Did the Bishops Make "A Devil’s Pact" for Anti-Choice Judge?

“The Church in America is…in near perfect allegiance to the State!” –The late Phil Berrigan, Apostle of Peace and Dissenter Emeritus. [1]

The Catholic Bishops in America are on record as opposing the war in Iraq. [2] I’m sure it’s based on a beautifully written document that will make for a nice framing in an archive someday. The truth is that they have been mostly silent about the conflict, except for a little posturing here and there. They also oppose abortion. On the latter issue, however, their defiance is persistent, vigorous, with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Why haven’t they been just as strongly opposed to the immoral Iraqi war-a war which is incapable of being sustained on any legitimate theological basis? (Of course, this question can also be posed to the leaders of the other Christian and Jewish denominations, as well.)

I think I might have the answer, but it’s only speculation on my part. I suspect, but I can’t prove by any probative evidence, that the Catholic Bishops made a deal, an unholy bargain, with the Bush-Cheney Gang. My theory, and that is all it is, is that the Bishops promised to boost Bush’s presidential candidacy in the 2004 election, if he would continue to oppose abortion and if he would also promise to appoint an anti-choice judge to the Supreme Court at the next opening on that panel. Unfortunately, unless one of the principals to this nod-and-wink type of "a devil’s pact” owns up to it, we may never know the full truth! I can only say this for sure: If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it is, most likely, a duck!

Here is some background: On Aug. 3, 2004, only months before the presidential general election, the Knights of Columbus, (K of C), a Roman Catholic organization, held its annual convention in Dallas, Texas. [3] Despite the fact it is supposed to be a nonpolitical group, the guest speaker was none other than President George W. Bush, Jr., a candidate for reelection, who is also anti-abortion. He was then in a very tight race with the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, who was pro-choice on the abortion question. Many of the leading Catholic Bishops and Cardinals throughout the country showed up in Dallas to “bless” Bush at that event. Some had even spoken out before the Convention about denying Holy Communion to Kerry because of his liberal position on abortion. Oh, by the way, Texas is also the home base of Bush’s chief of staff, and reputed brain, Karl Rove! Right after the K of C event, and only days before the Nov. 2nd election, on Oct. 21, 2004, another important political signal was sent to the Catholic community in America. Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali, a very influential prelate, met personally with Bush for a photo op in a church rectory, in Downingtown, PA. On Oct. 3, 2004, that same Cardinal Rigali had given a homily, which some observers read as a ringing endorsement of Bush’s candidacy. It was distributed to 1.5 million Catholics in the Philadelphia area. [4]

At that time, I remember raising this question: “Is the Church’s silence on the Iraqi War a quid pro quo with the Bush-Cheney Gang for its pushing the Vatican’s anti-abortion agenda?” At the K of C Convention, Bush announced to wild cheers from the gleeful prelates, that “religious organizations would receive part of $188 million in government grants this year for social service programs, the centerpiece of a White House ‘faith-based’ initiative.” [5]

Recently, my suspicions rose even higher about a possible deal, when President George W. Bush nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, John G. Roberts, Jr. He’s a 50-year-old, Harvard-educated, Roman Catholic and corporate lawyer. In the early 90s, Roberts had served as a deputy solicitor general during the “Reign of Bush I.” He did participate in a legal brief during that period, in which he had argued that Roe v. Wade was “wrongfully decided and should be overruled.” [6] His wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, also a lawyer, serves on the board of Feminists for Life, a group committed to “ending abortion.” [7] Roberts could be one of the payoffs that I am surmising about. Of course, he personally had nothing to do with this supposed bargain, but he may, if he’s approved by the U.S. Senate, get the benefit of it.

In the eyes of some Church leaders, abortion is the greatest evil in the world. They insist on saying things like this, even though half the people on the planet exist on less than $2 a day! [8] For example, in the country of Venezuela, 85 percent of its citizens barely survive, living in grinding poverty. For these people, and billions more like them, abortion is the last thing on their minds. Also, the robot-like moralizing by the clerics over abortion tends to desensitize many to the existential horrors that daily confront humanity. [9]

"Not a few of our more prominent Bishops have even waited upon the Presidency like court jesters…" — Phil Berrigan [1]

The Bishops have a moral obligation to oppose an unjust war. This requires them to look for guidance to the Church’s most impressive authority on the question – St. Thomas Aquinas – one of Italy’s most brilliant sons. He is one of the leading teachers of the R.C. Church.

