The column of Nov. 18 under the headline, “God sends a message to the GOP,” triggered a great deal of chatter on The Vindicator’s website, Vindy.com, and several letters to this writer via snail mail. Not surprisingly, most of the responses were harshly critical of the column’s underlying premise: The Republican Party’s religious arrogance led to its downfall in the Nov. 6 presidential election.
The column made note of the fact that the website, “IVoteGod.com,” was a pillar of the GOP’s national campaign, and also questioned the decision by the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church to make abortion and contraception key issues for Catholic voters. In so doing, the bishops seemed to suggest that voting for the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was a moral imperative.
Reaction to the column was summed up best in the following letter from Jewel Beese of Boardman:
“Mr. de Souza:
“I was going [to] tell you off, but an idiot like you wouldn’t get it, and you’re not worth the energy.
“I’m referring [to] your Sunday column in the Vindicator.
“God made one error when he made people. He gave everybody free will even the stupid idiots like you.”
The word idiot was underlined.
Another reader took exception to this writer’s criticism of the Catholic bishops for being preoccupied with abortion and contraception, while turning a blind eye to pedophile priests.
“God doesn’t send messages to political parties.
“It is clear you are a Democrat!!!
“Republicans are PRO-LIFE.
“Democrats are PRO-CHOICE.
“Bring up the priest-[pedophile] scandal was a ‘SUCKER PUNCH’ and a cheap shot on your part!!!!
“I should think you’d be more subdued in light of the BENGAZI scandal.
“Please try to be more impartial in the future.”
The letter was sent by Ms. Lucia S. Flevares of Warren.
This writer’s mention of a letter from Bishop George V. Murry of the Youngstown Diocese to Catholics in the region brought the following anonymous response:
“Yes, I’m sure that God was supporting liberals in the election, because HE agrees with ‘abortion on demand.’ That is man’s law, not God’s law.
“Maybe you will point out to me in one of your brilliant columns where, in the Bible, God says it’s OK to kill unborn babies.
“Funny thing, on our ‘last day,’ we all will find out if we were right …. Or wrong.
“I’m not going to sign this, because I don’t want you to ‘bully’ me in your column as you did Bishop Murry.
“I think that all of you liberals would be happy if [there] was only one political party you know, like [there] was in the Soviet Union. That went well!!!”
The assumption about this writer’s political leanings will go unanswered.
However, the perception that the column of Nov. 18 was an attack on the Catholic Church does warrant some discussion.
Cloak of politics
Criticism of the position taken by the bishops in the presidential election should not be viewed as anything more than political commentary. When they crossed the line that separates church and state, the bishops donned the cloak of politics. They, therefore, became fair game.
No one is questioning an individual bishop’s right to support a candidate for whatever reason he deems important. However, when the head of the diocese writes a letter to be read by priests at Sunday Mass that leaves little doubt as to what he expects of good Catholics, then he opens himself up to the same scrutiny as any other political activist.
No, Bishop Murry did not tell churchgoers in the Youngstown Diocese how to vote, but it doesn’t take a doctorate in religious studies to read between the lines.
This writer is a Catholic of long standing whose faith is deeply rooted, which is why the church’s embrace of the Republican Party is so disconcerting.
Compare the actions of the church’s hierarchy with the Nuns on the Bus national campaign for faith, family and fairness.
Sister Simone Campbell led a 2,700-mile journey to bring attention to the less fortunate, and to insist that government take care of the poor and those at the margins of society.
That message of the Catholic Church resonates with this writer.