WAKE UP! An American Archbishop stands up in the public square


As I posted elsewhere, the USCCB is working to mobilize some 19,000 parishes nationwide to voice concerns about health care reform and potential funding of abortion or exclusion of conscience clauses.

The USCCB has developed materials for parish bulletins, including a bulletin insert, asking that all parishes distribute them.

To this end, His Excellency Most Rev. John Nienstedt has sent this memo to parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Here is the meat of the PDF the Archbishop sent out:

The USCCB is asking for our special help in activating our Catholic people.

I support this request with an appeal that you activate the people of your parish in the following ways:

  • Encourage parish-wide distribution of the enclosed "Bulletin Insert," which assists parishioners in sending a message to Congress.
  • The Bulletin Insert should be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.
  • Congressional votes may take place as soon as early November.
  • Direct people to the USCCB health care reform website for updates, additional tools and resources (www.usccb.org/healthcare).
  • And finally, please encourage the people of your parish to pray that Congress will act to insure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience.

I say that if 100 people from every parish in the USA called their Congressman, that would make a difference.

100 x 19,000

I say, don’t just pray… do something.

Folks… Catholics have been sleepy, complacent, for the very long time.  They have been so because their shepherds have been sleepy.


Wake up and act.

With a strong Catholic identity, act in the public square!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wanda says:

    We’ll have the bulletin inserts in our Parish bulletin this weekend. May God grant success to this wonderful effort by our Bishops. Go Bishops!

  2. Today, Bishop Thomas Doran (Rockford, Illinois) mandated immediate release of the parish handout for distribution in parish bulletins this weekend and next. Pulpit announcements accompanied, so, at least here in Rockford, we are going a full 100 percent to let the powers that be know our views. With a little bit of prayer and elbow grease, Capitol Hill will be hearing from a lot of people. May the politicians’ hearts be moved.

  3. It’s great to see some concrete leadership in action. There has been too little of this.

  4. TNCath says:

    Let’s pray that every bishop follows Archbishop Neinstedt’s lead on this one!

  5. Papabile says:

    Too little, too late.

    As a long time Hill staffer, here are a few facts:

    1. We always get tons of calls right before a bill is considered. Unfortunately, these no longer have much real impact, especially when it is known that it is an organized campaign.

    2. Unless Stupak gets 40 Democrats on a letter to Pelosi promising to take down the Rule, there will be no getting around a Rule that is virtually closed, allowing just a substitute and a Manager’s Amendment.

    3. The Republicans will not provide one vote for this bill, so it’s now entirely on the Blue Dog and Pro-Life Democrats.

    4. It does not help that John Carr, the Bishops’ main lobbyist, was saying as recently as two weeks ago that the people who opposed this bill were only conservative Republicans with no plan.

    5. The Bishops have no one to blame but themselves. They knew the President was being counterfactual when he said the bill would not fund abortions. And yet, they indicated they wanted to work with him, and they sat back and delayed organizing opposition. What fools! Everyone in this town knew the White House was uninvolved in the drafting of this bill.

    That’s it. I hope the Bishops enjoy a good glass of sherry when they get this shoved down their throats — because we all know that many (not all) of them actually want this bill to pass regardless of what it says on abortion.

  6. wanda says:

    Sour grapes alert!

  7. Papabile says:


    You can call it you want, but I am intimately familiar with how the House Rules Committee works at the direction of the Speaker. At this point in the legislative process, putting pressure on Members of Congress, outside of the ones who could affect the Rule outcome, will have ZERO effect. In fact, with many of them, it will only serve to create more bad will toward the Church.

    The House Rules Committee is called the “Speaker’s Committee” for a reason. It is weighted 9 to 4 in favor of the Majority party and virtually EVERY vote is a 9-4 vote. If you are in the Majority, your ability to be appointed to the Rules Committee is dependent on your willingness to be an arm of the Speaker.

    Now the Speaker does not want amendments on this bill and has been clear about that.