Among Aquinas’ learned writings is his treatise on the concept of a “Just War.” [10] He gave three reasons that must be present in order for a war to be classified “as just:” It must be lawfully authorized, the causes for it must be justified and rightful intentions are needed. Well, I’m no theologian, (although my Irish mother did want me to become a priest), but my reading of Aquinas leads me to conclude that the Iraqi War couldn’t pass muster on any one of these reasons. Why? First, this war is illegal! It wasn’t "authorized" by the proper party, the U.S. Congress, under Art. 1, Sec. 8 [11] of the U.S. Constitution. Only the Congress can declare war. Therefore, it was without authority to delegate that awesome power to the hawkish Bush. Second, the supposed "causes" for the war were all based on lies, deceptions and fraud! [11] And, third, the “intentions” of the Bush-Cheney Gang in launching the Iraqi War weren’t by any stretch of the imagination “good.” In fact, they were all evil! Destroy Iraq; steal its oil; destabilize it and the region; plant military bases, occupy and impose a puppet regime to rule over it, were just some the real "intentions" of the warmaking cabal. [12] That cabal was led by Bush, V. P. Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz, the chief architect of the Iraqi War. [13]

As I write 1,781 Americans have died in the Iraqi War, over 15,000 have been wounded, and at least 26,000 innocent Iraqis are dead. A devastated Iraq has now become a major recruiting ground for militants, thanks, mostly to the gross recklessness of Bush, the UK’s Tony Blair and those slippery Neocons. [14] U.S. taxpayers have already wasted $183 billion on this conflict with no end in sight. The Republic’s future, too, is at risk because of all the rampant warmongering. [15] So, if the Bishops did make a pact with the Bush-Cheney Gang that bought their silence on the war, my question to the clerics would be this: “Are you happy, now?”

Finally, I suppose we will never really know the truth about whether there was a deal cut or not, unless, of course, the Machiavellian Rove-Bush’s brain-is indicted and convicted of perjury in the ongoing Valerie Plame scandal and then decides to come clean in a sensational new book. If he does, the title of his tome might read like this: “Prison Memoirs of the Man Who was Bush’s Brain: How I got the Supposed Peace-loving Catholic Bishops to support in the 2004 presidential election my Warmongering Boss, Bush II.”


[1]. Phil Berrigan in a letter to Bishop William Baum of Washington, Sept., 1971, at: http://www.thesocialedge.com/archives/tedschmidt/columns-dec2002.htm/. Check out also for background on Berrigan, a video, March 19, 2002, at: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater22.html/ of his last public appearance, where he warned, "The Times are Ominous!" See, too, a short film on Berrigan’s Funeral Procession, Dec. 9, 2002, at: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater74.html/

[2]. http://www.usccb.org/

[3]. As of Aug. 3, 2004, the date of the K of C Convention, when the R.C. clerics were catering to the warmongering Bush, the Iraqi conflict had already cost the lives of 13,398 Iraqi civilians, 925 brave American soldiers and wounded 5,976 more. The war had also extracted $126 billion out of our national treasury. See, http://antiwar.com/

[4]. Washington Times, “Bush Pitches for Catholic Vote,” Joseph Curl, 10/22/04.

[5]. Elisabeth Bumiller, 08/04/04, New York Times.

[6]. “Abortion Stance Becomes Subject of Speculation,” by Stephanie Desmon, Baltimore Sun, July 22, 2005.

[7]. “Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest,” by Lynette Clemetson and Robin Toner, NYT, July 22, 2005.

[8]. http://worldrevolution.org/

[9]. http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/develop/2005/0112stateoftheworld.htm/

[10]. http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Law111/AquinasJustWar.htm/

[11]. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/

[12]. http://www.thefourreasons.org/

[13]. http://www.unknownnews.net/031102a-be.html/

[14]. http://batr.net/neoconwatch/

[15]. “The Sorrows of Empire,” by Chalmers Johnson.