My Heart Goes out to the People of Spokane

John Weingarten of 40 Days for Life Spokane writes the following letter to Bishop Blaise Cupich regarding his Annual Catholic Appeal:

Dear Bishop Cupich,

February 4 was the  birthday of Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who much like Saint Maximillian Kolbe, stood up to the evil of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Where they saw inhumanity and immorality, they raised their voices. They did not—could not—stand by while the voiceless were being brutally treated as less than human and snuffed out. My heart breaks as I see so many Catholics, all of whom are called to live lives of holiness, often failing (myself included) to do so. Forgive me if this letter seems harsh, but after much prayer, I feel compelled to write this.

Speaking of the greatest holocaust of our time, Pope Francis said “Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you.”

It has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions that several of the institutions that call themselves Catholic in your diocese have strayed far from the teachings of the Catholic Church and are engaged in activities causing the destruction of souls, but you have turned a blind eye.

When told that Providence Sacred Heart routinely performs tubal ligations and recommends artificial birth control (which often act as abortifacients), what did you do? When it was brought to your attention that doctors at that institution are engaged in performing abortions (they call them “early inductions” and just leave the baby to die a horrific death) what was your response?

When advised that Gonzaga was planning to honor then Governor Christine Gregoire, one of the most pro-abortion politicians in the country, and that GU had invited Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to bestow on him an honorary degree at commencement when you were informed he actively promotes abortions, did you even raise your voice to object that such honors would be inappropriate and would create scandal?

But when your wonderful and faithful priests and seminarians simply wanted to pray for the unborn and their mothers, and to be Christ for those babies being killed at abortion facilities, that moved you to action—and you put a stop to it. No priests or seminarians have been seen at abortion facilities in this diocese since, even though many have told me privately they wish they could be there.

My heart also breaks that I cannot in good conscience support the ACA, but I will give our money to causes that support morality and stand up against evil. I will also continue to fervently pray for your change of heart.

Saint Maximillian Kolbe, pray for us.

In Christ,

John Weingarten

As is his custom, the bishop has not responded.  I do not understand Bp. Cupich’s hostility  to the prolife movement and 40DFL, but this is not the first time I have gotten samizdat from some suffering soul in Spokane, struggling with the fact that the bishop appears to be bent on campaign of crushing and suppressing pro-life activity and punishing people for the crime of being orthodox.  I do not understand that guy.

  • Charles

    Gosh, Mark. You sound a bit like Michael Voris in this post.

    • chezami

      Could you document for me where I gin up a mob of people by suggesting that Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, Al Kresta, and a bunch of other innocent people are gutless cowards and money-grubbing whores, or that “the bishops” (indiscriminately) are the enemy, or that people who receive communion in the hand are heretics, or that if you happen to like “Amazing Grace” you are somehow “protestantiized” or that the Knights of Columbus are the Enemy or Fr. Barron is a dangerously unreliable teacher orsuggest that the Ordinary Form is dodgy and inferior or toss softball questions to people with a long history of crazy Jew-hatred?

      • Charles

        Could you document for me where I accused you of any of those things?

        I thought it was funny that this particular post sounded like something Michael Voris would say. My intention in pointing it out was light-hearted amusement, not accusatory. Simmer down.

        • chezami

          You didn’t. But since my issue is with *those* things (and others I didn’t bother to mention) and not with everything I thought it important to point out. Precisely the reason I criticize Voris is because his fanbase seem constitutionally incapable of telling the difference between legitimate criticism of episcopal injustice and simply hating on everything bishops say and do.

          • Charles

            I’m not necessarily the biggest Voris defender, but I do think your criticisms are unfair. When criticizing bishops, he almost always gives specific names and incidents to back up his criticism. On the flip side, he very often commends specific bishops for actions that have taken as well.

