VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
State Representative Barbara L’Italien has consistently supported two public policies that violate the teachings and core doctrine of the Catholic Church, abortion and gay marriage.
Last month, while staunchly defending her right to espouse these anti-Catholic positions, she publicly attacked pro-life activists who were holding a sign that read “You cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion”.
Some of the sign holders L’Italien publicly humiliated were members of her parish, St. Augustine’s in Andover. Shortly after the offended parishioners complained to Pastor Cleary at St. Augustine’s, L’Italien was asked to step down from her leadership role in the church choir.
Surprisingly, and quite arrogantly we might add, L’Italien refused.
But it was not only her defiance that was most shameful. Her very public refusal to accept the decision of her pastor has caused division in the parish, bringing controversy and bad publicity to her church; a Church that she pretends to love so much.
And when L’Italien’s pastor quietly asked her to step down as a cantor, did she respect her pastor and fellow parishioners by attempting to resolve the issue privately? Did she do what any one of us would have done when faced with an internal squabble in our own family? Did she speak to higher-ups in the church or try to resolve the matter quietly behind closed doors?
No. State Representative Barbara L’Italien shamelessly ran to the news media portraying herself as a victim and declaring the actions of her church as “wrong.” It was an act of betrayal and showed nothing but disrespect for her church, her pastor and her fellow parishioners.
As a public figure, L’Italien knows the destructive effects that the mainstream, Catholic-bashing media can have on a single parish. She knows that there are people and organizations (like the Boston Globe) that are just looking for an issue like this to portray the church (and its members) as intolerant and hateful. Yet, instead of resolving the matter by working with her church leaders and other parishioners (her family), she chose to deal with her “private religious matter” by running to the press. How Shameful.
The Catholic Church has every right (and, in fact, a moral obligation) to consistently espouse and defend its core beliefs and to insist that those who are in positions of leadership within the church support its teachings. No one has the right to hijack the pulpit and undercut the church’s mission. The stature, visibility and power of that pulpit was earned by the church and is owned by the church. Those who stand at the pulpit do so with the consent of the Catholic Church, not the press or the public at large. Representative L’Italien sought to over-rule the church and substitute her doctrine for the Church’s teachings. Not by persuasion within the Church, but by attacking the Church through the press.
It is no wonder the leaders of the Catholic Church don’t want elected officials who openly challenge their teachings to be up on the altar during mass. What they fear is exactly what has happened, a split among the parishioners and open defiance of the church’s teachings.
But L’Italien’s contempt for the church shouldn’t surprise anyone who followed her bid for reelection. She publicly (and shamelessly) campaigned by touting herself as both a “Catholic and a Parishioner of St. Augustine’s Church.”
This was to signal good Catholics, who actually believe in the Church’s teachings, that she stood with them on moral issues. (So much for her demand of a separation between church and state!)
Yet, all the while L’Italien was accepting donations and endorsements from gay marriage activists, voting for gay marriage in the legislature and promoting herself to liberal donors as a pro-abortion legislator.
We know of no civic, business, religious, or political organization that would tolerate one of its “leaders” actively working against their interests and teachings. Father Cleary was right to ask L’Italien to step down as cantor. It’s too bad she didn’t have the good sense to quietly comply and, if a public comment was needed, support her church in its need to effectively carry out its mission.