To the editor: As a Catholic working to represent the views of the majority of lay Catholics in the U.S. who support the rights of individual conscience, I want to say that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) does not speak for me.
By forming a working group to examine President-elect Joe Biden’s pro-choice stance, and in light of the fact that it was quick to congratulate President Trump after his victory in 2016, the USCCB is essentially calling into question the majority of the U.S. Catholic voters who both supported Biden and who, like the president-elect, support safe, legal access to abortion.
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, the head of the USCCB, claims that Biden’s position “creates confusion among the faithful.” This is a condescending statement, and it shows how woefully out of touch the hierarchy is with the Catholic laity, whose members are, in fact, well-informed. They used their consciences in choosing to vote for Biden and to support reproductive healthcare.
The bishops would do well to remember what the polling shows: Catholics overwhelmingly disagree with denying the sacraments for political reasons, and they don’t rely on their bishops’ recommendations when voting, using birth control or making other moral decisions.
Instead, we listen to our consciences, just like the president-elect.
Jamie Manson, Washington
The writer is president of Catholics for Choice.
To the editor: As appalling as Trump is on many counts, I am even more disappointed with much of Randall Balmer’s commentary. He is an Episcopal priest, yet he voiced not one word of concern for the humanity of the unborn.
There is no getting around the political nature of abortion. The act itself is the willful destruction of a human life at a most innocent and vulnerable stage.
It saddens and shocks me that Balmer is so calloused to this reality. Instead, he embraces Biden for standing on the principles of “constitutional values and the law of the land.” The Supreme Court made slaveholder rights the law of the land for a season in our history, denying the full personhood of slaves.
The gift of life is a fundamental starting point in the Catholic catechism. The bishops’ concerns about Biden are completely valid.
Lynelle Harrigan, Granada Hills
To the editor: In 2016, Catholic bishops welcomed Trump’s victory and now are withholding acceptance of Biden. Why? Because of abortion.
Millions of American Catholics and evangelical Christians gave their vote, without regard to other critical issues or poor character, to the candidate who told them what they wanted to hear on abortion.
If the Supreme Court allows states to ban abortion, it will deprive millions of single-issue voters this rationale. It would be a moral and legislative step backward, but a huge leap forward in restoring election integrity.
We would get our nation back from demagogues.
Joel Athey, Valley Village
To the editor: As a Catholic I question the priests, bishops and cardinals who have sexually abused children and adults, justifying covering up their sins for the “good of the church.”
I question those bishops who have supported Trump, a user of men and women, whose lies regarding the coronavirus pandemic has caused the illnesses of millions and the deaths of thousands.
I question their myopic concern for the “unborn” while neglecting the suffering of the many living children who are hungry or homeless while the wealth of the few increases.
Doris Isolini Nelson, Los Angeles
To the editor: Balmer misses the mark by questioning the USCCB as to why it gave Trump a “pass” with respect to his indiscretions but is considering denying Biden access to the sacrament of communion because of his pro-choice position on abortion.
The reason for the disparate treatment is very elementary: Unlike Biden, Trump is not a Catholic. Therefore, the bishops lack the authority to question his theological positions.
Balmer, a non-Catholic priest himself, should know better.
Sam Chaidez, Mission Hills