            Sure, when talking about larger issues in the Church he makes reference to lack of leadership of bishops, but I don’t see how this sort of generalization is any different the common generalizations we make on any countless other things in everyday life. Heck, in the comment I’m just now responding to you made such a generalization when you mentioned Voris’s “fanbase”. Do you really think that every person who enjoys Voris’s work makes the error that you point out? Do you expect your readership to make the distinction between all of Voris’s fanbase and only the ones who have nothing but blanket criticisms for the bishops?

            • sez

              FYI: you just moved the goal posts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark ignores you now.

              Voris criticizes bishops (plural). Sure, he often points to a specific incident, but his tone too frequently paints all bishops with a broad brush. Frequently. All bishops. Mark did nothing of the kind.
              Generalizing about the fans of Voris is completely different: the fans are known not as individuals (like the bishops are), but by the one they follow, and presumably agree. Totally different kettle of fish. Surely you can understand that!

              Your first comment was understandable. But rather than accept the correction Mark gave, you dug in your heels on this idea of generalization, moving the goal posts.

              An apology to Mark would be a fitting response. I’m praying for you. Goal post moving is a very bad habit. May this be an opportunity for personal growth.

  • John Weingarten

    God bless you, Mark, for shining a light on what’s going on here in Eastern Washington.

    • sez

      and God bless you, John, for sending that excellent letter to Bp Cupich! I’ve heard from people in-the-know in Spokane that the ACA money “talks”, especially when it walks.

  • Chris

    I can usually see the bishop’s side of things — or at least the plausibility of his stance — in situations like this, but I must confess that I, too, am befuddled by Bp. Cupich’s issue with 40DFL.

    I’m sure other corners of the blogosphere will excoriate him… instead, let’s follow John’s example and pray for him, particularly as we draw near to Good Friday.

    • sez

      Bp Cupich has expressed concern that anything that looks like a protest will be conflated (by the media) with the Westboro Baptist types, so he sees anyone carrying a sign as being harmful to the Church. It isn’t just 40DFL. He opposed the Religious Freedom rallies, and instructed all pastors not to advertise or show up – this was during the Fortnight for Freedom, when at least 22 bishops nationwide supported and even spoke at their rallies. Bp Cupich’s team also opposed the Public Square Rosary that we do on/about Oct 13th each year. It is a completely non-political prayer gathering (spelled out clearly on the flyers), with a huge banner that reads “Pray the Rosary for America”. We were unable to place an ad in the Inland Register (diocesan newspaper) for that event, due to his distaste for “protests”.

      Bp Cupich has explained his position as being one of a teacher: that we need to reach people in a different way. (I’m not clear on what way.) He feels that they’ve already heard the message that 40DFL is proclaiming, but that it hasn’t worked. If he had clearly expressed an alternative, that would make his message a bit easier to accept. But, apparently, staying at home with prayer and fasting is all he wants us to do. Not that we don’t need to do those things! Just that the outreach is missing. And some of us feel called to that outreach.

      Regarding the 40DFL prayer vigils, he said: “For every one you save, there are 10 who turn away” presumably, never to consider the Church ever again. He also said “You’ll never get everyone to agree” with the prayer vigils (which he kept calling “protests”). I’m not sure why everyone agreeing is important, but he seemed to think it was.

      I am not trying to defend his position. Just trying to explain it… as best and as fairly as I can. The man is responsible for every soul in Spokane. He needs our prayers! May the Holy Spirit guide him to do God’s will, and lead as many people as possible to the Truth.

      St. Jude, pray for us!

      • Chris

        Thanks, sez. That’s a plausible explanation, and it accords with what I know of his time in Rapid City (I’m from a neighboring diocese there).

        Having said that — and noting that you are not expressing your own agreement with his approach — I’ll just note that it’s an ineffective approach.

        • sez

          It is effective at reducing the number of those participating in the public prayer vigil! It has a serious dampening effect on those of us fired up to do that kind of witness.

          But as a deterrent to abortion? Yeah.. I find his approach lacking.

