Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Courier Commentary #1: Intrinsic Evil Trumps Prudential Judgment

March 5th, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

My experience with the Diocesan Courier has been that my comments have not been accepted for several years, no matter the subject, and no matter that they conform in all ways to the guidelines.  So I am going to stop submitting comments to the on-line stories, and begin offering the commentary here, adding a good deal of what I would have edited out were the comments to have been posted on the DoR site.  But perhaps it is better this way, as a full response can be given. 

To make the commentary more “usable” I will put all the Courier’s excerpted words in blue, and major concerns or rebuttal points in red.  It is offered as the start of a series, so others can number future commentary on the Courier (especially if their comments on the DoR site are rejected) as part of this series, if they choose to do so.  A very good place to begin the Commentary Series is with this week’s story:

Advocates will lobby in Albany March 20

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

…several dozen from the Diocese of Rochester… will meet with their legislators to discuss five priorities that have been selected by the state’s bishops….

  • oppose the Women’s Equality Act, an outgrowth of the Reproductive Health Act, which would significantly expand abortion rights;
  • preserve Catholic schools and offer adequate resources for all school children;
  • provide affordable housing for low-income and vulnerable populations;
  • support humane treatment for people who are incarcerated; and
  • ensure that reform of Medicaid benefits consumers and maintains quality of care.

“We have been hearing each year to be prepared to fight this bill, but it never came forward (in the legislature). With the governor’s enthusiastic push of it in his State of the State address, it may actually come to a vote this year,” said Marvin Mich, director of social-policy research at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center….

While acknowledging that the Women’s Equality Act will take top priority because it involves the protection of innocent human life, Mich stressed that “all of our issues are linked in the consistent ethic of life. We cannot choose just one issue and ignore the rest.”

Sculpture of  "Post-Abortion Pain, Mercy, Forgiveness"  by Martin Houdacek

Sculpture of “Post-Abortion Pain, Mercy, Forgiveness”
by Martin Houdacek

WAIT!  Stop right there!  At least this time we are seeing the pro-Abortion act on top of the list, but there is NO comparison between the #1 item, which is directed to the fight against intrinsic evil and the following four items which are prudential judgment issues, about which reasonable people can disagree, especially on “how” a particular good or benefit is achieved.  It is precisely this lumping together of prudential judgement issues with action against intrinsic evils which has so weakened the mobilization of the Faithful to fight evil, and to be a consistent voice at the ballot box.  It is exactly what makes the Catholic Church look fragmented and immobilized.

And what about the other intrinsic evils that should be addressed?  Where is repeal of same-sex marriage?  Why shouldn’t that precede the prudential judgment issues?  What ARE the priorities of those assembling this list?

Just READ the list.  The first item is clear — oppose a bill threatened to come to the floor for vote.  But there are no specifics about the remaining four items.  They mean whatever someone wants them to mean!  This loading on of general statements and ambiguities serves to dilute the most meaningful actions, those against intrinsic evil.  And for what purpose?  The interesting thing about the four Prudential Judgment issues is that they are not specific, they are never “satisfied.”  They can stay on DoR’s list forever.

The so-called “Consistent Life Ethic” is a very shredded fabric, and lacks credibility in the public square.  Marv Mich states:  “We cannot choose just one issue and ignore the rest.”  I strongly disagree. 

Certainly we cannot perpetrate one intrinsic evil and yet fight against another.  We must be consistently aligned and supportive of all Church Teaching.  But ambiguous, poorly articulated “nice” goals are not worthy of mobilizing our energy, time and efforts when intrinsic evils are basking in public.  I most certainly CAN and MAY choose one of the intrinsic evils (#1 on the list above) and work with all my energy to fight that one, without diluting my effort by spreading too thin over someone else’s prudential judgment priorities.  Of course I am, for example, in favor of humane treatment of prisoners.  But while babies are being killed in the womb, don’t ask me to divert my available time and related abilities to an issue which proposes not even a specific of what it means!  If  it means no torture, of course I agree.  If it means letting people out of jail early so they can shoot more firefighters, of course I oppose it! 

Then, buried in the Courier article, is a comment that “expressed hope that participants in the March 20 event ‘do not leave our legislative appointments without some comment on gun control.'” 

Well, I hope so too!  I hope they make the point that the so-called and mis-named “SAFE” act was illegally promulgated against the rights of the public to comment, that it will not make people any safer, and that it is a distraction from the main issue of having suitable protections in schools for the children.  I hope the comments will ask for repeal of a meaningless, sham act.  But I rather doubt that is what the comment means.   Yes, it is a prudential issue too, but one that risks coveting the rights of others, interfering with a person’s ability to defend themselves and their families, and undermines and sabotages the law of the land — the Second Amendment.  It borders on sin against people’s rights, and may even cross the line.  More on that another time.  But notice how the diocesan newspaper manages to squeeze in a quote on an issue not even on the list!  That is also how personal opinions on prudential issues from the pulpit or in a diocesan newspaper serve to be divisive in the Church. 

In the Courier story posted on March 4 (updated March 5) it states regarding the Mass to be held during the lobbying in Albany: “Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is the scheduled celebrant and homilist. He will be joined by the state’s bishops.”  

