Texas Catholic Conference Conducts Ugly, Unprecedented Attack on Texas Right to Life
February 23, 2018 Posted by Tantumblogo
I’ve written on this subject before, though it’s been some time – basically, there has long existed a marked division among the Texas pro-life movement, the uncompromising, total ban on abortion and other forms of murder position represented by Texas Right to Life, and the much more accommodating stand taken by Texas Alliance for Life. There are many reasons to view Texas Alliance as weak on key issues, and indeed, most of the most dedicated, most successful pro-life advocates tend to support Texas Right to Life. During the 2014 legislative session, some acrimonious division developed between Texas Right to Life and the Texas Catholic Conference (TCC), which is the bureaucratic arm of the state’s bishops (like a mini-USCCB). Dominated by its lay staff and their preferences, including their relations with several prominent Texas lawmakers, TCC at various points supported end-of-life legislation that a number of pro-life advocates believed – I should say proved – actually worsened the status quo in Texas, and put elderly, the sick, and their families even more at the mercy of doctors and hospitals in making end of life decisions.
So why has Texas Catholic Conference taken the very unusual step of disavowing, or telling all Catholics in the state to disavow, this most effective pro-life group now? In a word, politics. Texas Right to Life, along with a number of other hardcore grass-roots conservatives groups like the Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, Texas homeschoolers, and others, have managed to fund a number of “insurgent” campaigns by true, hardcore conservatives against establishment candidates like Angela Paxton. Early voting is underway for the party primaries, so feeling their establishment buddies under threat, major Texas politicians like Joe Straus – the Speaker of the House, who has done more than anyone to block effective pro-life legislation in this state and who saw Texas’ pro-life ranking drop from #4 to #12 in his 10 year tenure as speaker – are pulling out the stops to try to break the backs of the conservative groups supporting the insurgent candidacies.
We’ve seen this before in this state, where the establishment always favors its own, but not to this degree, and not with a public disavowal of a group whose only “sin”, even by Texas Catholic Conference’s own admission, is to be “too pro-life.” In point of fact, the very minor pro-life “gains” we have seen in Texas are out of all proportion to the citizenry’s general abhorrence of abortion. In one of the most conservative states of the union, Texas’ pro-life legislation falls further and further behind, because of the super slow boil establishment approach.
Many Texas Catholics are incensed by what they see as a betrayal of THE most effective, most dedicated pro-life group in the state (which also happens to have the support of the best bishop this state has seen in 50+ years, Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi, who now offers the TLM more or less exclusively).
If you want more on the inside baseball of Texas politics and how this very sad abandonment of a great pro-life group9 came to pass, read the below from Church Militant, which……..yeah, I know, but just roll with it:
The bishops’ denouncement of Texas Right to Life comes in the wake of a split looming inside the Texas Republican Party — a winnowing of the conservative wheat from the Establishment chaff. Internal polling indicates Lone Star State RINOs are facing extinction in the upcoming elections, and political insiders believe the bishops’ “advisory” is a ploy to save their political hides. By demonizing Texas Right to Life, they suggest, the bishops hope to preserve their political allies in office.According to their “advisory,” the bishops are spurning Texas Right to Life for three reasons:
- Conflicts on pro-life reform. The bishops complained the group “often opposes the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops and has implied that the bishops do not faithfully represent Church teaching.” Texas Right to Life rejects the bishops’ “incrementalism” as a halting, soft approach.
- Conflicts on end-of-life reform. The bishops slammed Texas Right to Life’s messaging on end-of-life care and advance directives as “misstatements.”
- Texas Right to Life’s voter guide. The group publishes an annual voter guide scoring Texas lawmakers according to their pro-life record. The bishops have denounced the guide as built on unfair analysis, and they maintain “a number of legislators who have consistently voted for pro-life and end of life legislation have been opposed by Texas Right to Life.”This isn’t the first time Texas Right to Life has run afoul of the Church Establishment. In 2013, Jeffrey Patterson, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference, wrote to state Representative Dan Huberty on behalf of the bishops, blasting Texas Right to Life’s voter guide as “unconventional,” “subjective” and producing “perplexing results.” He complained that the voter guide assigned low scores to “pro-life lawmakers who have worked long and hard to protect and preserve life.”But Republican lawmakers like Byron Cook and Joseph Straus, key leaders of the Texas GOP Establishment, have been criticized by Texas Right to Life for obstructing pro-life laws.As Church Militant reported in October 2017, “Cook, as the chairman of the Texas House State Affairs Committee, has worked overtime to block pro-life legislation from being passed in the Texas legislature despite claiming to be pro-life.” For example, he killed HB1113, the Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform, which would prohibit insurance companies from paying for elective abortions.The pro-life bills Cook did support were considered “weak” and “fake” by Texas Right to Life — “ineffective or non-priority” measures that were actually “detrimental to the pro-life movement.”Straus, meanwhile, as Speaker of the House, “put a sudden end to a special legislative session” that Gov. Greg Abbott had called in order to address important bills Establishment Republicans ignored during the 2016–17 regular session.
Just because, fearing losing a primary election, Straus and Cook are no longer seeking another term, does not mean that the establishment is broken or disorganized. As we see, they are still plenty powerful.
I do wonder the degree to which the 21 bishops who ostensibly make up TCC are involved in this, and the degree to which it comes from the lay bureaucrats who run TCC on a day to day basis?
If you want to read the TCC declaration, here it is—>>>02-2018_TRTL_parish_advisory
Some folks are planning to walk out if the announcement is read in their parish during Mass this Sunday. I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about that.
I am saddened and shocked at this turn of events. There was no need for such an absolutist position from TCC against TRL – the two have worked together at many points in the past. Why now, of all times, this matter had to be brought to the fore is incomprehensible for reasons of doctrine or importance to souls. It very much appears to be doing what their political allies in Austin want the TCC to do, which is to try to remove a troublesome thorn from the establishcrats side. To Bishop Olson – dude, I’ve defended you in the past, but you got to get a hold of your temper. There are fights that are optional, and fights that are mandatory, and fights that one should never get in, and this is one of those.