Sunday, January 23, 2011


As a relatively recent adoptee of the Catholic faith, I am continually learning about the Catholic Church's priorities and that of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  These funky and very powerful American bishops are extremely politically active and I get the impression lobbying the American government is what turns their crank.  The last I heard about them in church was when the Obama health care legislation was in development.  The priests asked us to fill out a card with our contact information to give to the USCCB.  I declined.  I have particular legislative priorities that run towards animal welfare and ending of American aid to Pakistan.  I learned that Pakistanis don't pay taxes with any regularity.  Why am I expected to support them?  (Yeah, I know it's to help keep a nuclear country stable but I'm not buying it.)

I like to concentrate on the issues I care about, not necessarily what the Church cares about.  I think the Church should care about the systematic torture and abuse of sentient beings used in government research but they don't seem to be moving in that direction.  So, I'm kind of left with what they give us.  In the U.S. Bishops’ Legislative ‘Principles and Priorities’ For New Congress letter, they promote the things that you'd think they would: protection of the poor and vulnerable (their definition of), and respect for the dignity of all human life an underlying principle.  Regarding the latter, the following sentence really confuses me, "Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars pose a serious moral challenge...."

But forcing Americans to fund all kinds of devastatingly expensive welfare and foreign aid programs apparently offers no similar moral challenge.  I don't get that.  It looks to me that 'respecting the dignity of all human life' is so entirely focused on abortion, Catholics are not encouraged to look at or support the end of activities that truly destroy the dignity of human life.  For example, supporting corrections to Canon Law that force dioceses to reveal to law enforcement priests that sexually molest children.  If you don't know how sexual abuse obliterates a person's dignity and causes unbelievable anguish, see here.  And what about modern day slavery and forced prostitution?  I think that is clearly an example of the disrespect of human dignity.

My theory as to why the Church focuses so heavily on abortion is because it's easy to work against it.  Let me say here that I think they should work against abortion however not to the detriment of other critical initiatives to save and love God's people.  You can find abortion clinics.  The addresses are in the yellow pages.  It's easy to head over there and pray in front of it.  Most pregnant women getting abortions are scared and very vulnerable.  Those are the easiest people to influence.  Not so with prostitution.  Those places typically don't advertise to the public their locations.  You can't know where a pimp's house is to pray in front of it.  The pimp is also likely well armed.  Not so pregnant women.

And from what it looks like in my diocese, we're not going after pedophile priests or even spending any time praying for the victims of abuse during Mass.  You, of course, can offer that up during prayers of the faithful but couldn't we hear more about that during a homily?  Can't we do better for the vulnerable in our churches?  I suspect we don't because it's easier to go after abortion rather than an adult male and priest.  

I think it's an Americans duty to get involved in the law making process.  There are good things to be done.  I'll continue to look beyond the Catholic Bishops initiatives and work toward furthering issues that I know God cares about because He cares about the dignity of all His children and the protection of all His creation. 



  1. "My theory as to why the Church focuses so heavily on abortion is because it's easy to work against it."

    Whoa!! As a pro-life activist I respectfully disagree!

    "Most pregnant women getting abortions are scared and very vulnerable. Those are the easiest people to influence."

    The fact is quite the opposite. Women getting abortions are scared, vulnerable, desperate, and often coerced. The last people they want to talk to are the ones standing out front of where they're walking in. I encourage you to join a prayer vigil at a clinic. I think it will change your mind.

    The reason the USCCB puts so much emphasis on abortion is because it's an inherent matter of life and death. The victims are the most vulnerable of human beings with absolutely NO choice whatsoever. They're in the one place that should be the safest on earth, yet has become the most dangerous - their mothers' womb. Abortion is a grave evil. The other issues you mention, though many tragic, are not necessarily inherent teachings of the Church.

    I will agree, however, that the USCCB is not the final authority on Catholic teaching. This is a common misunderstanding among American Catholics. Many argue that it was the USCCB's voter guide that gave Catholics a justifiable reason to vote for Obama (when in fact it's never justifiable to vote for a pro-abortion candidate when there is a reasonable alternative).

  2. Nicole C, you make some very good points. I think it would be better for the Church and/or the USCCB to say that murder AND abortion are emphasized because those are matters of life and death. I'd also argue that many classes of people are the most vulnerable. Does a 5 year old have a choice in rape? Wasn't being with a priest supposed to be a safe place, a place of God and holiness?

    I think it's more tragic the Church doesn't work harder on issues that destroy communities and societies. They may not be the society that you see, but it does exist. Forced prostitution is more than tragic. Would this be considered a grave sin?

  3. I do agree with Nicole C based on my time at the abortion clinic. I do know how you feel, Airing, in that I worked in special ed and really felt like my priorities on voting weren't necessarily the church's. That was until I heard that 3000 babies die every day from abortion and that number was compared to the tradegies of 9/11. The same number die from abortion DAILY and someone pointed out that if 9/11 happened every day, we'd all become one issue voters to stop terrorism. Right then and there and made it my #1 focus. We can all have more impact if we all focus on one place at the same time. And its a pretty good place to start.