By Doug Mainwaring
A Kentucky bishop known for pro-homosexual advocacy has published a commentary criticizing the high school boys who marched against abortion in Washington, D.C. for wearing Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats.
“I am ashamed that the actions of Kentucky Catholic high school students have become a contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest,” wrote Lexington Bishop John Stowe in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald Leader.
Bishop Stowe’s expression of shame comes at an odd moment, days after the boys have been vindicated by extensive video footage showing the minors were targeted by radical, foul-mouthed, aggressive activists.
In Stowe’s opinion piece, the students are once again targeted.
In a thinly veiled way, Bishop Stowe’s article drips with contempt for President Trump, his border protection policies, and his supporters. While implying that pro-life Catholics have become separated from the “basic truth of the dignity of each human person,” he fails to respect the human dignity of the Covington Catholic High School boys at the center of this story.
Bishop Stowe’s opinion piece is far more political and brazenly partisan than the message the boys’ hats – souvenirs of their trip to the nation’s capital – might ever hope to convey.
The Lexington, Kentucky Bishop suggests that the boys were delivering a racist message simply by wearing the hats, and uses that to launch an attempt to decouple the pro-life movement from its roots, hoping to recast it as a progressive cause within the Church.
Stowe sees the hats as hypocritical in light of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) recent pastoral letter on racism, which “speaks of the structural kind of racism that has worked itself into the fabric of our nation.”
Nowhere in his commentary does Bishop Stowe condemn the vitriol and threats of murderous violence against the boys. Instead, he uses their misfortune to advance his own political agenda.
Bishop Stowe’s article also failed to mention the many pro-life gains made under the Trump administration, such as the reinstatement and expansion of the Mexico City Policy (now called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance) banning U.S. tax dollars from funding and promoting abortion overseas; defunding the United Nations Population Fund over its participation in China’s forced abortion regime; signing a law letting states defund abortion providers; appointing a record number of federal judges; protecting religious liberty and siding with Catholic groups that don’t want to be forced to fund abortion and contraception; disqualifying abortion facilities from family planning subsidies; and championing a ban on abortions at 20 weeks, at which point preborn babies can feel pain.
The prelate’s commentary also neglects the fact that Trump and members of his administration have played key roles in the March for Life since the Republican took office. In 2017, Vice President Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to address the March for Life. White House advisor Kellyanne Conway also spoke at that March.
In 2018, President Trump spoke with March for Life attendees via a live video stream. This year, a message from Trump was also played at the March for Life, and Pence spoke live from the event’s stage again. Pence was the keynote speaker at the March for Life’s Rose Dinner later that night.
Stowe spoke at conference of dissident group in 2017
The Covington boys made national headlines after a selectively edited video of the students in an encounter with drum-beating Native American activist Nathan Phillips went viral, making it appear as if the boys were mocking Phillips.
The video triggered a barrage of unwarranted vitriol against the young men, who were vindicated after additional footage of the incident was made public. The extended footage showed Phillips confronting the students and other protestors, members of the radical “Black Hebrew Israelites,” calling them offensive slurs – and the students remaining calm and not returning the mistreatment in kind.
The boys were initially subject to swift, condemning statements not only by pundits in secular media, but also by their own bishop, other dioceses, National Review, and even the March for Life, some of whom quickly retracted and/or apologized for their uninformed rush to judgement.
“It astonishes me that any students participating in a pro-life activity on behalf of their school and their Catholic faith could be wearing apparel sporting the slogans of a president who denigrates the lives of immigrants, refugees and people from countries that he describes with indecent words and haphazardly endangers with life-threatening policies,” wrote Stowe, not mentioning the fact that a video message from President Trump was played during the pro-life activity the boys were attending, and Vice President Pence attended and spoke at it.
“We cannot uncritically ally ourselves with someone with whom we share the policy goal of ending abortion,” he added.
Stowe’s diocese advertises on its website how the faithful can sign up to ride in busses to the March for Life and participate in the annual anti-abortion event. The March for Life does not bill itself as a pro-mass immigration event.
Stowe is famously a voice for progressive causes within the Catholic Church – even those which go against Catholic teaching.
He is one of five bishops who endorsed pro-gay Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s book, “Building a Bridge,” and was also a featured speaker in 2017 at a conference for the dissident group New Ways Ministry. The gathering was titled “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.”
New Ways Ministry was condemned in 2010 by then-president of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, and in 2011 by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, USCCB chairman of the Committee on Doctrine. In 1999 the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “permanently prohibited” the group’s co-founders “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons,” after ruling that their teaching was “erroneous and dangerous” and “doctrinally unacceptable.”