Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Bishop Cunningham: “right to life outweighs other matters”

November 1st, 2012, Promulgated by benanderson

The Diocese of Rochester’s Apostolic Administrator and Bishop of Syracuse, Robert Cunningham, has released his “election letter.” It concludes with this:

Not all issues have equal moral weight. Some practices are intrinsically evil — that is, always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. The moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, #37). Examples include abortion (which occurs more than 1 million times each year in the United States), euthanasia, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, genocide, torture, racism and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war.

When the issue is whether to protect or deny the fundamental right to life, it outweighs other matters. The right to life is indeed our first right, and protecting life to the maximum degree possible must be our highest priority.

As our country’s founders affirmed, religious freedom is our first freedom. We must recall this history and defend this freedom with renewed vigor. As Catholics, we must recognize that the defense of religious freedom is necessary if we, as individuals and as a Church, are to preserve our ability to practice in our daily lives and in the public square all that we profess at Mass each Sunday.

Our faith and our nations foundational principles both tell us the right to life is our first right, and religious liberty is our first freedom. Life and liberty, then, are the heart of what it means to be faithful citizens — that is, Americans who practice civic virtue guided by our Catholic faith. As we pray, vote, and advocate, let us respond to this calling in the very best ways we can.


47 Responses to “Bishop Cunningham: “right to life outweighs other matters””

  1. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Sanity at last!!!

  2. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Excellent; however, I wish it had come out in time to print in every church bulletin in the DoR, with the closing read from the pulpit.

  3. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    You mean like what the Bishop of Peoria, Bishop Daniel Jenky, wrote to his priests?

    Joining the chorus of Roman Catholic clergy in Illinois criticizing President Barack Obama before next week’s election, Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky ordered priests to read a letter to parishioners on Sunday before the presidential election, explaining that politicians who support abortion rights also reject Jesus.

    “By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass,” Jenky wrote in a letter circulated to clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

  4. avatar Jim says:

    You have a good point, Diane….I wish all of the pastors of our Diocese were asked earlier to read or to post the letter to their congregations this weekend as well. Thanks, Ben for showing us Bishop Jenky’s mandate. He certainly has the backbone that too many bishops lack!

  5. avatar Diane Harris says:

    yes, Ben, that is EXACTLY what I mean.

  6. avatar annonymouse says:

    I, for one, wish some bishop had enough backbone to flat-out endorse a candidate for President, in this case, Romney, rather than beating around the bush and leaving it to our prayerful conscientious judgment. They are all scared that the big, bad IRS will step in and take away their religious exemption. I could be wrong, but that would seem to me to be an unconstitutional infringement of both the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but it would take someone with backbone to stand up against the IRS.

    Perhaps if the Church’s shepherds were more forceful about leading their flocks, we wouldn’t have a situation where the majority of Catholics vote for an extreme pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-gay-marriage, pro-death-penalty candidate who is hellbent on restricting the religious freedoms of Americans and their Churches.

    When these Catholics stand before the judgment seat of God and He asks “what did you do to stop the slaughter of my innocent,” what are these Catholics going to say?

  7. avatar y2kscotty says:

    I’m not endorsing anyone – but, remember this: Romney and Ryan BOTH believe in abortion in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. In other words, both of them do NOT believe in the inviolable right to life. And, if they believe this, as they ahve said, then they are really pro-choice. Babies conceived as a result of rape or incest have no right to life, according to these people. I think both political parties and both sets of candidates are endorsing this particular intrinsic evil. Let’s not kid ourselves. I don’t care what the Republican Platform says – their candidates disagree with this central plank. We know what the Democrats think about the issue.

  8. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post is an editorialist who commented on a news item worth writing about.

    In the D&C 11/2/12 on page 7A Ruth Marcus writes in part:
    “Manuel Guerra Casas….a 28 year old landscaper from Port St. Lucie Fla, is a vocal and active Mitt Romney fan.”

    So what’s the big deal about that, one might ask.

    Ruth Marcus continues:
    “…..despite his undocumented immigration status, he shows up at Romney campaign rallies and community forums to advocate for the former Massachusetts governor.”

    Casas, an undocumented immigrant supports Romney?

    The editorial finishes with:
    “Casas says he spends a lot of time explaining to people that he doesn’t hate immigrants or himself, that he’s not ‘a traitor to his people’….
    It’s pretty simple, Casas says, The immigration issue is a personal interest. And even though it is very important to me, so is my faith. You have to look at the bigger picture–there are other important things that are at risk in this election. There is freedom of religion and the values, principles and morals that created the foundation of this country.”

