Dear Cardinal DiNardo,
I appreciate your response to my letter and the book I sent you on August 9th. I would like to have a dialogue with you on the substance of your letter, if you don’t mind. There are a couple of areas where I think more conversation is beneficial to our efforts for the life and dignity of human persons.
I agree the Church advocates tirelessly to defend the unborn and to promote the sanctity of marriage and the safeguarding of religious liberty. I also agree that a great deal of this tireless effort is undermined by the soft advocacy given by the Church to the Democratic Party. This soft advocacy takes the form of Social Justice teachings which neglect the greater truths and letter-writing campaigns for issues such as immigration reform, healthcare reform, and climate change… generally portrayed by the Press as Democratic Party priorities. Aligning on these issues is aligning with their agenda. We are scandalized in our pro-life efforts as our own Church favors those who champion the culture of death. As your quote from Pope Benedict XVI stated, we can not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. Just so, we also can’t play on both sides of the field.
“The Church advocates for the protection of human life in all its stages, including for the poor and vulnerable, immigrants and refugees, and those suffering on the margins of society.” What is the best way go about each of these? There are ways that encourage the dignity of men and those which subvert it.
- Do we help the poor with government handouts, meaningful employment, or individual charity? This should be a moral transaction. When individuals give of their own spirit, they express love for their fellow human beings and the receiver feels gratitude for the gift. When the government gets involved, it extorts taxes from citizens at the point of a gun to fund government “generosity.” The moral transaction falls apart as the citizen now feels resentment and the receiver feels entitled. Advocating for social welfare programs sponsored by government may not be the best way for the Church to protect the poor and vulnerable.
- Do we help immigrants and refugees when we create conditions which encourage human trafficking? There isn’t a popular cry in this country to end lawful immigration. You will hear a cry from immigrants and natural citizens alike for lawful entry. The Church should never advocate for lawlessness… but many bishops have done so on the issue of immigration. If you or I decided to illegally enter Mexico, we would be arrested. That is their law. That is the law on our books as well for those who break our immigration laws. Look around the world and find that every country controls their lawful borders. Why are our borders the only ones not worthy of respect? See what is happening in Europe with unfettered refugee infusions. Lawlessness and violent crime are on the rise and the Christian culture is under attack. Would it not be better to protect vulnerable refugees within their own cultures rather than moving them around the world to undermine Western Civilizations built on the foundations of Catholic teaching?
- Are those suffering on the margins of society best helped by government or the Church? These populations include those in the LGBT community who have gone right past seeking inclusion in society to demanding celebration of their perversions. There are many in the Church seeking normalization of sin (Fr James Martin comes to mind). Can the Church be holy and at the same time welcome unrepentant sin? Can our country be moral and also require the celebration of immorality? This is an area where the Church has been following secular culture rather than leading… and we are seeing the decay of culture in all western societies. Church leadership is needed to help those on the margins, not government programs.
On each of the issues above, we can have discussions about how best to accomplish the goal of caring for the poor, immigrants, and those on the margins of society. There can be no discussion on abortion and homosexual marriage—both are always wrong in all ways. We must stand against them in the truth of the teachings of the Church. Both are priorities of the Democratic Party codified in their platforms at all levels of government. The “seamless garment” advocating for the equal weighting of all issues of the human condition misses this greater truth and confuses the faithful. Catholics should be able to stand together as one Faith in one Truth, but we are divided by lies and confusion. You have the ability and the duty to repair these rifts.
“The Church does not intend to tell people for whom they should vote, or which party deserves our allegiance, but to propose that the message of the Gospel and promotion of the sanctity of human life should provide a moral roadmap for our nation and the world.”
If you read the letter and book I sent to you, you would see that I don’t want the Church involved in politics. I agree She should absolutely not tell people for whom they should vote nor endorse any political party. However, when a political party stands for intrinsic evil as part of their mission outlined in their party platforms… it deserves condemnation from the bishops. That political party has stepped into your realm of authority. You are not talking politics—they are talking human life and dignity. Given the strength of the Catholic vote, such a condemnation should be electorally fatal. Any political party wanting power would have to cease supporting intrinsic evil in order to recover from such a sanction. Do you want to end State-sponsored abortion in this country? This is how you do it.
I assume you’ve been watching the Supreme Court nomination process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The Democrats announced their opposition before he was even named. Why? They oppose President Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court because he has committed to appointing pro-life judges. All of the other noise aside… isn’t that an extreme pro-death position worthy of condemnation by the Church? The culture of death has been advanced through the courts because it can’t be advanced through the legislative process. Americans don’t support it. It has to be imposed. It is a process diametrically opposed to democratic ideals. If the Democrats lose the courts, the culture of death will falter. They are fighting tooth and nail to prevent it.
Our liberal Catholic neighbors don’t listen to us. They listen to the biased Press and the lying politicians. In the absence of truth coming from the bishops, they are acting on those lies. They have been taught to believe that they should form their own consciences and the USCCB’s voting guide has been written vaguely enough to give cover to any position and rationale. Buried in the middle of your guide is the statement, “Abortion, the deliberate killing of a human being before birth, is never morally acceptable and must always be opposed.” In my opinion, this should be in the front of your guide as the first hurdle any candidate or party must cross before soliciting Catholic votes. Your readers should only go past page one for any political party not supporting abortion and other intrinsic evils. The Democratic Party is the greatest advocate for abortion outside of China and they should be opposed by Catholic voters according to your own guide. Teach it!
This may seem like the wrong time to be on this message with the Church in crisis… but I believe these issues are related. I have only heard one homily applauded during Mass. In the Fall of 2016, a local priest gave a homily where he laid out the issues in my book and named the Democratic Party as the sponsors of these evils. The congregation stood up and applauded. Why? We know the truth. It shouldn’t be so Earth-shaking to hear it… but it is. The Church’s moral authority has been hurt by silence. The lies and coverups are only another manifestation of this silence. The faithful long for truth (especially the painful truths) from the Church. Where else can we turn? The Church failing to stand for truth (all truth) is a scandal of its own.
Unless the bishops speak out forcefully and together, ½ of American Catholics will continue to support the sponsors of the culture of death with the blessings of their consciences… to the eternal peril of their souls.
The Supreme Court is changing… and that is good. How bad will it be for the Church, though, to not be seen as relevant as Donald Trump in standing for human life in America? In my mind, it isn’t enough that abortion be narrowly defeated in its next Supreme Court challenge. The challenges will simply continue until the court is sympathetic again. The sponsors of the culture of death must know that the Church will stand against them as long as they promote abortion and other intrinsic evils. They must know this will doom any campaign. This is a lasting message to them and any other party seeking power. That is a pro-life legacy for generations.
I encourage you to speak out while there is still time and will pray for you and your brother bishops.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Letter from Cardinal DiNardo – USCCB President