Bishop Trautman is Right About Mercyhurst

In the Erie Times-News, today’s Friday Forum Op-Ed contains a whine from Christopher DeSante about Bishop Trautman’s disapproval of the pro-Clinton rally at Mercyhurst.   Mr. DeSante complains that the pro-life issue should not be the only issue that Catholics are concerned with, and he also bemoans the closed-mindedness of the bishop in not allowing alternative viewpoints on campus.  In addition to the Op-Ed, the letters to the editor are running heavily against the Bishop.

As a staunch Protestant, I have to agree with Bishop Trautman.  This is rare for me, so I also have to explain myself.

First of all, the idea that this is about offering “alternative points of view” is a smokescreen.  This was not a speech by a political leader about some policy:  This was a campaign rally.  It was not primarily an educational opportunity for the students.  Primarily, it was about the candidate.  A Ph. D. candidate like Mr. DeSante should be able to make this distinction.

Mr. DeSante thinks that Catholic schools should be open to alternative points of view.  Let us grant that this is a good thing.  It does not follow that people get to present “alternative points of view” with an an open microphone and no questioning.  It would have been interesting to allow Hillary Clinton to come to Mercyhurst, with the understanding that the conversation would be in two directions, and she should expect spirited questioning of her pro-abortion position.  New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho is a classically Protestant school that follows this approach.  They invite all sorts of speakers, including atheists and white supremacists, to speak at their campus.  However, this invitation often happens in the form of a debate, so that “alternative views” receive the challenge they often deserve. 

Mr. DeSante also minimizes the importance of abortion to Christian teaching.  I agree that abortion should not be the only issue that Christians vote on, but it should be a minimum condition for judging the sanity of a candidate.  For example, partial birth abortion  (note:this link shows step by step drawings, but not photos, of a partial birth abortion) involves partially delivering an unborn baby who might be able to survive outside the womb, then poking a scissors into its skull, then vacuuming out its brains so the skull can be crushed and the dead baby delivered.  Any aspiring politician who understands what this is about, and thinks this is OK, is obviously either insane or evil.  If they think it’s OK to do that to a baby, do you really believe them when they claim to want to help the poor? 

No Christian should vote for such a person, period.  If there is no reasonable alternative, write someone in.

A pro-life position is essential to Christianity and was present from the beginning.  Even back in the first century, the Romans had the practice of exposing unwanted infants to die.  (They were just a bit ahead of the Democratic candidates: they favored retro-active abortion.)  Early Christians were known for finding these infants, rescuing them, adopting them, baptizing them, and raising them as Christians.  This is one reason paganism died out. 

When it comes to the abortion issue, Hillary and Obama are clearly on the side of the Romans.  Obama even refused to vote against a measure that would have guaranteed that infants born alive would receive medical care.  He was more pro-abortion than the National Abortion Rights Action League on that point.  He went beyond being pro-abortion to being pro-infanticide.  Additionally, many pro-abortion politicians do not want to allow Catholic hospitals to have the choice of whether or not to do abortions, and they frequently want to force medical students to do abortions as part of their training.  “Pro-choice” only works in one direction for them. 

It is entirely proper for the Bishop to rebuke Mercyhurst for promoting a candidate whose views are anti-Catholic.

Now the Bishop should consider another problem:  Why would Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama think that the Mercyhurst College campus would be a particularly friendly place to have a rally?  Why should a pro-abortion candidate expect to have a nice photo opportunity, instead of a some serious controversy, at a Catholic college?  Where has Catholic education failed?


14 thoughts on “Bishop Trautman is Right About Mercyhurst

  1. Where does it fail? Its stance on not “allowing” abortion in cases of rape or incest. Or, quite possibly, the other gray area of a pregnancy which could do serious harm to the mother. Maternal mortality from pregnancy carries a higher death rate than abortion. Do I agree with partial-ban abortion? No. Do I agree that abortion is some sort of contraceptive? No. Do I think it should be given government funding? No. I think education should stress that abortion is for serious cases only and should stress protection and prevention. Unfortunately, the Church also frowns on all forms of contraceptives minus natural family planning and abstinence.

