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LEXINGTON, Kentucky, August 10, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop John Stowe said President Donald Trump, the first sitting president to speak at the annual March for Life in the nation’s capital, “is so much anti-life.”
Stowe also suggested he wants to change Catholic teaching on the family to accommodate homosexuality and gender ideology.
Stowe was appointed bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, by Pope Francis in 2015.
Taking part in a webinar at the end of July, Stowe said, “For this president to call himself pro-life, and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life, is almost willful ignorance. He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that.”
The webinar was organized by the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, which says it focuses on “Democracy, Migration, the Future of the Church, Dialogue and Peace.”
While Stowe did not further comment on what he views as Trump’s narcissism, he did offer his own understanding of what being “pro-life” actually means.
“Yes, we have to be concerned for the unborn children,” he admitted at one point. “It’s foundational for us, but it’s all connected.” But in that that context, Stowe said “our understanding of pro-life has to be the vision that was described as the seamless garment vision.”
The term “seamless garment” refers to a theory first spelled out by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. According to that theory, intrinsic evils like abortion are essentially morally equivalent to societal ills like poverty.
“Pope Francis has given us a great definition of what pro-life means,” Bishop Stowe said. “He basically tells us we can’t claim to be pro-life if we support the separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border, if we support exposing people at the border to COVID-19 because of the facilities that they’re in, if we support denying people who have need to adequate health care access to that health care, if we keep people from getting the housing or the education that they need, we cannot call ourselves pro-life.”
Stowe recounted that Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, had attempted to amend a document by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on voting.
Cupich wanted “to include the paragraph from Gaudete et exsultate from Pope Francis about what the real pro-life issues are, the totality of pro-life issues.” Not adding this paragraph to the document, Stowe said, “was a sad day for the leadership of the Church in the United States.”
Pope Francis wrote in section 101 of his 2018 Apostolic Exhortation:
The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.
The Pope did not outright say that the killing of human beings is equal to poverty, sickness, and other issues, stating merely that unborn human life is just as sacred as that of poor people or sick people.
He did, however, claim that there is not one issue more important than others. If followed to its logical conclusion, this means that stopping abortion – the killing of innocent human beings – is not more important than offering help to poor people.
Pope Benedict himself pointed out in 2006 that there are three “principles which are not negotiable.” The Pope emeritus mentioned “protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death,” in the first place.
He also talked about “the natural structure of the family,” emphasizing that a family is based on the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as the parents’ right “to educate their children.”
In other words, while different responses to social ills like poverty are possible for Catholics, they cannot vote for a candidate compromising on any of these issues.
Contrary to Stowe’s claims, President Trump has actually implemented a significant number of pro-life measures, understood in the traditional sense of protecting innocent human beings from being killed by abortion.
Among other accomplishments, Trump reinstated and expanded the ban on foreign aid to abortion-involved groups (including International Planned Parenthood Federation), banned groups that commit or refer abortions from Title X family planning funds, overturned Obama-era regulations that barred states from defunding Planned Parenthood, and issued rules protecting Americans from being forced to subsidize abortion in government-mandated health insurance plans.
In addition, the administration has consistently worked to defend life and oppose abortion at the United Nations, from resisting pro-abortion agenda items and resolution language to affirming that abortion isn’t a human right and promoting abstinence education. In May, Trump announced that the U.S. is cutting ties with the pro-abortion World Health Organization (WHO) due to its mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.
This year, Trump declared January 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision imposing abortion on demand across the country, to be “National Sanctity of Human Life Day.” A few days later, he became the first U.S. president to attend the annual March for Life in Washington D.C.
In a proclamation issued prior to the march, Trump declared that “every person — the born and unborn, the poor, the downcast, the disabled, the infirm, and the elderly — has inherent value” and said the U.S. “proudly and strongly reaffirms our commitment to protect the precious gift of life at every stage, from conception to natural death.”
During his speech at the March for Life, Trump said, “Young people are the heart of the March for Life. And it’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.”
“All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” he continued. “Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.”
“When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God's creation,” Trump said to roaring applause. “When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world.”
“And to all the moms here today, we celebrate you and we declare that mothers are heroes,” Trump added later on. “Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. Because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of human history.”
Bishop Stowe suggests that for some people, active homosexuality is ‘part of who they are’
Bishop John Stowe also used the webinar to once again push his support for homosexuality and gender ideology, explicitly saying, “Our understanding of family has to change.”
“We have to be in a different understanding of family, and that’s where the LGBT issues come into play,” he said. “I agree completely with [another webinar participant] that our credibility is on the line with the whole generation, and more, of young people who just don’t buy that teaching, and know from their experience, and know from the people that they know, that there are good and loving people that happen to identify as LGBT, and that’s part of who they are.”
By claiming that a person is defined by his or her homosexuality or gender confusion, Stowe essentially reduces a person to his or her tendencies or inclinations in sexual matters. The person would be unable to change. The Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between a person, who is never “intrinsically disordered”; a person’s inclinations, which can be “intrinsically disordered” but only inherently sinful if acted upon; and a person’s actions, which can be “intrinsically disordered.”
Stowe encouraged people to keep insisting the Church to change the teaching. “There is a sensus fidei, there is a sense of the faithful, that also has to be part of Church teaching,” he claimed.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the term sensus fidei does not prevent large numbers of the faithful from adhering to false teachings.
“The whole body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.”
The role of the “the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium)” is also emphasized, meaning it’s impossible to express as sensus fidei something contradicting that teaching authority.
“Pope Francis has said it repeatedly: Bishops have to listen as much as they teach, and you can’t be a good teacher if you’re not a good listener,” Stowe said nonetheless. “And you can’t be a good teacher if you’re not a good student.”
On homosexuality, the Catechism is very clear. “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’” the Church teaches. “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Former homosexuals have also pointed out that the LGBT lifestyle is inherently anti-life, both spiritually and physically.