How Boston Archdiocese Justifies Keeping Obama Fund-Raiser Around

August 25, 2012

We shift back to Boston, to share with you today an explanation from the Boston Archdiocese about how they justify keeping Jack Connors on the Finance Council, despite his public fundraising for political figures who oppose the Catholic Church.

BCI has posted a number of times about Connors in the past.  In Stop the Scandal in 2011, we raised the concern that Conners was publicly supporting and raising money for pro-abortion politicians (ie. President Obama) at the same time he is raising money for Catholic schools, has Finance Council oversight for archdiocesan fundraising and is influencing the direction of Catholic education. Nothing happened. This past June in our post on Fortnight for Freedom, we raised the concern again–this time, when Connors hosted a $40,000/person fundraiser for President Obama this afternoon.  We asked, how is it we can have a member of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance Council responsible for Institutional Advancement who is working against the Catholic Church by publicly fundraising for a politician who wants to violate our religious freedom?  It seemed to BCI that was scandalous.

Well, an alert BCI reader apparently agreed and filed a complaint via Ethicpoint, the anonymous whistleblower program set-up for reporting violations of the archdiocesan Code of Conduct. The archdiocese was obliged to respond. The complaint says that these public actions by Connors violated the archdiocesan Code of Conduct policy, which says Church personnel should ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.”  Below is the original complaint, the response by the archdiocese, and a response by the complainant, to which the archdiocese never responded.

ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Report Submission Date
6/28/2012

Reported Company/Branch Information

Location

Public square and in mainstream media

City/State/Zip

Braintree, MA, U.S.

 

Violation Information
Issue Type
Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior
Please identify the person(s) engaged in this behavior:
Jack Connors – Archdiocesan Finance Council, Chair, Campaign for Catholic Schools
Do you suspect or know that a supervisor or management is involved?
Do Not Know / Do Not Wish To Disclose
If yes, then who?
Cardinal O’Malley
Is management aware of this problem?
Do Not Know / Do Not Wish To Disclose
What is the general nature of this matter?
The Code of Conduct says that church personnel will ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.” Jack Connors has just done the opposite. On the same day when Cardinal O’Malley hosted a town hall forum to rally support for religious freedom and opposition to the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic institutions pay for contraception coverage, Mr. Connors very publicly raised $1 million for the campaign of President Obama, who is leading the charge to violate our religious freedom:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/

Church personnel raising money for a politician whose policies serve to undermine the welfare of the archdiocese sounds like a violation of the code of conduct. It says “Church personnal will conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the Bishops in communion with him; more specifically, Church Personnel shall, in all such matters, accept, rely upon and defer to the teaching authority of the Archbishop in all matters of faith and morals.

Where did this incident or violation occur?
June 25, 2012
Please provide the specific or approximate time this incident occurred:
4pm. see:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/

How long do you think this problem has been going on?
More than a year
How did you become aware of this violation?
Other
If other, how?
newspaper articles
Details
4pm fundraiser on Monday, June 25 for President Obama.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/26/president_obama_to_visit_boston_for_fund_raising_monday/

“Obama spent more than an hour inside Hamersley’s Bistro, whose front windows were covered, while hundreds of people waited on Tremont Street for a glimpse of him. Boston’s police commissioner, Ed Davis, joined the heavy-security team of city police, State Police, and Secret Service on Clarendon Street, where the president’s limousine was parked. At the restaurant, 25 supporters, hosted by Boston advertising executive Jack Connors, paid $40,000 each to attend.”

http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2012/06/21/president-obama-will-make-campaign-swing-through-boston-monday-for-series-fundraisers/xsNzFx2AGik11AuhVSGd0H/story.html

Obama will first attend an intimate campaign roundtable at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End with 25 supporters who paid $40,000 each to attend, said a campaign official. The afternoon gathering will be hosted by Boston advertising magnate Jack Connors, who last spring held a $17,900-a-head dinner at his Brookline home for the president.

Follow-Up Notes
There are no additional notes for this report.

RESPONSE FROM THE BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE:

Follow-Up Questions/Comments
Jul 10, 2012, 9:43 AM
Comment: Members of the Archdiocese of Boston Finance  Council provide the Archdiocese of Boston with  their well-established business acumen and  experience in productive, fiscally stable organizations. As they do so, these individuals donate generously of their time and talent. The Archdiocese of Boston asks these individuals to serve in this and other capacities with full confidence that they adhere faithfully to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, act in a manner which is fully in accordance with the Archdiocesan Code of Conduct, and conduct themselves as all Catholics are called to—with care, concern and compassion for others,
especially those who are in need.

In their support of organizations apart from the Archdiocese, Finance Council members find themselves immersed in diverse settings, replete with the full variety of moral beliefs and human behaviors. As free and private citizens, Finance Council members are at liberty to invest their time and energy in any manner they deem fit and to support those programs and policies, and at times individuals, which they have determined contribute to the common good and the well-being of society. The Archdiocese believes that the support of these programs, policies, and/or individuals reflects the Finance Council members’ own understanding of the human condition, the moral responsibility of each individual, and the collective responsibilities of the populace.

As individuals who value their privacy, Finance Council members are not obligated to make public the rationale behind their decisions to support various organizations, programs, and persons. The Church respects the right of the individual to personal conscience formation. The reality of this personal moral and ethical worldview informs Cardinal O’Malley’s solicitation of the Finance Council members’ service to the Archdiocese and, at times, acceptance of their generous financial assistance. That a Finance Council member may offer his/her backing to a politician or political candidate who is in support of pro-choice policies does not define or exhaust a Finance Council member’s position on issues pertaining to respect for life. Instead, it objectively speaks to the Finance Council member’s willingness to engage with and find value and merit in the opinions, ideals, and visions of individuals with a wide variety of moral stances, which at various times are more or less in line with the teachings of the Church. Furthermore, though he/she may provide his/her time and support to certain institutions which allow for individuals to elect to participate in activities that do not respect the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life, no current Finance Council member has publicly advocated abortions as suitable moral options for these individuals. To assume that a Finance Council member is pro-choice and actively in support of abortions because of his/her political affiliations and/or institutional support is an unfair assumption and not one the Archdiocese is willing to use in judging candidates for the Council.

Turning to political activities specifically, the support of a pro-choice politician by a Catholic has been addressed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (2007). In this document, the Bishops state,

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. […] In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the Bishops recognize that the political field is not one characterized by ideal candidates who at all times and in all cases uphold the full array of Catholic moral truths. Consequently, Catholic voters are tasked with examining imperfect candidates according to Catholic teaching on matters “affecting human life and dignity as well as issues of justice and peace” and “consider[ing] candidates’ integrity, philosophy, and performance.” The whole of Catholic social teaching should be considered when a Catholic makes a valuation of a given political candidate. Although the principles articulated in the USCCB statement can find expression in differing concrete political choices by individual Catholics, one should presume that the choices have been made conscientiously and in good faith.

