Wrong Battle: An Open Letter to Cardinal Francis George

Your Holiness, Cardinal Francis George (and certain other Catholics),

The uproar you have started regarding President Obama’s upcoming visit to Notre Dame is disgraceful, unwarranted and a slap in the face to the moderate and liberal branches of the faith. This is yet another example of how you taken the faith away from the core principles that once guided the church.

Cardinal, you have been quoted saying:

Whatever else is clear, it’s clear Notre Dame didn’t understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation,” George said, “and didn’t anticipate the kind of uproar that would be consequent to the decision, at least not to the extent that it has happened.”

George said he continues to talk to the university about the invitation, which he said “brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic, including their own bishop.”

The embarrassment, sir, belongs to you and any other person of Religious faith who refuses to dialogue with others. This entire argument stems not from the “culture of life” that I was raised in, but in a right wing, dogmatic response to the question of abortion.

The President is pushing for Abortion Reduction, a series of interventions both pre and post natal designed to ensure the safety of the fetus, mother and the eventual child. The Church I remember, an organization that I once turned to for comfort and guidance, would relish the opportunity to work with someone to achieve that goal.

Instead, you and others of your ilk, cling to practices and beliefs that would force a nine year old victim of repeated sexual assault to carry a fetus to term. An action that is both life threatening and psychologically destroying. And while you scream from your self-righteous pulpit, you refuse to address the skeletons in your own closet:

A Catholic priest, the Rev. Kenneth J. Martin pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage boy in 2001, yet was found working for the Archdiocese of Chicago last month, despite promises from the cardinal that the convicted priest would not be coming back to Chicago.

Both of these behaviors are an insult to the memory of Cardinal Bernadin, your predecessor, who worked to clear the churches name. You foster a false division within the Church, and ignore the damage the shepherds have done to the flock.

You have chosen to fight a battle that you should not engage in. Defending the sanctity of human life goes beyond abortion. The Culture of Life also reflects questions about war, human rights and quality of life issues. You did not cry foul when the previous president, who waged a war completely against church teachings, spoke at commencement. This is yet another shameful act you have undertaken.

As a Bishop, you cannot pick and chose which battles to fight for. The Culture of Life, every aspect of it, must be defended by individuals of your rank. Your continued failure is just another reason why many Catholics of my generation leave the church. Your leadership continues to push away the rationed, reasonable and educated faithful away, and prevents reconciliation with those who struggle with the spiritual. Your zealotry has made you blind to the larger picture.


24 thoughts on “Wrong Battle: An Open Letter to Cardinal Francis George

  1. Inviting Obama to speak at Notre Dam is akin to asking David Duke to speak to the NAACP. The two are diametrically opposed. It would be different if they invited Obama to a debate on the pros and cons of abortion, this is just letting the enemy into our bed.

    • Dear David

      Thanks for stopping by. However, I think your analogy is so wrong it defies common sense. Obama is Pro-Choice, not anti-life. Please.

      There is more outrage over abortion than there is over an illegal and unjust war. That is just as hypocritical to the Catholic doctrine of Life as anything else.

  2. That is pretty silly. If you could only have people speak to universities who agreed 100% with absolutely everything the university’s official stance was, it’d be a pretty lonely place. He isn’t some punk radical, he’s the President of the United States, for crying out loud.

  3. That’s because there are more abortions committed than there are deaths due to war, to totally innocent humans.

    Also, the war you’re referring to is between America and Muslims, and the Catholic doctrine of life (as you call it) is universal. The Church is against all unjust wars. Their definition, not yours.

    Pro-choice IS anti-life. That’s all there is to it. If you’re willing to kill one baby in the womb, what’s the next step? Well, we’ve already seen the answer to that question. Terry Schiavo’s murder, and those killed by Jack Kevorkian. Next will be seniors whose health care is becoming too expensive for Medicare to pay. If Obama wants to go to Notre Dame and have a debate, that’s one thing. But for a person who’s so totally against the fundamental tenets of Catholicism to be invited to speak at a (purportedly) Catholic university is just absurd. My analogy stands on it’s own, whether you like it or not.

