By Patrick B. Craine
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon has cautiously expressed concern after reports this week that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is listed as a member of a coalition that promotes homosexual “rights” and access to abortion.
In a Monday article, Deal Hudson of Inside Catholic pointed out the USCCB's membership in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), a coalition of nearly 200 national 'civil and human rights' organizations, founded in 1950, that coordinates national lobbying efforts for its members. The minimum annual dues to join LCCR is $1,000, though that grows with the size of the organization.
One of the coalition's focus issues is “LGBT rights”, and, as Hudson reveals, their website provides evidence of the organization's deliberate thwarting of pro-life efforts and their support for organizations and legislation that facilitate abortion.
Responding to the evidence, Bishop Vasa told LifeSiteNews: “I am not well enough versed in the 'politics' of such associations to make any criticism of the motives or justifications which might be provided but, on the face of it, I would have to agree that support of this organization and an active endorsement of its principles and purposes would appear to be problematic.”
As Hudson reported, Lisa Haywood, LCCR's membership services director, confirmed that members "must share LCCR's principles and purposes." These include recognizing “equal rights, equal opportunities and equal justice” based on a number of grounds, including “sexual orientation.”
In a 1992 statement, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, condemned recognizing equal treatment based on “sexual orientation” in this way, warning that it “can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights” and “to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”
Their website, for example, includes a resource page for “LGBT Youth” and on “LGBT Rights & The Military.” Additionally, in a 2004 press release, LCCR opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment because it would have enshrined true marriage in law. "The amendment is ... antithetical to the Constitution's guiding principle to provide equal protection for all,” stated LCCR deputy director Nancy Zirkin. She bemoaned the fact that the amendment would “prohibit states from granting equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.”
While abortion is not listed as one of LCCR's focus issues, their advocacy for abortion “rights” is evident based on numerous pieces of evidence:
TM They promote the United Nations' pro-abortion and radically feminist Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), calling it“the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations.”
TM They praise the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation's largest abortion provider for “deliver[ing] vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.”
TM They opposed the confirmation of federal judge Michael W. McConnell, citing in part his opposition to Roe v. Wade. Other pro-life nominees they have opposed include J. Leon Holmes, Charles Pickering Sr., Victor J. Wolski, Clarence Thomas, and D. Michael Fischer.
TM They stated support for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which made it illegal to obstruct abortuary entrances. According to LCCR, FACE “is key in protecting women's access to reproductive health care.”
“Why did the bishops' conference join this organization?” Hudson asks. “When LCCHR staff sit in front of a member of Congress, they can legitimately say they are representing the Catholic bishops.”
But Hudson also points out that the USCCB has supported LCCR by attending their annual fundraising dinners in 2007 and 2008. “Evidently, the USCCB regards the work of LCCHR so highly it wants to provide support over and above its annual dues,” he writes.
Michael Hichborn of the American Life League (ALL), which is a member of the Reform CCHD Now (RCN) Coalition, told LSN, “I applaud Bishop Vasa for his courage in speaking out on this dangerous alliance, but also for his humility in proceeding cautiously.”
“His reaction is in stark contrast to that from bishops rushing to dismiss our well documented charges as 'calumny',” he added.
Hichborn was referring to comments by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center and Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, made last week following a report from ALL. The report highlighted the service of two USCCB officials – both involved with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) – on the board of the Center Community Change, which has come to strongly support abortion and homosexual “rights.” One of those officials is John Carr, the executive director of the USCCB's Office of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, who oversees CCHD.
As LSN reported on Friday, though the ALL report, and another from the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, specified that they were not questioning the pro-life beliefs of any USCCB official, the USCCB reacted by condemning the reports as “attacks” on Carr.
"I'm concerned about these attacks on John Carr and I know they are false and I think they are even calumnious," said Bishop Murphy, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in an interview with Catholic News Service (CNS). "I am taking this to be a very sad, sad commentary on the honesty of some people in these pressure groups."
"Personally I think (the claims) are totally ridiculous," Bishop Morin, Chairman of the USCCB's CCHD subcommittee, told CNS.
LSN attempted to contact John Carr, but did not hear back by press time. A representative of the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities declined to comment and directed LSN to contact media relations.
After several calls and e-mails to the USCCB media relations office and director Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, LSN did not receive a response.
LSN contacted LCCR, but they were unable to comment due to bad weather.
Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
Diocese of Rockville Centre
50 North Park Ave. (PO Box 9023)
Rockville Centre, NY 11571-9023
Phone: 516-678-5800 ext. 400
Bishop Roger Morin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Diocese of Biloxi
1790 Popps Ferry Rd.
John Carr, Executive Director (Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development)
3211 4th Street, N.E.
Ralph McCloud, Director (Catholic Campaign for Human Development)
3211 4th Street, N.E.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
CCHD Scandal Picks Up Steam as Bishops React
U.S. Bishops' Media Director Who Exonerated Exec Admits to Not Reading Key Report
U.S. Bishops' Exec Responds to Charges of Cooperation with Pro-Abortion, Homosexualist Group