    Wow, undocumented, not a citizen, can’t vote yet he actually promotes and supports a candidate based on THE BIGGER PICTURE, THE VALUES THAT CREATED THE FOUNDATION OF THIS COUNTRY.

    I tip my hat to Ruth Marcus for telling us about a man who is not An American Citizen, but who exemplifies that which makes America Great.

    Brothers and Sisters, let each of us look beyond our own personal interest to what is really important for all of us. No matter what our political persuasion, no matter what our take on the economy, taxes, big government, small government etc etc, LET’S GET THE BIG PICTURE BEFORE NOVEMBER 6.

  9. avatar Jim says:

    Y2kscotty, although I believe in what the Catholic Church teaches regarding abortion and rape: if the two Republican candidates insisted that a woman carry a child conceived by rape come to term, they would never have a chance of be elected. I’m sorry…that is the sad state of our country’s morals at this time…I think Paul Ryan did a good job in defining the Church’s teaching on abortion and respect for life…unlike the laughing buffoon, Biden, who is supposed to be a Catholic! If the country is truly evangelized in the faith, they will slowly come to know the truths taught by the Church.

  10. avatar annonymouse says:

    y2kscotty –

    1. You are factually incorrect when you include Ryan with Romney in your statement regarding abortion in cases of rape/incest. Ryan’s position on abortion is 100% consistent with that of the Church, and if you’ll go to the debate transcript, you’ll find that he carefully worded his response to say what the position of the Romney campaign is, which he will tell you is different than his own.

    2. There are over ONE MILLION abortions annually in the U.S. The number that are performed in cases of rape or incest are a tiny fraction of that number. So don’t even try to assert that the two candidates’ position on abortion are even remotely equivalent. For they are not. You cannot in good conscience, in honesty, try to equate the two candidates’ position on abortion. To do so, or even to imply it, is blatantly dishonest.

    3. It is morally permissable to support a candidate whose position brings the state of affairs closer to the optimal, even if still flawed. Even if Romney does support an intrinsic evil in abortion for rape/incest, if the U.S. were to adopt such a position, would that not be a huge improvement over where we are now? And could we not then continue to fight for the last few yards?

    4. A President Romney would likely have the opportunity to nominate as many as three Supreme Court justices, and it is not unthinkable that Roe v. Wade could be judicially overturned in the next four years, sending the issue back to the states, where 35-40 states would almost immediately outlaw the practice, saving literally hundreds of thousands of innocent lives every year.

    Alternatively, another four years of Obama may lead to a hopelessly liberal court that may, by fiat, erode conscience protections and overturn what state restrictions there are on abortion. Such a court would likely make a judicial change of course an impossibility for scores of years.


    5. Do you disagree with Bishop Jenkey when he says that it is an objectively gravely sinful act to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

    If by your vote you are complicit in the continuation of this national travesty, what are you planning to tell the Lord when you stand before the judgment seat?

  11. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I think it was permissible for abortion in the case that it would protect the life of the mother. But research and decades of experience have apparently shown that there are no cases where an abortion did actually save the mother’s life.

    But this is new stuff and it’s going to take a while for everyone, especially our Catholic clergy to catch up.

  12. avatar Sassy says:

    Amen to Bishop Jenky. A very fine Holy Cross priest from the University of Notre Dame (he was there when I was a student). God bless him.

  13. avatar y2kscotty says:

    Anonymouse – I must correct you regarding Ryan’s stance. In his debate with Biden, I heard him say quite clearly that rape/incest is an “exception”. Here’s a quote from the transcript of the debate. This is Ryan speaking: “Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don’t agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”
    If our vote is for either candidate, are we morally complicit? Ryan used to say – no exceptions. But he has flipped on the issue. And, why? He wants to get elected – the same reason why Biden follows the NARAL policy. I don’t care who Romney would appoint to the Supreme Court, because Ryan has stated the “… the policy of a Romney administration..” That means if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then the issue goes to the States and the Romney-Ryan “policy” will be to craft the legislations to conform with this policy.
    I think we’re stuck – damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Did Bishop Jenky have both Ryan and Biden in mind – or didn’t he hear the debate?
    Are we really going back to the “lesser of 2 evils” principle?
    Can we trust Obama/Biden on this issue? Based on what they have said, yes (that is, advance the pro-abortion cause. We can trust them to do nothing to end abortion.). Can we trust Romney/Ryan? It’s not obvious – they say one thing in the primaries and another in a debate or interview. And Romney himself, in June 2011 said, “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” In an interview with the DeMoines Register (a paper that endorsed him), Romney said, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
    The line is drawn: This may be the election where one should refuse to vote for either candidate.
    Is there ANY orthodox pro-life candidate on the ballot?