    • David:

      Let’s break this down, piece by piece, shall we?
      “That’s because there are more abortions committed than there are deaths due to war, to totally innocent humans.”
      You show me the stats on that, then we can return to a factual discussion. Give the the wars in Iraq, Afganistan, the drug cartels fighting in Mexico, the wars in Uganda, the Congo, the situation in Kashmir and other conflicts over the world, I have a feeling that the numbers will not support your position.

      “Also, the war you’re referring to is between America and Muslims, and the Catholic doctrine of life (as you call it) is universal. The Church is against all unjust wars. Their definition, not yours.”

      First, the Wars I’m talking about are not between America and Islam. If it was between America and Muslims, we would be at war with Indoensia and Turkey. We are “at war” with Islamic Extremists and terrorists. Personally, I think the “war” will become a war against Fundamentalists….but that’s an upcoming topic. Second, the Culture of Life is not universal. It is specific to the Catholic faith. People of other faiths, including other branches of Christianity, have different ideas regarding the culture of life. Please feel free to elaborate on your distinctions.

      “Pro-choice IS anti-life. That’s all there is to it.”
      That is patently untrue. Pro-Choice is simply ensuring that women have the option of abortion. That is not the same as being Anti-Life. In fact, one can hold a perfectly nuanced position wherein one is personally against abortion; however, they believe that the state has no business dictacting what a person can do to their body.

      Now, tell us, are you Anti-Choice or Pro-life? If you’re pro-life, this means you extend you beliefs towards Euthansia and the Death Penalty–per church teachings. If you’re anti-choice, you’re not hitting the trifecta.

      “Terry Schiavo’s murder, and those killed by Jack Kevorkian.”
      I see you are taking the church’s position on Euthanasia. Fair enough. First, Schiavo wasn’t murdered. She was disconnected from life support. Kevorkian is a different matter entirely. However, having seen people die without dignity–being forced to stay alive through extraordinary means despite their wishes or the wishes of the family–I undestand that individuals have the right to die with dignity. That, of course, is not at all relevant to the discussion of Abortion, but related to the catholic doctrine of life.

      “Next will be seniors whose health care is becoming too expensive for Medicare to pay.”
      Cite facts, figures, papers, numbers. Give us something here to back up a wild assertion. The fact is that our health care system is in need of a significant overhaul to ensure that all Americans receive quality health care–from prenatal services to the grave. Can you cite *any* evidence to suggest that the Pro-Life community holds this ideology? Honestly?

      “If Obama wants to go to Notre Dame and have a debate, that’s one thing. But for a person who’s so totally against the fundamental tenets of Catholicism to be invited to speak at a (purportedly) Catholic university is just absurd.”
      When did Abortion become the fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church? When did the Church stray from its mission of Social Justice, moral guidance and espousing the Gospel? The chruch is not a monothilic instution driven to defend the unborn. The church is far more complicated than that. To simplify the mission of the Church to abortion is to ignore a significant portion of the teachings of the church.

      “My analogy stands on it’s own, whether you like it or not.”
      Your analogy: Comparing our first African American president to an avowed white supremisct is incendiary and indicates that you have no interest in bridging divides. You are on a crusade here. I chose that word purposefully. From your analogy, it is clear that you are pushing for your cause irregardless of the results.

      Secondly, your analogy fails because Duke has not done anything other than foster divisions between races. Obama has been pretty clear about reducing abortion and working on strageties to foster a true culture of life.

      What you did was trot out the name of a “politician” who has made a career of his racist past. You did for shock, not to educate. Your analogy is a straight up failure.

  4. Next will be seniors whose health care is becoming too expensive for Medicare to pay.

    Wow, slippery slope much?

    Pro-choice IS anti-life. That’s all there is to it.

