Bishop Tobin Critical of Mayor Giuliani

In the Rhode Island Catholic (until recently, the Providence Visitor), Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence offers a stinging criticism of Republican Presidential Candidate Rudolph Giuliani (h/t RI Future). The Bishop makes a general moral argument against taking the “personally opposed but publicly in favor” position that Mayor Giuiliani has taken with regards to abortion rights…

Rudy’s public proclamations on abortion are pathetic and confusing. Even worse, they’re hypocritical.
Now, this is what we get from Rudy as he attempted to explain his ambiguous position on abortion in a speech at Houston Baptist College earlier this month: “Here are the two strong beliefs that I have, here are the two pillars of my thinking . . . One is, I believe abortion is wrong. I think it is morally wrong . . . The second pillar that guides my thinking . . . where [people of good faith] come to different conclusions about this, about something so very, very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint. You give them a level of choice here . . . I’ve always believed both of these things”….
Rudy’s explanation is a classic expression of the position on abortion we’ve heard from weak-kneed politicians so frequently in recent years:
“I’m personally opposed to but don’t want to impose my views on other people.” The incongruity of that position has been exposed many times now. As I’ve asked previously, would we let any politician get away with the same pathetic cop-out on other issues: “I’m personally opposed to . . . racial discrimination, sexual abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, polygamy, incest . . . but don’t want to impose my beliefs on others?”
Why is it that when I hear someone explaining this position, I think of the sad figure of Pontius Pilate in the Gospels, who personally found no guilt in Jesus, but for fear of the crowd, washed his hands of the whole affair and handed Jesus over to be crucified. I can just hear Pilate saying, “You know, I’m personally opposed to crucifixion but I don’t want to impose my belief on others.”
Okay, let’s ask Mayor Giuliani to think about his position for a minute.
Hey Rudy, you say that you believe abortion is morally wrong. Why do you say that, Rudy; why do you believe that abortion is wrong? Is abortion the killing of an innocent child? Is it an offense against human dignity? Is it a cruel and violent act? Does it harm the woman who has the abortion? And if your answer to any of these questions is yes, Rudy, why would you permit people to . . . kill an innocent child, offend human dignity, commit a cruel and violent act or do harm to the mother? This is in the name of choice? Huh?
…as well as reminding Catholic politicians that their status as public figures confers them no special right to ignore Church teachings on this, or any, issue. In fact, it’s just the opposite…
Rudy’s preposterous position is compounded by the fact that he professes to be a Catholic. As Catholics, we are called, indeed required, to be pro-life, to cherish and protect human life as a precious gift of God from the moment of conception until the time of natural death. As a leader, as a public official, Rudy Giuliani has a special obligation in that regard.
In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul made the obligation to defend human life very explicit:
“This task is the particular responsibility of civil leaders . . . No one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate.”
And more recently, the Bishops of the United States wrote: “If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to repudiate [the Church’s] definitive teaching on moral issues, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church.” (Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper, p. 11)

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Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

I often disagree with him, but have no problem with Bishop Tobin making himself a political playa. Why should Protestant evangelicals like Falwell, Roberston, Dobson, etc. and black men of the (alleged) cloth like Jackson and Sharpton have all the fun?
Speak a little louder, Jim Wallis.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

My only problem with the Bishop’s stance is that he’s Catholic. And since the Catholic Church (especially here in New England) is like NAMBLA on steroids I don’t really think they have much moral ground to stand on.

Warbucks
Warbucks
14 years ago

The Bishop’s just doing his job. If more people listened to the Bishop and sincerely and personally respected life, then our elections and elected officials could stay focused on the pressing issues of the economy and national security.
As much as I oppose abortion, I think the responsibility to protect the unborn lies more with me as an individual and a father than it does with the President of the United States.
I respect Bishop Tobin’s leadership as it concerns life, but I’ll look to other sources regarding whom to chose for president.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

If you believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, then you have a moral obligation to oppose abortion.
I agree with Rhody. Catholic Relief Services provided more aid to the poor than any other non-profit in the world. It is one of the few Christian denominations that is truly international. Yet for some reason Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jerry Falwell and Oral Roberts can make political pronouncements, but Catholic clergy can’t? Even when the person they’re talking about is a self-proclaimed Catholic?
Good for Tobin!
But Greg, thanks for your “my only problem is he’s Catholic” display of religous prejudice.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

If the Baptists had been molesting children, it would be the Baptists I didn’t like.

