Pennsylvania Bishops Conference Warns About America “Losing Its Soul”

A forceful and inspiring statement from the united Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania. The entire statement is a must-read for Catholics aiming to inform their conscience according to the guidance of the Church.

Here’s the heart of their statement:

“The 2012 elections take place during the Year of Faith.  As Pope Benedict XVI explains, this year is necessary because, while many people continue “to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society,” nevertheless “in reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, … it is often openly denied” .  Today it is no longer the case, as it was for our country’s Founders, that religion can provide a shared moral framework and vocabulary for a pluralistic democracy.  In fact, Americans would do well to realize that many of our country’s leading thinkers in law, higher education, and the social sciences simply no longer believe in the idea of inalienable natural rights guaranteed by a Creator higher than the State – one of the cornerstone principles of the American experiment.

This has serious implications because many of our most urgent political issues – ranging from the economy, immigration, and abortion to global security – raise profoundly moral questions.  These questions cannot be resolved without a common understanding of right and wrong.  Consider today’s aggressive efforts to redefine the nature of marriage, to exclude parental authority in the choice of the best education for their children, and to force Catholic healthcare and social services to end their ministries unless they violate their religious identities through mandated support of practices contrary to the very sanctity of human life.

Religious liberty itself – “our first, most cherished freedom” – is no longer secure.  At first glance, this may seem otherwise because religious freedom is so deeply ingrained in our national history.  But democracy has no special immunity to losing its soul by little steps.  As Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of early American democracy, observed more than 150 years ago, “it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life” – because the more the state provides, the more it inevitably controls.”

This is profound. In addition to reading their entire statement, if you are looking for more good weekend reading on the proper role of government in protecting civil society and the rights of the individual, check out Yuval Levin’s two articles: “The Real Debate” and “Social Mobility and Civil Society“.

In that second article Levin takes a long look at the political philosophy of Paul Ryan on the concept of subsidiarity. If you haven’t seen CatholicVote’s video on Charity and Social Responsibility now’s your chance:

Please share and disseminate this far and wide over the weekend!



  • Sterling

    Hymn 43 Make Me a Channel, 2012 version
    (Replaces the now obsolete Prayer of St. Francis
    Make me a channel of the RIght,
    Where there is birth control then I shall fight,
    Of greed and gold I have nothing to say,
    Of waterboarding I looked the other way.
    We’ll master all the sheep with the threat of Hell.
    What to think and how to vote we’ll surely tell,
    That we’re persecuted like the Saint of old,
    That our freedoms taken by the Feds so bo-o-old!
    Make me a channel of the Right,
    Guns and smoke and war yet so pro-life,
    Though human kindness does still have its place,
    In rich mens’ power is where we seek our Grace.

  • Leigh

    AMEN! I am sending this to all my Catholic friends who could vote the other way…Leigh in AZ

    • Leigh

      I have been deceived by Satan and his followers- the Democratic party. I follow the main stream media and have been educated in public schools. Therefore I am unable to think for myself. I would rather parrot the athiest trolls like Sterling instead of coming up with an original thought. I will follow Satan into the bowels of hell…..Leigh in AZ

