Pastors who “speak softly” about the brutal murder of more than 60 million children should instead mimic Catholic leaders who boldly challenged racial segregation in the 1950s, said the Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore J. Cordileone.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Cordileone condemned Catholic politicians who use their platforms and power to bolster abortion and anti-life sentiments. Some of the highest-ranking American politicians — including President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — proclaim their Catholic “faith” while pushing for abortion laws that go against the church they claim to be a part of.
After the Supreme Court ruled to at least temporarily allow a Texas law that protects babies with a detectable heartbeat from abortion, self-described Catholic politicians openly opposed the ruling.
“I find it especially disturbing that so many of the politicians on the wrong side of the preeminent human rights issue of our time are self-professed Catholics. This is a perennial challenge for bishops in the United States: This summer, we provoked an uproar by discussing whether public officials who support abortion should receive the sacrament of the Eucharist,” Cordileone said. “We were accused of inappropriately injecting religion into politics, of butting in where we didn’t belong.”
This summer, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met to advance a document about “Eucharistic coherence,” revitalizing the sacrality and importance of the Eucharist to the Catholic Church. Many ignorant politicians accused the church of politicizing the Eucharist and using the document as a ploy to deny communion to public officials like Biden and Pelosi who constantly oppose church teachings. The church did neither.
Rather, Cordileone wrote, Catholic bishops have a responsibility to respond — strongly — to prominent officials who openly oppose church teachings on abortion. Bishops must only look to the example of New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel, “who courageously confronted the evils of racism,” and employed a “long, patient campaign of moral suasion to change the opinions of pro-segregation White Catholics.”
“Rummel did not ‘stay in his lane.’ Unlike several other bishops throughout this country’s history, he did not prioritize keeping parishioners and the public happy above advancing racial justice,” Cordileone said.
Rummel admitted two black students to New Orleans’s Notre Dame Seminary in 1948 and in 1951 ordered the removal of “white” and “colored” signs from Catholic churches in his archdiocese. He ardently opposed segregation and in 1953, told white Catholics that there could be “no further discrimination or segregation in the pews.” He also closed a church for refusing to accept a black priest and championed the end of segregation in New Orleans Catholic schools.
Rummel knew what the church taught and was willing to back up his faith with action.
“Was that wrong?” Cordileone asked. “Was that weaponizing the Eucharist? No. Rummel recognized that prominent, high-profile public advocacy for racism was scandalous: It violated core Catholic teachings and basic principles of justice, and also led others to sin.”
The modern parallel is abortion.
“Abortion kills a unique, irreplaceable human being growing in his or her mother’s womb. Everyone who advocates for abortion, in public or private life, who funds it or who presents it as a legitimate choice participates in a great moral evil,” he said.
When the “blood of 60 million innocent American children cries out for justice,” pastors cannot speak quietly, reducing the murder of babies to a “culture of choice,” Cordileone said. To do so would be going against the church and human dignity.
“You cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings. The answer to crisis pregnancies is not violence but love, for both mother and child,” he said. “This is hardly inappropriate for a pastor to say. If anything, Catholic political leaders’ response to the situation in Texas highlights the need for us to say it all the louder.”