10-23-2003 Letter to Crisis Magazine on the Performance of Religious Leaders on Abortion

Dear Deal Hudson:

Where’s the Hope? I’ve been asking that question for decades. You must realize that if your readers are cynical it’s because they’ve suffered years of hope only to be disappointed by our church leaders. You can put me down as a cynical grouch, but I assure you I don’t need to be reminded that priests and bishops hold offices consecrated and linked directly to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and His apostles, because that fact is what has sustained me, and kept me trying to influence change by writing hundreds of letters over the last 27 years, most of them to fight abortion, and the rest to defend our Church. In my opinion, the biggest scandal in our Church today is the fact that abortion has endured for 30 long years, and counting. I would not scoff at your September meeting because hope sometimes comes to fruition, but unfortunately, our Church leaders have a poor record. And as to your question, where else do we go? My answer, after praying a lot, is that we must put massive, definitive pressure on our bishops to quit with the pronouncements, and commence with the action. 

I’ve had articles published on the barbarism of abortion and have been working on a book. My notes and observations have convinced me that the only way to end this social suicide is to zero in on the abortion support systems no matter where, or from whom they come. I’ve concluded that the Catholic Church leaders, in spite of their official pronouncements against abortion, have repeatedly acted as a major force to perpetuate it, and less than a major force to end it! As long as Church institutions, Church members, Catholic politicians, Catholic universities, Catholic high schools, and the Catholic Press, etc., give tacit support to the status quo, abortion will continue, and the people on the street will remain uneducated, misinformed and confused. It’s hard to believe, but Catholics in great numbers, support, tolerate, accept, participate, and even promote the evil of abortion, in spite of the Church’s official stance. We’ve become a nation of barbarians. 

As a Catholic of many years, I abhor Church critics, and the damage they do. But I find myself frustrated and angered by the lack of Church leadership over the last three decades. Instead of influencing secularism, I’ve watched our Church become influenced by it. We’ve become so secularized and politicized that one could argue we are not only politically correct, but religiously correct! We’ve developed a virtual tolerance for the culture of death. As I watched the great Cathedral, Our Lady of the Angels, being constructed, I kept thinking that Our Lady would not be overjoyed by this almost 200 million dollar edifice built in her honor while her babies continue to die.

Catholics here in Southern California are a virtual army of potential voters (the proverbial sleeping giant) who should have been mobilized to influence change, but they have not been, so in their confusion, they vote for pro-abortion candidates believing it’s moral to do so. The Los Angeles/Hollywood area liberals, and the Los Angeles Times, continue to be a powerful negative influence on Catholicism and our culture in general, yet this hot spot is virtually neglected by major pro-life groups, and even the Catholic League. I’ve sent a series of letters to Bill Donohue, after he closed the Pasadena office about ten years ago, pleading for a major presence of the league here in the Los Angeles area; his responses indicated that I’m not to be taken seriously.   

Over the years, most of my letters have been directed at pro-abortion advocates and anti-Catholic bigots. As the months passed, I found myself shifting to challenge and criticize the so-called Catholic press. The last decade has been the worst. For example, if you were a long time reader of The Tidings (published by the Los Angeles Diocese which is the oldest and largest diocese in the country) you could have voted for Clinton in good conscience, and still be pro-life! On August 18, 1995, they ran a feature story, with a full front page color photo of Leon Panetta, and a large headline that read, A Catholic in the House, and was subtitled, Leon Panetta, The President’s Chief of Staff, Talks About Faith Issues. Panetta was extolled in three full pages as a Catholic in the White House, and the story included his statement, “government ought to allow families the room to make that (abortion) decision.” 

I wrote a strong protest (exchanging letters with the editor) stating that by failing to challenge Panetta’s repudiation of this most fundamental Catholic position, our diocesan newspaper cooperated with Panetta’s betrayal of the unborn. My protest obviously meant nothing because not long after they printed a feature story on Paul Conrad, the political cartoonist, who said he changed his position on abortion, he now believes, “…if a woman wants and needs one she should be able to have one—this is a free country.”

Panetta and Conrad are outspoken and influential. They should have been challenged; instead they were given a Catholic platform from which to announce their disdain for Church teaching! There’s no doubt that these abortion advocates got votes for “pro-choice” candidates, and it follows, that California politicians, who call themselves Catholic, but who vote pro-abortion, were encouraged to continue their defiance! 

I have tried many times to stimulate some forthright dialogue for Catholics but I obviously didn’t have the clout to make it happen. An example of my frustration is embodied in my letter printed in the Los Angeles Tidings on 8/22/2000.

Bishops must do more to educate Catholics about abortion.

The national survey of Catholics is shocking and revealing (The Tidings, Oct.8.)! Can you imagine what the Holy Father would think if he read that only 46 percent of active Catholics believe that partial birth abortion should be a top priority, and that 33 percent are actually opposed? If this survey is accurate, it proves beyond question that our American Bishops have not been proactive enough in the education of their flock. They need to lead more forcefully, to present more clearly, coherently, and persuasively, the truth about the evil of abortion, and its high level transgression against God’s law.

We’ve allowed the ambiguity of the so-called Seamless Garment theory to provide an escape hatch for Catholic politicians who claim to be pro-life but who continue to perpetuate the killing by their actions, and even to influence many of the laity to accept abortion as just another issue.  Abortion is the issue around which all other issues revolve. Without life, other issues are irrelevant!

I find the current ignorance of Catholics in this area inexcusable. What keeps me fighting for the unborn are the thousands of dedicated good people working in the field everyday saving lives, yet after 30 long years (33 years for the Pro-life League of Southern California) we’ve made little headway at the top where the major power to end abortion-on-demand rests. Except for Cardinal O’Connor and a few others, Church leaders have been too timid and too careful. It’s one thing to use language constraints to encourage an open and positive dialogue with our adversaries, but the barbarity of the killing, and the urgent need to resolve this most divisive issue requires that we be more outspoken and committed to exposing the whole truth to all Catholics. I have said and still believe that the American Church should be willing to risk its tax exemption to stop the killing. We have Christ’s promise that the Church will survive! As you said, bishops hold offices consecrated and linked directly to the priesthood of Jesus Christ and His apostles; I’ll wager that Our Lord Jesus Christ at this moment is very dissatisfied with the performance of His apostles.   

When Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are overturned, or the Constitution is amended, our nation will suffer guilt and shame for our years of practicing infanticide. Future generations will look back to search for a scapegoat, someone to blame, similar to the Pius XII fiasco, where shameless liars are trying to defame a heroic historical figure. Will the scapegoat hunters say that the American Catholic Bishops didn’t do enough? Will there be evidence to show that they did everything they possibly could to stop the killing? Did they risk everything? Did they make sure every Catholic in every parish in America got the message loud and clear, and repeatedly, that they can’t be pro-choice and be Catholic? 

I’ll let you answer the above questions. Sorry to write so much, but your article stirred my frustration, and will probably qualify me as a cynical grouch. 

God be with you,

Charles N. Marrelli
Writers for Life

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