  • Bartolome Casas

    Who is mainly at fault in this threat to Catholic identity? There is currently crisis regarding the Catholic identity of Catholic social service agencies, hospitals, and universities, resulting from the HHS mandate regarding birth control. But as every conservative or traditional Catholic knows, the Catholic identity crisis in our Church’s social service agencies, hospitals, and universities long pre-dates Obama Administration and its HHS mandate. Conservative and traditional Catholics have been saying for decades now, since at least the 1970s, that most or many Catholic universities are Catholic in name only, and the same can readily be said and has been said of Catholic hospitals and social service agencies. Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a vast secularization of all these agencies, and this secularization was carried out intentionally by Catholics, not by the federal government or other outsiders. We Catholics should be honest, honest with ourselves, and honest with others, and admit this. We Catholics should also admit that another generally unspoken component of this current crisis is how we Catholics have maintained that it is a sin to use contraceptives, and yet the vast majority of mass-attending Catholics who are sexually active ARE using these very illicit contraceptives on a regular basis. We don’t need polls to tell us this. We know. We know. Thus, HHS mandate, though wrong, unjust, and unfair, is only a part of the crisis. The other part, and I think it is the major part, is the vast secularilzation, liberalization, and dissent within the Catholic People themselves. You can go to any Catholic Charities agency in any diocese, and you will find that most of the employees are not Catholic, and that the Catholic faith plays no role in the services offered or provided. These Catholic Charities agencies have been choosing to take federal government money for years, and as a part of that they agree to not preach or teach the Catholic faith as part of their services. There are conservative Catholic organizations who create lists of all the Catholic universities they regard as being “off the reservation,” i.e., not authentically Catholic. I’ve seen this discussed on EWTN. Many or most Catholic hospitals are indistinguishable from a secular for-profit hospital. The nuns who founded and once ran many of these “Catholic” hospitals are long gone. As everyone knows, during and since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a terrible culture war raging within the Catholic Church, with a variety of camps endlessly attacking each other, the Progressives, the Conservatives, the Moderates, the Loyal Traditionalists, the SSPX Traditionalists, and so on. Now we are in a time when some Catholics seem to want to change the subject, and find a external enemy to rally against. Some Catholics see that this focus on an external enemy has a valuable benefit for rallying votes in the secular political realm as well. But pointing out the speck in the eye of outsiders when we ignore the log in our own Catholic eye will not solve our deeper problems. The ancient Hebrew prophets were endless pointing out the sins of the People of Israel and calling them back to closeness to God. The Hebrew Scriptures show again and again that what led to the suffering and devastation of the People of God was not external enemies, but the sinfulness of the People of God themselves, their refusal to cleave unto the Creator and obey his commandments. Isn’t that what we Catholics need to hear?

    • Gerard Neumann

      Sad but true.

    • abadilla

      I can’t argue with you because so much of what you wrote is sadly true. Obama knows how divided we are and took advantage of that division, and if we don’t believe we are divided, read the trolls who come in here to distort Catholic teaching and to pronounce they are just as Catholic as any Catholic who acknowledges and practices the faith in its entirety.

  • American Patriot

    You do NOT defend Catholic religious freedom by depriving other Americans of their right to reproductive freedom. NO one is forcing contraception or abortion on Catholics. Do NOT FORCE your religious beliefs on others.

    • Gerard Neumann

      You do not end slavery by depriving other Americans of their right to own slaves. No one if forcing Christians to own slaves. Do not force your religious beliefs on others.

    • Joe M

      American Patriot.

      The HHS mandate forces Catholics to fund contraception.

      Abortion is forced upon innocent, defenseless lives. Abortion doesn’t just deprive a person of religious freedom. It deprives them of all freedom.

      • Asha

        This is simply not true. The insurance companies pay for the coverage.

        American employees should have the right to determine what medical care they get through their insurance. That’s what the HHS law does.

        • Joe M

          American Patriot pretending to be Asha.

          We’ve been over this. If the employee no longer works for the employer, they are no longer entitled to contraceptives from the insurance provided by the employer. Therefore, getting contraceptives is a consequence of the employer paying the insurance provider.

          In the English language, this is commonly known as “buying something for someone.”

      • Dave Green

        Approx 98% of Catholics practice artificial birth control regardless of the teachings of the Church. The probablility that the Church could be wrong cannot be considered by those dependent on the Vatican’s doing their thinking for them.
        Also, our current tax system forces all of us to fund the murder of innocent already born people in the Middle East as we fight for another lost cause as we did in ‘Nam.

    • abadilla

      Why not write, the Catholic Church deprives people of “reproductive freedom” which means abortion, which means murder.

      “NO one is forcing contraception or abortion on Catholics.” Of course the HH Mandate is, but why would we, Catholics, believe our 300 bishops on that subject? Perhaps, we should, instead, believe “American Patriot.”

    • Magdalene Prodigal

      “Reproductive freedom” is another name for SIN. Why in the world would any believing Catholic wish to promote, provide, or pay for an intrinsic evil. Souls are at stake here. “Freedom” is a word bandied about but means “license” in this case because true freedom is being able to do what we should not just everything we want. License brings chaos in the end and in this case it bring death. The wages of sin is death after all.

  • Rainbow

    Go figure. You finally have a person of color featured on your website (Manny) but its in a cartoon and you depict him as lazy, laying around on the couch instead of doing his homework while his mom does it for him. Then you circle him and cross him out. When are you going to get some columnists who are people of color ? I guess Dinesh D’Souza isn’t much of a posibillity now since he got fired/resigned(?) as president of that university. Some allegations about his morals, I’ve read.

