Catholic School Teacher Fired for Saying Healthcare Is a Privilege Not A Right!?!

Joseph O’Connor, a teacher at Holy Family High School in Denver, was fired today after refusing to back down from his open opposition to universal healthcare. The controversy began when O’Connor posted an image on facebook, which stated, “Healthcare is a privilege, not a right.” Concerned parents forwarded the message to left-wing Catholic groups, who took the issue to the school’s principal. O’Connor was confronted with his rejection of clear Church teaching, which explicitly states that access to healthcare is a fundamental human right. O’Connor refused to repudiate his opposition to Church teaching. After consultation with diocesan officials, O’Connor was fired.

This story is not real. American Catholics are not denied communion or fired from their jobs at Catholic institutions for endorsing political positions that are completely contrary to Church teaching, unless of course those issues relate to human sexuality. I saw Catholics posting that very statement, that healthcare was privilege not a right (against 2288 of the Catechism). There were no consequences.

And I have also seen a right-wing dissenter from much of Catholic social teaching facilitate a witch hunt aimed at getting a non-Catholic worker serving in a technical position at a Catholic organization fired, because that person is in a same-sex marriage. The stress of this pharisaical campaign led this person to resign their position. Others are fired just for showing support for same-sex marriage. Given the fact that healthcare is a life and death issue for the tens of thousands of people who lack access to quality, affordable healthcare (in the United State alone), one is hard-pressed to argue that supporting same-sex marriage is a graver issue than opposing any and all efforts to remedy the injustice faced by those in desperate need of healthcare. To oppose any effort to ensure that people have access to this basic need is to reject the fundamental right to life and abandon a commitment to human dignity. Yet here we are.

And it is not hard to guess where Pope Francis would stand on these witch-hunts. These are culture war tactics par excellence. The right-wing groups who lead these fights are not targeting atheists or people who believe the Eucharist is just bread, but those who oppose their conservative political agenda. It is not an issue of Catholic identity, but winning the culture war for the political right. It is ideology and legalism run amuck. It is precisely the behavior that Francis has condemned over and over again, as it drives people away from the Church.

People are searching for their next meal or shelter for the night right now. A church that is following in the footsteps of Christ would be obsessed with helping these people. A self-referential church focuses instead on self-purification, hunting down a subset of sinners among all the other sinners. Pope Francis has redirected the Church’s focus toward the poor and vulnerable. It is time the American church ends these games and starts following Jesus Christ.


Pope Francis’ Mercy vs. Left-wing Libertarianism

Millennial writer Meghan Clark has a new article at America responding to a NY Times op-ed that accuses Pope Francis of cruelty because he affirmed the Church’s opposition to abortion as he announced that all priests would be able to grant sacramental forgiveness to those who have procured an abortion during the Jubilee Year of Mercy:

Over the last four years, Pope Francis has developed a strong cultural critique of a throwaway culture that values profits and status over people and excludes those who are not considered useful. This tyranny of money, he recently said, is holding the family hostage and he has praised single mothers who bravely struggle to raise their children. The United States does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave, still has a significant problem with pregnancy discrimination, a serious lack of access to affordable childcare—it is not a society that is welcoming and supportive of women and children. I suspect if Pope Francis was showing compassion to single mothers constrained by the minimum wage, lack of paid sick leave and the inability to find affordable housing, Filipovic would be cheering his recognition of the way social structures constrain the full flourishing of women.

Why not here? Because, Pope Francis still believes that abortion is morally wrong and Ms. Filipovic doesn’t. It is ironic that in an effort to insist that the real guilt and stigma comes because people don’t support a woman’s choice to have an abortion, she minimizes the experience of women for whom abortion is experienced as tragic and complex. She falls into the trap of which she accuses Francis—reducing women’s experience to fit her ideological position…. Read More

The US Should Welcome More Syrian Refugees

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His picture went viral: Aylan Kurdi’s little body washed ashore. A perfect and awful symbol of our collective failure to protect the people of Syria and respond to the refugee crisis that has taken thousands of innocent lives. These are regular people. Many are fleeing the barrel bombs of a murderous regime. Some are fleeing ISIS and its monstrous crimes. They are trying to escape the horrors of an endless civil war. They are doing what so many of us would do in those circumstances—seeking basic security for themselves and their loved ones. And too many are dying. Aylan, his brother, and his mother have had their lives stolen by injustice and indifference. Read More

Archbishop Blase Cupich on Protecting Life and Promoting Social Justice

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago has an excellent op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on the Planned Parenthood scandal, the value of human life, and the need for a consistent commitment to life:

The tapes have generated a visceral reaction independent of how they were made or whether Planned Parenthood was making a profit. Rather, the widespread revulsion over the tapes arose because they unmasked the fact that, in our public conversation about abortion, we have so muted the humanity of the unborn child that some consider it quite acceptable to speak freely of crushing a child’s skull to preserve valuable body parts and to have that discussion over lunch.