    No, it’s not. It’s about giving women the right to decide what happens to their bodies, and educating them on the options that are available — options that include adoption and keeping the baby, should they choose. It’s about getting proper health care for women into countries where they are less than second-class citizens, countries where rapists aren’t punished, but the women who are victims of rape are, and where those women (oh, hey, AND their unborn babies!) can be put to death. For being victims.

  5. Heh. I hit enter too soon.

    Pro-choice is about so much more than even those few things.

    Our host here invites debate, but since you seem to be new here, it might be worth reminding you that he asks for conversations to remain constructive and civil. Keep hyperbole and inflammatory speech out of your arguments. Back up your claims with facts from sources as unbiased as you can find. Don’t sling mud or throw rocks.

    Not that you’ve so far participated in mudslinging or rock throwing, but I do see words in there that are more typically aimed at getting the blood to boil than to foster constructive debate (ex: anti-life). We’ve had some great discussions with people whose view points are in opposition; if another’s coming, this seemed like a good opportunity to reiterate the ground rules.

  6. Yes, we can break it down.

    First, answer this: You say that abortion is about a woman’s choice to choose…choose what? Choose to ignore God’s decision to create a life and snuff it out? This is the problem. People are trying to play God.

    50 million abortions in this country alone since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal here. And regarding all these you call wars, why do you think the Church is in favor of them? Does she have a powerful army or a vote anywhere to ultimately stop human violence? In fact she does not. But she does preach against violence to all, including the unborn.
    Regarding euthanasia, again, who are we to go against God’s choice to have someone live. God chose for us to be created, God chooses when we die. To kill someone before God’s wants them to come home is immoral. Absolutely.

    The analogy stands. The point is being missed. The fact is that Obama is diametrically opposed to stopping abortion. David Duke is diametrically opposed to fostering hatred between blacks and whites. Analogy stands.

    One last point. The Catholic Church has always been against abortion, has always been for social justice, in fact instituted most of the institutions that foster social justice. And she has not strayed, ever, from the mission of moral guidance and espousing the gospel. The fact is that abortion is wrong. It’s not right for some and wrong for others. It’s plain wrong. It’s not a potential human being inside a woman’s womb, it can’t be anything but a human being. So, since it’s ok to murder children (even medical textbooks say that it’s a human in there!) because the law says so, the law in certain states makes euthanasia legal, and the Supreme Court said that the law of Florida made it ok to kill Terri Schiavo (by removing her feeding tubes, the state legally starved her to death).

  7. Do you take medicine when you get sick? If so, you are snuffing out the illness that God put inside of you. If Terri Schiavo can only live because of a bunch of machines keeping her alive, those selfish doctors and family members are obviously going against the will of God. Don’t tell me what your God wants and what he doesn’t want for me and my family.

  8. Terri Schiavo died because she starved to death when feeding tubes and water were denied to her. You want that to happen to you? If not, why would you want it to happen to anyone else???

  9. @David

    Yes, actually. If I were in Terri Schiavo’s situation, I would want to die. Even if that meant being starved to death because my doctor’s aren’t allowed to give me a drug to end my life in a quicker and less painful way.

    “God chose for us to be created, God chooses when we die. To kill someone before God’s wants them to come home is immoral.”

    What about those that don’t believe in god, or, rather, don’t believe in your god and “her” rules? Why should they be forced to follow your god’s supposed will?

    By the way, I was educated in a liberal, feminist, Catholic high school. We were taught to drop the pronoun entirely. You can stop using “she” and “her” if you’re trying to get some sort of credit for being progressive.

  10. And the difference is…she didn’t have a choice in the matter. The choice was made for her by her ex-husband.

    Whether you believe in God or not, God did create you. It’s not a matter of force. As a matter of fact, God loves us so much he GAVE us the choice to obey him or not to.

    Regarding your education, if it was liberal and feminist, then it wasn’t really Catholic.

  11. See, you have to ask yourself where humans interfered with the end of Terry Schaivo’s life. You’re saying her husband did it. But the argument can also be made that God called it her time to die when she first fell ill, and that the doctors who put her on life support were the ones interfering with God’s plan — extending her life when God instead had deemed it her time to die. It’s a matter of perspective.

