A Catholic Response to the “Call to Civility”

Categories: Latest News

Catholic Laymen in the Public Square

1. All men and women of good will value civility, but civility is not the highest — or the only — civic virtue. Rather, justice is. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Deus Caritas Est, “Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics.”

2. If Catholic politicians advocated segregation or — even worse — slavery, would there be a call for civility towards them?

3. If Catholic politicians said they did not believe in just war principles but rather in aggressive wars of conquest, would there be a call to be civil toward them?

4. If Catholic politicians said the poor are poor because of their bad behavior and we are not obliged to help them in any way, wouldn’t we say they are heartless and even un-Christian?

5. We know the answer to these questions. There would be a justified public and not very civil call for their removal from public life. Moreover, there would be a public and justified call for the Catholic hierarchy to do something about them. And leading the public cry would be many who have signed the “Call for Civility.”

6. Some ask for civility now for one reason, abortion. John Paul the Great called abortion the greatest civil rights issue of our time and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops recently called it the number one political issue of our time. Embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage follow right behind, though numerous Catholic politicians also oppose the fundamental teachings of the Church on these issues.

7. The lack of public civility comes not from pro-lifers but from those Catholic politicians who support the right to kill innocent life in the womb and those who support defining man-woman marriage out of existence. But, some want to treat these politicians differently because they agree with them on important but purely prudential questions like health care, and the minimum wage.

8. These are old and tired arguments that have been criticized by successive Popes and by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for putting unequal problems on the same moral plane. Though not all of its signers intend it, we believe the effect of the “Call for Civility” would be to silence the pro-life and pro-family movements. We oppose this effort root and branch.

9. One of the greatest moral leaders in modern history led the fight in Britain to end the slave trade. William Wilberforce also campaigned for prison reform, the end of child labor and many other worthy social reforms. But Wilberforce knew that all these questions would never be answered until the great poison of the slave trade was ended. The slave trade coarsened the British people, the British ruling class, and British public life. In precisely the same way, abortion and other issues have coarsened our public life, and have poisoned American political discourse and our politics. Progress will not be made on other important but prudential issues about which well-intentioned people may disagree civilly unless and until the Culture of Death is as much a part of history as the slave trade.

10. In short, we will feel free even strongly to condemn the public policy positions of Catholic politicians who support abortion, embryo-destructive research, and homosexual marriage. They stand against the teachings of the Church and in favor of morally repugnant practices that are counter to the common good and that should be unwelcome in a just or even polite society. And we support bishops who move strongly to eliminate their grave public scandal. We say this not as Democrats or Republicans but as faithful Catholics.


(Organizations listed for identification purposes only)

Carol Nevin Sue Abromaitis
Professor of English, Loyola College

Daniel Allott
Senior Writer/Policy Analyst, American Values

John Baker
Professor of Law, Louisiana State University

Miquel Bedolla, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Jeffrey Bell
Former aide to Ronald Reagan
Principal, Capital City Partners

Brian Benestad
Professor of Theology, University of Scranton

Judge Robert Bork

John T. Bruchalski, M.D.
Founder, Tepeyec Family Center

Christian Brugger
Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy,
Institute for Psychological Sciences

Brian Burch
President, Fidelis

Cristina Burrelli
Executive Director, Alliance for the Family

William D. Byrne, M.D.

Rear Admiral William M. Callaghan

Frank Cannon
Principal, Capital City Partners

Joseph Capizzi
Associate Professor of Theology, Catholic University of America

Katherine H. Carroll, R.N.

Samuel B. Casey, J.D.

Larry Cirignano
Former President, Catholic Citizenship

Richard Clair Esq.
Board of Directors, Human Life International

Margaret Colliton, R.N.

William Colliton, M.D.
Board of Directors, Human Life International

James Costantino, Ph.D.

Julie A. Curtis, M.D.

Richard P. Delaney, M.D.

Bernard Dobranski
Dean, Ave Maria School of Law

Charles Donovan
Executive Vice President, Family Research Council

Dawn Eden
Author, “The Thrill of the Chaste”

Carmen H. Egge

George V. Egge Jr., Esq.

Father Tom Euteneuer
President, Human Life International

Patrick Fagan
Senior Fellow, Family Research Council

Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons
Author, Psychiatrist

Gerry Giblin
Board of Directors, Cardinal Newman Society

Thomas Giblin, M.D.

Kenneth L. Grasso
Vice President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists

James Hitchcock
Professor of History, Saint Louis University

Jim Holman
Publisher, California Catholic Daily

Jerry Horn
Director of Communications, Priests for Life

Larry Jenkins Jr., M.D.

Colonel William T. Keegan, USA Ret.

Father Joseph Koterski SJ
Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University

Peter Kreeft
Author, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

V. Bradley Lewis
Associate Professor, School of Philosophy
Catholic University of America

Lorenzo Marcolin, M.D.

George Marlin
General Editor, Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton
Author, “The American Catholic Voter”

Connie Marshner
Raphael Services

William E. May
Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology
Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Catholic University of America

J. Laurence McCarty
Board of Directors, Cardinal Newman Society

Tom McClusky
Vice President for Government Affairs, Family Research Council

Kelly McGinn
Board of Directors, Human Life International

Francis Xavier McLaughlin, Esq.

David Mills
Editor, Touchstone Magazine

Gerald Mitchell
Attorney at Law

Charles Molineaux, Esq.

Steve Mosher
President, Population Research Institute

Honorable Tim Murphy

George Neumayr
Editor, The Catholic World Report

James Nolan
Attorney at Law
President, Crossroads Pro-Life

Stuart W. Nolan, Jr., Esq.

Michael Novak
George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy
American Enterprise Institute
Winner — Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion

J.M. Brian O’Connell, M.D.

Father Frank Pavone MEV
National Director, Priests for Life

Father Marcel Guarnizo
President, Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe

Patrick Reilly
President, Cardinal Newman Society

Daniel Robinson
Professor, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University

Robert Royal
President, Faith and Reason Institute

Ray Ruddy
President, Gerard Health Foundation

Austin Ruse
President, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute

Cathy Ruse
Former chief pro-life spokesperson, US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Carol Saeman

John Saeman

William L. Saunders
Senior Fellow
Director of the Center for Human Life and Bioethics
Family Research Council

Brian Scarnecchia
Professor of Humanities and Catholic Culture, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Robert Shalhoub, M.D.

Russell Shaw
Author, “Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith”

Father Robert Sirico
President, Acton Institute

Edward D. Soma, M.D.
Founding Chairman, Department of Radiology and
Nuclear Medicine, Holy Cross Hospital

Joseph J. Soma, M.D.

Damian von Stauffenberg
Chairman, Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe

Donna Steichen
Author, “Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church”

Richard Stith
Professor of Law, Valparaiso University

Emily Sullivan

Mary Alice Swengros

Mike Tarone
Attorney at Law

Pat Trueman
Former Executive Director/General Counsel
Americans United for Life

John Vanchiere, M.D., Ph.D.

Deborah Vanlandingham, R.N., M.S.N.
Joseph A. Varacalli, Ph.D.
Author, “The Catholic Experience in America”

Dr. Paul Vitz
Professor of Psychology, Institute for Psychological Sciences

Bridgett Wagner
Policy Expert

Steve Wagner
President, QEV Analytics

Jack Whelan
Chairman, Culture of Life Foundation

Kenneth Whitehead
Former Assistant Secretary of Education

Jack Willke, M.D.
Former President, Nation Right to Life Committee
Former President, International Right to Life

Christopher Wolfe
President, American Public Philosophy Institute

Thomas Woods
Author, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization”