Matt C. Abbott
August 3, 2012
Catholic Charities and Obama
By Matt C. Abbott

First, I ask you, dear readers, to please keep me in your prayers. Many thanks!



Perhaps I'm missing the boat, so to speak, but I must say that I'm perplexed and disappointed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York's invitation to President Obama to speak at the annual Al Smith Dinner.

From LifeSiteNews.com (click here for the full article):
    When asked if consideration was given to the Obama administration's recent attacks on religious freedom, particularly Catholicism, in inviting the president, [Meghan Myers, the executive director of the annual fundraiser] replied that she could not comment on the invitation since she did not extend it. Obama was invited, she said, by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan....

    The idea of cancelling the traditional appearance of the presidential candidates is not without precedent. On two occasions since 1960 the presidential candidates were not invited by the Archdiocese of New York to the dinner — in 1996 (Cardinal John O'Connor), when strongly pro-abortion Bill Clinton was a candidate, and in 2004 (Cardinal Egan), during the candidacy of also strongly pro-abortion Democrat John Kerry....
Interestingly, on July 9:
    Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago joined an ongoing lawsuit in federal court ... seeking to overturn the mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). To receive an exemption from the mandate, Catholic Charities must abandon its longstanding commitment, rooted in its Catholic faith, to serve the poor regardless of their religion.

    'The sole matter at hand is that religious freedom has been compromised by the mandate in violation of the First Amendment of our nation's Constitution,' said Monsignor Michael M. Boland, Administrator, President and CEO of Catholic Charities. Regarding the limited exemption to the HHS mandate, Boland added that 'HHS fails to understand that there is no distinction between our Catholic faith and our commitment to serve the needs of all people regardless of their religion.'

    'We support health care reform and efforts to expand access to health care to all Americans. But we oppose any policy that compels us to compromise our Catholic faith. Make no mistake: This mandate affects all religions and anyone of faith. This is about religious liberty. We must take a stand, not only on behalf of Catholic Charities, but for all faith-based organizations. We must protect our right to serve all the poor, not just those HHS defines for us,' Boland said.
Good for Catholic Charities of Chicago! But why in the heck is Catholic Charities of New York — apparently Cardinal Dolan himself — inviting our Church-persecuting president to speak at a Catholic fundraiser?

I asked Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life for his comments on the matter.

Father Pavone responded:

"I'm all in favor of protocol and understand the difference between respecting the president's policies vs. respecting his office. But there comes a time when the polite putting aside of differences for a while amounts to scandal. There comes a time when enough is enough and we can no longer afford to give people a reason to doubt our position as a Church. Today, the unjust HHS mandate went into effect for Priests for Life and millions of other Americans, and I announced to our staff that we are disobeying the mandate [click here to see the video]. So, no, I don't think the invitation is appropriate at this time."

I also asked Michael Hichborn of American Life League for his comments on the matter.

Hichborn responded:

"We are living in possibly the greatest time of confusion that the Catholic Church has ever known. Catholics are profoundly confused about fundamental principles like birth control, homosexuality, abortion, Mass attendance, and even the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Given the latest revelations about Catholic Relief Services' errant funding practices [click here for the story], the ongoing scandal at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the serious problems at the Catholic Health Association, hosting Barack Obama at a Catholic Charities event, and giving him a platform to speak, only compounds the extreme confusion among American Catholics.

"In St. Paul's letter to the Romans, he said, 'The wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting in Christ Jesus our Lord.' It's time to stop over-emphasizing the symptoms of sin, which are poverty, plagues, illness, and injustice, and go back to the very purpose for being a Catholic, unity with Our Blessed Lord. Until the Church returns to preaching the Good News about Jesus' Mercy and the joy of the Eucharist, while encouraging repentance and the rejection of sin, the Catholic Church will continue to resemble the political philanthropy that modern society claims that it is."

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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