    Now, that leaves only one option, take down (vote down) the Rule. Those are virtually always party line votes, and they will be in this case.

    So, that leaves only one option. About forty Democrats will have to cross the aisle and vote down the Rule.

    In House parlance, we call that, “Spitting in the Speaker’s face.”

    It remains to be seen how many pro-life Dems are willing to do that.

    And, even if they got an amendment vote, it remains to be seen how many would support the bill on final passage if their amendment did not pass. Stupak has indicated he could.

  8. Fr Martin Fox says:


    Respectfully and with trepidation, I disagree.

    From my experience in politics, the pols know full well that an organized campaign is–if anything–more fearful than one that isn’t organized; because an organized campaign can be ginned up more than once. And that means voters who can be organized at election time.

    Now, it is very true that the politicians say they ignore postcards and telephone calls–but that’s not because they think so little of them; but rather, they say such things to discourage folks from taking part.

    I will resist the temptation to predict the outcome of this bill; however, this is thing is far from certain. And as usually happens, it will come down to the Senate. It sure looks to me as if the Democrats will not try to bust the filibuster, meaning they need 60 votes. Well, we know right now they don’t have it. Now, they will try to peel off one, two or three Republicans (watch Voinovich–he’s retiring); but they must hold every single of their own Democrats. Well, we know now that they don’t have all their own folks–and there are plenty wavering.

    The vote the other day on the Medicare “fix” was instructive–a bunch of “moderate” Democrats joined all 40 Republicans and voted it down. Those same Democrats are the ones in play on this thing. And the dynamics are very similar on that bill and this one–why vote that other one down in the first place, if you were going to pass this thing? Passing that other thing was an easier vote; and doing it, made the eventual health bill an easier vote as well. On the other hand–by refusing to fix the Medicare problem, they made the Health Care Bill a more difficult “yes” vote–the very reason that other bill was offered in the first place! In short, those Democrats who torpedoed that “fix” made it easier for themselves to vote against Obamacare when the time comes. Isn’t that curious?

    Bottom line, these pols know full well these votes may cost them their re-election; and whatever else they care about, they care about being re-elected. Now is the time to pour it on.

  9. Folks: I am not going to have this initiative run down here. How craven.

  10. Irenaeus says:

    Fr Z et al.,

    I have called and written and called and written about these issues for months. I’ve been, and will continue to be, active. That said…

    I don’t think Papabile is “running down the initiative” — unless he or she is a very, very clever operative. I don’t think so. I’m very interested in what he/she is saying, as well as the counter from Fr. Fox. In the meantime, I’m sure the rest of us will write and call, for it’s the right thing to do.

  11. Steve K. says:

    I don’t get it Papabile – what do you recommend? Situation looks bad, and if we try to lobby congressmen they might get antagonized, so don’t lobby and what? We’re off to kill the babies? Maybe next time they will be inclined to vote a little less towards infanticide? I just don’t see the good that comes out of doing nothing, despite whatever you raise.

    Their precious feelings be damned – if we don’t do anything, they will vote for the bill and then abortion is funded on our tax dollars. You and I will be paying for the murder of infants. Desperate action with little hope of success seems better counsel than doing nothing.

  12. frobuaidhe says:

    “Pray as if it all depended on God, work as if it all depended on you.”

  13. ray from mn says:

    Papabile: They knew the President was being counterfactual when he said the bill would not fund abortions.

    Wow! COUNTERFACTUALTalk about bureaucratese!

    Why are people so afraid to call people liars these days.

    Is it because there is too much lying going on? In advertising, in politics, in business, in families, in relationships.

    When is the last time you confessed to lying in the confessional. I couldn’t tell you for me. It would be many decades, I’m sure.

    That Senator from South Carolina was correct when he shouted out that the President is a liar and not one of his colleagues supported him. Talk about Senatorial courtesy!

  14. Scott W. says:

    Why are people so afraid to call people liars these days.