    Hill should have just given her rally at Behrend.

  2. Goooooood comments about Trautman and Mercyhurst. I am a Catholic and read a major Cath. publication regularly (Our Sunday Visitor) and must tell you that this is an issue the Church is struggling with everywhere. The colleges have a great deal of autonomy with local bishops having little control and only in the most grevious instances can do more than censure by some action such as Bish. T. has taken. Pope John Paul II issued a maundatum regarding the requirements for being an authentically Catholic College but the colleges are being very slow in response. Fortunately some are taking it seriously and the newest Catholic Colleges are in complete compliance (I don’t know if that is good news to you or not, since I haven’t read your blogs before)
    For a faithful Catholic it is a heartache to hear that a school named “Notre Dame” would run the “Vagina Monologues”, so vile to women and especially to the woman for whom the school is named, and yet the bishop can do little more than log a very vocal protest. (You ought to read about that one, if you think our issue is bad).
    I think Catholic education has failed in the same area that a great deal of American higher education has failed, in its fear of not being politically correct, perhaps in the educators themselves being isolated from the real world, certainly in the lack of authentic free speech in classrooms–ask a pro-life student in a “women’s studies” about that one–
    This is a subject that we could speculate about ad infinitum, but I just have hope in the next generation where I do see some strength and truth growing —-oops, I forgot about the writer of the forum we were discussing, there goes my hope.
    Thanks for positive thoughts.

  3. Maryanne, welcome to my blog.

    Generally, even though I am a Presbyterian, I think it is good that Catholic colleges teach real Catholicism. Then, you know that you are getting the real thing, whether or not you agree with it.

    In the case of Mercyhurst, I am pretty sure that they have been peddling watered-down Catholicism for a long time.

    I understand that a lot of colleges are part of religious orders, and therefore are not directly accountable to the local bishop. Also, colleges often follow the rules of “academic freedom” and have tenure policies that allow a person with tenure to teach just about whatever they like. So, theoretically, a tenured professor at a Catholic college could adopt white supremacist views, and the college could not fire him. (They could make his life miserable and hope he quits, or buy him out.)

  4. Melissa, if I haven’t said it before, welcome to my blog.

    You should check out the pumpkin recipes that Nikita posted here. Some of them are vegan, or close enough to it that you could get there with minor modifications.

    I am not in 100% agreement with the Roman Catholic position on abortion either. Since they do not allow abortion even in cases where mother and child would die, there times when, if a doctor followed Catholic teaching, two people would die instead of one. (I suspect that nearly all Catholic doctors would opt to save the life of the mother in these circumstances.)

  5. Not to question Bishop Trautman’s decision to make a stand regarding the college’s decision to allow Hillary to speak, but I think there was a bit of political play since the “boss” was coming to town soon.

  6. I do remember this very topic as a very touchy subject when it was discussed in my Confirmation classes way back when. I suppose the Church’s voiced stance rubbed me the wrong way. But, I think in many medical circumstances, it seems as if it would be “pardoned” to me.

    I’ll have to check out the pumpkin recipes – thanks! 🙂

  7. hi Ray…interested post… although I’m not really interested in politics in America…the education bit really interested me…as in the UK…(our experience)… the Catholic schools take children only if they are proven Catholics… sadly…if you go to those schools, you won’t say that any of those children are “Christians”… we wanted our children in such a school near us, because it’s a “good” school (remember, it’s London and you really have to go a mile and a half before you find a “good” school). They refused us, because we are not Catholics…but I can tell that we are more Christian than 99% of those kids…..I also did some “supply teaching”..I think you call it “release” in the US… in some Catholic Primary schools and they are pretty much like any other school…I really think they should allow any child and not just on the grounds of their faith…they should learn to accept other faiths/people too. If you enroll your child into their school, you accept/respect the rules and policy of the school..In the education system here, they have it as part of the curriculum to teach about all religions in schools, so it should be the case in their schools too…so why not accepting others in their schools?

