credit where credit is due
John Carr, the veteran justice-and-peace staff director for the US bishops' conference, has been under fire recently because of his ties with a leftist group that promotes legal abortion and same-sex marriage. It's a messy and complicated debate. Does Carr have close ties with leftist groups? Yes. Do leftist groups generally support abortion and same-sex marriage? Yes. Does Carr? No. Is he responsible for the initiatives taken by a group with which he has in the past been closely associated? That's the debate topic. The same topic has been under debate, off and on, since the first days of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which leads the league in ties with leftist groups. It's not mere coincidence that the group whose board Carr once chaired, the Center for Community Change, has a cozy long-term relationship with the CCHD.
Still the staff of the US bishops' conference is rallying around Carr. Thomas Grenchik, the executive director of the bishops' pro-life secretariat, reminds us that Carr "worked diligently to keep abortion out of the many recent health care reform efforts." Grenchik goes on:
Were it not for his efforts and those of others, our country would now be funding abortion and health plans that provide abortion, on a massive scale.
For months, the US bishops' conference, with Carr heading the staff effort, has been engaged in a puzzling push-pull effort on the health-care issue-- pushing for passage of the bill, pulling back when it appears that the legislation will include abortion coverage, pushing again when the abortion dispute stalls progress toward Congressional approval. The net impact of the USCCB lobbying was never entirely clear, and the fate of the health-care reform bill was very much in doubt until January 19.
We'll credit John Carr with good will in "his efforts" to spare us from a bill that enthroned abortion subsidies. But unless he was in Massachusetts early in January, campaigning for Scott Brown, it was "those of others" that finally made the difference.
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