March for Life

Before we continue reporting on the financial situation for the Boston Archdiocese, we want to briefly commend all those who participated in the March for Life on Friday in Washington, DC. A report in LifeNews says an estimated 400,000-500,000 people attended.

Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities told a crowd assembled on the National Mall before the march, “Forty years ago, people thought opposition to the pro-life movement would eventually disappear…The march grows stronger every year.” He also read a Twitter message from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

The prior week, Cardinal O’Malley had called for nine days of prayer and penance to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.  BCI thinks that is a good move. But what else is Cardinal O’Malley himself doing?  Here are excerpts from and editorial by Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture that bear some consideration by Cardinal O’Malley:

Bishops must shoulder their responsibility in the pro-life struggle

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is certainly right to call for fasting and prayer this week, as we sadly observe the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The abortion issue—the ongoing slaughter of countless millions of innocent children—is not just another ordinary political question like the “fiscal cliff” debate. This is not merely a political contest but a spiritual battle.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

Pro-lifers have been fighting the political battle against abortion for 40 years, and still the bloodshed continues. Perhaps it is time to recognize that the culture of death is one of those evils that “cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Yes, certainly we should fast and pray… For that matter, in a struggle of this importance we should use every means at our disposal..All the different forms of pro-life work—the lobbying and educational campaigns, pregnancy-help centers…speeches and demonstrations—have their place…We should all be doing everything in our power, in the natural order as well as the supernatural, to end the abomination of legal abortion on demand.

But there is one powerful tool that has not yet been put to use in the pro-life struggle, and one group of people who have not yet done what they can do for the cause. I refer to the American Catholic bishops, and the use of ecclesiastical discipline.

Forty years after Roe there remain dozens of prominent politicians who identify themselves as Catholics, but actively promote the culture of death. These “pro-choice Catholics” are a source of confusion to the public and scandal to the Church.

The US Catholic bishops have issued many fine statements on the evils of abortion and the dignity of human life. But statements are one thing, actions another; and when one’s actions do not match one’s public pronouncements, those statements lose value. The bishops have warned that Catholic politicians who promote abortion are separating themselves from the communion of the Church. But they have not followed up, as necessary, by taking disciplinary action against those politicians who have not heeded their warning.

If a Catholic in his diocese is promoting abortion, a Catholic bishop has a solemn obligation to take three steps:

First, admonition. The bishop should call the erring politician to a private meeting, rebuke him, and warn him that he is putting his soul in jeopardy.

Second, denunciation. If the politician remains obstinate, the bishop should make his rebuke public, letting the world know that the Church views the politician’s actions as gravely wrong. A specific public statement, naming names, is necessary to address a public scandal…

Third, exclusion from Communion. The Code of Canon Law (#915) instructs clerics to protect the Eucharist from scandal, by refusing to administer the sacrament to those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” The enforcement of Canon 915 is not optional; it is a moral obligation. Yet the American bishops have chosen to ignore that obligation.

As long as our bishops are not doing all that they can do (and only they can do), the American pro-life movement is not doing its utmost to fight for an end to abortion. Yes, we should fast and pray. Yes, we should engage in practical pro-life activism. But we should also beg our bishops to shoulder their own responsibility in this battle….

Imagine that your doctor tells you that you must lose weight quickly or your life will be in danger. You pray that you will meet your weight-loss goals, and ask your friends to join with you in those prayers. Good. But if you continue routinely to tuck into second helpings of dessert, can you really expect those prayers to be answered?

Cardinal O’Malley, you have the bully-pulpit of being Chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the three years.  What action are YOU personally going to address the scandal of so-called “Catholic” politicians like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and others?

About a month ago, when Cardinal O’Malley said we need more true Catholics in politics and the media, we commended him for the words and said he needed to walk the talk.  Still we see and hear just talk, no walk.  We repeat what Fr. Roger Landry said in 2009, describing the controversy over  the funeral for the late Ted Kennedy:

…one of the reasons why Kennedy’s example was so injurious to the Church was because the pastors of the Church, for the most part, made the imprudent call to do little or nothing about it beyond general teaching statements that they hoped offending politicians would apply to themselves. There were no real consequences, and as a result, Senator Kennedy, scores of other Catholic politicians, and millions of American Catholic lay people concluded that the Church’s teachings in defense of human life cannot be that important if those who publicly and repeatedly act in violation of it do so with impunity.

Cardinal O’Malley, please look in the mirror.  YOU are one of the pastors of the Church who, for the most part, did little about Ted Kennedy beyond general teaching statements you hoped people like Kennedy would apply, but which they did not.  There have been no consequences, so the a “Catholic” politicians continued to act repeatedly in violation of Church teachings in defense of human life.   What are YOU personally going to do differently, besides ask Catholics to pray, fast, and do penance?

(Next time we will be back to the topic of Boston Archdiocese finances)

14 Responses to March for Life

  1. Calling for a novena of fasting and penance is not going to solve the problems of fake “Catholic” politicians (or regular Joe’s for that matter) who ignore Church teachings.

