The two Americas

By the dawn’s early light on Nov. 5, two distinct Americas hove into view. The two Americas are not defined by conventional economic, ethnic or religious categories; it’s not rich America vs. poor America, black America vs. white America, or Catholic America vs. Protestant America. No, what this year’s election cycle clarified decisively is that the great public fissure in these United States is between the culture of life and the culture of death.

In 1995, when Pope John Paul II introduced the phrase “culture of death” in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), more than a few commentators coughed politely and tried to suggest, if gently, that this terminology was a bit over-the-top—too dramatic, too confrontational, incapable of being heard by those it was intended to persuade. Thirteen years later, it is obvious that the critics were wrong and John Paul the Great was right. The Pope saw more clearly into the future, thanks to his insight into the forces at work beneath the surface of the present. Now those forces are plainly in view, and the results are clear for all with eyes to see:

The people of the United States have elected the most radically pro-abortion presidential candidate in American history, and by the largest popular vote percentage garnered by a Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson.

The people of the State of Washington have adopted, in a landslide, an act permitting the euthanizing of the sick, elderly and burdensome under the Orwellian rubrics of “death with dignity” and “physician-assisted suicide.”

The people of California have exercised their sovereign will to prevent the parents of minors from being notified if their daughter intends to have an abortion—although you may be quite certain that said parents would be consulted before said minor’s school nurse administered an aspirin tablet.

And the people of Michigan have decided to authorize a wholesale slaughter of human embryos for research purposes—at precisely the moment that embryonic stem-cell research has lost much of its scientific luster, thanks to developments in the reprogramming of adult stem cells.

Culture of death, indeed.

What is to be done?

The first order of business at the national level is to prevent the new Congress from passing the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), an explicit attempt to destroy every state-based pro-life legal achievement of the past three decades. If prevention is impossible and FOCA is enacted, then it must be vigorously challenged in the federal courts. The stakes are very, very high: in addition to facilitating a greater slaughter of the innocents, FOCA, by eliminating state conscience-clause protections for pro-life health care professionals, would create a situation in which the Catholic health care system as we know it would cease to exist, within a decade at most.

Then we come to adult catechesis. This year, the pro-abortion candidate carried every state in what Maggie Gallagher calls the “Decadent Catholic Corridor”—the Northeast and the older parts of the Midwest. Too many Catholics there are still voting the way their grandparents did, and because that’s what their grandparents did. This tribal voting has been described by some bishops as immoral; it is certainly stupid, and it must be challenged by adult education. That includes effective use of the pulpit to unsettle settled patterns of mindlessness. This year, a gratifying number of bishops began to accept the responsibilities of their teaching office; so, now, must parish pastors.

We need more persuasive ideas and language in the fight against euthanasia. Yes, the good guys were outspent in Washington State by orders of magnitude—and that should cause serious examinations of conscience among Catholic philanthropies and individuals of means. But, as in the debate over embryo-destructive stem-cell research, the culture of life has yet to develop a language that trumps the invocation of “compassion” when that’s misused by the culture of death.

And we need prayer—lots of it. Some demons require special powers to exorcize. As of Nov. 5, it is clear that certain of them have taken up residence in the United States of America.

COMING UP: Colorado bishops issue letter on the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life Congressional policies

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We, the Catholic bishops of Colorado, urge Congressional Representatives to support the Hyde Amendment and the Walden Amendment. We also ask the Faithful to sign The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) petition to lawmakers encouraging them to preserve the Hyde Amendment, which can be accessed at: NoTaxpayerAbortion.com, and to contact their Congressmen and women to support the Hyde and Walden amendments.

The House Appropriations Labor and Health and Human Services subcommittee recently passed a spending bill that strips protections for pre-born children, healthcare providers,and American taxpayers by excluding pro-life provisions, including the Hyde and Weldon amendments.

The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortion in most cases, except for rape and incest, has received bipartisan support since its inception in 1976 – including by pro-abortion administrations. Hyde is critical in saving lives. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that approximately 60,000 pre-born babies are saved every year because of the Hyde Amendment.[1] This is the first time in 40 years that the Hyde Amendment was not included in the annual appropriations bill[2] and failure to include pro-life amendments will only further increase divisions in our country.

The Weldon Amendment prevents any federal programs, agencies, and state and local governments from discriminating against health care practitioners and institutions that do not provide abortion services. It ensures that pro-life individuals and organizations can enter the health care profession without fearing that the government will force them to perform a procedure that violates their well-founded convictions. It has also received bipartisan support and was added to the appropriations bill every year since it was first enacted in 2005. [3]

Congress’ recent actions endanger the lives of pre-born children and infringe on the rights of millions of Americans who do not wish to participate in the moral evil of abortion. A recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 58 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions[4] and a 2019 Gallup poll shows that 60 percent of Americans think abortion should either be illegal or only legal in a few circumstances.[5]

The government should neither use taxpayer funds for the killing of pre-born children nor compel medical practitioners and institutions to violate their well-founded convictions. Congress must uphold these long-standing, common-sense bipartisan policies that promote a culture of life in our nation.

Human reason and science affirm that human life begins at conception. The Church objects to abortion on the moral principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with respect due to every human person. There has never been and never will be a legitimate need to abort a baby in the womb.

It is critical that Congress continue its long-history of supporting policies such as the Hyde and Walden amendments, and that all Colorado Catholics and people of good will make their voice heard in supporting these life-affirming policies.

Sign the petition to Congress here: www.NoTaxpayerAbortion.com

Contact your Congressional Representatives here: https://cocatholicconference.org/news/

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo

Most Reverend James R. Golka
Bishop of Colorado Springs

Most Reverend Jorge Rodriguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver