Matt C. Abbott
August 27, 2015
Philly archbishop labels two Catholic groups 'destructive'
By Matt C. Abbott

Many Catholics who use the Internet are familiar with Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.com and Michael Hichborn, formerly of American Life League and now president of the Lepanto Institute. And most of the Catholics who are familiar with Mr. Voris and Mr. Hichborn typically either ardently support them, or vocally oppose them. (Personally I've had friendly communications with both men over the last few years.)

But at least one member of the hierarchy here in the U.S. is not a fan of theirs: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

A brief background: The Lepanto Institute and ChurchMilitant.com have reported "that the World Meeting of Families leadership team (including the president, Robert Ciarrufoli) is infested with pro-abortion, pro-gay 'marriage' money men and politically influential people.

"For instance, current Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf is proudly hailed by Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards as "[the] first governor in the history of this country who is also a former Planned Parenthood escort." Wolf also appointed a Planned Parenthood executive to his transition team, and has never shown the least sign of repenting of his association with the abortion giant."

(Also, according to PhillyMag.com: "The World Meeting of Families leadership roster is packed full of members of the Philadelphia Democratic establishment, which generally runs pro-choice. Mayor Michael Nutter and Gov. Tom Wolf are both listed as honorary co-chairs. Other notable politicos include Comcast vice president David Cohen – a top fundraiser for President Obama – who is listed as a co-chair of the organization's executive leadership cabinet, as is Comcast honcho Brian Roberts, who has given at least $76,000 to Democrats since 2006.")

When the Archdiocese of Philadelphia originally got wind of this report, its communications office issued the following statement:
    The Lepanto Institute and Church Militant have proven once again that they are not interested in presenting information in any useful way. Neither the World Meeting of Families-Philadelphia 2015 nor any of its leadership supports Planned Parenthood. The sole desire of both Lepanto and Church Militant is to create division, confusion, and conflict within the Church. Actions of that nature run contrary to Christian tradition. Their reports are not to be taken seriously.
In an email to me, Archbishop Chaput added the following statement:
    Both Lepanto and Church Militant sow division wherever they tread. They do not seem to acknowledge the need to work with civic society and its representatives on a project like the World Meeting of Families. And we are not going to spend/waste time arguing with them. They are sincere, but also destructive. No one on our leadership team supports abortion or Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Hichborn had this to say via email:
    The last time I wrote an article about the World Meeting of Families, Ken Gavin [communications director for the archdiocese] read me the riot act for not contacting the archdiocese first. This time, I wrote and called several times since last Thursday, sending them all the information I had written in the article, including additional information on the executive cabinet of the WMOF, which I will be publishing either later this week or next week. In addition to writing the archdiocese, I wrote to Ciaruffoli himself, but didn't receive a response from him, either.

    So for the archdiocese to say that I am 'not interested in presenting information in any useful way,' is not only disingenuous, it makes them guilty of the very things they accuse me of. This could very easily have been discussed before publication, and if there was any reasonable explanation to be given, I would have been willing to even kill the story. But instead, they chose to ignore me and the concerns I sent them for whatever reason.
Interestingly, Archbishop Chaput recently wrote a (somewhat) veiled public response to Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago regarding abortion in general and the Planned Parenthood scandal in particular.

Archbishop Cupich had written:
    While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
Archbishop Chaput subsequently wrote:
    Here's a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There's a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence.

    The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that....

    A case is sometimes made that abortion is mainly a cultural and moral issue, and politics is a poor solution to the problem. The curious thing is that some of the same voices that argue against political action on the abortion issue seem quite comfortable urging vigorous political engagement on issues like health care, homelessness and the environment.
© 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's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., 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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