    When John Kerry ran for President in 2004, the now-Cardinal Burke, who was then Archbishop of St. Louis, excommunicated him for supporting abortion. Because of this, many of his brother bishops wanted him out of the USA because of his orthodoxy, and that’s why he is now a senior ranking member of the Roman Curia.

    However, Vice President Biden had a more severe voting record for abortion in the Senate than Kerry, but was never excommunicated by an American bishop (or any bishop, to my knowledge).

    Same for Pelosi, but her new archbishop is Salvatore Cordileone, who does not put up with such behavior. (I’m not sure if he has excommunicated her yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.)

    Locally in Boston, Mayor Menino is a gay-rights supporter, and Cardinal O’Malley has not thrown out anyone involved in federal, state, or local government or politics.

    What would Cardinal Cushing do? What would Cardinal O’Connell do? What would Archbishop Williams do? What would Bishop Fitzpatrick do? What would Bishop Fenwick do? Or what would Bishop Cheverus do?

  2. Warren says:

    Cardinal Cushing! He is the author of “I am oorally opposed to the legalizing of contraception (now abortion) but I will not impose my morality on othere.”

  3. Boston Catholic Insider says:

    BCI has moderated and removed several comments posted today. In case you are a new reader here, you may not be familiar with our comments policy. We ask that all comments be relevant to the topic of the blog post–which in this case is about the March for Life and the efforts that can be taken politically, spiritually, and practically in our human lives to protect the unborn and help women in crisis pregnancies. If you would like to comment on some other aspects of the Catholic Church, we would ask you to hold those comments and share them in another forum where that topic is being discussed. Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the blog post.

  4. Chris says:

    I am sure the Cardinal would be very welcome to pray a Rosary with the pro-life rescue groups at any of the state’s Planned Parenthood centers. Especially at this time of year, when the hardship of the pro-life prayer warriors is the greatest, think what a blessing it would be for the Cardinal himself to join them, to pray with and for them, and to draw some positive publicity to their work.

    • David S. says:

      I would also like to see our Cardinal, Bishops and priests praying EVERY DAY in front of the abortuaries in Massachusetts but I am not holding my breath.

      When I went to Boston College in the 1970s I was active in the pro-life movement. Myself and other students often marched in front of Planned Parenthood in Brookline, but we could never get any of the Jesuits to join us. The joke at the time was it was easier to get a Jesuit to demonstrate on behalf of saving the whales as opposed to saving the babies.

    • Carol says:

      At the Assembly for Life today at Faneuil Hall, there was a table for 40 Days for Life (in Boston !!!) Cardinal O’Malley, come down and lead prayers. please! Bishop McManus leads prayers at the 40 Days in Worcester!

  5. tony mangini says:

    i recently gave a talk at the hour of life, sponsored by the deacons of the archdiocese of boston if interested pls send me an e mail address which i can use to send you a copy

    • JUST WONDERING says:

      Tony, why don’t you put your email address on the blog so we can get ours to you? JUST WONDERING.

  6. DBP says:

    I think the problem, which in most circles is being framed as the bishops’ collective fear of offending politicians upon whom they depend for funding and tax status, or even their fear of offending the public and the media who think they should keep their nose out of politics, is actually much deeper and therefore much more difficult to solve. The problem, I fear, is that the bishops realize that most Americans – and definitely most politicians – have no real “faith” at all, and therefore don’t fear excommunication.

    Since the mid- to late-1960s the church (especially in the United States) has collectively abandoned the active preaching of the realities of salvation – that the Church is necessary for salvation, and that the gift of salvation (and sanctifying grace) won for us at Calvary is forfeited by mortal sin, and that the reality the final end of a human life devoid of sanctifying grace is eternal damnation. Period, full stop. For what I think were reasons of PR and fear, the priests and bishops stopped preaching this fundamental reality, and as a result, most people today believe in universal salvation. If you don’t believe me, go to any funeral Mass and listen to the eulogy (if not even the actual homily!) and ask yourself if there has been anything mentioned that implies that the deceased needs prayers or that there’s any doubt about his or her final end.

    If people (and therefore politicians) don’t fear the lack of sanctifying grace, then why should they react to being excommunicated?

    The bishops (priests of the ’60s and ’70s for the most part), I’ll bet, don’t believe this article of faith themselves, because if they DID they’d preach it, for the sake of those “falling like leaves into hell.”

  7. Michael says:

    What more could Cardinal O’Malley do?

