We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. USCCB, Life and Dignity of the Human Person.
Well, they did it again.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the Catholic Church in California doesn’t have to obey the health and safety regulations that the state has put into effect to stem the rising tide of death from COVID-19. Church-oriented publications are hailing this ruling as a “victory for religious freedom.”
I see it as a victory for the Culture of Death.
I see this whole thing as a very public confession on the part of the archbishop who is involved that the sanctity of human life and the common good are something he expects young girls in his archdiocese to sacrifice their lives and health for while he exempts himself from anything that might inconvenience him. I’ve listened to our Catholic bishops preach about the sanctity of human life for many decades now. There is no limit — none whatsoever — to the pain and suffering that they are willing to heap on the heads of very young girls in their commitment to protect the lives of unborn babies.
If a 10 or 11 year old child is raped by her own uncle and becomes pregnant, the good bishops insist that she should carry the baby to term. If a woman in Africa is gang-raped by soldiers in a war and her family and tribe will cast her out to starve, the bishops demand that she continue the pregnancy and protect the life she is carrying, even if it means that she and baby will be outcasts in a war torn country with no means for survival.
If a young girl is kidnapped off the streets and gang raped and tortured for days than left for dead and yet somehow survives only to learn that the rape has left her pregnant, the good bishops insist that she should carry the baby to term.
What they don’t do in any of these cases is condemn the rapists. I’ve heard sermon after sermon on the right to life of the unborn. But sermons condemning men who beat, rape, torture and kill women, not so much. In fact, from what I’ve seen, the bishops never fail to back high profile sexual predators for powerful pubic office, including the presidency of the United States and the United States Supreme Court. All the predator in question has to do is say that he will work to make abortion illegal.
There is no limit to the suffering that the bishops teach that very young women should undergo in the name of the sanctity of human life. They are as cold as stone toward the suffering of these young women. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are indifferent to it. They certainly don’t hold up the girls who honor life by going ahead and having and raising their babies for the incredible heroes they are. They dismiss the young women and go chasing after high profile sexual predators in powerful positions.
There are wonderful pro life ministries that try to help these girls. But the pro life movement itself has, under Trump, taken a hard right turn off the cliff of full-on misogyny. The days when pro life people talked about “love them both” and when “pro-life, pro woman” was more than a slogan died with the movement’s fealty to the evils of Donald Trump.
Trump took a position against legal abortion. But he objectifies, bullies and abuses women. He is an admitted serial sexual predator. The pro life movement adopted Trump’s values and attitudes toward women right down to and including the legal attacks he launched on protections for rape victims.
I’ll write more — a lot more — about the failure of the bishops to defend women’s human rights under Trump. But for now, my point is simply this: There is no limit to the suffering that the bishops teach that young girls — children — should endure in the name of the sanctity of human life. But when health officials place temporary restrictions on the number of people they can have in their churches at one time in order to stem the tide of a worldwide pandemic that is currently killing 3,000 Americans each day, they demonstrate and rail against these restrictions and yell and fight about how their “religious liberty” is being attacked. Then, they go to court and get themselves an exemption.
It appears that their commitment to the sanctity of human life only involves sacrifices that other people, in particular other female people, should make. We are moving in on 300,000 dead Americans from this virus in less than a year. To put that in perspective, the Civil War — which killed more Americans than all other wars combined — killed approximately 680,000 Americans in five years. COVID has killed almost half that number in about 10 months.
Meanwhile, we have prominent Catholic bishops, like San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, announce that when health officials impose COVID restrictions on the Catholic Church “they are mocking God.”
I kid you not. He said that.
He also led processions in his full Archbishop regalia, carrying the exposed Host, against COVID restrictions. He laid it on as thick as he could.
These bishops are roiling an American public that has been flogged to the point of hysteria. They are hyping and supporting the downright suicidal public refusal to cooperate with health recommendations that might have slowed the virus and saved many lives. They have the blood of a lot of people on their hands.
Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco has innocent blood on his hands. Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn has innocent blood on his hands. Both of them have made a mockery of their witness for the sanctity of human life and the common good. They not only exempt themselves from doing any difficult thing to protect human life, they use the money and power that their offices afford them to take cases to the United States Supreme Court to overrule and overrun attempts by people who are actually acting on legitimate medical knowledge to try to stem the tide of death.
I don’t know, but I would guess that the cost of taking these cases to the Supreme Court came from the money that their parishioners donated to the Church.
I’ll write about our new, partisan and very Catholic Supreme Court and their willy-nilly rulings in another post next week.
What I want to say right now is that I am scandalized to the core by these bishops. I have been increasingly alienated by the easy way that our Catholic bishops swallowed down Donald Trump’s misogyny these past years. Again, I’m going to write about that — a lot — in the future. But when I see them decide that they know more than public health experts about how to deal with a full-on pandemic that is mowing down thousands of people a day, when I see them go to court and get themselves exempted from cooperating with the recommendations of those medical experts because they claim that saving lives is “against God,” I am … well … for the first time since I converted, I’m standing outside the Church and saying I’m going to oppose you on this, because what you are doing is not only wrong-headed, selfish and stupid, it is against the teachings which you yourself have preached and taught.
I believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe that the common good is the ultimate goal of all just and stable government, and that a just and stable government is always the greater good. When I see bishops of the Church deliberately destabilizing the government in a time like this, when I see them putting their personal pique before the lives of large numbers of human beings, when I see them refuse to cooperate with efforts to slow the rise in deaths in a world wide pandemic, I stop believing their sincerity in the things they have said about the sanctity of human life and the common good.
I don’t think they were wrong in their teachings about the sanctity of human life and the common good. What I question is whether or not they themselves believed any of the things they were teaching.
The proof of sincerity is not how much you’re willing to demand that other people suffer for your beliefs. It’s what you’re willing to do yourself. It turns out that when it comes to the sanctity of human life, the answer for at least some of our bishops is not much.
When they work so hard to exempt themselves from these small and temporary inconveniences that are designed to save lives in this very difficult time, when they work against the common good in such profoundly selfish and dishonest ways, they put their own witness for the things they preach to the lie.
I believe what the bishops teach about the sanctity of human life and the common good. My question is this. Do the bishops believe it?