely not in so cowardly a fashion as aborting innocent, helpless human beings!

    How important is the role of non-voters? Think of only 2% of them being persuaded to vote pro-life; then think of 3% to 5%. The result: The pro-life cause would be won – permanently! How so? Well, 2% of 50 percent of all eligible votes is about 8% of the votes usually cast for either side of the issue of life vs death, while 3% of 50% would be 12%, and so on. And remember, non-voters surely don’t tend to be abortion ideologues!

    Now, there is a second set of neighbors whose lives have been severely jeopardized through the same political/legal machinations that doom the unborn. They are women who become pregnant by ne’er-do-wells, who then threaten these frightened, pregnant women violently to “abort that kid”. These brutal ne’er-do-wells fully know that no one looks to see if the woman’s “choice” was voluntary or frighteningly compelled, since the law mindlessly protects every “right to choose”, the mantra of the culture of death!

    Some law! It becomes a traumatic “catch 22” for the distressed and frightened woman! Such women deserve better persons voted into political office and through these, better justices appointed, than they and their babies have been granted of late!

    Voters can and must correct these appalling injustices. Love, through the power of ballots, will do it. How could anyone possessing the power of a ballot ever justify not using it to help critically needy neighbors? Such a small effort; such a decisive, merciful result!!

    Peace,

    Jakes

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