    I agree that “counterfactual” is too bureauspeak, but with “liar” one ought to have proof of malicious intent which is hard to come by sometimes. How about “false”, “dead wrong”, “error”, “baloney”, or even “bs”?

  15. Fr Martin Fox says:


    My advice is pour it on. Politicians live in a strange world–they are frequently surrounded by a cocoon of adulation–“how brilliant, Senator” “I couldn’t have said it better myself, Senator” “did you ever think about writing a book, Senator?”–yet their world can be punctured by less cheerful realities: such as old people mobbing your car as happened to Rep. Rostenkowski some years ago, and as happened at the town halls this summer.

    There is no question the staff frequently “protect” their bosses from the complaints and brewing troubles represented by constituent calls and letters. I saw it happen in one remarkable situation, when I worked in Washington, and poor Senator Dole was poorly served by his staff in that instance–but the message eventually got to him, and he was a bit taken aback, saying in effect, where did this come from?

    Now, in this instance, every member of Congress, House and Senate, makes a different calculus. Many House Democrats are rightly more concerned about a primary challenge than defeat next November, so they are tacking hard left. Others are worried about both, and they have the hardest task–to be able to say to the activists they did all they could for socialized medicine–and yet be able to tell November voters they did all they could to be reasonable.

    Papabile’s right, that the abortion language may not be stripped out of the House bill. And it’s also true some so-called prolife Dems will end up voting for it anyway–meaning we will see clearly just how prolife they actually are. While we must stop this, that will also be a very useful thing, will it not?

    Meanwhile, there are many, many other problems with this legislation–and I am less bothered by how the bishops handled this. I was just a little concerned that the advocates of this would decide to fix the abortion language, to make the prolifers go away–that would have made it more likely this thing would pass, bringing with it many other problems, many of which the bishops have identified too. As it happens, the pro-abortion forces were not going to allow that.

    While this legislation may get a floor vote in the House in the next week or so, I would not be surprised if that gets pushed back once again. Meanwhile, there is certainly going to be a filibuster in the Senate, and the question is, what will the Democratic leadership do to modify the legislation to get 60 votes. What can they do?

    I harbor a suspicion I haven’t said anywhere–and this is far from certain–that they are prepared to have their bill founder on a filibuster, so that when they go back to their hard-left constituent groups, they can blame it on the Republicans, plus those southern Democrats who aren’t real Democrats anyway. (Lieberman’s announcement that he will filibuster, followed by a statement that he’ll campaign for Republicans in 2010, plays into that beautifully doesn’t it?) That doesn’t mean they won’t come back for a lot less–but one thing they fear is that they’ll get shellacked by their allies on the left for failing to make the most of this golden opportunity; so they are playing this out so they can say, see, we went for the bill you wanted, and we couldn’t do it.

    Meanwhile, pour it on!

  16. markomalley says:


    Caution — probable sour grapes award follows:

    First of all, we have to recognize that we, as Catholics, have done this to ourselves. The politicians are merely an extension of our laziness in voting habits. Catholics have been the most reliable Democrat voting bloc since the days of Tammany Hall. And even since the 1980s, when abortion really became a major issue for the Church (in the wake of the court decision of the 70s), Catholics have reliably voted (D) — over 50% of us. We know that and the Democratic politicians know that as well.

    Politicians are, with few exceptions, interested in one thing: maintaining and increasing their power. In other words, they have a need to stay in office so that they can dispense their favors and increase their personal power, both among their peers and with their constituency. What they intend to do with that power may, in some cases, be supremely moral…in most cases, though, it will be utterly amoral. One thing most all politicians will not do though is to “fall on their swords” for a cause, no matter how right it is.

    The other thing to remember about politicians. They, as a whole, look down on the mere citizenry. One of them has actually expressed that he thinks we stink (think I’m joking, see here: http://tinyurl.com/yec8rgm ). This may not apply to all of them, but certainly most of them. You can safely assume that your Congressman / Congresswoman has that attitude, particularly if he or she has been in office for more than 10 years.

