Exploring Human Potential

Catholic Leaders – Can We All Agree On This?

Posted on | October 22, 2020 | 1 Comment

Mike Magee

My college roomate wrote me yesterday. We graduated from LeMoyne College, a Jesuit run institution in Syracuse, NY in 1969. Our four years together during the height of the Vietnam war were consumed with issues of social justice led by LeMoyne faculty including Daniel Berrigan, S.J.. 

My roomate wrote, “It breaks my heart to keep hearing about the hundreds of children being kept in cages by our government. And now we are informed that there are more than 500 who can’t be returned to their parents because the government did not keep good records. So what can we do?”

This issue is especially disturbing as our Presidential election arrives with a Catholic candidate on the ballot, and the assured Supreme Court confirmation of conservative Catholic Amy Conan Barrett just days away.

Last month, NPR’s Labor and Education reporter Tom Gjelten wrote: “If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed as the new Supreme Court justice, she will be one of six Catholics on the bench. She would be joined by an Episcopalian who was raised as a Catholic. and two Jewish justices…Never before has the Court been so dominated by one religious denomination…Whether such a concern will be discussed, however, is another matter entirely… Not all Catholic justices think alike. Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas, both Catholic, are ideological opposites.”

Jesuit senior analyst for Religion News Services, Thomas Reese, S.J., noted at the time that “Catholics tend to pick and choose which parts of Catholic teaching have an impact on their political views.” And this is true. But on some things, we should all agree – including the protection of children.

For health professionals, committed to healing, providing health, and keeping families and communities whole, the many actions of President Trump are deeply offensive on multiple levels – but none more than the deliberate separation of immigrant children from their parents. 

Chicago’s Catholic Bishop Cardinal Bernardin addressed a gathering of AMA members shortly before he died in 1996 and made the case that health was integral to human potential and that doctors and nurses and all health professionals played a pivotal role in assuring the survival of a caring society.

Bernardin’s guiding philosophy was a “consistent ethic of life.” In addressing health leaders, he said, “To defend human life is to protect the human person … the core reality in Catholic moral thought…Attitude is the place to root an ethic of life…We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fiber of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibility.”

The images of children, forcibly separated from their desperate parents, would have been unthinkable to the Cardinal as he approached his death in Chicago two decades ago. “The dignity and value of human persons is a basic value …. [L]et it be said that the energizing vision of healthcare must be this commitment to the dignity of human persons.” Those were his words then.

“How will each of us bear witness now?” That is what my roomate was asking this week. His suggestion was to use the agency of Catholic churches in the Americas to identify parents of these children and then connect them to the 500 plus children that Trump kidnapped from their parents.

“ I have written to the Pope and asked him to have the churches in Latin America ask that any person whose child is being held here contact the church and then they can send the info to American bishops who can then get the information to the many volunteer lawyers who are trying to get these kids back home. If you think this is a viable idea please join me and send his Holiness a message.”

Pope Francis has no personal email address but does have a Twitter account @Pontifex. You can also write him a letter today at:

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Saint Martha House
00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

In both cases, be sure to have the correct postage.



One Response to “Catholic Leaders – Can We All Agree On This?”

  1. Mike Magee
    October 22nd, 2020 @ 12:29 pm

    A subscriber writes:
    Pope Francis may not have an email account but he does have a twtiter handle – @Pontifex


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