  • chad

    So sad. Painful to see in the diocese of my birth.

  • Elmwood

    The Providence hospital in Anchorage performs tubal litigations only when a woman undergoes a C-section. The reasoning I was told was that the hospital wouldn’t force a women to undergo addition C-sections or something like that if they were to become pregnant again.

    • sez

      I know a mother of 3 (and counting) – and all were C-sections. She joked about having a zipper installed. Once upon a couple of generations ago, one C-section was all that was possible. Now, that is just not the case. And everyone knows that. Google VBAC.

      From what I’ve heard, Providence Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane pressures women to have C-sections, then pressures them to get their tubes tied along with it. This, too, as been brought to the bishop’s attention, with no apparent action on his part. May God have mercy on all those who muddy the waters of our Faith, and those who do nothing to clear things up.

  • Loretta

    Thanks be to God that when my mother was born in Spokane he wasn’t the bishop. She would have been aborted, and where would that have left me. :)

  • GKC40

    It’s a bold claim to accuse a bishop of being unorthodox and painting with such a broad brush. While yes, Bp. Cupich has shortcomings as far as the average spectator can see, it is imprudent to assume that he is turning a blind eye to said shortcomings for no good reason.

    He remains a loyal son of the Church who is in the midst of guiding the diocese (still) through an arduous arbitration process with attorneys of sexual abuse victims, and a person who hasn’t literally documented his every move and motive from the bishop’s own point of view is, in my estimation, substantially less than qualified to pass judgment. It is easy to call shots from our easy chairs when another person seems to be bumbling about in the public square, but no one can possibly grasp the magnanimity of a bishopric unless he had held the position himself.

    • chezami

      Who said he was unorthodox? You can be totally orthodox and still treat people like crap.

      • GKC40

        “Punishing people for the crime of being orthodox” implies that the person himself wouldn’t be orthodox by virtue of its criminal nature.

        • chezami

          Or that he is a coward. Or more obsessed with punishing conservatives for not being his cup of tea than with shepherding them where they are on the side of the angels. Any way you slice it, his “pastoral” approach has been atrocious.

          • GKC40

            From your position in the cheap seats, his pastoral approach appears atrocious, and it very well may be that way in actuality. However, you can plop behind a computer screen and keyboard, slinging insults and denigrating a successor to the Apostles without batting an eye, but I would put a good amount of money down that you wouldn’t have the courage to walk into the bishop’s office and say the things you’ve said on here face-to-face.

            By my estimation, Mr. Shea, YOU are the coward if all you do is sit here hoping Bp. Cupich reads this and somehow comes to a new realization–as if that’s ever happened from someone reading a blog. You’re not wrong to be upset, and your feelings are justified by virtue of how you understand this situation, but until you have the courage yourself to walk in and tell our leader, to his face, what you think, then you are NOT justified in calling anyone a coward.

            • chezami

              I have tried, multiple times, to contact Bp. Cupich by both phone and email. Absolutely no response. I’m not the only person he treated so contemptuously.

              • GKC40

                I am sorry that you’ve received no response from the bishop. A lack of a response doesn’t indicate contempt though, to be sure.

                • chezami

                  Yeah, actually it does. Particularly in this case. He has taken actions which *directly* impact both my reputation and my living and has not had the common courtesy to return a phone call or tell me why. And, I repeat, I’m not the only person he has treated with contempt. So no, I’m not buying the whole “He’s being pastoral” song and dance. He’s being political. And nasty.

                  • GKC40

                    Mark, I apologize for being antagonizing without knowing *your* whole story. It really is unfortunate that you’re unable to speak in the Spokane diocese and that your living and reputation have been impacted negatively as a result. Your last was a humbling comment for me, and I hope you can except my sincerest apologies.