Through their dedicated service, the members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council have repeatedly shown their love for the Church and their desire to see it flourish and provide the framework by which the people of the Archdiocese of Boston may be nourished physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Cardinal O’Malley trusts that the moral convictions of the Finance Council members are firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching and are designed to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Archdiocese believes that the decisions the Finance Council members make as citizens and as Catholics, although opposed by some, are neither in violation of Catholic teaching nor do they bring about scandal. Rather, the Archdiocese feels they are a reflection of the difficult decisions which must be made in a less than perfect world, one which the Finance Council members actively and tirelessly seek to improve through their faithful service to Christ and His Church.

RESPONSE FROM THE PERSON WHO FILED THE COMPLAINT
Jul 12, 2012, 6:15 AM
Reply: Thank you for your response–however I’m a bit confused by it. I didn’t say anything about abortion and your whole response is about a Finance Council member’s support for pro-choice politicians. My complaint was about Jack Connors’ support for Obama while he is actively working to take away our religious freedom. Now that I’ve read your response, I have several follow-up points and questions.

i) Specifically what sort of positions or actions would constitute “scandal” for a Finance Council member to give their support to? For example, if the politician supported by a Finance Council member advocated for ethnic cleansing, would that still be permissible without creating scandal? If the politician advocated for legalization of premeditated murder, child pornography, or sex between adults and young children, is it still OK for the Finance Council to publicly support the politician and this does not create scandal, because the person has the right to form their own conscience?

ii) The Code of Conduct says that church personnel will ensure their behavior “promotes the welfare of the archdiocese” and “exemplifies the moral traditions of the Church.” Since President Obama and his administration opposes the freedom of religion for this Catholic archdiocese which harms the Catholic Church and could impose substantial financial penalties on us, how exactly can Mr. Connors’ fund-raising to re-elect President Obama promote the welfare of the archdiocese? How does fund-raising for the most pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-traditional marriage, anti-Catholic and anti-religious freedom President this country has ever had–in opposition to the moral teachings of the Church– “exemplify the moral traditions of the Church”? I don’t understand your rationale. Can you explain further?

3) In your response, you said, “Cardinal O’Malley trusts that the moral convictions of the Finance Council members are firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching and are designed to uphold the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Archdiocese believes that the decisions the Finance Council members make as citizens and as Catholics, although opposed by some, are neither in violation of Catholic teaching nor do they bring about scandal.”

Has Cardinal O’Malley actually asked Finance Council members if their moral convictions are in keeping with Catholic moral teaching and support protection of human life from conception to natural death, as well as marriage between one man and one woman, and religious freedom from government interference? Is that specifically a prerequisite for becoming a member of the Finance Council? If not, why not? What if you asked and found a Finance Council member answering honestly said they did not agree with Catholic doctrine and moral teachings? Then what?

This report has been closed.

Follow-Up Statements
The organization sent these questions or comments before report was closed. You cannot respond.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

BCI finds the response from the Boston Archdiocese to be most revealing. At last we have some explanation for how the Boston Archdiocese justifies keeping Jack around.  As long as the money is green, it does not matter what he does in his “private” life, even if those actions publicly harm the Catholic Church.  Matthew 6:24 comes to mind, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

What do you think?


Dolan Dinner and the Cost of the Contraceptive Mandate

August 19, 2012

The controversy over Cardinal Dolan inviting Obama to the Al Smith Dinner continues.  There are many excellent comments we would like to share, but time and space does not permit, and we want to get back to Boston issues in our next post.

Still, let us go one last round for now to share a few things you may have not yet seen on the actual costs and fines associated with the Obama contraceptive mandate, and then more on Dolan dinner invitation.

Never clearly stated publicly by the bishops to our knowledge is how the mandate could financially cripple Catholic family-run private businesses, in addition to Catholic religious entities.

As the National Catholic Register reported, Time’s Up for Catholic Business Owners to plan for offering contraceptive coverage or face steep fines.  They report on new guidelines from the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Whenever their company’s next health plan kicks in, these employers must prove that their workers have access to co-pay-free contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs, or they’ll incur heavy fines.

“[B]eginning in January 2014, an employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees could incur a penalty of approximately $2,000 per employee per year beyond the first 30 full-time employees not offered a health plan, as well as incur the potential legal actions taken by employees and the federal government.”

Business owners must also weigh how a withdrawal of coverage will likely affect their employees.

“The principles of stewardship and justice require employers to care for their employees; by virtue of the way in which health insurance is generally provided in the United States, this care typically includes health-insurance coverage,” the [National Catholic Bioethics Center] guidelines note.

“A sudden change in this approach could leave many employees and their families uninsured or underinsured, with little time to adjust and find affordable, quality alternatives.”

Meanwhile, employers who seek to offer plans that exclude morally objectionable services will soon face “exorbitant penalties of $100 per day per employee, as well as the potential legal actions taken by employees and by the federal government.”

Employers could refuse to pay these fines “as a form of legitimate civil disobedience against the unjust governmental mandate,” but that decision comes with “hefty legal risks that could equally threaten the livelihoods of all involved.”

One family-owned company who sued to be able to operate their business in accord with their religious beliefs is Hercules Corp. They won a preliminary injunction, but are not nearly out of the woods yet.  Here is their story, and an estimate of the costs of compliance with the Obama HHS mandate:

If Hercules had not prevailed, it would have been required to begin offering its 265 employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception coverage and related counseling as of November 1, the date its self-insured health care plan renewed. Because it is a private, for-profit family business, it is excluded from the mandate’s narrow religious exemption and, like all non-religious employers, is ineligible for a year-long “safe harbor” that simply delays the religious freedom violations caused by the mandate. Alternatively, it could have chosen not to comply with the mandate or to drop insurance coverage altogether for its employees, facing steep monetary penalties under Obamacare either way.

What would this fine on faith look like? If it chose to buck compliance with the mandate, starting on November 1, Hercules would be fined $100 per employee per day of non-compliance. With 265 employees, Hercules’ fine would have amounted to $800,000 per month—almost $10 million per year. If Hercules were to take the more likely action of dropping health care coverage to avoid facilitating the mandate, thereby forcing its employees into government-run exchanges, it would face a fine on faith of approximately $2,000 per employee per year, for a total of $530,000 per year.

But dismay over the mandate is not limited to the monetary impact of government-imposed fines for the free exercise of faith. In its court filings and arguments in the case, the Obama Administration has consistently pressed a view of religious liberty so narrow as to render this fundamental freedom meaningless. It has attempted to read into constitutional and statutory protections for religious freedom a condition that would suspend its application in the business context, forcing business owners to abandon their religious and moral convictions as a condition of participating in commerce. For example, the Administration’s brief opposing the preliminary injunction argued that the “Plaintiffs’ free exercise claim fails at the outset because for-profit, secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment.”

Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.

