On Monday at the the USCCB general meeting, Dr. Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, described, among other things, how CRS reestablished St. Joseph’s Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia after most of the doctors and staff were wiped out by ebola. They tended the sick and gave dignified burials to contaminated human remains, which she observed was one of the corporal works of mercy. Dr. Woo broke down in tears at the end of her presentation after describing her time at the foot of the cross with people undergoing suffering we cannot even imagine.
When she was done talking, Archbishop Coakley said he’d just received yet another “expose” of CRS from the Lepanto Institute, which is trying to damage the work of one the largest relief agencies in the world. They are attacking CRS because some of their 1200 affiliated agencies may have distributed contraception or abortifacients, and because they take funding from people who do not share our values. This failure to understand the basic functioning reality of relief agencies in a pluralistic world, which requires the work of tens of thousand of collaborators who do not share Catholic values, is common to Lepanto and similar anti-CRS crusaders. Archbishop Coakley dismissed Lepanto’s claims and said that CRS was Catholic from top to bottom.
I’ve seen the drugs on the shelf and the nurses and doctors and hospitals paid for by donations to Catholic charitable organizations like CNEWA, Catholic Charities, and CRS. They are a thin line between life and death for, literally, millions of people around the world. They are our preaching in deed and act to the world; our living out of the works of mercy which we are commanded to do. I do not support medical care that violates Catholic teaching, but at the same time I realize that CRS has an impossible job getting care to the people who need it, and they strive mightily to make sure that care is delivered in accord with our values.
Footnote: when I tweeted that Catholic Charities settles 1/3rd of the refugees who are brought to America (100% in some states like Maine) someone responded “and that is why we not longer donate to them.” Said with all the moral authority and utter self-confidence of someone who has never met a refugee.
Footnote #2: I’ll keep sharing this photo, which I took in a clinic paid for by donations to CNEWA, until its message gets through their thick skulls.
Footnote 3: It’s hard to grasp the scope (not to mention the importance) of what CRS does and how many people they work with. By scanning through reports and finding a couple of connections between CRS and agencies or programs that are not in line with Catholic teachings, Lepanto is not only misunderstanding the way relief agencies function across the entire world, but missing the forest for the trees. People walk away from these “exposes” thinking CRS is marching into Nigeria with truckloads of condoms.
I wonder how many clinics Michael Hichborn has visited? How many refugees he’s spoken with? How many sick people in war- and disease-ravaged lands he’s nursed or buried? I’ve seen the children clinging to their mothers in terror after having fled ISIS bombs, and women and children able to get basic medical care because of the Church’s works of mercy. I have no patience for holier-than-thou keyboard commandos throwing rotten fruit from the sidelines. My message to them is step up or step off.
On a related note, my pal Leo C. Brown at Breadbox Media makes a trenchant observation:
Why, if you’re against abortion, would you be against expansive immigration? Do you think our resources are limited and there’s only so much to go around? Then why would you say where are the 40 million lost to abortion? Would they be productive citizens and immigrants not?
This goes back to the whole “Demographic winter” panic of the last decade. The Damn Mooslims is outbreeding us, we were told, so Christians have to get bizzay with the being fruitful and multiplying lest the Musselman Horde overtake us. Perfectly true things are said to the contraceptors about America’s capacity to deal with population growth. Reminders of the Church teaching on contraception and generosity and openness to life abound. People are our greatest resource! We might have cures for all the social ills the population planner fret about by now, but their inventors were all aborted, etc. All well and good.
So here come millions of refugees from south of the border, nearly all of them Christian and most of them Catholic. They are family-oriented, hard-working, prolife and desire nothing more than to make a living and raise a family. Many of them are fleeing murder regimes for which our country bears a great deal of responsibility in helping to create.
The response of Good White Christians fretting about Demographic Winter? No room at the inn. Go back where you came from! Man was made for immigration law, not immigration law for man.
In short, it is abundantly clear that the issue is not Christian vs. Muslim demographics, but white vs. brown demographics. We are to be open and generous to new white life, but not to just any old life. Indeed, we need to deport 20 million of those lives and shrink the Christian pool.
Or, of course, we could just trying listening to the Church and not battling her, being more prolife, not less. We could trying welcoming our Latino and refugee neighbors as the Church urges us to do. We could do that instead. Then, we would find that we have more time and energy to devote to the prolife cause we *say* is our core non-negotiable since we will no longer be wasting it fighting the Church.