The great bishop of Baker, Oregon, His Excellency Most Rev. Robert Vasa, speaks again in The Catholic Sentinel.
We have written of Bp. Vasa before in these cyber-pages, here (about overcoming his own fear of speaking out) and here (on Sen. Biden and Speaker Pelosi).
My emphases and comments.
Those who profess to love God, but back abortion, are liars
By Bishop Robert Vasa
BEND — The Mass readings for the week between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are taken from the First Letter of St. John. These readings are not always used for it often happens, depending upon the day on which Christmas falls, that the season of ordinary time begins immediately after the celebration of Epiphany. This year, however, the occurrence of Christmas allowed for a full week between these two post-Christmas celebrations and thus the readings from St. John’s first letter. As often happens, the daily Mass readings are both appealing and challenging. The reading of Thursday from I John 4:19ff is particularly appropriate in this year when the life issues are very much on the minds of pro-life persons.
The reason for the increased awareness and even concern on the part of the pro-life community is the specter of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which is highly rumored to be in the works at the federal level. It is this act which has stimulated the bishops of the United States to launch a massive postcard campaign calling upon the House and Senate to abandon FOCA. While further details about the dramatic impact of FOCA on our American culture can be found in many places, I will simply say that it would establish abortion as a federally protected right and, as I understand it, preclude state limitation or regulation of abortion. Further, since abortion would be a federally protected right, it is very possible that even Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Physicians would be mandated to provide this heinous service.
Thus I strongly urge all who have a glimmer of concern for the lives of pre-born children to engage themselves in this postcard campaign. This is not an action which would limit or alter present permissive abortion laws, which some so-called Catholic pro-choice persons might object to, it would simply preclude a dramatic expansion of that permissiveness. [It aims at stopping FOCA. That’s a good enough reason for such a campaign.] Thus it would be very difficult for any Catholic, no matter how much in favor of abortion itself, to find a reason to refuse to participate in this campaign. [Oh? Look at this priest’s reaction to the post-card campaign] At the same time, I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith. [Excellent.] It would be imperative that the faith consequences of such a declaration be allowed to fall fully on the heads of those who would make it. [Kmiec will now say that Bp. Vasa has been influenced by the vast right-wing conspiracy of vemon spitting bloggers who are trying to destroy relations between the Obama administration and the Holy See.]
The writing from St. John applies: “Beloved, we love God because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from Him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
We of the Catholic faith certainly know that love of God is central to our tenets, this is the appealing part. It is hard to imagine a Catholic saying, “I am a Catholic in good standing but I do not love God.” But the inspired scriptures tell us that whoever does not love his brother or neighbor does not and, indeed, cannot love God. This is the challenging part. The people of Jesus’ day understood this and it was this understanding that prompted them to ask, “And who is my neighbor?” For all of us, and especially for Catholic legislators in every strata of government, it is necessary to declare, in conformity with the Natural Law and the teaching of the Catholic Church that, the pre-born child is our brother, our sister, our neighbor!
It may sound a little strong to state that legislators “hate” the pre-born child but hate is an absence of love and love means to wish another well. There is nothing about abortion that wishes the pre-born child well. [Some, however, argue that it is better for the child not to be born than to be born into some kind of hardship. The solution there is not to kill the child, but to love him after birth.] The preservation of abortion “rights” is already an absence of love for the pre-born child but the passage of FOCA could be construed as nothing less than active and positive disregard, even hatred, for these our brothers and sisters. To paraphrase St. John, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but votes for FOCA, thus showing a disregard for his pre-born brother or sister, he is a liar.” Lots of things can be rationalized in government but I do not see any way in which any Catholic could rationalize or justify an affirmative vote for FOCA.
It is not necessary for your postcards to be as outspoken as this bishop but you do have an obligation to participate in this concerted effort to show love for the tiniest and most defenseless of our brothers and sisters. President-elect Obama made it very clear, prior to the election, that he would happily sign FOCA and the millions of Catholics who voted for him hopefully did so for reasons other than this promise and certainly not because of it. [Troubling.] It seems to me that it is particularly incumbent upon these same voters to make it clearly known to their representatives that their vote may not in any way be taken as a sign of support for FOCA. [Good point.]