    • Joe M

      You sound like Chris Matthews. Playing the race card over the most absurdly unsupportable basis.

      • Rainbow Colors

        So why not at least have Antonio Badilla featured as a regular columnist? Are you afraid of featuring him as a regular columnist?

        • abadilla

          Why should CV be afraid of doing just that? I know for certain that Thomas, Colloway, Emily, Pia, Tom Crowe, and others do not have a racist bone, but you will, inject the racist card anyway. Truly disgraceful!

      • abadilla

        And Matthews loves to play the race card.

        • Just Askin’

          And you find no problem with the depiction of Manny in the cartoon? That’s how you want to see Hispanics depicted? And if those CV columnists are so racially boneless, as you sorta put it, why haven’t I seen so much as one person of color writing a column at this website at least for the past month or so? Finally, So why did D’Souza leave his position at that university? Just askin’.

          • Joe M

            How come you haven’t adopted anyone from Vietnam into your family? Are you racist against Vietnamese people?

            I’m just askin.

          • abadilla

            “And you find no problem with the depiction of Manny in the cartoon?”
            No, I don’t, because to me the most important part is the message, not how someone of whatever race is depicted. If the cartoon were to depict only White people, then you would be complaining that minorities were left out. One can’t win with folks like you.
            As for D’Souza, I know why you are going after him personally. He was responsible for the 2016 documentary that exposes Obama, so you won’t confront the issues of that documentary and instead, attack the integrity of the maker of the documentary. Typical tactics of the Left.

    • abadilla

      Well, it didn’t take long for the poison to come in. How one makes a “racial” case out of this one bewilders me to no end, and as for promoting rumors about D’Souza, that is as low as one can get!

    • irishsmile

      That is a disgraceful ad hominem attack against Dinesh D’Souza. I’ve seen similar attacks regarding the morals of Obama. Facts please; not cheap enuendo!

  • Penn St Moral Authority

    But Thomas, we already have witnessed you at CV losing your souls. Selling them out the five silver pieces of the GOP agenda.

    While almost no one would turn to you for political voice, it is amusing to see you try to assert some authority, but failing like a bad magician. It is just too bad that there is no one manning the hook, or at least closing the curtain.

    Your show is over. The clowns can all go home now.

    • Joe M

      Do you think anyone turns to you as a political authority? lol

    • abadilla

      Gee, poor me, I thought Thomas was simply pointing out what the bishops of Pennsylvania have said.

    • irishsmile

      Perhaps you are a bit confused about prudential judgements as opposed to the 5 non-negotiables. My husband and I are now both Independents after having been lifelong cradle Democrats. The Democratic Party’s platform declares war against a well-informed Catholic conscience. I’m not overwhelmingly in love with the GOP. However, I can never support a political party and its candidates who support abortion and gay marriage. Many Catholics have ‘sold out’ their Catholic faith to cheap politics by supporting candidates who support abortion and gay marriage. The ‘bad magician’ and the ‘clown’ is the Catholic who tries to convice Catholics to vote for pro-aborts.

      • leogirl87

        I don’t understand what is so bad about the GOP. I guess people have a negative feeling toward them because they come from a line of Democrats. The Republican Party is good on the five non-negotiables and believes in subsidiarity, that problems should be solved at the lowest level possible (small government). They want to reform welfare programs for the poor, not cut them out completely. Lower taxes so people can keep more of their own money and are able to hire more employees. Republicans are also statistically more likely to give to charity than Democrats.

        The only major problem I see with the GOP is its support of the death penalty, but that can be a separate measure placed on a ballot and people can vote against it anyway. Here in California we are voting to abolish the death penalty this election.

        Some people say that the GOP is not 100% pro-life. But at least it is 97% pro-life and GOP Presidents give money to pro-life organizations and appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court rather than pro-choice ones. 97% you can work with because you can talk about the value of human life, adoption, etc., and move them toward 100% pro-life. The other party wants people to have access to abortion and even support partial-birth abortions and some even support infanticide and the idea that some human life is more or less valuable than other human life.

        We all need to remember that political parties change over time. Read the platforms for both parties before making a decision. Right now the GOP is better on the non-negotiables, but in 50 years it could be another party.



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