Tom
Tom
14 years ago

Greg-Here are a bunch of Jewish sex offenders. Now tell us you “don’t like” Jews. LOL. If you want a list of Baptist ministers I will give you that too. {Section deleted. This is an ugly but serious topic, and not a place to be mixing real actions with methaphors.} Cases of Clergy Abuse David Kaye-Rabbi. Featured on dateline NBC. sentenced to 7 years for molesting boy met on internet Case of Shlomo Aviner (Rosh Yeshiva, Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, Rabbi of Beit El, Israel) Case of Rabbi Lewis Brenner (Convicted of child molestation. The original charges included 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years’ probation.) Case of Rabbi Ephraim Bryks (Accusations about sexual inappropriate behavior with children started surfacing in the 1980’s. Rabbi Bryks is currently a member of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens. The Vaad is a Rabbinical committee that makes important decisions within an orthodox community.) Case of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (Accused of several cases of child molestation, and sexual assault of young women) Case Rabbi Perry Ian Cohen – Montreal and Toronto Canada (Accused of sexual abuse of a seventeen year old. Fired for sexual impropriety with congregants) Case of Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen (Accused of sexually harassing students at Bar-Ilan University) Case of Rabbi Ephraim Goldberg – Boca Raton, Flordia (Pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of exposure of sexual organs in a washroom at a Palm Beach Mall.) Case of Rabbi/Cantor Sidney Goldenberg (Convicted of molesting children. The first complaints came in 1971. He was finally convicted in 1997.) Case of Cantor Joel Gordon (Convicted of having keeping a house of prostitution and involvement… Read more »

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

And Tom, do you know WHY those Jews were public? Because they didn’t have Ole Pointy Hat in his fortress in Rome burying the evidence, buying off witnesses, and shuffling pedos.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

Because they didn’t have Ole Pointy Hat in his fortress in Rome burying the evidence, buying off witnesses, and shuffling pedos.
Posted by Greg at June 6, 2007 9:59 AM
XX
Here is some education on how the system works:
1. If someone claims to be a victim they go to the P-O-L-I-C-E.
2. From there it is up to the police, prosecutors and judges.
3. The alleged offender’s employer, be it Textron, AOl, Gtech, Catholic Church or anyone else has NO SAY in the prosecution.
If these so-called victims or their parents never went to the P-O-L-I-C-E to start this process that is on them NOT the alleged offender’s employer.

Suzanne
Suzanne
14 years ago

On average, it takes most victims of clergy sexual abuse 20 years to come forward with revelations that they were abused. By that time, in many states, the statute of limitation for crimes of abuse against a minor has run out.
In contrast, the Catholic Church was well aware that they had a problem within their ranks, and chose to perpetrate a cover up. Thousands of children were abused because of the failure of leadership by the institutional Church. It is ridiculous to revictimize the victims by claiming that it is their fault that this abuse was not stopped, when the Cardinals and Bishops who were well aware of it had the moral and legal obligation to do so.
Of course, abuse occurs in other faiths, and also occurs in secular organizations. That does not, however, reduce the culpability of the Catholic Church. Until they address their moral failure, I am hard pressed to accept their voice as moral on most issues.

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

And so the “hypocrisy herring” swam into the debate.
It’s a convenient and time-tested rhetorical tactic. In this particular realm, it absolves those who oppose the Church’s stance on any given topic from dealing seriously with said topic by enabling them to discount any Church position with which they disagree.
“How,” they say, “can we support the Church’s stance on, say, helping the poor, when they covered up the despicable actions of a few priests who sexually abused the innocent.”
Apparently, an idea or moral position–no matter how correct in the abstract–simply cannot be good unless the proponent of the idea truly does live in a glass house.
All the while, they willfully ignore the fact that Pope John Paul did, in fact, apologize for the heinous crimes (and for others past misdeeds of the Church.)

Justin Katz
14 years ago

On average, it takes most victims of clergy sexual abuse 20 years to come forward with revelations that they were abused.

I’m curious where this data comes from and what, specifically, it is measuring. It seems awfully convenient for those who would discredit the Church, because the vast bulk of abuse cases occurred before the eighties and then faded out. I’d suggest that an institutional problem was recognized and began to be addressed, well before the public spotlight began to shine. (There are, of course, specific examples of human fallibility throughout.)
But a statistic such as the “average of 20 years” thing could be a mechanism to declare that later instances just haven’t come to light. One of the things I would look at, given a citation, is whether the researchers addressed the question of whether the wave of accusations didn’t bring out more people sooner. One would think that it would.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Justin,
I was an altar boy, 15 years, during the late seventies, early eighties. I know of at least 7 folks who were abused and have yet to come forward. They probably never will.
The problem here was not that the abuse happened. Those in power will always abuse when they can use silence as a weapon. It was the nonreaction of the Church that is at issue.
The joke was never stay long after Mass if the Priest had either been in Pittsfield or Saint Louis. Those were the “special” Parishes.
It should also be stated for the record that is never a fade out. Not in the Catholic Church, not in anybody’s Church. Human beings will always fail by a certain percentage when up against certain temptations.
If it weren’t bad enough that John Paul II canonized some of the worst and most anti-Semetic Saints possible; if it weren’t bad enough that he, in an exercise of extreme ego, twisted the third Fatima miracle to be about himself; if it weren’t bad enough that he tried to set science backwards, we will always have the mishandling of this situation to look upon with sadness.

