(Cleveland) - Cleveland Right to Life (CRTL) has sent a formal letter to Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon asking him to suspend the Diocese's "Faithful Citizenship" meetings until faithful staff and correct content can be established.
The stated purpose of the "Faithful Citizenship" meetings was to aid Catholics in properly forming their consciences according to the truths of the Catholic faith, which would then guide them in voting come November. Central among these truths in an election year is the Church's teaching that intrinsic evils -- actions that are fundamentally and in every circumstance morally wrong, like abortion -may never be supported by faithful Catholics. Indeed, the Church terms abortion a "non-negotiable" issue, one which is a serious sin to endorse or promote in any way.
Also of vital importance this election is what the US Catholic Bishops have declared is an attack on religious liberty and on the Church herself: the HHS mandate and the removal of conscience protection rights under the current administration.
But that is hardly what is being taught at the "Faithful Citizenship" meetings.
Several sessions were attended by CRTL members recently, and their findings were shocking. The Church's directive to give Life Issues primary importance in voting decisions was deliberately confused and downplayed. Attendees' questions aimed at clarifying this teaching were ignored. One presenter even walked out of more than one meeting to signify he would not tolerate discussion on this vital point. And discussion of the attack on religious liberty was virtually non-existent.
Alarmingly, CRTL has learned that one of the "Faithful Citizenship" forum leaders, Karen Leith, a Director in the Diocesan Social Action Office, has no objectivity and more than questionable alliances. Her Facebook page extols her support of Obama. She is a leader in the League of Women Voters, a national organization that is rabidly pro-abortion. And she is a former board member of Future Church, a local dissident Catholic group denounced by Bishop Anthony Pilla and affiliated with the national Call to Action organization, whose members have been formally excommunicated.
The entire format of the meetings was restrictive, contrary to being publicized as an "open forum" where questions and comments would be welcome. All questions had to be written, submitted and screened by the presenters. No responses from the audience were permitted.
"What was a great opportunity for the Diocese to inform its people and galvanize them against policies which directly threaten the Catholic Church has been hijacked by open dissidents working to promote their own agenda, NOT the truths of the Faith," explained CRTL board member Jerry Cirino. He continues, "Catholics should be outraged at this approach, which treats faithful Catholics as unruly children and leaves attendees with the impression that they can vote for the promotion of intrinsic evils and against the interests of the Church and feel good about it."
"As a Catholic, I am appalled," notes Molly Smith, President of CRTL. "Our Church is under attack by the most liberal abortion party in history, a party that has demonstrated a clear bias against Christians as well. For the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to respond in this manner, missing a great teaching and unifying opportunity, borders on the unforgiveable."