Cardinal Dolan recognizes some of the the implications, as he noted in his August 1 blog post about religious freedom:

Yes, the Archdiocese of New York has joined dozens of others in filing a lawsuit against the administration and HHS, arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional.  And, yes, the administration has granted a one-year reprieve to religious agencies whose conscience would be violated by this mandate.  (That’s right – the government acknowledges that this will be a problem for many religious agencies.  But their response is, essentially, “too bad.”)

What will happen when the year is up?

I suppose one option would be for those agencies to stop offering health insurance to their employees, and pay a $2000 per employee penalty.  While some would argue that the agencies would, in fact, save money by choosing this option, it hardly seems to be the right and just way to treat your co-workers, does it?

Another option is to continue to offer health insurance, but, honoring our conscience, not include these objectionable services. There would be a $100 fine per day for each person who qualified for the coverage.  Let’s assume that an agency has 50 people for which it would be subject to this penalty.  At $100 per day, per person, over the course of the year it would pay a penalty of $1,825,000.  ($100 x 50 people x 365 days).  That’s a steep penalty from the government in order to try and convince religious agencies to turn their back on their conscience. That’s money that will then not go to serve those in need.  Many of our services could not survive this heavy penalty.

A third option, I suppose, is to capitulate and accept the strangling mandate…I don’t want to go there.  We just finished a Fortnight for Freedom, and the saints we honored – Saint Thomas More, Saint John Fisher, Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul – would not want us to go there, either.

Yes, St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, St. Edmund Campion, and many others would not want us to go there. So what option does Cardinal Dolan suggest? And what is he doing to emulate those saints and martyrs?  Among other things, he is proceeding with the Al Smith dinner and his defense of his invitation to President Obama using the excuse that we should practice civility.

Read what Mary Ann Kreitzer said at Les Femmes – The Truth:

Every time I read one of these rah-rah civility, can’t-we-all-just-get-along posts I think of other members of the hierarchy (and saints) from the past who acted just a little bit differently with death-dealing politicians.

I can’t imagine, for example, Clemens von Galen Bishop of Munster preaching about Hitler’s euthanasia program and then inviting him to dinner for a happy old time of respect and civility. And then there’s Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty tortured by the commies. I’m sure they would happily have appeared arm in arm with him for a photo op if he would only play nice. He preferred house arrest and isolation in the American Embassy. And then there’s John the Baptist who made Herod feel just a little uncomfortable. Do you think he would have attended Herod’s birthday party? And what about St. Maximilian Kolbe on whose feast day Cardinal Dolan was writing. These are men from the past with the backbone to stand up to evil men and call them to repentance. I can’t imagine them even making the silly statements we’ve seen coming from the Archdiocese.
But then the Nazis and the Commies were killing “born” people not tiny out of sight, out of mind babies in the womb. As for Herod…well, that was so long ago and everybody knows John was pretty eccentric and not really to be imitated. Besides, the unborn aren’t really quite like the rest of us. They’re just fetuses and you can’t expect a cardinal of the Church today to act like they deserve the same kind of respect and civility as a President of the United States.
Cardinal Dolan, with all due respect, I don’t buy your excuses for inviting Obama to dinner. The little murdered peers of my grandchildren deserve better. And for that matter, so do my children and grandchildren.

Here’s what I posted as a comment on the Cardinal’s blog responding to his defense of inviting Obama for dinner :

Christ ate with the low level outcasts of the culture. He never broke bread with Herod or Pilate. If we believe what we say about the babies being equal to the rest of us, eating with Obama and giving him a photo op laughing it up with you, Your Excellency, is like sitting down for a yuck with Hitler while his administration was killing the Jews, the gypsies, Catholic priests, political enemies, etc. As a mom of five and grandmother of twenty-one I can only say that I see little evidence in your act that you believe unborn babies are actually as important as bishops and cardinals. If Obama favored stabbing a bishop in the head and sucking out his brains there is no way you would entertain him for dinner. I will certainly pray for you and your brother bishops who have treated faithful Catholics in the pew like bothersome and brainless poor relations. Inviting Obama to the dinner is a scandal and there is no way to put a gloss on it that makes it less of a scandal!

BCI could not have put it better than this.  There is no other way to describe the Obama dinner invitation than to call it a scandal.  BCI also wonders how many Catholics are unaware of the extent to which the Obama HHS mandate could financially cripple or shut down private family-run businesses and Catholic institutions. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities and Cardinal Dolan are honoring the man behind it all with a speaking platform at the Al Smith dinner. Things are getting worse and worse for faithful Catholics, not better.  What do you think?


Doubts About Dolan’s Defense of Dinner

August 15, 2012

Cardinal Dolan has come out with a blog post explaining the decision to invite President Obama to the Al Smith dinner .  We are glad that Cardinal Dolan has at last given an explanation in his own words.  But, his defense still leaves us, along with many Catholics, shaking our heads with doubts about the decision. Below are excerpts from the blog post by Cardinal Dolan, with our commentary inline. We would like to give Cardinal Dolan the benefit of the doubt, but we remain skeptical.

Last week I was out in Anaheim for the annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus. It was, as usual, a most uplifting and inspirational event.

In his rousing address to the thousands of delegates, representing 1.8 million knights, Dr. Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight, exhorted us to a renewed sense of faithful citizenship, encouraging us not to be shy about bringing the values of faith to the public square…

He then went on to announce a promising initiative of the Knights of Columbus to foster civility in politics…

[BCI] Where has the civility displayed in recent years by the Knights toward pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage politicians who are also members of the K of C gotten them? Has it changed any hearts, minds or votes of these so-called “Catholic” Knights in elected office who consistently act in defiance of our moral principles? If it was producing some impact, then great–by all means keep at it. But if it is not producing any change, maybe displaying yet more civility towards them is not a winning approach. If the “carrot” approach does not motivate change, then try the stick instead.

For seven decades, the Al Smith Dinner here in New York has been an acclaimed example of such civility in political life. As you may know, every four years, during the presidential election campaign, the Al Smith Dinner is the venue of history, as it is the only time outside of the presidential debates that the two presidential candidates come together, at the invitation of the Al Smith Foundation, through the archbishop of New York, for an evening of positive, upbeat, patriotic, enjoyable civil discourse.  This year, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accepted our invitation. I am grateful to them.

[BCI] With all due respect, so what if the dinner has been an example of civility in political life for seven decades? What became of the civil discourse with candidate Obama 4 years ago at this same dinner? Now his policies that violate our religious freedom and mandate contraceptive coverage could result in the shut-down of Catholic Charities, a beneficiary of the dinner.  We have never had as anti-Catholic a President as we have today, who is working as actively and in as un-civil a manner as Obama to oppose all of our moral principles and religious freedoms. If the dinner now causes scandal by the invitation and presence of Obama or other pro-abortion anti-Catholic politicians, should it continue this way just because it has been held for a while?  

…I am receiving stacks of mail protesting the invitation to President Obama (and by the way, even some objecting to the invitation to Governor Romney).

[BCI] Glad to hear the mail is getting through. In Boston, our mail to the Cardinal does not get through to him at all.

