With much enthusiasm and fervor, Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), gave a crash course on the Catholic understanding of social justice during the Missouri Catholic Conference’s (MCC’s) 50th anniversary celebration Oct. 7.
She spoke to about 150 people in her workshop at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
She began with the Bible.
“We find our social justice roots in Matthew 22 when Jesus tells the young man that the two greatest commandments are love of God and love of neighbor,” she said. “As well, in Matthew 25, Jesus will ask us at the final judgment what we have done for the least and little ones.”
She noted that social justice isn’t just for the 10 people on the parish social-concerns committee or for the retirees in the Church who have plenty of time to volunteer. The call to social justice is the call of every believer.
“We need to ask ourselves how are we living out acts of kindness, charity and mercy and how can we contribute to building a more just world for the least among us,” she said.
Mrs. Rosenhauer touched on seven foundational principles of Catholic social teaching: the sanctity of human life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation, rights and responsibilities; a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and worker’s rights; and solidarity and care for God’s creation.
She noted that these tenants are so often tied together.
For instance, “when CRS was helping with funding to help the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we were able to impart the need for abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage both of which are Catholic values,” she said.
“We stand in solidarity with the poor when we support government programs that help those who are marginalized and disadvantaged,” she said. “And we do this day-in and day-out throughout the world.”
She emphasized that social justice isn’t “just a Pope Francis thing.”
“He didn’t discover it in the last few years,” she said with a smile. “He just seems to have a knack to tie it all together.”
One of her favorite quotes from the current pontiff is from his second encyclical, “Laudato si’: On Care For Our Common Home”:
“When we fail to acknowledge as part of the reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo or a person with disabilities, it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself, everything is connected.”
She encouraged everyone to take part in CRS’s and Pope Francis’ “Share the Journey” campaign (www.sharejour ney.org) to raise awareness and understanding of the global migration crisis.
“Check out the website and get involved,” she said. “We have a chance through this campaign to come together and love our neighbor and welcome the stranger.”
Blowing the whistle
on Planned Parenthood
When Sue Thayer began working at her local Planned Parenthood in 1991, she was convinced she was helping women.
For 17 years, she served as the center manager of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s clinic in Storm Lake, Iowa.
“I told myself that I was serving the community and helping women and ultimately reducing abortions,” Ms. Thayer told about 100 people in her workshop and PowerPoint presentation at the MCC anniversary celebration. “I justified working here because my clinic did not perform abortions.”
However, the eyes of a foster mother of more than 100 kids and mother of five adoptive children where opened in 2002 when officials discovered the remains of a newborn baby at a recycling center in her small town.
The sheriff came to her office seeking the medical records of a woman who may have been the mother of this child, who was born alive and then killed.
“It was a murder investigation,” Ms. Thayer explained. “So, maybe naively, I thought Planned Parenthood would want to cooperate.”
Instead, Planned Parenthood leadership saw it as a fundraising opportunity, turning to the media to claim that turning over medical records would constitute an injustice.
“Money came pouring in to fight this ‘injustice,’” she said. “A mother killed her born-alive child, and Planned Parenthood was more interested in profiting off the attention than helping to solve the crime.”
Fast forward five years to 2007, and Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa was going to start webcam abortions.
In such a tele-med setting, a doctor could push a button on a screen, and at another facility anywhere in the state, a drawer would open in front of the woman seeking a chemically induced abortion.
The drawer was stocked with two life-ending drugs. The first one was to be taken in front of the doctor on the screen. It blocked the hormones and nutrients to the pre-born baby, killing him or her.
The second pill, which could be taken at home, causes contractions.
The procedure was to be performed on fetuses under 70 days of gestation.
Ms. Thayer was asked to be trained to administer this procedure. She said “no” and was fired from Planned Parenthood in 2008.
Soon thereafter, she led Storm Lake’s first ever 40 Days for Life campaign on the sidewalk outside the very clinic she had supervised for so many years.
Shortly after the 40-day prayer vigil was completed, that Planned Parenthood location closed its doors forever.
In 2015, Ms. Thayer testified before Congress regarding Planned Parenthood’s lucrative false-billing methods and is part of a nationwide lawsuit against the abortion provider.
Has it been easy? “No,” she said.
She lost her marriage, friends and a very lucrative job.
“When this all came to light, I was routinely having to testify against friends I had worked with,” she said. “I am the last person to want to stir the pot and be in the middle of a controversy. If I can do it so can you. Get out there and volunteer with your local pro-life group. Join a 40 Days for Life event.”
She told the audience that her favorite pro-life slogan is from President Ronald Reagan: “I notice that everyone who is for abortion is already born.”
“It gets them every time,” she noted with a smile. “Pro-choicers don’t have a comeback to that one.”
With an unassuming demeanor, she stated she’s pro-life because of God and His love for all people.
“We are created in His image, and every abortion is an abomination against God,” she said.
She noted that abortion is on the way out — the number of Planned Parenthood locations in Iowa alone has gone from 28 to nine — but pro-lifers must continue to fight.
“Get out there and pray in front of a clinic,” she said. “Share the pro-life message with your friends on social media. Write your legislators, volunteer and donate to local pregnancy help center, and most of all, don’t worry about what you are to say or do. God will be with you.”
Mr. O’Neill is a free-lance reporter and a member of St. Patrick parish in Rolla.