  8. Nikita, you look so different today. 🙂

    I think the Catholic schools can have any admissions policy that they want. After all, they are providing the money and labor for the school.

    I suspect you would really regret if your kids were in there. After all, if they had a religious assembly, they would definitely be doing some things that you would not approve of.

  9. Thanks for your response. Re: your response to Melissa and the life of a mother and child, I heard an obstetrician speak some time ago and he said he had never, repeat, never met a mother/versus child event. I don’t doubt that it could happen though, but I believe that most doctors would make every effort to save both. There are so many procedures and so much knowledge now that it seems almost impossible to not be able to do the best possible for each. I think in the reality of such a moment the physician would do the best he could with what he could and who could say him nay. (generic “he”).

    Also regarding Nikita and Catholic school admission:she might be surprised to learn the population count in our local Catholic schools-from pre-K and up. Also, she might be surprised at the diversity of ethnicity, nationality etc. I’m really grateful for the blessing of my grandsons education at St. Peter’s Cathedral School which has a very diverse population ( and no we are not a rich family — by far–but with some programs available they are able to be there -Bish. T, promised that any Cath. child wanting a Cath. ed. will have one)
    Thanks for having a good site, with respectful responses.

  10. hi Ray.. it was time for a change… 😉 that cat was serious lol!

    In the far as I know.- and I think I’m correct with my facts…..the government provides the money for teachers/staff at their schools… they get it from the LEA’s…Local Education Authority..part of the council. I do agree with you what you say about Religious Assemblies.
    I’m just wondering what Maryann means…does she mean the number of children from other faiths in their Catholic school?

  11. Nikita,

    Around here the Catholic schools are not publicly funded, but they are open to anyone who pays tuition. There is a big discount if you are a member of the parish. Erie is a very Roman Catholic town, and a very high percentage of Erie kids are in the Catholic schools.


    I had heard of one case, from a person I knew, where the placenta was in the wrong place, and the mother started bleeding uncontrollably at about the 5th month of pregnancy. In that case there was emergency surgery that led to the termination of the pregnancy, and if that had not happened, both mother and child would have died. There is also the case of ectopic pregnancies.

    If doctors and patients are pro-life in their orientation, there will be more effort to find solutions to these problems that doesn’t involve terminating the pregnancy, and over time the number of conditions like this can be reduced.

  12. I finally got around to reading DeSante’s column, and is that pathetic. The man is a PhD candidate, and the whole column is based on a glaring non sequitur: that because the Bishop opposes the invitation of pro-abortion politicians (in this case, a Democrat) to campus, he wants Catholics to vote Republican, and specifically for McCain. There’s no basis for that in anything Trautman said, but apparently Mr. (soon to be Dr.) DeSante can’t understand the difference between objecting to a candidate, and endorsing his opponent.

    Someone ought to remind the man with the master’s in political science that the Bishop also declined to allow former Republican Governor Tom Ridge to be on the podiuml at Gannon events. (Gannon U. is directly controlled by the Diocese of Erie, so what the Bishop says, goes, there. Mercyhurst is run by the Sisters of Mercy, and so he does not have direct control in the same way.) It’s another example of the Times-News having absolutely no discernment in the quality of the guest columnists they print.

  13. In fact, Mr. DeSante evidently can’t tell the difference between having a policy against representatives of a particular position speaking at an institution that is adamantly opposed to that position, and “telling Catholics how to vote.” I suspect that if the Bishop intended to tell Catholics how to vote, he would have told Catholics how to vote, not simply registered a protest against having Mrs. Clinton speak at Mercyhurst.

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