Chairm
Chairm
14 years ago

The prevalence of child sexual abuse is far lower among Catholic priests than among other populations. In fact, it has lowered in the USA since the 1980s, as Justin pointed out. The previously higher prevalence coincided with the increased laxity with which seminaries and parishes treated openly homosexual seminarians and priests. The subsequent decrease in prevalence has followed the changes made and the affirmation of Catholic teachings on human sexuality. So if you are going to criticize the Church due to the priest scandal (and parishners have not been quiet about this with their Bishops, I can assure you) consider the context and consider the improvements that have been made. Then compare with other organizations and professions and reconsider the self-destructiveness in how the gay propagandists have used (abused) the sex scandal to attack the credibility of the organization that has done the most for the victims of HIV/AIDS. But let’s assume you believe the propaganda of the gay activists and of those who want to sideline the Catholic Bishops. Okay, but the Bishop in this case is merely reminding Guilliani, and fellow Catholics, and the rest of society, that there are actual teachings of the Church to which all who identify as Catholics are compelled to align themselves — for their ownsakes as well as for their society’s sake. That’s all the more powerful because of the sex scandal. Human beings are prone to misbehavior and yet Catholic teachings shed a bright and cleansing light on all of that. The Bishop spoke mainly for Catholics about a very public man who claims to be Catholic. If a self-identified Catholic is a candidate for the highest office in the land and he or she misrepresents Catholic teachings — either through his words or in his policy choices (and the reasoning… Read more »

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

Chairm is right that the abuse rate amongs Catholic priests has been shown to be no highter than that of other clergy members. The reason priests get attention is for two reason.
First, unlike many other religions, it’s still OK culturally in the United States to criticize and make fun of the Catholic Church.
The reality is that the US was an overwhelmingly Protestant country for most of its existence. It really wasn’t that long ago that many people wouldn’t consider voting for JFK because he was Catholic.
Second, the Catholic Church is centralized as opposed to decentralized. When a protestant clergyman commits an act, he just moves to another community and applies at a new church somewhere else. Catholic priests get re-assigned.
Let’s not forget that during the 70’s and 80’s, psychologists were writing about how sexual offenders can be “rehabilitated”. Many of the priest who were repeat sexual offenders had undergone “rehabilitation” in keeping with the prevailing psychobabble of the time.

Suzanne
Suzanne
14 years ago

[i]I’m curious where this data comes from and what, specifically, it is measuring. It seems awfully convenient for those who would discredit the Church, because the vast bulk of abuse cases occurred before the eighties and then faded out. [/i] The data comes from the attorneys who have represented survivors of clergy sexual abuse. I know the next argument. “How can we trust them?!!” Let’s recall that the Church itself has settled most of these cases, so it seems that data was good enough for them. You do not know that the “vast bulk of the cases” were in the 1980’s or before because most of those victims have not come forward yet. Statistically, it is more likely that a survivor from the 60’s has come forward than a survivor from the 80’s. [i]I’d suggest that an institutional problem was recognized and began to be addressed, well before the public spotlight began to shine. (There are, of course, specific examples of human fallibility throughout.)[/i] You can suggest it all you like. You are wrong. The institutional problem was ignored, as has been well documented, until 2002. Even now, the institutional problem is being ignored because the Bishops immediately walked back on zero tolerance. I suggest you look at the situation that Cardinal George faced in 2006 before you say that the hierarchical Church has this well in hand. [i]But a statistic such as the “average of 20 years” thing could be a mechanism to declare that later instances just haven’t come to light. One of the things I would look at, given a citation, is whether the researchers addressed the question of whether the wave of accusations didn’t bring out more people sooner. One would think that it would.[/i] The more publicity that is shed on a situation, the more… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
14 years ago

All the while, they willfully ignore the fact that Pope John Paul did, in fact, apologize for the heinous crimes (and for others past misdeeds of the Church.)
Please. I am well aware of almost every utterance that Pope John Paul II gave with regards to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. His apology was one step. An important one, yes. But does not deny his, or the rest of the institutional hierarchy’s culpability in ignoring and exacerbating a decades-long crime spree. And it does absolutely nothing to address the problem.
It has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of the past, Marc. It has to do with the hypocrisy of the present. Do not speak of helping the poor and the poor of spirit when you continuously deny justice to your own victims, and when you put roadblocks up to actually creating a safe parish environment. Then, perhaps, can I truly listen to the good works that I know the Catholic Church is capable of.

Rachel
Rachel
13 years ago

Add to the above Louis( eliezer ) Kestenbaum from williamsburg Brooklyn NY he is Accused of molesting a teenage girl.

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