Prominent politicians lost no time in reacting hyperbolically to the Supreme Court’s decision refusing to enjoin Texas’s new law banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. President Biden announced a “whole-of-government effort” to find ways to overcome the Texas measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced the Supreme Court’s refusal as a “cowardly, dark-of-night decision to uphold a flagrantly unconstitutional assault on women’s rights and health,” and promised new legal action: “This ban necessitates codifying Roe v. Wade” in federal law.
As a faith leader in the Catholic community, I find it especially disturbing that so many of the politicians on the wrong side of the preeminent human rights issue of our time are self-professed Catholics. This is a perennial challenge for bishops in the United States: This summer, we provoked an uproar by discussing whether public officials who support abortion should receive the sacrament of the Eucharist. We were accused of inappropriately injecting religion into politics, of butting in where we didn’t belong.
I see matters differently. When considering what duties Catholic bishops have with respect to prominent laymen in public life who openly oppose church teachings on abortion, I look to this country’s last great human rights movement — still within my living memory — for inspiration on how we should respond.
The example of New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel, who courageously confronted the evils of racism, is one that I especially admire. Rummel did not “stay in his lane.” Unlike several other bishops throughout this country’s history, he did not prioritize keeping parishioners and the public happy above advancing racial justice. Instead, he began a long, patient campaign of moral suasion to change the opinions of pro-segregation White Catholics.
In 1948, he admitted two Black students to New Orleans’s Notre Dame Seminary. In 1951, he ordered the removal of “white” and “colored” signs from Catholic churches in the archdiocese. In a 1953 pastoral letter, he ordered an end to segregation throughout the archdiocese of New Orleans, telling White Catholics that, because their “Colored Catholic brethren share … the same spiritual life and destiny,” there could be “no further discrimination or segregation in the pews, at the Communion rail, at the confessional and in parish meetings.”
In 1955, Rummel closed a church for refusing to accept a Black priest. In a 1956 pastoral letter, he declared: “Racial segregation as such is morally wrong and sinful because it is a denial of the unity and solidarity of the human race as conceived by God in the creation of Adam and Eve.” On March 27, 1962, Rummel formally announced the end of segregation in the New Orleans Catholic schools.
Many White Catholics were furious at this disruption of the long-entrenched segregationist status quo. They staged protests and boycotts. Rummel patiently sent letters urging a conversion of heart, but he was willing to threaten opponents of desegregation with excommunication.
On April 16, 1962, he followed through, excommunicating a former judge, a well-known writer and a segregationist community organizer. Two of the three later repented and died Catholics in good standing.
Was that wrong? Was that weaponizing the Eucharist? No. Rummel recognized that prominent, high-profile public advocacy for racism was scandalous: It violated core Catholic teachings and basic principles of justice, and also led others to sin.
In our own time, what could be a more egregious “denial of the unity and solidarity of the human race” than abortion? Abortion kills a unique, irreplaceable human being growing in his or her mother’s womb. Everyone who advocates for abortion, in public or private life, who funds it or who presents it as a legitimate choice participates in a great moral evil.
Since the Roe decision, more than 60 million lives have been lost to abortion. Many millions more have been scarred by this experience, wounded victims whom society ignores.
Abortion is therefore the most pressing human rights challenge of our time. Can we pastors speak softly when the blood of 60 million innocent American children cries out for justice? When their mothers are condemned to silence, secretly suffering the injuries of the culture of “choice”?
Yes, we need to speak just as strongly for these mothers, and of our obligations to provide new and generous options for women facing crisis pregnancies. And Texas gets this right: The state is investing $100 million to help mothers by funding pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and maternity homes and providing free services including counseling, parenting help, diapers, formula and job training to mothers who want to keep their babies.
You cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings. The answer to crisis pregnancies is not violence but love, for both mother and child.
This is hardly inappropriate for a pastor to say. If anything, Catholic political leaders’ response to the situation in Texas highlights the need for us to say it all the louder.
The above comes from a Sept. 5 opinion piece in the Washington Post.
Are Biden and Pelosi any better than segregationists in the South? Absolutely not.
As bad as racism and slavery are, legalized abortion in the US has killed over 60 million people.
Slave owners had a financial interest in keeping their “property” alive, abortionists are paid to provide dead babies to paying customers.