The objections are somewhat heightened this year, since the Catholic community in the United States has rightly expressed vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license, and his approval of mandates which radically intruded upon Freedom of Religion. We bishops, including yours truly, have been unrelenting in our opposition to these issues, and will continue to be.

[BCI] The objections have been massively heightened this year. We appreciate your vigorous criticism of the President’s support of the abortion license and your criticism of his mandates that radically intrude upon our Freedom of Religion.  Do you plan to be unrelenting in your vigorous criticism of the President’s support for abortion and intrusion on our Freedom of Religion in your public comments at the Al Smith dinner?

So, my correspondents ask, how can you justify inviting the President? Let me try to explain.

For one, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner is not an award, or the provision of a platform to expound views at odds with the Church. It is an occasion of conversation; it is personal, not partisan.

[BCI] No one has said the invitation to the dinner is an award. But the USCCB, of which Cardinal Dolan is President, has also said we should not honor or give platforms to those who act in defiance of our moral principles, which Obama clearly does. How is it not an honor to be the keynote featured speaker at a nationally-known fundraiser?  How is it not an honor to be the dinner guest of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and President of the USCCB? And even if Obama does not use this specific dinner as an occasion to expound views at odds with the Church, the dinner by this Catholic organization and hosted by the Catholic Archbishop of NY is still is giving Obama a public platform that suggests support for his actions. The Foundation website says, “Indeed, the occasion has evolved into something of an opportunity for speakers – particularly ones whose mien is typically quite serious – to show, through quips and slightly irreverent humor, that they can poke fun at a political issue, an opponent, or themselves.” This sounds like a platform.  To honor or give a platform to those who act in defiance of our moral principles is contrary to the direction from the USCCB in their 2004 document, Catholics in Political Life.

Two, the purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.

[BCI] Interesting how the spin about the purpose of the Al Smith dinner keeps changing. The Foundation says the dinner is “a living memorial to an uncommon public figure.”  The Foundation also says, in the days before Saturday Night Live, the Al Smith dinner served as a kind of “proving ground for the candidate as entertainer,” as one reporter described it.

Three, the teaching of the Church, so radiant in the Second Vatican Council, is that the posture of the Church towards culture, society, and government is that of engagement and dialogue. In other words, it’s better to invite than to ignore, more effective to talk together than to yell from a distance, more productive to open a door than to shut one. Our recent popes have been examples of this principle, receiving dozens of leaders with whom on some points they have serious disagreements. Thus did our present Holy Father graciously receive our current President of the United States.  And, in the current climate, we bishops have maintained that we are open to dialogue with the administration to try and resolve our differences.  What message would I send if I refused to meet with the President?

[BCI] With all due respect, this seems to be comparing apples and bananas. Recent popes have received leaders who visited the Vatican and asked to meet with the Holy Father.  These one-on-one meetings have taken place in a private audience behind closed doors and are an opportunity to engage in dialogue. Sometimes photos have not been allowed (e.g. with Nancy Pelosi).  The very public Al Smith fundraiser dinner is hardly an opportunity to engage in discourse and dialogue to try and resolve differences with the administration.  Furthermore, by not exercising the option to invite Obama, that does not say you are “refusing to meet with the President.” If the President invites you to the White House to meet with him to discuss how to resolve our serious disagreements, by all means you should accept the invitation and meet with him.

Finally, an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner in no way indicates a slackening in our vigorous promotion of values we Catholic bishops believe to be at the heart of both gospel and American values, particularly the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom. In fact, one could make the case that anyone attending the dinner, even the two candidates, would, by the vibrant solidarity of the evening, be reminded that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion, assemble on behalf of poor women and their babies, born and unborn, in a spirit of civility and respect.

[BCI] So the dinner will include Cardinal Dolan vigorously promoting values including the defense of human dignity, fragile life, and religious freedom? Does anyone really believe that Obama will come away believing that America is at her finest when people, free to exercise their religion in ways that the President is actively taking away from us, assemble on behalf of poor women and their unborn babies that Obama uses taxpayer dollars to kill in the womb? Did attending the dinner in 2008 as a presidential candidate change Obama and make him more supportive of Catholic moral principles? If what we have seen since then from Obama is a reflection of what he got from the 2008 dinner, can we take any more?

Some have told me the invitation is a scandal. That charge weighs on me, as it would on any person of faith, but especially a pastor, who longs to give good example, never bad. So, I apologize if I have given such scandal. I suppose it’s a case of prudential judgment: would I give more scandal by inviting the two candidates, or by not inviting them?

[BCI] We appreciate that you have come to see that the invitation is seen by many faithful Catholics as a scandal, and we also appreciate your apology.   There was not scandal in past years when pro-abortion candidates were not invited to the dinner, so it seems that you have indeed given more scandal by inviting the two candidates. The question now is, what do you plan to do since you have given such scandal to the country?

No matter what you might think of this particular decision, might I ask your prayers for me and my brother bishops and priests who are faced with making these decisions, so that we will be wise and faithful shepherds as God calls us to be?

[BCI] You have our prayers.

In the end, I’m encouraged by the example of Jesus, who was blistered by his critics for dining with those some considered sinners; and by the recognition that, if I only sat down with people who agreed with me, and I with them, or with those who were saints, I’d be taking all my meals alone.

[BCI] With all due respect, this example of Jesus, who dined with sinners in private to try to convert them is being used once again to compare apples and oranges. Judie Brown, of the American Life League, put it well in this column, What Would Jesus Do?

While it is true that Jesus dined with sinners, it was for the purpose of converting their hearts, of teaching them His laws, and of inspiring them to change sinful behaviors. President Obama has been invited to dine with Cardinal Dolan and others, but the goals of this dinner are not the same goals Jesus held. Today’s commentary addresses this and explains why we are beseeching the cardinal to have his own change of heart. 

Immediately after we launched the No Dinner for Obama campaign, a concerned Catholic wrote to us and said:

      Did not Jesus Himself dine with, seek the company of, and take audience with sinners, tax collectors, rabbis, and Pharisees who all believed and preached falsities? Who are we to stray from His example? Who are we to discriminate against a leader of many instead of dining with him, and trying to convince him of the true word of Jesus Christ?

My initial reaction was to feel sorrow for this fellow because he was sincerely trying to excuse the public embrace by members of the hierarchy of a man who has done nothing to advance any precept of the natural law. Obama is not confused about what he is doing to the Church. His actions are, and have been, intentional.

Furthermore, as author and columnist Phil Lawler wrote recently,

      When Jesus sat with tax collectors, the dinners were private. They were not “photo ops” for political candidates. The Lord could speak directly to the hearts of his dining companions, and convert them. Remember, St. Matthew left the tax-collecting business to follow Christ. Does anyone believe that after the Al Smith Dinner, Obama will decide to rescind the contraceptive mandate?

Following the dinner, America will see front-page photos and stories that feature Cardinal Dolan sitting with Obama, laughing and having a great time. Such images send a message to America that all is well between the leader of the United States of America and the leader of the American Catholic Church.