  14. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I would suggest you re-read mouse’s points and try again – you failed to address them.

  15. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    I was an undergraduate student
    at Our Lady’s University 1966 to 1970.

    How about you? When were you at ND?

  16. avatar Gretchen says:

    The Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics published by Priests for Life says about this exact issue:
    In many elections there are situations where all of the available candidates take morally unacceptable positions on one or more of the “non-negotiable” issues.
    In such situations, a citizen will be called upon to make tough choices. In those cases, citizens must vote in the way that will most limit the harm that would be done by the available candidates.

    You can find the whole Voter’s Guide here:

    It’s well worth the read!

  17. avatar Sassy says:

    Dominick, I was a student there from 1986-1990. It was a fun time to be on campus! I’m enjoying this undefeated season…shades of the 1988 National Championship. I lived in Farley. How about you? I think it was still all men at that time.

  18. avatar John F. Kennedy says:


    If the election were between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, then Adolf would be the better of the two options. Hitler is only responsible for 6+ million deaths but Stalin is responsible for 20+ million deaths.

    Luckily we have a simple choice. We have one candidate that thinks abortion is OK in all instances, at any time, without parental input, should be encouraged, pregnancy is a punishment, that tax payers should pay for it and that medical help should not be provided if the baby survives the abortion attempt. The second candidate thinks that it should be discouraged and is only acceptable in cases of rape and incest. The difference between the two candidates is one who approves of 1.37 Million abortions a year and one who approve of it in only the rarest of instances.

  19. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    here’s what I have to say to all this talk of Notre Dame:

  20. avatar Sassy says:

    Hey, Pitt has three criminals playing today. Humm. Explain that? GO IRISH! How can you root against God’s team? 😉

  21. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    God’s team! With the likes of Fr. McBrien, the elderly chair of theology, Fr. Hessburg who had condfrences with Planned parenthood and UNESCO at ND in the 1950’s on how to promote birth control, and the latest, the awarding of the high honor to the president, let’s not become too infatuated with ND.

  22. avatar Jim says:

    Ben and Richard Thomas are right….Notre Dame USED to be a Catholic College. Wasn’t that the campus where Obama gave the Commencement Address last year? I would think that “Our Mother” probably isn’t too pleased with all of the non-Catholic practices going on over there in her name.

  23. avatar Sassy says:

    As I said, you don’t mess with God’s team! 😉

  24. avatar Sassy says:

    Um, and you are praising Bishop Jenky in another breath. I think Notre Dame has done enough good to recommit themselves to Catholic identity. I dare say you can find dirt on ANY Catholic college if you look hard enough. Notre Dame alums are used to the hate…even from their own kind. Sad.

  25. avatar Sassy says:

    I think I need to respectfully leave this group. My goodness, if you can’t have a little fun on a football Saturday, then you are way too tightly wound. And before I leave, I will say that the alum spoke with their wallets concerning the Obama incident. And the University stepped up to the plate and completely recommitted themselves to Catholic Identity. I don’t know too many other institutions that are moving in that direction. They atoned for their mistakes and made a huge change! For a religion that teaches forgiveness, I don’t see a lot around here. Too many axes to grind. Rant over. I’m through. Good luck in the future.

  26. avatar Jim says:

    Sassy, I’m sorry if I contributed to your leaving the group. How did the University completely recommit themselves to Catholic Identity?

  27. avatar Sassy says:

    I will answer if only to defend my school. After the Obama incident, many of the alum (and the alum have very deep pockets) withheld gifts or contributed gifts only to certain causes. The unrestricted giving plummeted. Father Jenkins admitted his mistake and said he was going to re dedicate the University to the promotion of its Catholic mission. A totally dedicated endowment was set up and funded for the purpose of promoting orthodox Catholicism. They have hosted lectures, speaker series, campus groups, etc. who teach orthodox Catholic faith. They have poured money into pro-life and pro-family organizations locally and nationally. And they still have single sex dorms. And no, despite twenty-some years of trying, no unsanctioned SSA groups are on campus. If you ask me, that’s moving in the right direction. But the good that ND does isn’t newsworthy because it’s boring. As I said, we alum have “embraced the hate” from all sorts of people. After a while, I just get tired and lose it. By the way, I do direct my donations to the Catholic mission part of the alumni giving, as many others have done. Mary still smiles on her university.