Percentage wise, abortion kills more black babies than white. Racism and abortion are linked but abortion is much more deadly. The Church must speak out as Cordileone has done here.
Wow, did the Washington Post actually print Bishop Cordileone’s letter? I hope it didn’t fall on deaf ears or blind eyes.
“The state is investing $100 million to help mothers . . .”
You lost me at “investing.” Cordileone is just another common redistributionist. There is no free lunch.
This is the strongest statement from the US episcopacy that I have seen. It is hard to argue with. (I know that sentence is bad grammar). Now that it is published, what will the politicians do? Ignore it I suppose.
I hate abortion and contribute to the local Birthright chapter in my town. However, I view the rhetoric of republican politicians and some Catholic Bishops addressing abortion with a great deal of skepticism. It seems the GOP likes to use the abortion issue to garner votes from Catholics and other Christians while actually doing very little about it. In fact, prior to the legalization of abortion many republican leaders supported the effort to legalize abortion because they hoped it would reduce the number of children on welfare and, thus, lower costs. If one is truly pro-life then one supports the efforts to reduce abortion and also supports the efforts to provide resources to families with young children who have limited means. As the evidence shows from the last 40 years, “trickle down” economics has not worked. The concentration of tremendous wealth to a few people (e.g. Gates, Bezos, etc.), wage suppression (no increase in the federal minimum wage since 2009, currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25) and the outsourcing of jobs overseas to increase company profits has been extremely hard on most working families. How do I know? I speak from experience.
Segregation and racism don’t necessarily conflate. But what an opportunity for Cordileone, like the silly racial justice stations of the cross. Abortion is always evil.
Interestingly, Rummel didn’t deseg till 1962. That’s 8 years after the injudicious Brown decision, and 27 years after he took over the diocese. Quite late for my tastes.
I think that Abp. Rummel had to go slowly, to achieve results of desegregation, because racism was so deeply entrenched in the South, and powerful White men kept the system of segregation in place– with extreme KKK-type violence. Blacks had very little luck with seeking justice via the legal system, as there was much corruption, and racism prevailed everywhere. By contrast, I never could understand how the Catholic Church could simply cease her adherence to Canon Law, and allow clergy–and laity– so much “freedom” to “make their own decisions,” after Vatican II. That is not “humanitarian,” it is ignorant, deceitful and evil! Before the Council, Catholics respected the Church, the Catechism (which they all knew) and Canon Law, and the Church’s decisions on things.While it’s true that some “radicals” argued for Church acceptance of every sin in the book after Vatican II, that situation could have been controlled, I think, with simply stating the Church’s teachings, and requiring Catholic clergy and laity’s acceptance of Church teachings, and moving forward. Some “radicals” might be excommunicated, and some might leave the Church. So be it. If the Church long ago had excommunicated “bad Catholics” like Pelosi and Biden, they would certainly have made a big fuss– but I doubt if a bishop would have risked KKK-style cross burnings, death threats, and murders. I don’t see why the Pope and his clerics simply have allowed sin to corrupt the Church, refusing authemtic, normal spiritual leadership. Allowing this evil situation to continue, is deceitful to God, diabolic, and extremely destructive.
The Catholic Church ceased her adherance to Canon Law- False and ridiculous.
Clergy and laity freedom to make their own decisions after Vatican II.- very unclear what the commenter is referring to. Completely silly statement.
Before the council, Catholics respected the Church, the Catechism and Canon Law and the Church’s decision on things-Church history would indicate that that statement is false.
Catholics all knew the Catechism-very doubtful, if referring to the Roman Catechism. If referring to the Baltimore Catechism in the US, possibly.true.but it was a child’s catechism.
Some “radicals” argued for Church acceptance of every sin in the book after Vatican II-Highly doubtful. Please cite your source.
If the Church long ago had excommunicated “bad Catholics” like Pelosi and Biden- for what? There are very few things that lay people can be excommunicated for.
The Pope and his clerics- what would that even mean?
The Pope and his clerics have allowed sin to corrupt the Church-Pope Francis has challenged sin in the Church often. He has often begged clerics to purify and sanctify themselves. There have been numerous exposures and trials of clerics who have committed crimes.
All lies come from Satan.
You may have something important to say but your hyperbole and falsehoods distract from it.
Nonsense from an internet troll.