                    • chezami

                      Don’t sweat it. The whole thing has been mysterious to me. I *train catechists for the Archdiocese of Seattle* (ie., actually work for the Archdiocese here). And yet for reasons he will not deign to explain, Bp. Cupich has peremptorily banished me from his diocese. It was one of his first acts as a bishop, long before I started getting desperate pleas from his subjects like the one published here. So it’s not retaliation for that. I simply have no idea. He refuses to answer my calls or emails. But it long ago dissuaded me that he has any interest in shepherding his sheep. Shepherds don’t treat their sheep with such contempt. Heck. Ordinary decent polite people don’t treat their dogs with such contempt.

                • Athelstane

                  Unfortunately, bishops who don’t answer their mail are a common phenomenon, and no less dismaying for it.

                  Congressmen have constituencies of over half a million each – and when you write yours, you will get a response, even if it’s a form letter. And they only have charge of our political interests. Bishops have a responsibility for our souls. Why is it so hard to ensure that letters get responded to?

                  Whatever His Excellency’s excuse for not replying, it’s not sufficient. He has a responsibility, and a staff to help him fulfill it. And he’s not meeting it.

            • Allan B

              I believe you just called Mark a coward. Hypocrite much?

              • GKC40

                Read the WHOLE sentence in the second paragraph. I see what you’re saying, but you’re not seeing what I’m saying. The “if” is the qualifier.

    • http://hjg.com.ar/ Hernán J. González

      +1 Further, the tone of the letter smells a little too pompous and arrogant to me. “I will also continue to fervently pray for your change of heart.” Come on.

      First, I should pray for my change of heart. Then, I should pray for the others (not in first place for their “change of heart”, which too often is just a pious disguise to mean “change your opinions, so that they coincide with mine”). Finally, if I’m determined to pray for the other, I don’t tell him that I will do that (unless I’m sure that he will feel conforted by that – and I tell him, not the world).

  • Almario Javier

    Actually, being a Jesuit university (and the Jesuits being a religious order), Bishop Cupich has about as much authority to mandate changes there as I do – bupkis. The Jesuit provincial is who they should be complaining to. Outrage in proper doses is fine, but we should direct it to where we can have effect.

    • Almario Javier

      Referring to Gonzaga, of course.

  • virago

    I don’t stroll here often, I would come more often if I could. Always short on time, if seems, or money or both.

    I live in Seattle downtown, now, from another state originally. Seattle offers many wonderful things, culturally and the Catholic church seems to have a strong position here but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of emphasis on the anti-abortion component of the pro-life movement. And as a cradle Catholic who fell away from her faith and a woman who regrettably had an abortion when I was much younger this disappoints. In the course of my job here, I have meant several nuns who have made it clear to me that the Church does not want women who have had abortions or feel that they may have to have one feel bad about themselves, to feel shunned. I can understand that, I guess, but it doesn’t seem to be a very profitable in regards to our spiritual health or the Church’s’.

    I don’t know this Michael Voris. But he certainly ignites the conversations. Heading over to Google to right now to check this guy out.

    • sez

      re: past abortions: despite what those nuns might have said, the Church has always taught that no sin, no matter how grave, cannot be forgiven, provided the sinner is contrite and seeks forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession. Please ignore those nuns and speak with a priest about this. (Maybe Mark or someone from Seattle can recommend one of the many exceptional priests nearby for you to meet with.)

      Jesus came to heal us from our sins, and bring us back into the fold, not to make us feel bad! “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 – I can’t imagine what those nuns were thinking!

      There’s a saying: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” Every sinner, no matter what the sin. Because Jesus’ power to forgive is greater than any sins we can commit.

      See also: http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

  • GKC40

    I can’t, and I regret not clarifying that I said what I did in full knowledge that maybe he has, in fact, attempted to sit down with the bishop. If he has, more power to him, but if not, then what I said remains.

    Prayers ought to be offered for the strength in obedience and trust that God is guiding his Church, despite our seeing things that are hard to swallow.


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