I am not sure who will be the most gravely scandalized by the photo op, but the point is that Obama is a danger to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and all that we hold dear as Christians in America. Our campaign is not a campaign of discrimination or negativity, it is an effort to follow Christ’s admonition to his disciples (Luke 17: 1-2): “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”

We are all called to be faithful, and sometimes that means making difficult decisions or taking unpopular actions in order to defend Christ and His Church. This is not a time for squeamishness or half-hearted attempts to uphold a tradition which, in the case of the Al Smith Dinner, needs to be broken.

[BCI] BCI thinks Cardinal Dolan faces any of several choices to eliminate the scandal created by the 2012 Al Smith Dinner:

  1. Uninvite President Obama
  2. Cancel the dinner
  3. Continue with the dinner as planned, but Cardinal Dolan mitigates the damage and scandal by not personally attending–and the media is banned from the dinner, with no photo opps or cameras permitted

What do you think?


“The Church of Nice” – NY Archdiocese Explanation of Obama Invitation

August 11, 2012

The flap over Cardinal Dolan inviting President Obama to the Al Smith dinner continues, and the explanation by a senior official with the Archdiocese of New York for inviting President Obama to the dinner left much to be desired. The last part of their explanation sounds like it is straight out of the Boston Archdiocese playbook:

The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speak nicely and politely to each other, and work together for a common cause in the service of the poor.

Sound famliar?  The key principle of the “Church of Nice” is to be nice and polite to each other and work for a common cause. To paraphrase what several commenters have said elsewhere, if we were in Germany during the Holocaust, would we “set aside our differences” and invite Adolf Hitler to such a dinner where we have nice, polite conversation, despite his role in the slaughter of millions of innocent people?  Is being “nice and polite” to work for the common good why Cardinal O’Malley keeps Jack Connors around despite his support for pro-abortion political figures whose policies work against the mission of the Catholic Church?  Is this why Cardinal O’Malley did not criticize Mayor Menino for his position that Chick-fil-A should not be in Boston because their leadership supports traditional marriage?  The list goes on and on.

Play the ChurchMilitant.TV video below, or read excerpts below:

Here are some of the key points you should note from this video and a prior one:

The high-ranking NY archdiocesean official who responded said: “people need to take a deep breath, relax a second, and think carefully about this.” The tone is condescending and the implication is that anyone who disagrees with the archdiocese hasn’t thought carefully enough.

The archdiocese, through this official, is saying the “dinner is not a religious event in any way” because it’s administered by the Al Smith Foundation, not the archdiocese. Also wrong or at best, misleading. To suggest it is not a Catholic Church event is a lot of baloney. What this official fails to tell us is that ON the board of the foundation itself and head of the board is Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Auxiliary bishop Dennis Sullivan, Vicar General of the New York Archdiocese, is also on the Board. It has their seal of approval. To try and suggest there is some healthy separation between the Foundation and the Archdiocese is insulting. The money raised by the dinner goes to support the Archdiocese of NY Catholic Charities. The primary figure at the dinner is the Cardinal archbishop of New York. The Foundation’s board of directors has seats occupied by the two highest ranking clerics from the archdiocese, and the archdiocese heavily promotes the dinner and benefits from greatly from it.  While it’s technically true is isn’t a religious event such as the Mass, it most certainly is a Catholic event. Catholicism is celebrated at the dinner, right down to the very reason for the dinner–that Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for president on his party’s ticket in 1928. So, it’s disingenuous to try and paint this as merely a civic event.

The NY archdiocesan official said “politicians who speak at the dinner are not getting any award or honor by the Church.”  Though Obama is not being given an “award,” it most certainly is an honor to be invited to keynote a prominent dinner.   Exactly what situation arises where someone is invited to speak at a fundraiser – as THE headliner – and it is not considered an honor? Do the organizers not consider it an honor when they extend the invitation?  What is it to honor someone?  It’s to call them out, set them above others, and call them out as someone worthy to listen to, follow, or emulate.

If the archdiocese doesn’t REALLY have that much to do with the event, then why did Cardinal Dolan extend invitations to the keynote speakers. Why is an employee of the archdiocese writing on the official archdiocesan page about it? Is the archdiocese in the habit of paying employees to write their own personal opinions on its page about things with only a passing relation to the archdiocese?

The official said, “When everyone wakes up the morning after, the struggle will resume.”  This comment is perhaps the most grating of all, as well as the most telling. It says plainly and implies that the struggle can be broken from. Show us anywhere where the Blessed Lord, the saints, doctors of the church, fathers of the Church, and martyrs suggested you could break from the struggle.  Why are we taking a break from the struggle? To hob-nob with the man who wants to strangle the Church?  Do we really suppose his administration at the White House is taking a break from enforcing the wicked  HHS mandate on the Church?

The official said, “we can still show respect for his office, and for him as a person, and treat him with civility.  It gives us an opportunity to act as Christians, and show some love to our adversaries.”  Again, a very telling comment.  The implication is that to oppose him (Obama), is to somehow not show him respect. That to call him out for his death-dealing policies is to not treat him with civility. And that is showing love for our adversaries.

THAT, in one short phrase sums up EVERYTHING that has gone wrong in the Church in the past 50 years  To speak the truth boldly and plainly is  somehow not love. Love has been absolutely confused with the concept of being nice and politically correct. This distortion has allowed the leaders of Church to totally abdicate their roles as fathers who love and die for their children. Fathers say the tough things.

You want to talk about love and true charity? The most perfect way to demonstrate true charity would be to set an example for not only Barack Obama, who is trapped in his own evil and needs rescuing as well, but to lift up the spirits of tens of thousands, if not millions of Catholics dismayed and shocked over this and un-invite Obama. That would be a true statement of authentic charity.

In the “Church of Nice,” what else is there to see other than this weak-kneed statement by the NY archdiocesan official, “The message is also that we can set aside our deeply-held differences and leave the partisan politics at the door for an evening, speaking nicely and politely to each other.”  There it is–at the end of the day, it all boils down to just being nice. The Church of Nice. Sacrificing our Lord to be nice.

Here is the petition to have Obama disinvited. Please sign it. For the sake of true charity, we ask Cardinal Dolan to rescind the invitation or, as one writer put it at RenewAmerica, “Cancel the Dinner.”


Disinvite Obama from Al Smith Dinner

August 7, 2012

BCI pauses from our normal Boston fare today to report on a situation of national significance to Catholics. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has apparently invited President Obama to speak at the annual Catholic Charities Al Smith dinner to be held on October 18 in New York.  Obama is reported to have accepted, and the dinner foundation website lists both Obama and Mitt Romney as speakers. This has sparked nationwide criticism and outrage which BCI feels is justified.  A petition has been started to ask Cardinal Dolan to uninvite Obama. BCI finds it odd and troubling that Cardinal Dolan would have invited Obama to this dinner–and we encourage you to sign the petition.

