Tag Archives: Diocese of Spokane

(Full Text) Bishop Cupich: Clarification of diocesan position

From the Catholic Diocese of Spokane…

Bishop Cupich: Questions about involvement in the 40 Days for Life Program
September 16, 2011

During his first visit with the Respect Life Committee of the Diocese of Spokane Bishop Cupich expressed his gratitude for the commitment of the members. He also shared with them his plan to place emphasis on education. Surveys show that Catholics by and large mirror the general population when it comes to attitudes and decisions made about life issues. The present political environment has become very toxic and polarizing, to the point that people have become fixed in their positions, especially in regard to abortion, and are unwilling to talk to each other. The pastoral challenge is to get people to take a second look at the issue of abortion.

It was on the occasion of his visit with the committee that the prospect of having the 40 Days for Life operate in the Diocese of Spokane this year arose. He expressed admiration for the many lay men and women dedicated to keeping the protection of the unborn a priority in society. While the 40 Days for Life program is not a Catholic initiative nor endorsed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he concluded that participation in it and in vigils by individuals or associations of Catholics was possible. At the same time, he indicated that he would not consider it under the umbrella of the respect life efforts of the Diocese. The Catholic Church is concerned about a broad range of respect life issues and has a pastoral tradition which shapes its approach. It is critical that we rely on programs initiated by the Church, lest our concerns and our pastoral approach be defined too narrowly. The committee expressed support for this approach and their eagerness to work with the Bishop towards the goals he outlined.

When visiting with the presbyterate, the Bishop asked the priests to approach respect life issues as teachers, for that is what they are. Teachers create new openings for learning and reduce obstacles. Their intense passion to share the truth leads them to greater patience and prudence and not frustration with and disdain for students who fail to respond appropriately. Their witness to the faith through teaching becomes all the more powerful when the presbyterate works together in unity and solidarity.

It is also important, the Bishop noted, to keep in mind that oftentimes decisions about abortions are not made primarily in clinics. Such decisions are made around kitchen tables and in living rooms and they frequently involve a sister, daughter, relative or friend who may have been pressured or abandoned by the man who fathered the child. Attitudes too are formed in homes and families. This would seem to suggest, the Bishop told the priests, “that our primary efforts as teachers need to be focused on our families and our parish communities, always demonstrating solidarity with vulnerable women.”

As for the specific question of the priests’ participation in the 40 Days for Life vigils, the Bishop recognizes that a given priest in good conscience may feel the need to participate in the vigils and he should never be forced to go against a good and informed conscience. The Bishop only asked that all priests prayerfully reflect on what he has told them, commit themselves to making teaching effectively their first priority and keep in mind the irreplaceable power of the witness of their unity with each other.

Questions about limiting respect life and other materials dealing with social policy issues to publications of the diocesan bishop, USCCB and the WSCC

When the three diocesan bishops, all of whom are new to their dioceses in Washington State, met to review policies of the WSCC, they were asked if they wanted to reaffirm the policy of limiting distribution of respect life and other materials dealing with social policy issues to those published “by the diocesan bishop, the Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB.” This policy has been in force for at least 20 years. The bishops decided to continue this policy.

‘Say it ain’t so…Blase!’ Spokane Bishop Cupich restricts priests and seminarians from pro-life activities

If only he was as welcoming to the pro-life cause...

Shades of El Paso with this story…

Hard to imagine why any Catholic Bishop would restrict pro-life activities within his diocese, but that appears to be exactly what’s happening with Bishop Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Spokane. Mark Shea received the following from a reader on his blog…

A reader writes:

Dear Friends,

We recently learned about a troubling decision regarding pro-life activities by our bishop, His Excellency Blase Cupich of the Diocese of Spokane.

I am emailing you because you are a parishioner in the diocese, or have a connection to the diocese, or you have the ability to make public this regrettable decision.

Bishop Cupich has informed all of his priests and seminarians that they cannot:

– pray outside of Planned Parenthood

– promote or organize peaceful protest outside Planned Parenthood in their parishes (naming 40 Days for Life specifically)

– or allow pro-life material to be distributed in their parishes unless it is published by the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops or the USCCB–who, ironically, support 40 DFL.