    Before I answer that, let me ask you if you’re agree that:
    1. gathering middle school, high school kids and young adults to come to a party in DC — isn’t enough?
    2. indoctrinating those kids into the belief that coming up with the latest foolish chant is actually doing something — isn’t enough?
    3. supervising the irreverent (i.e., irreverent to the memory of the dead babies) behavior of these children giggling, laughing, screaming and yelling as they walk by pictures of aborted fetuses (which they were encouraged NOT to look at) — isn’t enough?
    4. running an evening of adoration in combination with a Christian Rock concert (where the kids are obviously confused because they are more excited about getting as close as they can get to the musician than they are about being in the presence of the Eucharist) — isn’t enough?
    5. scheduling a field trip to historical memorials (the tomb of the unknown soldier, Arlington Cemetery, and the Vietnam, Korean and World War II memorials) for the tens of thousand’s of American men (and some women) who GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR the principle of FREEDOM — isn’t enough?
    6. discussing movies like Horton Hears a Who and not realizing (nor telling the young people) that even Horton was willing to risk his life and go to jail for something more important — isn’t enough?
    7. Asking these MS, HS and YA kids to identify only the similarities between Nazi Germany, slavery, and abortion and not the differences (where it is the distinct differences that are instructive — i.e., unlike in the abortion scenario, in the first two tragedies most of the victims had the God-given ability to defend themselves and two of those three tragedies ended only after all out war) — isn’t enough?

    Then what more could the Cardinal do?

    Since we just celebrated the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s discuss what he might have done if he were in Cardinal O’Malley’s leadership shoes.

    First, he would have never allowed a civil rights march to devolve into the laughable joke that is observable in the frivolous and cowardly (i.e., lacking in courageous attributes) behavior that the ‘Pro-Life” march has become. The other side must be afraid, because we certainly are an intimidating bunch — with our ridiculous chants and politically correct signs.

    Second, he would never have promoted the lie that the Supreme Court makes law. The Supreme Court building is NOT where law is made – remember letter from the Birmingham jail – an unjust law is no law at all. And thus, MLK Jr, would not have felt compelled to perpetuate such a fraud.

    Third, MLK Jr. would have marched his crowd of 600,000 (this year) right into the Capital Building without warning (in order to sit down en masse and protest peacefully, but aggressively). Good luck stopping 600000 people from entering the Capital Building, And even if they could arrest all of them, good luck arraigning them, by Monday morning.

    It is great that we have moved from 20,000 people in 1974 to 600,000 people marching this year. It is not so great that over 40 years later, people have built careers over this issue and now have a direct conflict of interest. It is not great that we have yet to learn the lessons from Dr. Seuss, — that not everyone who calls himself pro-life is looking to save babies’ lives. Let’s face it, the circus is allowed to carry on because it is a money maker for certain people — including the career “lifers” who have received a “life” time of benefits — from annual dinners to tea and crumpets in the Governor’s mansion or White House. Getting a seat at the table is a highly coveted benefit that trumps calling a spade a spade. Like one of the signs read, “If it is murder, then isn’t it time to act like it.”

    • JFK says:

      Ask not what the Cardinal can do for you, ask what you can do for the Cardinal.

      I like Michael’s peaceful protest idea. It does not need to be limited to DC. There are plenty of state laws the restrict pro-life efforts at the clinics. So, why not take the protests to state capitols?

      • JFK, One could make a strong case that we should ask both! But if the symbolic moves by the Cardinal do not lead to meaningful actions or results, why is it not better for him to try taking meaningful action instead?

  8. SometimesIt'sBetterToDoNothing says:

    One thing I don’t see mentioned anywhere is that since the passing of Nellie Gray, not only are the bishops now all over the march for life, gays are all over it too:

    I read on lifesite news that GOP gays would be marching and handing out pro homosexual advocacy cards that they were gay and prolife to march participants – I would NOT want my teens or children there.

    The march also seems to have been given a new VCII “engaging the culture” purpose which makes it much more like the world youth days or party weekend (some would like to see moving the event to Friday afternoon as a spiritual move (i.e. commemorating the Lord’s passion) but no praying is going on but a lot more entertainment & a new 5k run added the next day)):

    “When hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the nation’s capital for the March for Life this year, they will be met with exciting changes aimed at young people and cultural renewal, said the event’s leader…

    “The jumbotrons will also be utilized before the rally to play “interesting and engaging videos related to pro-life,” as well as to entertain those waiting for the march to begin…

    “The March for Life’s digital presence has also been updated, with a new website that was launched just two weeks before the event. Monahan described the site as having “gone from a relic to a very engaging and fun website.”

    “We’re trying to do a good job of commemorating the unique 55 million lives that we’ve lost in the last four decades, but at the same time, capturing the enthusiasm of the march and young people. …”

    Perhaps the Pope will twitter some sail boat confessionals to next year’s march so priests can forgive abortion on the go like at world (Catholic) youth day and “prolife” planned parenthood will attend also to distribute free condoms to the “prolife” conservative gays who want to practice “safe” sex and any other participants who want them.

  9. Michael says:

    yes 55 million and counting … time to party

    40 years of failure … start chanting …

    and by the way keep smiling … we are witnesses for Christ …

    um … I’m sorry but I’m a bit confused … isn’t sobbing more appropriate under the circumstances? … isn’t 40 years of failure a shameful event?

    welcome to the new reality — sdrawkcabdnanwodedisputuoedisni – a real “cluster” if you ask me

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