    I believe her husband also said she’d expressed her desire not to be on life support, should she end up in that situation, though her family argues the opposite. We will never, ever know the truth of that matter.

    Regarding your education, if it was liberal and feminist, then it wasn’t really Catholic.

    Explain your logic on that one, please? I don’t see how the two are mutually exclusive.

  12. No, you need to see that, if you take her off life support (but leave the feeding tube and hydration tube), and she dies, you can say God called her home. The tragedy is that she starved to death.

    Theologically, there is no such thing as a ‘liberal’, ‘feminist’ Catholic. There is only Catholic and not Catholic. People who say they are Catholic but do not believe all that the Church teaches, are not Catholic. Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, et al are perfect examples of Catholics who are not really Catholic. There is no ‘liberal’ in the Catholic Church. There’s orthodox and heterodox. If you mean by ‘feminist’ someone who is for women’s equality, then in a sense, I can see that one. If you mean by feminist someone who champions women’s ordination, then no.

  13. I really love people telling me what God REALLY means. You’re right, I’m sure Jesus was only in favor of equality for women “in a sense”. The Catholic Church is just like any other club that gets so interested in rules and procedures, it loses sight of its original intent. It has become more exclusive than inclusive. They should clean the jewels and rubies out of their ears up in their Vatican palace and get a grip on some contemporary issues.

  14. jack, you don’t know jack about what you’re talking about. PEOPLE aren’t telling you what God really wants. God is telling you, through people.

    FYI, every organization has rules, and if you can’t follow the rules, you can’t be in the organization. The Catholic Church welcomes everyone with open arms, but in order to be a member in good standing (with her leader-Jesus Christ), you have to follow his rules.

    Your comment about jewels and rubies shows you know even less than I thought before.

    • David:

      First, I was able to find the statistic regarding Abortion rates. It was from the CDC.

      Second, you’ve brilliantly made my point: that there are aspects of the Catholic Church that are beyond reason and compassion. You are not the pontiff of the Church. Your authority to speak on who is, and is not, Catholic is non-existent. You state opinion as fact, and you perceive the world in absolutes. Your zealotry to one issue removes you from the bulk of the church.

      The issues being discussed in this post are being discussed in Parishes across the country. To blindly declare, without a shred of authority, on what is and is not Catholic, is not your role. When become Pope David I, you can freely excommunicate other people. Until then you’re just a zealous parishioner.

  15. I understand the voraciousness with which some will rally to one cause or another – in fact, it’s a tribute to our being plugged into humanity that makes us get outraged over the injustice we see heaped on others.

    But I will never understand how it is that anyone can take anything as huge as a state, the Catholic Church, Christianity, Republicans, Democrats, Americans, Muslims, or Humans and boil them down to one statement, as though, simply by being a part of that group, we automatically believe the same everyone else in that group, or should be automatically disqualified.

    But maybe I’m just a whacko, not-Catholic-enough, liberal hippie.

  16. Officer Gleason, respectfully, the Church has taught what is right and what is wrong. That abortion is murder is a fact. That murder is wrong is a fact. It is beyond compassion to call the truth a lie and lies truth. It is compassionate to tell people when they’re wrong. Compassion also involves forgiveness, and when someone finally stops doing the wrong they do and is sorry for it, they will be forgiven. We who are against are not condemning those who have fallen for the lie. We’re trying to protect further harm to those who might become victims.
    Your idea of excommunication is wrong, too. People excommunicates themselves when they commit grave sins. Excommunication is loss of the union with God. The church might make a formal declaration of said fact, but whether the church (or I) declare it, the person who does evil commits the excommunication. The Church’s decree normally begins the steps of bringing the person back to God. And the Church.

    Anna, a true Catholic is someone who lives by what the Church teaches, which is what Christ taught. We all, in some respect, through disobedience, are ‘not Catholic enough’. Before we receive Christ at Mass we say so “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but say the word and I shall be healed.”

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