This information came to us directly from multiple Spokane priests. We were also told by these priests that Bishop Cupich identifies himself as pro-life, but disagrees with the “tactic” of praying outside of abortion clinics. The reason he gave for his decision is that he does not want his priests being identified with “extreme” pro-life persons.

We know you all understand the great concern that comes when a bishop is 1) not overtly supportive of pro-life activities and 2) will not allow his priests to fight for the pro-life cause by praying and giving witness to the sanctity of human life outside of Planned Parenthood.

My wife and I have written a letter that we will be sending to the bishop tomorrow and have copied the text below. I am asking that you also do what you can to help him change his mind, especially since we begin the fall campaign of 40 Days for Life in a few weeks.

Let us all pray for Bishop Cupich that he has a conversion of heart on this issue.

May God bless each of you as you fight for life!

****

Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich

Diocese Of Spokane

1023 W. Riverside Avenue

Spokane, WA 99210

Your Excellency:

We have recently learned of facts that are highly disturbing to us. We are seeking clarification from your office.

We have been told that you have forbidden priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Spokane from praying in front of Planned Parenthood, participating in 40 Days for Life, organizing peaceful protest outside of Planned Parenthood (either as a part of 40 Days for Life or otherwise), and endorsing/allowing communication of pro-life activities involving the above two methods in a parish.

We also learned that no pro-life literature may be distributed in a parish except for those produced by the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops or by the USCCB. A few months ago, we learned that you declined to endorse 40 Days for Life—something Bishop Skylstad, your predecessor, did indeed endorse. Even the USCCB supports and promotes this organization.

We were concerned, but hoped you had a good reason for your decision, and that it might be a misunderstanding. With this new information, we find it hard to believe it is a misunderstanding.

As members of the Diocese of Spokane, we do not understand why our bishop, the man entrusted by the Church and by Christ to lead the flock, would not allow a peaceful protest of the destruction of human lives. The pro-life issue, which has been championed and endorsed by Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the USCCB, is the most important of our age.

In the last 38 years, since abortion became legal in the United States, over 50 million children have been lost (that we know of) through the horror of abortion. While we are hoping that your denial of priests to pray for the unborn outside of the very place where children are murdered is a matter of disagreement on tactics, it seems as though you do not support the movement at all; again, we hope that is not true.

However, we do not understand how a bishop could not endorse praying the rosary, Our Lady’s prayer, for the sake of the unborn, their mothers and fathers and the workers, at the very scene of their deaths. Prayer and peaceful witness are the only ways that we will win the battle of converting hearts to believe in the sanctity of every human life. If what we heard is true, telling priests not to pray outside of abortion clinics would be equivalent to telling a priest in Germany or Poland that they should not pray outside of Death Camps. The same tragedy that happened in Germany is happening in our country today, but too many people are standing by without defending the unborn.

We need our priests and our bishops, our spiritual leaders, to take on the cause of defending the unborn! We need our priests and bishops to unabashedly proclaim the sanctity of human life! We need our priests and bishops to witness to the women who are going into a clinic and are in need of a friendly face! If they don’t lead the people of God, how will we win this battle for the lives of the unborn? How do we tell the world that the Catholic Church is the most pro-life faith when our bishops are not willing to sacrifice for the life of a baby?

We are not necessarily asking you to pray outside of Planned Parenthood or be the leader of 40 Days for Life, although we wish you would desire to do so.

But we are asking you to clarify why you would not allow your priests and seminarians to take part in this essential part of the pro-life movement. We are also asking you to publicly endorse 40 Days for Life, an important part of our witness in this diocese each year.

It saddens us that our new bishop is not overtly pro-life, let alone that he will not allow his priests and seminarians to express their own pro-life convictions.

Know that we will pray for you as the shepherd of our diocese. However, if this decision remains in effect, we will not be able to support you financially. We will be rescinding our 2011 pledge to the Annual Catholic Appeal, additionally.

It is essential that the Catholic Church be the beacon of hope in this time where our society finds it acceptable to murder innocent human life by the millions each year.

May God bless you in your ministry and give you wisdom as you lead our diocese.