Friday, May 13, 2011

Bishop Finn is ‘not, in cold fact, prolife’ - UPDATE

UPDATE - On the basis of the Chronicles article discussed below and a quote from Fr. Neuhaus gleaned from wiki, I fashioned a quick and wantonly false idea about the nature of the publication. I have it on good authority (Mark Shea) that this impression is incorrect. I apologize unreservedly to Mr. Scott Richert, the other editors of Chronicles and its readers for the slanderous depiction of the publication that appears in this post.


Of course, I stand by the criticism of the article itself.

John Zmirak had a post yesterday at the new Crisis Magazine equating amnesty for illegal aliens with abortion, in so far as it can be expected that amnestied illegals would vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. The equation is so lock-tight in Zmirak’s mind, that his post was titled ‘Amnesty Equals Abortion’.

Not by implication does he say that those who support amnesty are necessarily not pro-life:
I would never leave such a statement to mere implication. I wish to say it outright: Those who favor amnesty for illegal immigrants are not, in cold fact, pro-life. That goes for politicians and voters, bishops and priests, men, women, and children, red and yellow, black and white.
It would be a risible accusation if it applied to any actual person, but since nobody is suggesting amnesty, in the Ronald Reagan sense that the term came to be known, I suppose no harm done. Even our pro-post-natal-murder President is not suggesting a Ronald Reagan type amnesty, nor is the inarguably pro-life Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles.

But Zmirak has a flexible definition of amnesty. In an offline, fringe nativist publication called ‘Chronicles’, he described the very modest DREAM Act as “an open-ended amnesty to illegal aliens who were brought here as children by their parents.” So, not by implication, but directly, Zmirak accuses every single Catholic bishop in the United States who, without dissent, supported the DREAM Act as “not, in cold fact, pro-life.”
Such people may be pro-life in theory, as thousands of antebellum Southerners claimed to be inward abolitionists.
As a DREAM Act supporter, I suppose it accuses me of being “not, in cold fact, pro-life”. So, when I founded a pro-life club in my liberal Catholic high school with no faculty sponsor, collected a string of arrests for blockading abortion clinics across the country, canonically sued my liberal Catholic college for forcing the student union to support a pro-choice group – and got kicked out, ran numerous pro-life campaigns in California, battled squishy priests and chancery rats as editor of the diocesan paper in San Francisco and volunteered at a myriad of direct pro-life ministries over almost every decade of my life, I was merely collecting social capital in Pelosiville. I collected so much social capital in my San Francisco of five generations that I now live in Kansas City. (Thank God!, btw)

Mother Teresa would not meet Zmirak’s pro-life test. But I suppose that’s conjecture – We cannot know for certain whether Mother Teresa would have supported sending the children of illegal immigrants, who know no other country than the U.S., to a homeless existence in a foreign country – a necessary qualification for being pro-life in Zmirak’s world.

We do know, however, what he thought of Blessed John Paul II. Well you don’t know, because you don’t read nativist rags published behind pay-walls. I’ve only read Chronicles, a publication deemed racist and anti-Semitic by the late, great Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, because a crank sent it to our offices to demonstrate the perfidy of Bishop Finn in supporting the DREAM Act.

In the February, 2011 issue of Chronicles, Zmirak wrote:
When the generally admirable Pope John Paul II made the silliest statement of his pontificate – calling on Americans to welcome at once the immigrant at our border and the child in the womb – people were puzzled. It doesn’t take a course in Thomistic ethics to lay out how absurd that non sequitur was. . . Not Pope John Paul’s finest hour.
But the Blessed Holy Father was not then making any species of argument subject to Zmirak’s deconstruction. He was making a pastoral admonition as Vicar of Christ.

Zmirak was less kind to the Blessed John Paul recently when while contemplating the latter’s faults, “now brutally illuminated by the fires of purgation,” Zmirak unreservedly recommended “A long and detailed, soberly written and argued brief against his beatification” appearing in The Remnant which concluded:
For the sake of truth we must be frank in stating the obvious conclusion: No blessed or sainted Pope in Church history has a legacy as troubling as that of John Paul II, and perhaps no Pope at all aside from Paul VI.
But back to the central subject of Zmirak’s ire in the Chronicles article – Bishop Robert Finn. Now, if any of you browse the pages of NCR, Commonweal, America, etc., you’d know that Bishop Finn is a subject of derision nearly without equal among the Catholic left, precisely for his repeated insistence that Catholics must vote pro-life first and foremost, even in consideration of their eternal soul.

But Zmirak has Finn in the Bernardin camp. Finn’s sin? He supported the DREAM Act and wrote to Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to urge her support. Zmirak writes:
What tickles my irony bone is the tangle of moral inconsistencies men like Bishop Finn encounter when they dip their pink, uncallused fingers into politics.
Rich from a guy whose job description is “Writer in Residence at Thomas More College”. Zmirak continues to complain that Bishop Finn’s letter
was written to a politician whose positions on abortion and stem-cell research are so out of line with Christian morality that Senator McCaskill was prevented from speaking in 2007 at a Catholic high school in St. Louis – on the orders of then-Archbishop Raymond Burke.
And? It is just possible Bishop Finn is aware of these facts. He is from St. Louis and he and Cardinal Burke are friends (Burke also supports immigration reform and has said “we obey the command of Our Lord, who tells us that when we welcome the stranger, we welcome Christ Himself.”) None of this precludes Bishop Finn from writing a letter to McCaskill urging her support for the DREAM Act. In fact, in his letter, Bishop Finn specifically asked McCaskill to vote against the DREAM Act if it becomes attached to any provision for abortion in military hospitals or repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (as it previously had been).

Even this due diligence on Bishop Finn’s part comes in for ridicule - “Finn was forced to mention the life issue,” Zmirak sneers. He continues:
Typically, men like Finn are engaged in soldering together unrelated affinities. In doing so they have followed the example of Chicago’s old cardinal Joseph Bernardin in promoting a “seamless garment” of concern for the “weak” and the “vulnerable” – embracing all the fetishes of modern liberalism, except for those ruled out explicitly by authoritative statements from Rome – then trying to insert unborn children in the victim list.
This is such an absolutely distorted and slanderous depiction of one of the most admired pro-life leaders in the episcopacy that it must be considered when judging the seriousness of Zmirak’s argument in “Amnesty is Abortion”. That article does not say anything important about the issue of abortion. As a friend wrote to me, “You could just as easily make the argument that ‘Hispanisteria Equals Abortion,’ since you're driving a huge voting bloc into the arms of the Democrats.” What the article does demonstrate – by defining men like Bishop Finn, Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Chaput, Cardinal George, Archbishop Gomez, and anyone else who supports immigration reform as being “not, in cold fact, pro-life” – is the terrible lengths to which John Zmirak will go to demagogue on immigration.