  28. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    was having fun with my “let’s go Pitt” image as I’m a Pitt fan (wasn’t intended as a knock on ND – well except that I hoped Pitt would win)… and they almost pulled it off. I won’t say anything about the refs giving ND 6 points because ND proved in the end they were the better team even despite turning it over 3 times. Congrats on 9-0

  29. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    ND by 3 points in triple over time.

    And I thought all the fireworks were being
    set off on campus. Seems that I missed
    the CF ones.

    Sassy, after going to the reunion in 1995 (to
    make peace with my past) gratefully I began
    identifying myself as a son of Our Lady.

    But, tongue in cheek, when friends would ask
    me why ND couldn’t win the big game, I’d
    try to convince them it wasn’t because of poor
    recruiting, academic standards or lousy call
    playing. The problem, I would joke, is the
    Theology Department.

    Sassy, sorry about that.

    Notre Dame has quite a history.
    And in God’s gracious Providence,
    Dominick Anthony Zarcone is in it.

    So, I give thanks for ND, I pray that all
    of ND’s faculty and student body would
    one day love the Name of JESUS and
    identify with the Church’s Faith, Mission
    and Morality.

    With God all things are possible.

    Now at the risk of boring all of those you
    think are haters, Sassy, I will tell you,
    I got into Notre Dame because the women
    hadn’t matriculated as yet.

    Notre Dame women are really smart.
    My freshman dorm, Breen-Phillips, is
    now a ladies’s dormitory.

    My second and third years were in Zahm.
    Senior year off campus on Notre Dame Ave.

    I skipped graduation to get to Hawaii and broke
    my dad’s heart.

    But now, I love Notre Dame and strive to
    honor Our Lady by proclaiming the SON’s
    Holy Name.

  30. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    This woman speaks her mind:


  31. avatar Sassy says:

    Dominick, I would love to e-mail you. I will do so through the alumni directory.

  32. avatar Richard Thomas says:


    You are a graduate and have a lot of love for your university. Although I never went there, I like the typical “cab driver” of nNew York City” rooted for the university, especially in football. Even today, in spite of what has transpired, there still is satisfaction when the football team wins; take yesterday.

    You were being funny and I was serious and if I offended you, I am sorry.

    But much evil has been promoted by the University over the last 70 years, in spite of the dedication and loyality of its graduates. What Fr. Jenkins did was good. I wanted him to go further; owning the clandestine support of Planned Parenthood and UNESCO in the 1950’s and finally fire Fr. Mc Brien and apologize for all the harm he did.

    I pray that Notre Dame becomes the light of Catholocism it used to be. And I wish nothing but good on all its graduates.

  33. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Thank you, Richard Thomas, for your
    well wishes for ND’s alumni,
    of which I am a grateful member.

    Moreover, thank you for your devotion
    to Our Lord Jesus, His Church and Her
    trustworthy Teachings.

    You are my brother!

  34. avatar annonymouse says:

    To all –

    From what I know of Notre Dame, it is not a perfect Catholic institution, but Catholicity there is taken much more serious than equivalently high-academics, so-called Catholic schools such as Boston College and Georgetown. Their pursuit of academic excellence has caused them, at times, to lose sight of their Roman Catholic mission, and their invitation and honors for Mr. Obama over the vehement objections of scores of United States Catholic bishops and their own Bishop D’Arcy were a serious mistake that I’m not sure Father Jenkins has really ever admitted was an error. That said, from the ND people I know (including a few area clerics), I think ND’s contributions to the Church in America has far outweighed the “evil that has been promoted by the University over the last 70 years” of which RT speaks.

    Back to the point, to y2kscotty, which part of “THE POLICY OF A ROMNEY ADMINISTRATION” leads you to conclude that abortion exceptions for rape/incest are the personal belief of Mr. Ryan? Are you even trying to understand the vast gulf of difference between these two candidates? You have, on one hand, the most anti-life President in history. And his sidekick, pro-abortion Catholic Mr Biden. On the other side you have a candidate who, while not perfect, is dedicated to meaningful restrictions on abortion, and this candidate has selected a faithful, PRO-LIFE Catholic to be his vice presidential running mate. You cannot have a much starker choice, yet you seem to think they’re equivalent. SHAME on you.

  35. avatar Wayne says:

    I think you should read the whole article from Bishop Cunningham.

  36. avatar annonymouse says:

    Please elaborate, Wayne.

