To the Honorable Leaders of the Catholic Flock in the United States,
The intensity of the current partisan melee that has erupted over the issue of contraception and health care is no surprise in this toxic political environment. Considering how a culture war has been taking place in this country for many years, I expected no less from the members of America’s political class in their efforts to discredit their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Nevertheless, the one aspect of this issue that did surprise me was the central role the USCCB played in helping to exacerbate this problem. As a proud Catholic and a believer in the rightness of Christ’s call to love and serve others, I was appalled that you, the shepherds of our faith and the fathers who are supposed to be above the ugliness of the political fray, have allowed our great Church to become a tool to serve the needs of the Washington elite. Truly, I understand that the Church stands against sexual promiscuity and the ease with which people today engage in thoughtless and meaningless sex. I have no doubt in my mind that your intentions on this matter are part of the doctrine of a consistent life ethic. But at a time when so many other pressing issues have been thrown into the center of our country’s political discourse, it saddens me that your loudest and most unified protests have made our Church look like it is taking sides in a political war.
As a person who implements Catholic Social Teaching in my professional life as a representative of a Catholic non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, I am always distraught when a colleague or a person in my larger social circle attacks Catholicism as misogynistic and an impediment to social and economic progress. More often than not, people who are ignorant of the central role the Church has played in promoting social justice both today and throughout history, shun my associates and me as soon as they realize that we represent a Catholic NGO. This forces us to work extra hard to prove the social justice credentials of our Church in order for others to simply trust us and collaborate with us. Nevertheless, much of these misconceptions originate with the Catholic leadership and the inconsistent public statements of Catholic hierarchs. I am proud that the USCCB takes a stand on a variety of issues like war, the treatment of the poor, and healthcare. But, there is a disconnect between the volume with which you protest issues relating to contraception and abortion versus the numerous other issues with which Catholic Social Teaching deals. Thus, in an effort to defend the Church’s consistent life ethic, a class of people who have supported and continue to support war, unchecked military growth, corporate avarice, and lawful discrimination against minority groups, have been galvanized by your message and have manipulated the name of Catholicism to strengthen their own political positions.
My request as a Catholic is simple. All I ask is that the USCCB puts pressure on the government in equal measure on issues of war, peace, poverty, healthcare, capital punishment, and all other assaults on life. Life in general is precious, as is the life of a criminal, a fetus, a Muslim, a homeless person, a woman, a homosexual, or any other type of beautiful creature that lives on this planet thanks to the omnipotent and life-giving power of God. Please continue to fight for life, for all life. Politics is a dirty game and the struggle to protect life must transcend the gutter into which politics has fallen.
Christopher Dekki is the main representative of Pax Romana at the United Nations. Pax Romana is one of the oldest progressive lay movements in the Catholic Church. It has been operating at the United Nations’ several international headquarters since 1949. Christopher and his advocacy team lobby diplomats and work with UN agencies to further the cause of human rights and social justice in international legislation. Christopher has a BA and MA from St. John’s University and is currently in his third year of law school there.