USCCB: Soft on Abortion

News: Commentary
by Paul Brock  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 12, 2021   

The rotten fruit of Dearden and Bernardin

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, or the USCCB, has a long history of silence on abortion. 

The Conference was formed in 1966 after Vatican II and was originally called the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its formation was in response to a Vatican II recommendation concerning "episcopal conferences," which consist of "bishops jointly exercising their pastoral office."

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Cdl. Joseph Bernardin and Cdl. John Dearden

Then-bishop Joseph Bernardin was the first general secretary of the bishops' conference and Cdl. John Dearden led the charge serving as the first president. 

Dearden was a leading liberal voice in the Church, and in 1970, just a few years after the U.S. bishops' conference was formed, Dearden (who was archbishop of Detroit and still president of the conference) hosted in his archdiocese the Catholic Theological Society of America's 25th annual convention.  

Dearden introduced Fr. Charles Curran, who was president of the society at the time. Dearden emphasized Curran's important work and expressed his confidence in him as a theologian. 

Curran was a young and controversial priest who, three years prior, had just been dismissed from the Catholic University of America faculty. Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Patrick O'Boyle, chancellor of the university and a strong defender of Catholic teaching on the evil of contraception and abortion, ordered Curran's dismissal because of his dissenting views. This caused liberal students and professors to go on strike in defense of "Charlie," which is what the students called the dissident priest. Curran ended up being reinstated a couple of weeks afterward because the university's board of trustees, ultimately outweighing O'Boyle, wanted to end the protests and so voted to keep him on.     

In 1986, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict), officially condemned Curran. The Congregation ruled: "One who dissents from the Magisterium as you do is not suitable nor eligible to teach Catholic theology." 

Bernardin added that 'concern for the unborn fetus must be accompanied by a concern for people living in poverty.' 

The CDF pointed out Curran's "public dissent" on matters regarding "marriage, abortion, euthanasia, masturbation, artificial contraception, premarital intercourse and homosexual acts."

Dearden, Bernardin: Forging Dissent

From its founding, the USCCB was headed by two liberal prelates in Cdl. John Dearden and then-bishop Joseph Bernardin.

While Dearden publicly endorsed dissent on Catholic teaching, Bernardin was more subtle, as he hid his dissent under the Consistent Ethic of Life (also known as the seamless garment theory). 

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The seamless garment, Bernardin said, equates all of the Church's "pro-life moral positions." Chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee at the time, Bernardin added that "concern for the unborn fetus must be accompanied by a concern for people living in poverty." 

Funding Reveals Bishops' Priorities

Throughout the USCCB's roughly 50-year existence, not once has the conference taken up a national collection to end abortion. 

From 2020–2022, the USCCB has been taking up donations for Catholic Relief Services, an organization that has partnered with groups actively promoting contraception, sterilization and abortion. Another national collection is Peter's Pence, whose donations helped fund the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman — featuring an explicit gay sex scene. And another national collection is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (the CCHD), which was founded in 1969 under the leadership of Cdl. Dearden. 

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Peter’s Pence helped fund the Elton John biopic, Rocketman

These charities of the U.S. bishops conference rope in millions from Catholics every single year. This so-called "domestic anti-poverty social justice program of the USCCB" brought in over $8 million in both 2018 and 2019 from Catholic donations, and it gets many millions more from the federal government. 

The CCHD has long had ties with organizations promoting virtually every intrinsic evil imaginable. One example is the well-over $200,000 total given to the pro-abortion group Workers' Dignity. Last year alone, the CCHD gave the group $50,000 of Catholic donor money.

Among many other evils condemned by the Church, Workers' Dignity is ardently pro-abortion and was even mentioned in Planned Parenthood's 2018 annual report as one of its community partners. 

And on the Workers' Dignity official Facebook page, the culture-of-death agenda is more than encouraged.

Much of this has been exposed by the Lepanto Institute, a faithful Catholic research and education organization led by Michael Hichborn.

Despite these obvious contradictions to the Catholic faith, the USCCB states that the "CCHD is an essential part of the Church in the [Church's] United States' social mission."

Bishops' Voters Guide: Based on Distortion

It seems that while the USCCB has learned to not be so open with dissent as Curran was, the conference has adopted and endorsed Bernardin's seamless garment theory as seen in its voters guide drafted in the mid-1990s. 

Worker's Dignity is ardently pro-abortion and was even mentioned in Planned Parenthood's 2018 annual report as one of its community partners. 

The voters guide, which the bishops still promote today, explicitly uses Bernardin's "Consistent Ethic of Life" as its blueprint.

While stating that abortion is the preeminent priority on one hand, the voters guide adds: "At the same time, we cannot dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty. ... [A]bortion contaminates many other important issues by being inserted into legislation regarding immigration, care for the poor and health care reform."

By nature of his high rank in the Church, Bernardin's influence on American bishops had and continues to have a profound impact on American politics. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, consecrated a bishop by Bernardin, has followed his mentor's lead and is currently the head of the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Instead of taking a stand like his predecessor Abp. O'Boyle did back in 1967, Gregory's done the exact opposite, saying he will not even deny pro-abortion Catholic Joe Biden Holy Communion.

Watch the full episode of Mic'd Up—USCCB: Soft on Abortion.

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