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Following noted political commentator and author Michelle Malkin's presentation to the Missouri-based Vitae Foundation, Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bp. Edward Rice succeeded in intimidating the pro-life organization and slurred Malkin for her remarks linking the Catholic Church and illegal immigration.
Malkin was the featured speaker at a Vitae Foundation event in Springfield, Missouri, on Aug. 20. As part of her 40-minute reflections on the pro-life movement and her personal pro-life experiences as the daughter of a neonatalogist, Malkin briefly diverged from her topic and connected the dots between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the illegal immigration industry.
In an exclusive interview with Alex Marlow, editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, that was broadcast on Sirius XM Patriot's Breitbart News Daily, Malkin described Bp. Rice's reaction:
I simply mentioned that [the connection between the USCCB and illegal immigration], and as punishment, a bishop in that state of Missouri threatened the funding of the organization that I was speaking to unless they disavowed the 40 seconds out of a 40-minute speech that I had given to this pro-life group.
Out of conscience [see below], Bp. Rice had not attended the pro-life event. But someone who did attend the event reported Malkin's remarks, thus triggering the bishop's ire.
Rice is St. Louis archdiocese born and bred. He spent his entire career in the archdiocese until 2016 when Pope Francis appointed him bishop of the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
The diocese was willing to share this portion of the letter Bp. Rice sent to the Vitae Foundation:
I write to express my strong disappointment at the derogatory comments made at the August 20, 2019, Vitae Dinner by Michelle Malkin regarding the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
No group of persons or organization has done more for the cause of protecting the life of the unborn than the US Catholic Bishops. Catholics are followers of Jesus Christ and not worshipers of a political party. It is a sad reality in our day that many persons are more beholden to a political ideology than to their faith in our Lord and Savior.
When the current administration, or any administration, acts to promote the common good, as it recently did by discontinuing fetal tissue research at the National Institutes of Health, the Catholic Bishops will speak out to support those efforts. When the current administration, or any administration, enacts policies that are contrary to Scripture, such as the forcible separation of young children from their parents, we will oppose those efforts. Any attempt to silence the Catholic Bishops by those on the "right" or "left" will not succeed but reflects an idolatrous devotion to political party and ideology which is contrary to the Gospel.
For a number of years now the Vitae Foundation has hosted speakers who are more known for being political conservatives than for their pro-life activism. Many of those speakers hold some positions which are difficult to reconcile with the teachings of the Bible as interpreted in the Catholic Church. Some of them were convicted felons.
This year, while I did not attend the dinner as you selected a speaker who wrote a book in favor of "internment camps," we still made a financial contribution and did not discourage Catholics from attending.
The Vitae Foundation specializes in developing market research-based messages to promote the pro-life movement. In cities across Missouri and other parts of the nation, Vitae Foundation sponsors annual events with noteworthy speakers.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, for example, Trey Gowdy will be Kansas City's annual event speaker. Candace Owens will be speaking at a Vitae Foundation event in St. Charles, Missouri, in November.
After receiving Bp. Rice's letter, the Vitae Foundation issued the following statement:
The Vitae Foundation contracted with Premier Speakers Bureau to have Michelle Malkin speak at its Annual Pro-Life Event in Springfield, Missouri on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. During her remarks about the Culture of Life and how "certain Catholic institutions have been hijacked by radical groups," she mentioned the Catholic Bishops.
The views expressed by Malkin were not those of the Vitae Foundation.
In the future, we will work closely with all speaker's bureaus to ensure that comments against the Catholic Church, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will not be welcomed or tolerated.