    So who do Congressweenies care about? People who can substantively help them maintain and / or grow their power. They care about their aides; they care about those who can contribute to their campaign coffers (in a significant way), and they care about people who organize large groups of people who can shift large-scale public attitudes, control the media and the media’s portrayal of the Congressweenie in question, and so on.

    Corrupt? Yup. But that is our system.

    Sorry about the above sour grapes, but that is the environment in which we are operating when we respond to the bishops’ request for action.

    When you call, if all you do is express your opposition to this bill, your representative’s staff will simply say “thank you, we’ll let ______ know,” check a box, take your e-mail (and start spamming you) and promptly forget about you. If 10,000,000 of us do that, they will do the same thing and the representative will simply vote the way he was going to in the beginning.

    Why? Because he knows you are either going to vote for him or not. And he knows you will forget about this by next November. (That’s why it is so important they get this through during 2009…so you have time to forget it by November, 2010). Why? Because you are sheeple. And you will do what you’re told. We need to convince them otherwise.

    So we need to take the gloves off. When we call, not only must we express our opposition, we need to, in no uncertain terms, let the member know that, not only will we vote for his/her opponent…we will actively campaign against him/her, we will disrupt his/her campaign rallies, we will write letters, we will talk to our neighbors and our fellow parishoners, we will picket his/her local offices in the district, we will eat generic mac-n-cheese three times a week and donate the money we save to his opponent’s campaign, we will knock on doors to expose the monster that is in office right now. We must convince them that we will commit “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” to making sure he/she is defeated if he votes for this bill. And NOTHING the member does before his next election will get us to change our minds on this. And WE WILL NOT FORGET before the next election.

    If each member’s staff gets one phone call like that, they will blow it off as a wacko. If they each get 10 phone calls like that, they might think it’s an interesting tactic and might pay a bit of attention. If they each get 100 phone calls like that, they will start to get worried, particularly if the calls are convincing enough. And if, God willing, they each get 1,000 phone calls like the above, they will begin to panic.

    However, if they are convinced that there is not a threat to their continued existence in office, the phone calls will be ineffectual, particularly after over a century of Catholics voting (D) as as bloc.

    Sour grapes? No, but it’s reality. It is too late in the game and the Congress is far too arrogant right now to respond to mere expressions of polite “disapproval.” Bottom line is that the gloves have to come off.

  17. ckdexterhaven says:

    For those of you saying that it’s too late, it doesn’t matter….Let me steal a line from the Democrats. “Do it for the children.” I’m a parent of 4 kids who are going to have children of their own someday. Don’t give up. Father Z is kindly asking us to do our part. Being a good citizen, and a good Catholic requires us to not despair. How hard is it to pick up the phone and call? The devil wants us to despair, he wants us to give up.

    Believe me, it’s hard for me to take the UCSSB seriously, and yes, there is a bit of disgust b/c they were awfully quiet during the 2008 election. I’m not doing this for the UCSSB, I’m doing it for my country, for my children. Think of what our founding fathers fought for, and all that they lost. John Adams had two sons who died intestate alcoholics in their early 20’s. Probably b/c their father wasn’t around when they were growing up. Our founding fathers lost friends, property and family members… all to give us this wonderful country. Surely you can honor their memory by picking up the phone and calling a Blue Dog Congressman.

  18. Jaybirdnbham says:

    What’s the Benedictine’s motto… Pray and work? Let’s keep this simple, and do what we can but pray even harder and trust God to do the real work.
    Don’t look at what the so-called ‘reality inside the Beltway’ may appear to be. Just look at what God can do instead. And God’s work is done in the eternal “now”, as you all already know, so what’s with this “it’s too little too late” business? :-)

  19. bookworm says:

    Even if the healthcare bill passes, it’s NOT too late … to vote out EVERY Congressman who votes for it next year, every Senator who votes for it that is up for election next year, and Obama himself in 2012. Remember, Catholics and evangelical Protestants disillusioned with the GOP were a big reason Obama won. Should the healthcare bill pass as is, the Democrats should lose every vote they gained in 2008, and then some.

