Bishop David Ricken’s Admonishing Letter to St. Norbert College

I Do Not Approve of Pro-Abortion Speaker Steinem

“How refreshing it would be if St. Norbert College were to decide to be a vibrant Catholic College that embraces the church and her teaching in its entirety, not just the social justice teachings?”

By Bishop David Ricken:  Several months ago, I received many letters, emails, calls and complaints about St. Norbert College’s invitation to Gloria Steinem to give a presentation on their campus. The reason for inviting her, I have been told by college leadership, is to assist them in the discussion of the history of the women’s movement, especially as it may be understood in the context of domestic violence. Domestic violence is becoming a huge problem and, according to research, is almost an epidemic in the United States.  I agree that domestic violence is an extremely important topic.

Bishop David L. Ricken

Many of you asked me if I knew of the invitation to Steinem or if I approved of the invitation. I want to let you know that not only did I not approve of such a decision, I did not know about it. As bishop, I have the responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity of the Catholic colleges in our diocese. Even though Gloria Steinem has appeared at St. Norbert College before my time as the bishop of this diocese, and acknowledging that she has appeared at other Catholic colleges and universities, I do not approve of the appearance of Gloria Steinem at St. Norbert College. I have conveyed my strong disapproval to the abbot, the president of the college and the chair of the Board of Trustees.

 

Why Invite an Abortion Rights Activist?

That St. Norbert College wants to look into the causes and contexts for a huge societal problem is laudable and needs consideration and attention by society and church. However, I find the invitation of Steinem to be quite mystifying. Given the historical escalation of domestic violence in the United States, and the fact that the “tried and true methods” of the past 40 years do not work, a question arises in my mind: why would St. Norbert, a Catholic college, invite someone who is such a high profile and well-known protagonist and activist of abortion rights to weigh in on the causes and contexts of a dramatic increase in domestic violence in the United States?

St. Norbert College

Steinem is Self-contradictory

Unless she has radically changed her position on abortion, which I hope she has, the connection of abortion rights to the feminist agenda is a sad one and calls into question the logic of such an enterprise. The reason her position ought to be called into question is that it is an internal self-contradiction. One cannot build one’s claim to a right based upon the denial of another’s fundamental right to life. One cannot really advance the rights of women while taking the life of an innocent child in the womb. One cannot protest domestic violence outside the womb and be in favor of violence and denial of life in the home of the womb. Therefore, the good she might be doing is seriously compromised by her own positions and actions. Her positions are self-contradictory. For some reason, the SNC leadership community cannot see or does not want to admit this internal contradiction.

I understand that Gloria Steinem will not speak about abortion. Really, she doesn’t need to. Her whole career and life is a grand affirmation of the pro-abortion movement. These types of approaches are outdated, tired and confusing ways to approach these issues, especially given the fact that the Catholic Church has new approaches to women’s issues that are fresh, life-giving and highly respectful of the human person. It would be so refreshing if we heard the leadership and faculty use these new voices to help our young people live a life of integrity and holiness and to truly embrace life and peace for the most innocent of all.

I want to make it abundantly clear to those who have gotten trapped in the maelstrom of an unexpected pregnancy and have made the choice to abort under the duress of great pressure: the mercy of Jesus is super abundant for you. If you ask for forgiveness of God, His divine mercy will be given to you superabundantly.

Over the 35 years of my priesthood, I have heard the confessions of women and men involved with abortions directly or indirectly. The devastation that an abortion inflicts on a mother and/or father and the family and family system is considerable.

 

True Liberation

Catholic vision and teaching are truly liberating if they are integrated into the life of a college campus. How refreshing it would be if St. Norbert College were to decide to be a vibrant Catholic College that embraces the church and her teaching in its entirety, not just the social justice teachings (which SNC does so well), but also the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Gospel and the church. Rather than excusing it by finding ways to reason around it or to argue against it, why not embrace it with a real and comprehensive intentionality?

The invitation of Ms. Steinem gives the impression that the college may be merely giving lip service to the fundamental value of every human life instead of embracing the “Gospel of Life” with a clear intentionality.