Here are two news articles about the controversy, followed by the petition and a video explaining why you should sign the petition:

Obama Attendance at Catholic Charities Dinner Sparks Criticism

Dolan criticized for inviting Obama to Al Smith Dinner

Randy Engel, Director, U.S. Coalition for Life, said, “Better to cancel the event than have it become another cause for scandal in the Catholic Church.” Engel says he is trying to get the message to Archbishop Dolan, “Please cancel the Al Smith dinner this year in memory of the millions of unborn children who have died and will continue to die under the government’s many anti-life programs.”

Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, is also unhappy about the event, and says some of the explanation he has heard about the invitation not being an endorsement of Obama’s policies but a courtesy extended to any president, doesn’t cut it with him.  “I’m all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the President’s policies vs. respecting his office,” Pavone said.”But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal.”

“There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church. On August 1, the unjust HHS mandate went into effect for Priests for Life and millions of other Americans, and I announced to our staff that we are disobeying the mandate,” Pavone said in comments to LifeNews. “So no, I don’t think the invitation is appropriate at this time.”

Here is the petition text:

We the undersigned respectfully request that the invitation to Barack Obama to be a guest at this year’s annual Al Smith charity fundraising dinner be withdrawn immediately.

Barack Obama has proven himself to be an aggressive adversary of the Catholic Church with regard to numerous policies put forth under his administration.

These include, but are not limited to, his forceful efforts to advance the intrinsic evil of abortion on demand both domestically and internationally; his antagonistic and ruthless efforts to force the intrinsic evils of contraception and sterilization on poor nations through financial enticements and threats; his continued policy of directing US tax dollars to such organizations as Planned Parenthood which traffic in the currency of numerous
intrinsic evils.

Moreover, Barack Obama has lied numerous times, including his controversial appearance at Notre Dame in 2009, about attempts to reach so-called common ground with the Catholic Church on matters including protection of conscience rights for health care workers. His most recent legal efforts to force Catholic institutions to act against their consciences and pay for contraception and abortion inducing birth control products underscore his
total belligerence toward the Catholic Church and Her teachings.

As such .. the appearance of Barack Obama .. such an openly hostile opponent of the Church .. at a Catholic gala attended by high-ranking Catholic clergy would be a massive insult to untold numbers of the faithful who have fought this man’s advancement of one intrinsic evil after another.

In addition to matters of life .. Barack Obama has orchestrated a militant effort against the sacredness of marriage by supporting, promoting and advancing the intrinsic evil of same-sex so-called marriage at home and abroad. He has directed the full might and force of the federal government to impose its will on the Catholic Church in limiting and restricting Her rights and responsibilities to carry out the corporal works of mercy in the
areas of adoption services, and ministering to US military personnel who are Catholic.

We therefore respectfully request that Barack Obama’s invitation be rescinded without delay and a sense of proper decorum restored.”

Click here to to sign the petition.

For those pressed for time, this is what you will hear on the video:

We’d like to begin today with a section from the Church’s Code of Canon Law …It’s from “Canon 212 ..

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.
§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful ..”

Following on from this .. we’d like to invite you to join a petition we are organizing for respectful submission to the Archdiocese of New York to request the leaders of the New York Archdiocese to rescind their invitation to Obama to attend the annual Al Smith dinner.

For Obama to be seen hobnobbing and glad-handing and all smiles and jokes and pats on the back with Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be a source of great scandal and confusion for untold numbers of Catholic faithful as well as many others of good will.

Now .. its very important to note that in 1996 .. Cardinal John O’Connor .. the archbishop of New York at the time .. would not allow then-President Bill Clinton to be extended an invitation to the Al Smith Dinner specifically because of his pro-abortion stance and policies.

So how is that 16 years ago .. a sitting president was denied an invitation to the dinner because he had the blood of pre-born children on his hands .. but now that doesn’t seem to matter?

And recall that in 1996 .. Bill Clinton was exhibiting none of same intense anti-Catholic policies as Barack Obama is today. The bishops of the United States saw no need to sue their president. They saw no need to try and rally Catholics from coast to coast in a two week effort of prayer and mobilization against the sitting president’s policies.

They saw no need to launch an intense media blitz .. writing articles and appearing on large numbers of TV and radio shows and newscasts.

The stakes were nowhere near as high 16 years ago as they are today. Yet in that relatively subdued environment .. the then Cardinal of New York stood up and said ..  NO .. Mr. President .. you cannot come to the dinner.

Yet today .. with seemingly everything on the line .. and a president who has demonstrated nothing less than a thinly veiled disgust of the Catholic Church and Her teachings .. who is actively involved in a lawsuit against Her .. THIS man gets the red carpet rolled out for him. And yes, there is a red carpet at the dinner.

Obama is of course glad to mingle with those he considers his enemies because it fits perfectly well his political calculus. He gets the photo op he wants to shove in the face of those Catholic who oppose him .. while at the same time giving him the perfect weapon to sew bewilderment among others.
In one fell swoop .. Obama gets to make his opponents look like buffoons AND score political points by showing everyone the nice picture of him and Cardinal Dolan smiling and back-slapping.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone .. and at least one of those birds will be a Cardinal.

Please sign the petition and encourage anyone and everyone else you know to sign it and pass in on as well.

We keep hearing from Church leaders today to reclaim our Catholic identity which has been stolen from us because THEIR predecessors did not pass on the faith. Well, here’s a very easy way to begin to assert that identity.

Just click on this link to sign.


More Boston Controversies: Chick-fil-A and Catholic Relief Services

August 5, 2012

The Boston Archdiocese has remained silent for yet another week on the Chick-fil-A fracas.  Nothing in the Friday edition of The Boston Pilot, and nothing on Cardinal Sean’s Blog updated Friday evening. Sources tell BCI that Fr. Bryan Hehir advised the Cardinal not to say anything, and the Cardinal listened. (The argument in the past from Fr. Hehir on similar matters has been, “we do not want to alienate our ally, ___, by speaking out.”)  At this point, we can assume the Cardinal intends to say and do nothing.

Instead, on Cardinal Seans’ blog, we see in the past week the Cardinal traveled to Puerto Rico for matters that had nothing to do with Boston (3 photo opps), and then attended a Jesuit education conference at Boston College (8 photos). BCI was hoping that the Jesuits spent time at their conference discussing how they should follow in the footsteps of St. Edmund Campion, (24 January 1540 – 1 December 1581), an English Roman Catholic martyr and Jesuit priest. Campion was conducting an underground Catholic ministry in officially Protestant England during the reign of Protestant Queen Elizabeth, was arrested by priest hunters for being a Catholic priest, and was then convicted of high treason, and hanged, drawn and quartered for his faith.  But we understand Campion and his willingness to die defending his Catholic faith was not on the agenda.

We are not sure why attending this event and blogging about it was a more important use of time for Cardinal O’Malley than fulfilling his canonical responsibility to teach, sanctify and govern–which would, at a basic level, have meant issuing a statement about Church teaching, religious freedom, and why Mayor Menino was wrong to criticize Chick-fil-A and threaten to block them from opening in Boston.

