Overtaking A Wayward Ripple With A Righteous Wave
By REY FLORES
October 4, 2012, issue
Last week I shared with you my strong opinions about the USC-CB’s voter guide, titled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. I have since received a number of e-mails from Catholics across the country telling me of the widespread distribution of this problematic material.
Serious Catholics are very concerned and with good reason. Just today, I reached out to peace and justice staffers at the Joliet Diocese regarding their heavily promoted “Create a Ripple” campaign.
This is how Tom Garlitz at the Joliet Diocese presents it on their paxjoliet.org web site: “Free Resources to Help Your Parish Form Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: We are fast approaching the 2012 Election, a special time of prayer for our nation and government. The Joliet Diocese Social Justice Coalition, a ministry of the Office for Hu-man Dignity, invites your parish to use the Create a Ripple materials, a weekly social justice awareness, education, and action program, as a part of your Faithful Citizenship activities. These materials incorporate reflections and actions from the USCCB and selected Papal documents.”
Starting the weekend of September 22 and 23, and each weekend leading to the November 4 elections, Garlitz and the Joliet Diocese are asking the diocese’s almost 140 parishes to include one of its troublesome inserts as follows: Week One: Life and Dignity of the Human Person. The problem with this insert, even though its title starts with the word “life,” is that it barely acknowledges the huge problem that abortion is. It has a vague statement saying, “We revere the lives of children in the womb, the lives of persons dying in war . . . ,” and on the same insert under the title “ Forming Your Conscience,” it asks five questions about poverty, health insurance, abortion, voting, voting — in that order.
The abortion question asks: “ Do I care that there are 234 abortions per every 1000 live births performed in the United States?” The problem here is that it does not state that the killing of innocent human life as an intrinsic evil, but it merely poses a vague and weak question. In effect, it underestimates the horror of abortion.
While it does at the very least include a link to the USCCB’s pro- life activities, it does so in an unclear way, always mixing in with the words “ life” and “ dignity,” as if the two were one and the same. Again, we have no business discussing human dignity unless we discuss human life first.
Wording is the basis of all communication. A truly effective message, whether used for good or evil, is always most effective when worded carefully. The Create a Ripple campaign’s subheading — “Your vote can affect many other lives — Election 2012” — is a great misstatement.
Of course our vote affects many other lives. The message in this campaign, however, seems to focus on the lives that are already here and concerns itself not with the lives yet to be. There could never be a “ greater good” as long as intrinsic evils continue to be denied or conveniently overlooked by anyone at the USCCB or in any of its dioceses, be it clergy or laity.
If there is one thing that I have learned from working among many Catholics who are involved in peace and justice work, it is that, for the most part, their intentions are good. They want to end the injustices of poverty, hunger, war, workplace abuses, inequality, racism, and any other type of human abuses that we can imagine. Those are all injustices that any person, Catholic or not, should fight against.
The trouble starts when those topics are mostly what these voter guides and materials focus on.
Peace and justice types often talk about the root causes of these injustices and so forth, but rarely touch on the real root causes, which are moral ones.
The suffering and despair facing our society are the result of a Godless existence where we can decide who lives and who dies. It is real simple: Thou shalt not kill. Our abuse of the free will that our God has given us has caused much suffering for ourselves.
When we try to make the rules for ourselves, we will screw up.
Does anyone here think that the Ten Commandments are something more than just a Charlton Heston movie with bad special effects?
When I see these voter guides, they remind me of a bunch of know- it- all, disobedient children that think they know better than their parent, in this case, God the Father. These “ children” have good intentions of helping here and helping there, but are selective in what chores they like to do and which ones they don’t think are important.
If any of the peace and justice types take offense at my calling them children, they should feel complimented, but all children reading this should take offense at being compared to the social justicetypes.
The Greatest Of All Injustices
Many “ peace and justice Catholics” fail to see that the legalized killing of the most innocent of human beings is the greatest of all injustices. They tend to let their politics define their faith, rather than letting their Catholic faith define their political decisions.
I have worked tirelessly as a job trainer, job placement specialist, and job coach for the disabled and Eastern European immigrants. I have worked in employment skills training programs with inner- city youth facing all sorts of addictions, broken families, and street violence. I have worked as a case manager for battered women and children and the abusers themselves.
I have organized food pantries and soup kitchen programs in the most destitute of Chicago’s neighborhoods. I have been a labor organizer and I have also fought for better schools and affordablehousing. The reason I mention all of this isn’t to pat myself on the back and say what a terrific person I am. I bring this all up because I want any of the peace and justice types to know that I was there, too. While these efforts can be noble and well- intentioned, I eventually learned that some of these efforts were empty, false, and politically motivated.
Take the Create a Ripple Week Five bulletin insert. There is a huge plug for the Jobs with Justice organization, logo, web site links, and all. As a matter of fact, Jobs with Justice’s senior field organizer for the south is none other than a woman named Erica Smiley who was the national coordinator for the Young Communist League-USA before joining Jobs with Justice.
Many of the secular community organizers and organizations that continue to receive the seemingly unending support of the Catholic Church are only using us for our money. Some inside the Church are complicit, facilitating these nefarious efforts. When will we finally put a stop to these “ wolves in sheep’s clothing” campaigns that support abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem- cell abuses, human cloning, and homosexuality?
A Real Voter Guide
Last week I wrote that the only “ voter guides” we need are the Bible, the holy rosary, Mass, eucharistic adoration, and the Holy Spirit. While I stand by my words, I also encourage you to remember the following Five Non- Negotiable Issues when voting.
These five issues are called nonnegotiable because they concern actions that are always morally wrong and must never be promoted by the law. It is a serious sin to endorse or promote any of these actions, and no candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any of the five non- negotiables.
1) Abortion: The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is “ never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it” (Evangelium Vitae, n. 73). Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide.
The child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child’s, who should not suffer death for others’ sins.
2) Euthanasia: Often disguised by the name “ mercy killing,” euthanasia also is a form of homicide. No one has a right to take his own life ( suicide), and no onehas the right to take the life of any innocent person.
In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include doing something intrinsically evil to another person ( cf.Evangelium Vitae, n. 73).
3) Fetal Stem- Cell Research: Human embryos are human beings. “ Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo” (Charter of the Rights of the Family, 4b).
Recent scientific advances show that any medical cure that might arise from experimentation on fetal stem cells can be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults from whom they come. Thus there no longer is a medical argument in favor of using fetal stem cells.
4) Human Cloning: “ Attempts . . . for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘ twin fission,’ cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union” (Donum Vitae).
Human cloning also ends up being a form of homicide because the “ rejected” or “ unsuccessful” clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.
5) Homosexual “ Marriage”: True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other form of “ marriage” undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.
“ When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral” ( CDF’s Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition to Unions BetweenHomosexual Persons).
I contacted Tom Garlitz who is responsible for the Create a Ripple program for the Joliet Diocese to ask him all about this campaign. Shortly after I expressed my concerns and identified myself as a writer forThe Wanderer, he simply said, “I know who you are and I am not interested in an interview with you.”
Until the social justice types are held accountable, the propaganda and misinformation will continue, as ways to attain the elusive and utopian “ common good.” But this amounts to nothing more than liberal political agendas that will ultimately undermine morality and the mission of the Catholic Church. Share this information far and wide.