When it comes to protecting life in all of its stages, from conception to natural death, including the horror of domestic abuse, the secret desire of all of our hearts is to build a “civilization of love.” Such a civilization can only be built on fundamentals, especially that every human being ought to have a chance at life. The right to life is not a Catholic right; it is a human right given by the Creator which the church wholeheartedly defends and celebrates.

Long live the “Gospel of Life” and those who defend it unapologetically!

Bishop Ricken: How Voting Can Put Your Soul In Jeopardy?

Bishop David L. Ricken Reveals the Churches
Responsibility to Speak Out on Moral Issues

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Bishop David Ricken

Bishop David L. Ricken

AN IMPORTANT MOMENT

It is almost time to vote and to make our choices for president and other political offices both local and national.

You have often heard it said that this is a turning point in our country’s history and I could not agree more.

The Church is not a political organism, but as you hopefully have learned in the US Bishops Faithful Citizenship material (which we have made widely available to you in the parishes, in the Compass and on-line), the Church has the responsibility to speak out regarding moral issues, especially on those issues that impact the “common good” and the “dignity of the human person.”

I would like to review some of the principles to keep in mind as you approach the voting booth to complete your ballot. The first is the set of non-negotiables. These are areas that are “intrinsically evil” and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.

They are:

1. abortion
2. euthanasia
3. embryonic stem cell research
4. human cloning
5. homosexual “marriage”

These are intrinsically evil. “A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.

But what does this have to do with the election? Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform. To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally “complicit” with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.

The other position to keep in mind is the protection of religious liberty. The recent aggressive moves by the government to impose the HHS mandate, especially the move to redefine religion so that religion is confined more and more to the four walls of the Church, is a dangerous precedent.

This will certainly hurt the many health care services to the poor given by our Catholic hospitals. Our Catholic hospitals in the Diocese give millions of dollars per year in donated services to the poor. In the new plan, only Catholic people can be treated by Catholic institutions.

It has never been our mission to be exclusive of those who are not of our faith. This mandate also places Catholic business owners in a very precarious position in that they, too, will have to pay for those medical “services” which violate Catholic teaching. This has never been the American way and now these moves and others by the present government, will significantly alter and marginalize the role of religious institutions in our society.

These positions are indicators of a broader societal disposition to remove God from the public square and from any relation to society whatever. It is precisely religion and the free exercise thereof which has made this country great in the past.

Many people in our Diocese are presently without work. Our Catholic Charities is serving more and more people who are unemployed or under employed and can barely keep up with the demands. Work is so critical to the family and to the sense of human dignity. An economy which does the most for the common good is an economy that works and provides people gainful employment for  the country’s citizens. A government that works pays its bills and models for citizens what it means to be responsible and contributive.

Let us pray for the electorate and let’s take action, that we may vote for good and moral leaders for this great country which will only remain great, if she continues to be and to do the good.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend David L. Ricken, DD,
JCL Bishop of Green Bay

 

Shouldn’t All Dioceses Take Time To…

Examine What the CCHD

Actually Supports?

This strikes me as a very reasonable thing to do. This from the official newspaper for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI:

Sometimes, a timeout is needed to review the facts.

That’s what the Diocese of Green Bay is doing this year with the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Normally on the fourth Sunday of Lent parishes in the Diocese of Green Bay take up a collection titled The World’s Poor, which benefits three outreach ministries: Peter’s Pence (work of the Holy Father), Catholic Relief Services (U.S. bishops’ disaster relief aid) and CCHD.

This year, however, donations to The World’s Poor will be shared between Peter’s Pence and Catholic Relief Services only.

“There have been some questions about programs that have received funding from CCHD,” says Fr. John Doerfler, vicar general and chancellor for the Diocese of Green Bay. “That, along with the enormous post-earthquake needs in Haiti, we decided this is an appropriate time to give additional support to Catholic Relief Services while we analyze the situation with CCHD.”

On a typical year, 75% of this collection goes outside the diocese to the CCHD national coffers.

I’ve blogged BishopDavidLRicken200about my concerns over the CCHD before. I’m happy that the diocese of Green Bay can now spend the full 100% of this collection on local Catholic charities, under local supervision. I would urge other dioceses to consider doing the same.

update: I should mention that I doubt this decision was made without the explicit permission of the diocese’s bishop: Most Rev. David L. Ricken (pictured here).

Thomas Peters, American Papist