HELLO–Cardinal Dolan is in Rome!  FYI–the Pope resigned and there is a Conclave of Cardinals meeting there!  Does anyone look up from their list of prudential judgments to see what is really going on in the world?  I hope so. 


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10 Responses to “Courier Commentary #1: Intrinsic Evil Trumps Prudential Judgment”

  1. avatar Scott W. says:

    This loading on of general statements and ambiguities serves to dilute the most meaningful actions, those against intrinsic evil. And for what purpose?

    Because people think “equivocation” means “balance”.

  2. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Hopefully no one reads this trash. Sorry for my opinion.

    The seamless garment was a disguised attempt to de-emphasize abortion. I remember in the early 1980’s. At first, he came out and disn’t mention abortion. After about 2 weeks of outcry from people like Helen Alvare, he put abortion into the mix.

  3. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    In a recent interview on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Cardinal George of Chicago stated; “The conference [of bishops] isn’t suppose to engage the politics of a country directly. It’s suppose to give rules so that the lay people can engage their president, their congressman, their mayor. The bishops don’t elect people…They are elected by lay people and if the world is a mess it’s the lay people’s fault because it’s their business to rule the world. It’s our business to govern the church.

    Their business is to rule the world. It’s very easy for Catholics to write to their bishops and say ‘Why don’t you do this?‘ and I write back all the time and say ‘Why don’t you do it?’ because after all it’s you job and it’s not my job.”

    I found this quote interesting, because looking at the laundry list of issues that our bishops* lobby for (contrary to Cardinal George’s comment above), I’m usually inclined to say to them, “please stop”.

    * I don’t even know if you can use this term because AFAIK these are actually staffs of professional lobbyists that choose the Democratic party’s position on ALL prudential matters… and they disguise themselves as being official representatives of the Catholic Church.

  4. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    This is par for the course with Mich, the diocesan coordinator for the DOR.

    He also wrote a horrible book on social justice that the DOR circulated a few years ago; I got my copy from my mother’s living room table during a trip home.

  5. avatar Rich Leonardi says:

    “… diocesan coordinator for the CCHD for the DOR.”

  6. avatar annonymouse says:

    Marvin Mich and those who think like him are the problem.

    He, like his fellow believers in the Democrat Catholic Church, see no difference among these “consistent life ethic” issues, despite the Church’s clear teaching about which of these is non-negotiable. A candidate who supports #2-5 scores 80% in Mich’s book, while in the Church’s book if a candidate is wrong on #1, he or she should get a ZERO.

    Catholics’ lukewarm commitment to the sanctity of human life is the direct cause of more than one million deaths every year. If Catholics were united in support of restoring the protection under the law to the unborn, abortion would be made illegal in no time. Of course, there would still be the necessary transformation/redemption of the culture of death to be accomplished, but the first thing that must happen is the transformation/redemption of the culture of death among those who call themselves “Catholic.”

  7. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    I wonder what will happen to the staff of the COurier when the new bishop takes command. Will they reverse their positions to accommodate the bishop. Will they even be around to continue working?

  8. avatar Dr. K says:

    “Will they reverse their positions to accommodate the bishop. Will they even be around to continue working?”

    If there is any trouble, the next bishop could push them to resign like the Courier staff circa 1985. I think everything will turn out fine though. The Courier has been far improved in recent years compared to years past.

  9. avatar RochChaCha says:


    Great article. I experience the same issues when commenting on the Courier. I usually end up emailing them and point out their blatant censorship. I just added a comment today on the article about McQuaid. Took a few hours for it to be posted, but this time it went through without any prodding.

  10. avatar true faith says:

    Diane, I agree. It seems that the secular world, political correctness and even the corporate world’s business ethics have invaded The Diocese of Rochester and perhaps The Roman Catholic Church in the United States as well . The Catholic Courier reflects this trend. It is a watering down of the Gospel of Christ and discipleship to Christ.It is referred to in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book , THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP as “cheap grace “. Since when did The Church of Christ ever become in agreement with the morality and ethics of the world ? We Christians are all called to live on higher ground as “the salt of the earth ” and ” the city set on a hill. ” We are called to even love our enemies, not to agree with them and stoop to their mindset. My nephews were exposed to the teaching of contraception by Planned Parenthood in a Roman Catholic Junior High ! This is appalling !
    If ever there was a reason for an abortion , it would’ve been our Precious Savior Jesus in our Beloved Mary’s womb. We forget that she risked being privately divorced by Joseph and even stoned to death for being pregnant while a young virgin betrothed to another man.
    What we all accept as the Divine Act of The Holy Spirit was not accepted while Mary and Joseph lived and when Jesus was a child and young man. One can only imagine what names the people called The Holy Family.
    We need to get back to the teachings and values of our past Bishop of Rochester, evangelist, teacher, author and venerated servant of The Church, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen asked all to pray for the unborn and to do work and charitable giving to the poor. In fact , besides evangelizing Jesus Christ and teaching gospel living in Christ, his two most passionate causes was the life of the unborn and the poor throughout the world. He gave a large amount of his own money to these causes as well.His teachings are available on line and I’m told that there is an archive of his works at St. Bernard’s Seminary. Maybe his works should be taken out of the archives and his teachings applied.

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