Another way in which we show our affirmative love for our pre-born brothers and sisters is by way of our annual memorial on Jan. 22. This year the Diocesan Office of Pro-life Activities has scheduled a rosary and Mass at St. Joseph’s in Prineville on Thursday evening, Jan. 22. The rosary will commence at 6:30 p.m. with Mass beginning at 7 p.m. While I recognize that many parishes host similar memorial Masses to pray for the two-fold victims of abortion, the child and the mother, [and not only them] I invite any who can to join me at the rosary and Mass at St. Joseph’s in Prineville.
Regardless of how many years have passed since the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision and regardless of how prevalent and routine abortion has become in this country, the simple truth remains, it is an act of extreme violence to the pre-born child and to the distressed mother. Thus, if anyone says, “I love God” and still favors abortion, he is, to quote St. John, a liar. May we all live out faithfully what it means to love God.
Huge WDTPRS kudos to Bp. Vasa!
Thank you Bishop Vasa!
May God bless you. And may Hearts and Minds be changed to mirror the loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
I wish he was my bishop. But no, I get stuck with Bishop Just-Call-Me-Keiran Conry advising me against frequent confession and telling me Catholic teaching on contraception might be wrong!
God bless Bishop Vasa!
We need this man as Bishop Clark’s successor in the Diocese of Rochester NY.
“Kmiec will now say that Bp. Vasa has been influenced by the vast right-wing conspiracy of vemon spitting bloggers who are trying to destroy relations between the Obama administration and the Holy See.”
LOL, Brilliant line…God Bless Bp. Vasa!
Thank — literally! — God for bishops who know their bishing.
I agree with you. I would like the successor in our archdiocese here in the State of Washington to have the same sound Catholic Courage in defending our True Catholic Teachings (PUBLICLY). (Lord says in Scripture ” If you deny me before Man, I will deny you before my Father who is in Heaven!”
Enough with wishy-washy Catholic Church Hierarchy who sometimes COMPROMISE their faith for the sake of social services and government grants!!!!! GOD HELP THESE SHEPHERDS. IF they do compromise their faith and souls end up in Hell, then they will definitely be accountable when they face the DIVINE SEAT OF JUSTICE!!!! PRAY FOR OUR SHEPHERDS….. THEY ARE TRULY ENTICED AND SEDUCED BY WORLDLY GOODS, POWER and HONOR!!!….. which unfortunate will still belong to this earth and can not be taken with you in the next life. Lord have mercy on us all!
[Please don’t SHOUT on my blog. Thanks.]
We’ll keep him in the Diocese of Baker Oregon for now, thank you
I have witnessed Bishop Vasa, who is the Episcopal Advisor of The Catholic Medical Association, speak out strongly for Life at our National Conferences. He has renewed my, sometimes, flagging confidence in our Episcopal leadership in the fight against “The Culture of Death”.
Dr. Mel-South Carolina
What a blessing to have a man like this as your sheperd. The current bishop of Fresno, Ca. would never in his life say something like this. Please Holy Father send more men like this as bishops to California, as we suffer with the current crew.
Now if we could only get him to acknowledge that the Extraordinary Form is for more than just the very old as he said a year and a half ago. [Rabbit hole. That is not the topic of this entry.]
Other than that, His Excellency has displayed a lot of bravery!
To Tom in Columbus,
Bishop Vasa is a humble man…..give him a little time, and lots of prayers.
Brick by brick.
If Catholic bishops cannot be seen instructing Sen. Biden and House Speaker Pelosi after their glaring and public errors, how can those bishops instruct me?
Just asking, that’s all.
To paraphrase St. John, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but votes for FOCA, thus showing a disregard for his pre-born brother or sister, he is a liar.” Bp. Vasa
“The current resurgence of anti-Catholicism in the media and in many classrooms is based, I would argue, not so much on old myths as on protecting fake rights. Those who want to claim that we should have the right to kill an unwanted unborn child or who want to have the right to change the nature of marriage itself or who claim a right to kill those who say they want to die find their primary obstacle in the teaching of the Catholic Church about human life as a gift from God, to be respected at all stages of its development. The church can therefore expect to be attacked in order to weaken her moral influence.” Cardinal George
Full text http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2009/0104/cardinal.aspx
Per these two excepts and others, I am really struck at how blunt the language of the bishops is getting…gone is the nuance; away with wordsmithery. Our bishops are climbing into the ring and appear ready for battle. It’s amazing.