Then there is the Catholic Relief Services controversy.  This weekend, Boston parishes are all asked to take a second collection for Catholic Relief Services:

This week’s second collection for Catholic Relief Services supports emergency relief, human development, and peace initiatives in 99 countries around the world, where nearly half the population lives on less than $2.00 a day. The collection funds the ministries of five Catholic Church organizations: Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), Social Development and World Peace (SDWP), and The Holy Father’s Relief Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.usccb.org/crscollection.

Sounds like a good cause at first pass, until you realize that Catholic Relief Service’s top grant recipient, CARE, promotes contraception, and CARE’s president publicly promotes abortion.

As described at Catholic Culture, “at issue is a CRS grant of $5,380,466 to CARE, a humanitarian agency that integrates contraception into its emergency and relief efforts. Catholic Relief Services’ newly-released tax return states that the purpose of the grant was for “emergency”; CRS later stated that the grant was “used by CARE for water and sanitation programs in four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), for food and nutrition programs, as well as water and sanitation in Madagascar; and for food and nutrition programs in Zimbabwe.”

Following a LifeSiteNews report, CRS said that a recent investigation of similar grants conducted by the National Catholic Bioethics Center found that

“none of the funding from CRS was fungible. That is, there is little to no risk of the grant funds being used either (i) for purposes outside those outlined in the grant request or (ii) for freeing up money in the receiving organization for immoral purposes by virtue of their having received the grant from CRS. The NCBC found that there could be a risk of scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues.”

But then, after the CRS statement was released acknowledging the NCBC review, Dr. Haas came out with his own additional clarification saying said that the proposed grant to CARE was “of grave concern to me” and he then quoted from the comments he had submitted to the CRS board:

On the anniversary of Roe v Wade in 2009 [CARE CEO Helen Gayle] called on President Obama to rescind the Mexico City Policy and fund abortions abroad. She issued this call on the very day hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators including many bishops called for the reversal of Roe v Wade. Her testimony and statement are both posted on the website of CARE.

Even though the grants going to CARE are for very laudable and indeed life-saving initiatives, I believe that these very strong public positions taken by the President of CARE in complete opposition to the policies and positions of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops would certainly give rise to legitimate theological scandal if not confusion as to why the bishops would fund such an organization.

In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.

“It would be different if [Gayle] weren’t so public about her opposition to the moral teaching in this area, and I said I had grave reservations about this whole thing going forward without the question of the scandal being addressed,” Haas recalled

What happened in the end?  Scandal.

LifeSiteNews responded with this editorial:

What happens when CARE undertakes these great ventures with the poor in all these countries with money from the US Bishops?

Naturally the poor who are served food and water are grateful—to the contraception-pushing group CARE. So when CARE comes back to those same poor people with contraceptives and suggestions for ‘safe and legal’ abortion, the poor will be receptive to the nefarious suggestions thanks to the goodwill CARE built up with these folks doing good projects with the cash supplied by the US Bishops.

Beyond that, there are many good pro-life and Christian groups in those nations who could go to them to do humanitarian work which does not include abortion promotion and distribution of contraception. Can the US Bishops not direct their multiple millions of dollars to these worthy organizations rather than CARE?

Finally, as Christendom College’s Dr. William Luckey noted in a conversation about the CRS grant to CARE, there is no way we would be having these kinds of debates if CRS had been dealing with a white supremacist group.

“We wouldn’t go near them. Even though they did charitable work, they might have schools for poor white kids all over the country, which would be basically a good thing. We wouldn’t even touch them. The scandal would be so bad. The outcry would be so bad,” he said.

Remember that Dr. John Haas, whom CRS consulted on the grant to CARE, warned CRS: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”

And for the Catholic Church, abortion is at least as evil as racism.

HONESTY

In addition to all of the above CRS has painted themselves as above reproach regarding their activities. And with just a little research, that can be shown to be false.

In their first public response to LifeSiteNews, CRS adamantly defended the $5.3 million grant to CARE stating, “We do not fund, support or participate in any programming or advocacy that is not in line with Church teaching, including artificial birth control.”

However, LifeSiteNews has discovered that CRS is a member of the CORE Group, and according to the CORE Group’s explanation of dues, CRS appears to pay $3,000 in annual membership fees.  In addition to being a dues-paying member, CRS is represented on CORE Group’s board of directors by employee Mary Hennigan, and co-chairs CORE Group’s “working group” on HIV/AIDS through CRS employee Shannon Senefeld.

The CORE Group is a major advocate for the spread of birth control.

BCI urges readers to support your parish in the first collection, and instead of giving to CRS in the second collection this weekend, take any planned CRS contribution and use that to increase what you give your parish in the first collection.

In the meantime, pray for courage for Cardinal O’Malley–yet again. Last November, during the ad limina visit to Rome, Cardinal O’Malley preached the following:

Peter’s love for the Lord brought him to Rome, the cardinal said, but — according to legend — as persecution grew Peter decided to flee again. Leaving the city, he saw the risen Lord and asked him, “Quo vadis?” (“Where are you going?”), and Jesus replied he was going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter renewed his faith and returned to the city where he met a martyr’s death.

“Each of us has gone through a ‘quo vadis’ moment or two in our vocation as bishops,” the cardinal said. “Hopefully, our being together at the tomb of Peter and close to Benedict will renew us in our generosity, courage and faith in following Jesus up close so that we can say with all our hearts what Peter said, ‘Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.'”

The Chick-fil-A and CRS situations are yet more “Quo vadis?” moments for Cardinal O’Malley, and his silence gives the perception that he tacitly agrees with the secular forces at play and is fleeing, rather than following Jesus up close.  What do you think?


Chicago Cardinal Speaks out on Chick-fil-A, Boston Cardinal Maintains Silence

August 1, 2012

Cardinal George of Chicago has “slammed Chicago mayor’s comments on Chick-fil-A marriage flap” in a July 29 blog post. Meanwhile, the Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal O’Malley have remained silent on the national and local controversy.

For those supportive of Chick-fil-A, today has been dubbed Chick-fil-A appreciation day.  Visit a Chick-fil-A store to show your support for the chain’s religious values.  In Massachusetts, they are located in the Burlington Mall and Northshore Mall in Peabody.

Here is an excerpt from the LifeSiteNews article on the flap:

Cardinal George slams Chicago mayor’s comments on Chick-fil-A marriage flap

CHICAGO, July 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Francis George, the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, has taken aim at remarks by the mayor and an alderman of Chicago slamming Chick-Fil-A’s public stance in support of true marriage.

“Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the ‘values’ that must be held by citizens of Chicago,” Cardinal George wrote in a “Reflection on ‘Chicago Values’.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also co-chair of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, told the Chicago Tribune last week that he agreed with the reasons for Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno’s effort to stop Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in the city based on CEO Dan Cathy’s “bigoted, homophobic” views.

Cathy, who is famously outspoken in his Christian beliefs, had said that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting traditional marriage…

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel told the Tribune. “They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

The following day mayoral press secretary Tarrah Cooper issued a statement saying, “The Mayor simply said that Chick-fil-A’s CEO does not share Chicago’s values…he does not believe the CEO’s values are reflective of our city,” according to a Sun-Times report.

