Anti-abortion Catholics from several Eastern states plan to pull the welcome mat out from under the U.S. bishops in Baltimore next week and replace it with protests alleging that the bishops did not take a strong enough stand against abortion during the election.
The bishops’ alleged inaction led to the election of Barack Obama as president, said Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue and organizer of the protests.
The demonstrations, expected to attract participants from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, are scheduled to take place outside the Marriott Waterfront hotel Sunday and Monday afternoons. The bishops are meeting there Monday-Wednesday during the annual fall meeting of their umbrella organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
"A key factor in the election of Barack Obama was the silence of U.S. Catholic bishops,” Terry said. “They had a duty to clearly and courageously defend the lives of unborn children. Most of them failed miserably. Their silence and cowardice over the last 12 months paved the way for Obama's victory, and will cost millions of innocent babies their lives.”
Some protesters will wear Obama masks and carry signs proclaiming, "Bishops: Thank you for your silence!", Terry said in a news release Friday announcing the protest. Another poster will say, "Bishops: I couldn't have been elected without You!" And still other messages will be unveiled that day, Terry said.
During the run-up to the election, individual dioceses throughout the country based their programs on a statement the bishops approved during their 2007 fall meeting. That statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States,” covered a range of topics, including abortion, violence in society, marriage issues, poverty, healthcare, immigration reform, and military force the bishops said Catholics should consider in choosing candidates.
Terry and many other advocates have criticized the statement for enveloping too many issues instead of focusing on abortion. He did so again Friday, branding the statement as “a disaster. It was used by every pro-abortion Catholic in the country to justify voting for Obama.
"God have mercy on" the bishops, Terry said. “Let's hope they recognize the abject failure of 'Faithful Citizenship,' and formally abandon it, or radically rewrite it in a way that accurately reflects church teaching."
A few bishops who took strong stands on the election, such as saying Catholics should not vote for candidates who support abortion, will be acknowledged and honored during the protests, Terry said.
After Obama was elected Tuesday, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the USCCB, sent the president-elect a message on behalf of the bishops saying, "Our country is confronting many uncertainties. We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person."
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