Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Sunday, August 27, 2023

An Open Letter to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin:

 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

3211 4th St NE

Washington, DC. 20017

An Open Letter to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin:

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott enthusiastically swaddles himself in the shroud of Roman Catholic Christianity. His religiosity is as much his brand as his wheelchair, his guns and his militaristic shirts with epaulets.

But, except for his pro-birth position that puts women at risk for death, none of his political positions or advocacies reflect the tenets of your church — or any universal church descended from Saints Peter and Paul. His attacks on sustainable energy and his support of the desecration of our land for the fossil fuel industry violate your advocacy of social justice and stewardship of our world. His position on Medicaid expansion counters the healing examples of Jesus, who took no fees for God’s service. His murderous actions at the southern border violates Jesus’ exhortations on hospitality; and, the deaths in the Rio Grande violate the universal “Thou shalt not kill.” Shipping innocents on buses under false pretenses may as well be cattle rail cars from 1930s Germany.

And that’s why I am writing. Because, as in 1930s Germany, the Roman Catholic Church has been silent. I wrote Bishop Joe S. Vásquez at the Diocese of Austin last year and received a cordial but meaningless response. In doing so, the Diocese of Austin abandoned the moral high ground of holding its sinners to account.

Your church’s standing aside in the shadow of one of your most prominent parishioners, who uses the Roman church as his brand, is unacceptable after the lessons of 1930s Germany. The church that was silent then must not be silent now as ignores the lessons from 1930s Germany and repeats the errors of the past. I am reminded of Dag Hammarskjöld’s observation in “Markings” (1957), “The madman shouted in the marketplace and no one stopped to answer him. Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible.”