[Hat-tip to Tancred of the EponymousFlower.blogspot.com]
Detroit archbishop OK with priest’s radio endorsement of liberal [pro-abort] candidate
By Jay Mcnally on July 31, 2012
American Dream Talk Show
For long-time Detroit Catholics it is barely news that Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron is permitting a prominent left-leaning pastor, Fr. Norman Thomas, to publicly endorse a liberal candidate for Congress in advertisements on a major radio station.
The new page in the continuing saga of the archdiocese’s participation in the Culture of Death — even as it simultaneously panders to the pro-life movement – is the public endorsement of pro-abortion candidate for Congress, Hansen Clarke. He is running in Michigan’s 13th District, which covers a large swath of the city of Detroit. Fr. Thomas is pastor of Sacred Heart Church, which is located in Detroit.
I discussed this scandal on my radio talk show last Saturday, on WAAM 1600. While I normally broadcast live from the plush WAAM studios in Ann Arbor, I called in to my radio sidekick and fill-in, attorney Chip Kleinbrook. To hear my commentary, click here on these links. The commentary is in two parts, the first two minutes of the first link are about the swelting Kansas heat, then Chip and I discuss the scandal of the political endorsements.
At least two versions of advertisements with Fr. Thomas’s endorsement of Clarke have aired repeatedly on Detroit’s CBS affiliate WWJ 950AM. WWJ is a 24-hour news station and is heard throughout southeast Michigan.
According one of Detroit’s most prominent pro-life leaders, David Theisen, one
advertisement mentions Fr. Thomas, and the other one includes audio of the priest talking favorably about Clarke. Yesterday, on Monday, July 30, the one-minutes advertisements ran at least seven times; at 12:25, 1:45, 2:45, 3:37, 4:25, 5:45 and 6:45 p.m.
Upon learning of the radio endorsements by Fr.Thomas, in my capacity of a radio
talk show host (“The American Dream with Jay McNally,” on WAAM 1600 in Ann
Arbor), I emailed several questions to Ned McGrath, the communications director of the archdiocese since 1990. My main point of inquiry was whether Vigneron has a policy regarding public endorsements of candidates by bishops and priests.
As far as I can tell, Detroit is the only archdiocese in the United States the allows priests to publicly endorse candidates. It’s been going on for years. Most, if not all, bishops in the US, state publicly that the Church does not endorse individual candidates.
McGrath did not respond to my specific inquiry; which is nothing new. He’s been
dodging and weaving with me about scandals in the archdiocese for 20 years, going back to the pedophilia mess that I saw up-close when I was editor of The Michigan
Catholic in the early 1990s, working from an office literally across the hall from his at 305 Michigan Avenue, one of the chancery office buildings.
However, on Friday, I received an email that was apparently automatically created and singed by “The Information Desk” in the aod chancery. It came with this subject line: General – Response email@example.com.
Here is the text of the email: Thank you for your email to the Archdiocese of Detroit. If necessary, your message will be forwarded to the appropriate office and/or individual.
Responses, when and/or if informative, will be provided on a priority basis.
For future reference, there are several web-based resources on the Archdiocesan website. Via the ‘Legislative Advocacy’ page you can access materials from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington including its ‘Faithful Citizenship’ document and a blog titled ‘Catholics Care. Catholics Vote.’ And/or, you can sign up with the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) in Lansing to receive issue-based newsletters from the ‘Catholic Legislative Advocacy Network.’
The Information Desk
Archdiocese of Detroit
The current advertisements on WJR are only the latest of Fr. Thomas public forays into political endorsements: Again, it is worth restating; These kinds of ads are specifically forbidden everywhere else in the US.
Fr. Thomas was featured in television ads in Michigan in 1998, when he endorsed
euthanasia proponent Jeffrey Feiger, Democrat candidate for governor. Feiger was the bombastic attorney who defended Jack Kevorkian, who was responsible for the deaths of dozens of people and eventually was convicted of murder and imprisoned.
Fr. Thomas also helped Al Gore in his campaign for president in 2000, by hosting a Sunday campaign Mass for Gore, during which Gore spoke from the pulpit at the church. Many Democrat politicians were present and were seated in the front row, including then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, Congressman John Dingell and countless Detroit figures. The event was widely publicized nationally, as it was filmed by local and national TV. A picture of Gore at the pulpit was sent via the Associated Press news wire.
I remember that 2000 event like it was yesterday. Upon learning that Gore was going to speak at Sacred Heart during the Mass, the Detroit-area conservative community was enraged and demanded that Cardinal Maida cancel the event, to no avail. At that time I was editor of a Catholic newspaper in Ann Arbor and complained by email to McGrath, who issued statements claiming that the event had nothing to do with the Archdiocese of Detroit: Nothing at all!!
I attended the Mass, and took photos. McGrath was there, performing typical PR chores, which contradicted his claim that the aod was not involved. McGrath was seated during the Mass with Detroit Free Press columnist Hugh McDairmid, who was never a friend of the pro-life movement. In his column about Gore’s appearance, McDairmid was effusive in his praise for the event, noting that it was quite “civil.”
Of course it was “civil.” The more than two dozen pro-lifers who picketed the event were sequestered by Secret Service agents more than two blocks away. I have a suspicion McGrath uttered not a contrary word about the unseemliness of a pro-abortion presidential candidate speaking from the pulpit, nor anything about the weirdness of Fr. Thomas being seated during the pseudo Consecration during the Mass, during which a bunch of women dressed in vestments performed the ceremony that canon law says must be reserved to priests. The liturgical stuff is another story for another day.
So, as it stands this morning, Archbishop Vigneron refuses to issue any statements regarding his policy on partisan politics by his priest, and he is approving of Fr. Thomas’s endorsement.