How the USCCB Reacts to the Diabolical

Judie Brown
February 1, 2013
Reproduced with Permission

When President Obama reflected on the massacre that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, in December he said ,

This is our first task - caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged.

It was a moving speech, but at the same time shallow and disingenuous. On January 22, four weeks later, he "celebrated" decriminalized abortion with these words : "On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade , we reaffirm its historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their healthcare."

In other words, if a child survives the womb, we are called to care for that child, but prior to that moment that same child is no different than a deer in the forest that a hunter may choose to slaughter. The decision to kill that child is a "private family matter"; the resultant death is affirmation of a "guiding principle."

The absence of logic and common sense in such a statement does not affect the majority of Americans one way or the other. They don't think about it. At the same time, those who should - including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was quick to call for the regulation of firearms after the Sandy Hook massacre - hesitate to reprimand Obama for his impudence on the question of abortion.

It is true, of course, that the USCCB calls for certain times during the year when perfunctory respect-life prayers are recommended, but aside from that and the sparse statements it makes, substantive action is not taken. Perhaps Catholic bishops think that somehow the struggle against abortion is an effort that is rightly consigned to the laity, but the question remains: Where is their leadership, their collective voice, their capacity to rally the troops and change the culture? Considering the bishops' near silence in this 40-year-war, these are legitimate questions.

In another example, examine the case of Lori Stodghill in Colorado. Lori was seven months pregnant with twin boys and feeling quite ill when she arrived at St. Thomas More Catholic Hospital on New Year's Day in 2006. Lori's physician was paged, but never answered. Within an hour, Lori and her sons were dead.

Since that tragic event, a wrongful-death case has been moving through the courts based on the argument that the deaths were a result of negligence. The case has moved through two courts thus far resulting in victory for the Catholic hospital, which has argued that the term "person" as used in the state's Wrongful Death Act applies ONLY to born persons. In other words, the Catholic hospital is arguing that the twins were not persons and therefore the lawsuit their father has filed should be thrown out.

The Colorado Supreme Court could hear the case at any time, yet I am reminded of one simple fact: The Catholic Church teaches that a human being is a person from creation to death, period! There is no debate on this matter; therefore, I am left wondering why the Colorado bishops have failed to use this case to defend the innocent while demanding accountability from the errant hospital and its staff.

Colorado's Catholic bishops said in a joint statement that Catholic Health Initiatives had offered assurances of its "intention to observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church," but we have no idea what that means. What we do know is that two babies and their mother are dead. Perhaps the politically crafted nuances should end and the fight for personhood should now begin, led by these bishops and based on their dedication to Catholic teaching.

And by the way, is it not equally urgent for the USCCB to come to the defense of innocent human beings in this case and argue that the scientific facts defy the Catholic hospital's position? The USCCB's silence on the humanity of persons prior to birth in this and other situations is disturbing.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches :

(1930) Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: By flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy. If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.

My question is simple: When will the USCCB begin reminding men of good will that aborting an innocent human being is diabolical?