But Cardinal George begs to differ with the mayor’s understanding of ‘Chicago values’. “I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval,” he wrote. “Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?

“I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, ‘un-Chicagoan.’”

The Cardinal said that support for gay “marriage” has become “a litmus test for bigotry.” But, he pointed out, Jesus affirmed true marriage “when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh (Mt. 19: 4-6).”

“Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more ‘enlightened’ if he had the privilege of living in our society?” the cardinal asked.

Here is the full text of Cardinal George’s statement, followed by some of the comments from readers.

Reflections on “Chicago values”

By Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.” Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus. Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will? What are we re-defining?

It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage. Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago. Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female. The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women. Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital. Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle.

Both Church and state do, however, have an interest in regulating marriage. It is not that religious marriage is private and civil marriage public; rather, marriage is a public institution in both Church and state. The state regulates marriage to assure stability in society and for the proper protection and raising of the next generation of citizens. The state has a vested interest in knowing who is married and who is not and in fostering good marriages and strong families for the sake of society.

The Church, because Jesus raised the marital union to the level of symbolizing his own union with his Body the Church, has an interest in determining which marital unions are sacramental and which are not. The Church sees married life as a path to sanctity and as the means for raising children in the faith, as citizens of the universal kingdom of God. These are all legitimate interests of both Church and state, but they assume and do not create the nature of marriage.

People who are not Christian or religious at all take for granted that marriage is the union of a man and a woman for the sake of family and, of its nature, for life. The laws of civilizations much older than ours assume this understanding of marriage. This is also what religious leaders of almost all faiths have taught throughout the ages. Jesus affirmed this understanding of marriage when he spoke of “two becoming one flesh” (Mt. 19: 4-6). Was Jesus a bigot? Could Jesus be accepted as a Chicagoan? Would Jesus be more “enlightened” if he had the privilege of living in our society? One is welcome to believe that, of course; but it should not become the official state religion, at least not in a land that still fancies itself free. Surely there must be a way to properly respect people who are gay or lesbian without using civil law to undermine the nature of marriage.

Surely we can find a way not to play off newly invented individual rights to “marriage” against constitutionally protected freedom of religious belief and religious practice. The State’s attempting to redefine marriage has become a defining moment not for marriage, which is what it is, but for our increasingly fragile “civil union” as citizens.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

Reader comments on the Cardinal George blog post:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 4:43 PM

I welcome and agree with the Cardinal’s much needed words of wisdom and truth.
One point of clarification, however:
Long before Jesus spoke of “two becoming one flesh”,(Matthew 19:4-6), G-d told Adam and Eve: “This is why a man leaves his father and mother*, and joins himself to his wife and they become one body” (Genesis 2:24).
* Note: FATHER and MOTHER.i.e. male and female parents.
Please continue the good fight, Cardinal George, and may God bless you.

— Martin L.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 4:16 PM

Thank you .. God bless you, Cardinal George, for speaking the unvarnished truth!

Are we now in in Russia or Cuba, with these outrageous overbearing dictates from heavy handed government officials being flung in our faces about what they deem our faith practices and beliefs should be? How dare they!

I pray resolve, courage, commitment
and guidance in the Churches of the Archdiocese and nationwide and its priests and laypeople, especially by our priests from the altar, which has sadly been missing in the local churches I attend Mass, including the Cathedral.

The flock needs to be lovingly armed with knowledge, courage, faith and inspiration in standing up for the Church and our God-given rights.

Christ said we would be persecuted for our worship of Him. If these blatant, despicable attacks on our religious liberty in Obamacare and the current Chick-fil-a kerfuffle are the signs of the time when we will be called to choose Christ, to go along to get along and not make waves, or be punished, then please .. let us be lead from the pulpit by righteous and brave priests guiding us with truth to fortify and help us.

God bless and save us all.

— J. H.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:52 PM

Thank you Cardinal George for articulating with insight and balance the truth about what marriage is and is not and for addressing the current trend of narrowness of mind and dialogue that seems to have bound up our national conversation. I always thought I lived in a pluralistic society where everyone’s right to hold one’s own values was assured, at least by government. Are we now moving to a totalitarian State? The current change is disturbing and alarming!

— Fr. Joe C.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:38 PM

Thank you, Your Eminence, for speaking out. We hear you all the way to the Archidiocese of Detroit. I’ve been waiting a long time for our Church leaders to respond to what is happening to our core values in the country and you and Cardinal Dolan are great spokesmen.

— Kathy P.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:37 PM

Dear Cardinal George,
thank you for your clearly -worded position. I’m a protestant who has recently been in discussion with my gay friend about gay unions. He prefers the word marriage. I prefer the word union for many of the reasons you mention. The question that finally rose to the surface is the one you asked: Is Jesus a bigot. I think the majority of people desiring some sort of governmental, national, edict making uniiversal gay marriage a fact, want very much to make any voice including Christ’s and His Bride’s that say gay marriage is not the same thing as marriage as Jesus defined it, be silenced. I think it may be the winds of persecution.I think we can and should interact with genuine love and grace to people in the LGBT community, especially, but without compromising our understanding of what Our Lord has taught us. And even though I’m not Catholic, we both love the One Who gave Himself for us; the recent government attacks on the Catholic Church have troubled me deeply. I pray God’s peace and presence are yours.
Leslie A.

— Leslie A.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:27 PM

Well said, Eminence! Please continue to speak out in this way!

— Mya N.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 3:26 PM

Dear Cardinal,

Well stated! I am so glad to see our church leaders stand up to this persecution. God bless you and your church! Gay activists tell us we should accept all lifestyles without criticism. When we disagree with Home Depot on their support of gay rights, we are considered intolerant. When gay activists disagree with Chick-Fil-A’s CEO on tradition marriage, we are, again, the intolerant ones. They don’t practice what they preach. If they believed what they say, they would just eat at a different fast food restaurant. Just like I choose a Home Depot alternative. What they really believe is ‘if you don’t agree with us, you’ll pay for it’. Where is the tolerance there?

Thank you for not cowering in the corner. Thank you for making a stand. I will be lifting you and your congregation up in prayer.

— Sherrill W.

We encourage and urge Cardinal O’Malley to use this as a teaching opportunity for Boston Catholics and to issue a similar statement. Boston Mayor Menino said, ” “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the City of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”

“Inclusion” should mean “including” people whose values might disagree with the personal values of the mayor, and should mean including those who agree with the definition of marriage as it has existed for millenia across all cultures, religions and civilizations. For the Boston Archdiocese to remain silent and not publicly object to the position of “Catholic” Mayor Menino is to leave the impression for millions of Catholics that the Archdiocese of Boston tacitly agrees with Menino. It also says, for all the talk about religious freedom and hooplah over the religious freedom Town Hall Meeting, when push comes to shove, the Boston Archdiocese is not willing to stand up for those freedoms. What do you think?

 


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