Tonight at Mass we were instructed that January 22nd is a day of penance. I wonder if anyone else has heard this in their parish.
It seems that the Church’s leadership is extremely busy these days just keeping its own in check. It seems that preaching the Gospel to the world may have taken backseat to our own internal problems. I’m sure ol’ Stan is just laughing it up.
Still, it’s great to see some bishops still holding forth with Apostolic zeal. Pray for them – & our priests – every day.
From the USCCB Website:
“In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” (no. 22 of the “Masses for Various Needs”) should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.”
General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373
Please God call this bishop back home to us in Nebraska as the next archbishop here in Omaha!!
“if anyone says, “I love God” and still favors abortion, he is, to quote St. John, a liar”
God bless, Bishop Vasa!
This, of course, would include favouring any abortion even for babies conceived in rape, incest, and danger of the mother’s life. Too often, Catholics/Christians say “I love God and I’m pro-life except in cases of rape, incest, and the danger of the mother’s life”. Bishop Vasa would say they are “a liar”.
Please remind other Catholics/Christians that these exceptions for abortion are immoral and not in accord with the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life. Recently, I’ve spoken with a few of Roman Catholic seminarians (at different seminaries) who believed that these exceptions were moral and permissable by the Church; no one has ever told them otherwise and they hear so many professed Catholic and Christian leaders stating these exceptions publicly.
I pray that more Catholics/Christians will truly love God and love the lives of all of His children, born and unborn.
I think the key point is this one:
I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith.
I hope the bishops will come together on a unified understanding like this. Let someone try to say that voting for FOCA is not formal cooperation in evil; the fact is, such a vote, given what an absolute horror FOCA is, would definitely involve the legislator in the gravest form of proximate, indispensable material cooperation in evil, contrary to explicit duty. The bishops could and should indeed make it clear that a vote in favor is tantamount to a public declaration of abandonment of the Catholic faith, as Bp. Vasa states.
It certainly cannot pass without the votes of Catholics in Congress. I suspect President Obama will want it put on the back burner for a year or more, while he tackles our economic problems. This gives our bishops time to privately counsel those Catholic legislators as to what the consequences will be if they fail this momentous test.
People may be interested to read Bishop Vasa’s, Giving Testimony to Truth: A Pastoral Letter for Diocesan Lay Ministers (PDF) written in 2004. It requires lay people who do anything at all, even cantering, to sign a statement of fidelity to Church teaching. And, he outlines in his document those prickly teachings that people often dissent on and says if they cannot accept these, they should step down and pray on it.
Give him time and pray for him. He’s already shown himself willing to defend unpopular positions including those that would make him look unsophisticated in the eyes of the “intellectuals.”
Thank God. We have a Cathlic bishop! Little Dougy Kmiec should be afraid, very afraid because one day, a bishop like Bishop Vasa, will publicly call him out by name, and his little ruse will be over. And he will forced to abjure or join another “church” where you can believe and say anything and still be a member in good standing. Tom
I just became aware of a multi-state lawsuit challenging the recently inacted federal conscience rule for healthcare providers:
This is being spearheaded by Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal. The other states participating in it are: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Perhaps as part of our spiritual acitivities this Thursday, folks would considering writing to the attorneys general of these states-particularly their own- to express support for the conscience rule and copying their bishop on their letter.
Fr Z comments, “Some, however, argue that it is better for the child not to be born than to be born into some kind of hardship.” Those who would make such an argument might want to see this video from Catholic Vote (via Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog): http://deacbench.blogspot.com/2009/01/someone-needs-to-show-this-to-obama-now.html (it can also be found at http://www.catholicvote.com/ – right on the homepage, at least as of this writing).
Obviously, President-elect Obama’s mother was thinking the same way as Fr. Z – and as we all should: “The solution there is not to kill the child, but to love him after birth.”
Bishop Vasa is awesome!
Wish we could get him in Syracuse, NY!