    This issue, even more than Afghanistan or Iraq, ought to become Obama’s Vietnam, and generate enough opposition that he throws in the towel like LBJ did in ’68 and doesn’t bother running for a second term.

  20. Jayna says:

    The Archbishop (of Atlanta) sent out a memo as well as bulletin inserts and pulpit notes for every parish here. My pastor forwarded it on to me so that I could put it on our parish website. Here are the pertinent parts of the e-mail:

    “The debate and decisions on health care reform are at a critical juncture. Please give the accompanying materials urgent and high priority in your parish bulletin and distribution system, including your parish web site and email network if available and possible.

    The national legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Congress on health care reform does not meet the bishops’ principles and priorities that health care should protect life, protect the consciences of health care providers, not expand abortion with public funding or insurance mandates and provide access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants.”

    He goes on to urge parishes to tell their parishioners to contact their Congressional representatives, etc. It’s all on the front page of my parish’s website (thanks to me).

  21. ckdexterhaven says:

    If you don’t want to listen to the UCSSB, then for the love of Dean Wormer, please listen to the sage advice of Bluto Blutarsky. “Over? It’s not over until we say it’s over. Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

  22. Anthony OPL says:

    No wall of text from me, just this:

    Today is the Solemnity of All Saints. This is the feast of every creature in heaven. That’s a LOT of interceding souls (including angels). Please make the best possible use of this solemnity, and beg their intercession. If all the political grunt work comes to nothing, then only God can help us now.

    That said, do the political gruntwork anyway. And pray the Rosary.

  23. wanda says:

    I begin with an apology to Papabile – I am sorry for my snarky sg alert. But, our Shepherd’s have sounded a clarion call, it is our Catholic duty to hear, respond and take up arms. (Meaning phones, emails, letters and prayer.)

    We Catholics have sat too long on our ‘pews’ and waited and groused for ‘someone to do something’ – ‘Let the Bishops, Priests, somebody else do something’. This is for US, folks. We do not stop being Catholic when we walk out the doors of the Church. We take our Catholic identity with us, to our homes, our work-places and out to the public square.

    It is not too little too late. People have dedicated their lives to pro-life work, they’ve been in the trenches for years and fighting every day on the front lines. There is no stopping them. It’s time for us to use our voices and let them be heard. I personally am sick and tired of being told to keep quiet regarding issues of faith and religion.

    This genocide, targeted specifically at unborn babies, 50,000,000 and counting, must stop and will stop. The moral demise of a nation always preceeds the complete demise of a nation. (Someone a lot smarter than me said that.)

    The Bishop’s bulletin inserts are in the bulletins this weekend. May God grant us the courage to speak up for the most innocent and vulnerable of all His children, babies in their Mother’s womb. Church Militant – you’ve got your marching orders. God bless our Bishops.

  24. wanda says:

    I humbly commend the following Prayer, by Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life.

    Prayer for Our Nation’s Health Care Reform

    Lord Jesus, you are the Divine Physician
    And the source of all life and health.

    Guide our nation at this critical moment.
    As our governmant seeks health care reforms.

    Give our elected officials the humility to know
    That they are servants, not masters.
    Give them the wisdom to realize
    That every life has equal value.
    Give them the strength to resist the idea
    That some lives can be sacrificed to save others
    Or that killing the unborn is a part of health care.

    Give your people the courage to speak up
    And to hold public officials accountable for their actions.

    Save us, Lord Jesus from a culture of death,
    And let every reform in our public policy
    Be based on the reform of our hearts and minds
    In the light of your Gospel.
    For you are Lord forever and ever. Amen.

  25. Supertradmom says:

    Fast, pray, call, send letters, drive to your congressman’s office if close by. The elected officials do pay attention to contacts. E-mails are the least important, personal visits the most important.

