What Will The Texas Bishops Do?

What Will The Texas Bishops Do?

March 18, 2018 – By CHRISTOPHER MANION

On March 7, Cong. Beto O’Rourke (D., El Paso) won the Democrat primary to run against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. O’Rourke’s victory puts Texas bishops in a bind. Their legislative agenda and their political priorities put them on the same page as O’Rourke, the USCCB, and the Democrat left — on gun control, welfare, health care, the travel ban, refugee policy, Cuba policy, the Paris agreement, the death penalty, global warming, the environment, immigration, foreign aid, deportations, and border security.

Their only differences with Democrats lie in areas that magisterial teaching requires them to disagree: the anti-life, anti-family, anti-religious-freedom agenda which O’Rourke’s party now requires of all candidates.

Texas bishops have been in the forefront of the USCCB’s national campaign supporting legislation that will permanently write into law DACA, Obama’s unconstitutional diktat conferring amnesty on several million illegals. While DACA is quite unpopular in the Lone Star State, some Texas bishops are outsiders who apparently don’t like Texans anyway.
El Paso’s Bishop Mark Seitz hails from Wisconsin. Kevin Cardinal Farrell, a supporter of gun control who as bishop of Dallas complained about the “cowboy mentality” of his flock, comes from Ireland. (He undoubtedly exulted when Pope Francis promoted him to run a critical dicastery in the Vatican in 2016.)

The problem runs deeper than mere animosity. Bishop Seitz has yet to withdraw, much less apologize for, the attack he launched last summer on pro-life Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, who leads a ten-state effort to challenge DACA in the federal courts. Nor has Seitz been reprimanded publicly for his nationally syndicated attack by even one of his brother bishops.

Instead, Texas bishops have joined with their California colleagues in supporting “sanctuary cities” to protect illegal alien criminals from detection, detention, and prosecution under the law. Their support resonates with our duty to “welcome the stranger,” they insist, while one critic wryly observes that our bishops are apparently willing to pay for amnesty and sanctuary for criminals with our children’s lives.

Last summer, Cong. O’Rourke told The Wanderer that he has worked closely with Bishop Seitz, often in public, in their mutual support of DACA and amnesty, earning the bishop’s praise. On the other hand, Bishop Seitz told us that he has never publicly condemned the Catholic O’Rourke for his 100 percent NARAL pro-abortion record (nor has he condemned his state senator or representative; both are Catholic and strong supporters of abortion “rights”).
Get ready for a Texas-size showdown that will draw nationwide attention. Bishop Seitz sides with O’Rourke and brands pro-life politicians as “hypocrites and Pharisees” whom Jesus would condemn for opposing DACA. On the other side stands Sen. Cruz, one of the strongest pro-lifers anywhere on Capitol Hill, who opposes DACA as strongly as any Texan.

Why is there any question at all about what Texas bishops will do? Well, with noble exceptions like Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., most of their American colleagues are paragons of silence regarding the pro-abortion Catholic politicians who represent their dioceses. Yet they tirelessly condemn opponents of amnesty, DACA, and sanctuary cities — all of which happen to be opposed by Sen. Ted Cruz.

So the stage is set. Will the bishops of Texas echo Bishop Seitz and attack the pro-life Evangelical Ted Cruz in one of the most important Senate races of the year, while remaining silent about Catholic O’Rourke’s fervently pro-abortion record? Or will they overcome what Cardinal Dolan calls their “laryngitis” and do their duty under Lumen Gentium and Canon Law?

O’Rourke or Cruz? Seitz or Paprocki? Which way will they go?

Thank You, Bishop Burbidge

Last week, Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington, Va., were invited to submit questions for the weekly podcast hosted by our bishop, Michael Burbidge. We are grateful that His Excellency chose to address our question. The transcript follows:

The bishop’s co-host reads our question: “The USCCB is strongly advocating the extension of DACA as part of the bishops’ broader support for amnesty for illegal and undocumented aliens and for their extended families. Your Excellency, am I bound to adhere to the USCCB’s position on DACA with the same ‘religious submission of mind’ with which I am required by Canon Law to adhere to the teaching of Humanae Vitae?”

Co-host: “And Humanae Vitae, for those who don’t know, is — and actually the celebration, the fiftieth anniversary of that is coming up in July — talks about the dignity of the human person, talks about natural family planning, and God’s intent for love within the family unit, those kinds of things. So he’s saying, you know we’ve got this fundamental teaching regarding sexuality, we’ve got other issues like DACA, how do we balance these, do we have to believe in them the same [way]?”

Bishop Burbidge: “It’s a good question, it’s an appropriate question, and you know there are fundamental teachings of our faith, commands and mandates of the Gospel that are fundamental and that require our full adherence. There are some prudential issues where we hold true to the belief — sacredness of human life, the dignity of the human person, how that is implemented in the light of specific issues and particular laws, that’s where there is some room, there’s room for discussion, there’s room for debate, and so there are certain areas where there is that difference, I think that’s what the question refers to.

“But we don’t need to separate — well, if it’s either a fundamental issue or a prudential issue, we deal only with the fundamental issues. No, we deal with both, it’s not either or, in a sense, and so, in this prudential situation in the DACA situation, how do we uphold a fundamental belief that all persons are created equal, are created in God’s image, deserve dignity and respect, and enact that in a society where laws impact it? And so there is room in that area for debate and discussion — pray it’s always respectful, pray it’s always again on the person.”
(At that point the discussion moves on, the bishop’s cohost giving a plug for DACA and Bishop Burbidge urges listeners to call Congress to support the USCCB’s position on DACA.)

Clearly our bishops collectively have decided to support DACA, and Bishop Burbidge joins in that support. But he is the first bishop in eight years to break ranks with his stonewalling colleagues and granted our simple request that they affirm the right of the laity, guaranteed by Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, to take the lead in social and political issues where, in Bishop Burbidge’s words, “there is room for debate.”

(In 2010, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, confirmed that Catholics could disagree with the USCCB’s support for full funding of the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid bill that included half a billion dollars of taxpayer funding for “family planning” and another $65 million for abortion.)

Bishop Burbidge serves on the USCCB’s committee that defends Religious Liberty. We in Arlington are grateful that he is willing publicly to defend ours.


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