  37. avatar y2kscotty says:

    The two candidates aren’t equivalent. But the Romney-Ryan policy as enunciated in the debate is not praiseworthy. R and R should repudiate what Ryan said. We know Obama isn’t kidding, but R&R are lying through their teeth to “moderate” their views. What I am really saying here is that we can’t put our “faith” in politicians. We put our faith in our Faith.

    You are right – I will read the Bishops’ statement – and take it to heart.

    John F. Kennedy,
    Surely you jest regarding Hitler and Stalin.

  38. avatar y2kscotty says:

    I just read the Voters Guide which you referred to. I have also read the Bishops’ statement as well.
    I think there is a moral case here to vote for neither Romney nor Obama. Although Romney/Ryan may very well be closer to Catholic thinking on the abortion issue, I really don’t trust them to deal with it effectively – except in the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice. And, even then, any overturning of Roe vs. Wade will not lead to the end of abortion – for there will eventually be enough “wiggle room” (call it “relativism”) to eventually lead to a recognition that abortion is OK in instances of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother (which means that any woman who wishes to terminate the pregnancy can sign affidavits that she was raped, or whatever). And Romney/Ryan will approve of that. And, then when that mother terminates ther pregnancy on the ground of rape, what will be the assurance that she’s telling the truth? And if we think she’s lying, do we press charges? So, she might see jail time – and the doctor is off scotfree because he can say he believed her. I just don’t see where this is going.
    Please note that I am NOT endorsing Obama. I am saying, however, that endorsing Romney/Ryan isn’t the answer since both of them now have a record (see the debate transcript of Ryan and previous statements of Romney) of having no real practical desire to end abortion. I want to see their long-term strategy to uphold the sacredness of life other than some simplistic rhetoric and posturing and ingratiating themselves with our bishops and us Catholics. Yeah, they can get the blessing of the Bishops, but that isn’t worth anything, except to mislead us into thinking that something good is going to happen as they laugh their way into office.
    Well – Tuesday night – late – we may know, but don’t think that our prayers will have been answered.
    Sorry to be so cynical.
    On another point – I don’t care about ND football – but I do care that ND is a fine Catholic university. Sassy is a good alum and I am sure ND will spend her money wisely in their dual mission as a Catholic institution and as an eminent academic institution.

  39. avatar John F. Kennedy says:


    I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.

  40. avatar raymondfrice says:

    with all the gobble de gook going on among the candidates today, I can only conclude that the the word “Catholic” has taken on a generic denotation identifying one’s religion just like the word “protestant” or Jew, is being used. And it is often used by candidates to “buy” the majority vote who want to vote Catholic. One of the “catholic” candidates (Hochul) even condemns her opponent in a TV ad , Chris Collins, for being pro-life. This is Catholic or is it catholic or just a bogus title??

  41. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Sassy is a good alum and I am sure ND will spend her money wisely in their dual mission as a Catholic institution and as an eminent academic institution.

    Question: where would Mary and Joseph send Jesus today if he were of college age?? LOL

  42. avatar annonymouse says:

    Raymond – is that a trick question?

    The answer is TEMPLE

  43. avatar annonymouse says:

    Post-election update –

    Obamacare gets implemented, the HHS Mandate stands (unless a spineless Supreme Court strikes it down-don’t count on it), and in the next four years probably three SCOTUS justices are named by Barack Obama. Abortion on demand is the law of the land for another generation, perhaps until Our Lord returns.

    It is high time for the American Bishops to take it up a notch. Start by excommunicating any and every so-called Roman Catholic politician who supports this godless Democratic agenda. Start with Mr. Biden. Then crack down on the clergy – priests and deacons (oh, and nuns on the bus too) who support this godless Democratic agenda and who commit objectively grave sin by their overt support of this President.

    We are in a culture war and losing badly. It’s high time we start fighting. Bring back the Church Militant, dear Bishops!

  44. avatar raymondfrice says:

    The answer is TEMPLE.

    AAAAAAAAH! got me!!!

  45. avatar y2kscotty says:

    “Question: where would Mary and Joseph send Jesus today if he were of college age?? LOL


    I like that exchange! Clever!! I was thinking that Jesus could have a problem at Christendom College… He probably wouldn’t understand the name. He wouldn’t fit at Catholic U or at BYU. He might like ND and play football, but not major in theology (why study Himself?)
    Thinking that He probably wouldn’t come to America. The Mormons claim He has been here before.

  46. avatar Richard Thomas says:


    The American Bishops will do no such thing. Probably the majority are in the tank with the Democrats. As the expression goes, except for dispensing tha sacraments and saying mass, , most are as useful as “teets on a bull”.

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