    God bless the bishops, and God bless America. We were asleep at Roe v. Wade. Now it is time to wake up and “be counted:.

    Thank you, Father Z, for posting this.

  26. lome says:

    There is no honor with a Socialist, communist and Atheist.
    They don’t believe in Hell! Thus giving them a license to do as they please with out so much thought about ultimate Judgment after death!
    Because of that reasons alone, they became very adept in lying in your face, cunning, astute, calculating all to their advantages.
    They don’t understand these so-called lukewarm Christian public servants,
    Whose lights are dim due to lack of prayers and communion with their God? To an Atheist, they don’t see anything else really.
    So called Salt that is good for nothing?

    But thanks God for Godly leaders. Every time people started praying
    This happens. A “Gideon” A “Moses” will show up?

  27. vincentuher says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for giving this such prominence on your blog. We must pray for the bishops who are standing up and especially for the good Archbishop and his efforts.

    I hope the Knights of Columbus will be activated throughout the USA to stand up against this bill. It seems to me the only genuine hope is if Catholics in huge numbers let there Democrat officials know that they will entirely lose the Catholic vote in the next election if this disaster of a bill is passed by Congress.

    I suspect that the only effective means of causing the Catholic members of Congress to tow the line is to excommunicate them if they reject the Gospel of Life and its legal implications.

  28. Agnes says:

    Never too late to make an opinion known. The action form linked to in the pdf makes it easy to send the message. I posted it to my FB page. Whether or not it’s too late to be effective, I don’t know. But how can we not make ourselves heard?

  29. Gail F says:

    Papabile: I am willing to listen to you; you seem to know what you’re talking about. I am not clear at all on what people are talking about when they mention this “Rule,” what does that mean??? Thanks.

  30. Jacob says:

    From Wikipedia with my bolding:

    A rule is a simple resolution of the House of Representatives, usually reported by the Committee on Rules, to permit the immediate consideration of a legislative measure, notwithstanding the usual order of business, and to prescribe conditions for its debate and amendment.[1]

  31. Even if mere human logic says that there is no point, don’t give into any despairing temptations. Pray and always fight for life.

  32. isabella says:

    To whoever it was that said that our Congressmen want something in return (huge paraphrase), before they decide how to vote.

    The last time I called, I not only got into a long conversation with the aide, I admitted that although I was a constituent, I had voted D in the last election. If he voted pro-life, I would register as a R, send him a copy of my card, and contribute time and money to his next campaign. He was actually willing to talk for a while, not just “thank you for your support, have a nice day”. I got the impression the Congressman was going to vote pro-life anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to let them know what will make me happy. The only election I’ve ever missed is one when I was still recovering from an accident, and I worked that into the conversation too.

    When I admitted that I wished I could undo it and vote again, he said he is hearing that from a LOT of people. It’s like the state had something in the water on election night. So . . . FWIW. They DO keep track of who is for them and against them. and why.

  33. Kimberly says:

    Thank you Fr. Marie-Paul (love your name). May the Holy Souls in Purgatory pray for an end to abortion.

  34. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    What can those of us who live in staunchly pro-life districts do? It’s not as if my Representative will go insane and vote for something he’s opposed for the last two decades…

  35. isabella says:


    If you want to write the other guys, maybe you can appeal to any future political ambitions they may have, like state governor? Or national? Cabinet level posts? Do you know any registered voters in their district, even casually, you can say you’ve discussed this issue with frequently? Just don’t lie.

    Heck, write to Pelosi and tell her that at one time, you had been intrigued with the idea of seeing her in higher office, but fear you may have misunderstood her position on abortion — could she please tell you what she really thinks because you want to understand her from the heart, not the newspapers? I doubt she’ll answer, but it will keep a staffer busy for a while. God could soften her heart too.

    And you wouldn’t even be lying like you would if you “hoped” to see her in higher office; even a train wreck can be “intriguing”, although Heaven forbid I ever see one.

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