Yet, the outrage expressed by many at the physicians’ callous and flippant attitude toward trafficking in human body parts is evidence that American hearts have not been irreparably hardened by the steady devaluing of human dignity in our society. This awakening of our conscience gives hope that deep within the hearts and souls of Americans there still resides the truth that an unborn child manifestly is a human being, entitled to rights and respect.

This newest evidence about the disregard for the value of human life also offers the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to a consistent ethic of life. While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

It is encouraging to see another prominent bishop embrace this whole life message, connect social justice and the defense of life, and articulate the fullness of Church teaching.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley Calls Out Throwaway Culture of Planned Parenthood

Cardinal Seán O’Malley has taken a whole life approach to abortion in the past, reminding us, “Poverty is a dehumanizing force that leads people to feel trapped and to make this horrible choice.  The Gospel of Life demands that we work for economic justice in our country and in our world.  In a society where the rich are getting ever richer and the poor poorer, abortion looms ever larger.” He has called us to be pro-woman and pro-child, urging us to walk with mothers, especially mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies. And he has rejected an approach that focuses on denunciation: “The Pro-Life Movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy.  Being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the Gospel of Life.”

And now Cardinal Seán is speaking with great clarity and directness on the appalling behavior of Planned Parenthood, as they crush human beings to death, harvest their organs, and bargain over compensation for their grisly work of extracting the body parts of children:

Pope Francis has called abortion the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society. The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion. Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.

If the Planned Parenthood news coverage has caused anyone to experience revived trauma from their own involvement in abortion, be assured that any and all persons will be welcomed with compassion and assistance through the Church’s post-abortion healing ministry, Project Rachel. If you or someone you know would like confidential, nonjudgmental help, please visit

It is time to stop funding Planned Parenthood and shift those resources to community health centers, which are more widespread and operate in a way that is consistent with human dignity.


Replace Andrew Jackson (Not Alexander Hamilton) with Harriet Tubman

Amy Davidson succinctly explains why so many people favor leaving Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill and replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill:

“Ever since the Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, announced, last month, that the next version of the ten would feature a woman, that has been the baffled response. Alexander Hamilton, as the musical opening for previews on Broadway this week reminds us, has much to recommend him: he was the immigrant son of a single mother who became a founding father and the architect of our financial system. Why take him off the ten, and leave Andrew Jackson, who brutalized Native American communities, defended slavery, and opposed a national paper currency, on the twenty? A group called Women on 20s had already been organizing a drive to get Jackson off and a woman on. Harriet Tubman won the group’s online poll of who that woman should be, and she seems to be the leading choice all-around.”

Check out her full article to see why it would be so fitting for the Treasury Department to make this change.

Archbishop Seeks Remedy to Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Puerto Rico is facing a fiscal crisis. This has largely escaped the attention of the American public. Thankfully Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico has taken to Time to shine light on the debt crisis his nation faces, the human impact, and how we might respond. He writes:

Puerto Rico, the island where I serve as Archbishop of San Juan, is $72 billion in debt. That $72 billion represents about $20,000 of debt for every man, woman, and child on our island. Governor Alejandro García Padilla announced last month that the island cannot pay its debts, and that a solution is needed. Many bad scenarios now loom, including default.

The victims of this crisis are not any government—they are my people. Puerto Rico’s debt comes from a combination of mismanagement, bad luck, and its unique colonial status as neither a sovereign country nor a U.S. state. In recent years, Puerto Rico’s debt has become a death spiral….

The consequences are tragic. About 80% of children in Puerto Rico live in high-poverty areas, compared to about 11% of children in the U.S. The island’s poverty rate is about 44%, and unemployment is almost 13%. Already the island is feeling the impact of austerity—last fall, the Department of Health cancelled emergency helicopter service due to lack of funds. Debt is bringing death and increased hardship to our people….

First and foremost, Puerto Rico needs debt relief….But the U.S. Congress also has a role to play. Our non-voting member of Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, introduced legislation in the U.S. House to allow Puerto Rican entities to declare bankruptcy. Now Senators Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal have introduced a similar measure in the Senate. Although not a perfect solution, bankruptcy protection would provide a more fair, transparent system for resolving Puerto Rico’s debt burden and creating the fiscal space we need to grow our economy and serve our people. The issue is now gaining traction in the U.S. presidential race as well. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton both called for bankruptcy protection for Puerto Rico. Congress should pass this legislation immediately.

The full article can be read here.