by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
I was not able to watch much of the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
However, from the portion of the hearings that I was able to view and the summaries on news programs, I was very edified by the composure of this incredibly talented woman.
It was impressive to watch Judge Barrett respond thoughtfully without notes to often very complicated legal questions. Judge Barrett answered respectfully and calmly even to hostile questions from members of the Judiciary Committee.
I find her life story quite inspiring. Amy Coney Barrett grew up in a devoutly Catholic family. Her parents were leaders in a Catholic charismatic prayer group. Judge Barrett was criticized in her confirmation hearing for her current position as a federal appeals court judge for being an “orthodox” Catholic.
Senator Diane Feinstein complained that the “dogma lives loudly” in Judge Barrett. Judge Barrett makes no qualms about being a serious Catholic. She participates with her family not just by attending Sunday Mass, but by being a very active member of her parish community.
A very poignant and inspiring segment of the hearing was the testimony of a visually impaired former law student. Then-professor Barrett took a personal interest in helping this law student overcome what at the time seemed insurmountable challenges.
Judge Barrett’s high level of professional success — while at the same time being devoted to her faith, her marriage and her family — is a powerful example of living the Gospel.
Judge Barrett’s ability to balance both being a mother of seven, with two adopted children as well as a child with special needs, along with being a law professor and currently an appellate court judge, is a beautiful example of integrating faith, family and professional responsibilities.
I heard a portion of Sen. Ben Sasse’s questioning of Judge Barrett. The Nebraska senator compared the role of a judge in our legal system to that of an umpire in baseball. The umpire must not change the rules of baseball to help his preferred team gain victory. The umpire’s role is to apply the rules of the game fairly and accurately for both teams and all players.
In other words, a Supreme Court justice in her or his decisions should not attempt to impose a preferred philosophy of life, but rather is called to apply the law fairly for all parties in a manner consistent with the Constitution, the intent of the legislators and judicial precedent.
Sadly, confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominees have become quite contentious because previous courts have chosen to legislate (to create laws and public policies) rather than adjudicate the constitutionality of laws enacted by the Congress or state Legislatures.
When courts choose to create public policy, we cease being a democratic republic and become an oligarchy — ruled by a small and elite group of individuals.
If Judge Barrett’s nomination is confirmed by the Senate, it is possible that the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to allow greater latitude for the Congress and state Legislatures to protect both the lives of unborn children, as well as parents from experiencing the spiritual and emotional scars that inevitably result from abortion.
The protection of the unborn is not just the preeminent issue when we vote, but it also must be a high pastoral priority for the Catholic community.
This past March, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops invited dioceses and parishes to engage in the Walking with Moms in Need initiative as a fitting commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope St. John Paul’s encyclical, “The Gospel of Life.”
Walking with Moms in Need is an effort by the church to evaluate the resources available to assist mothers and fathers who are experiencing the many challenges that can impact pregnancy.
These challenges may include access to affordable and high quality prenatal care, financial assistance with providing proper nutrition, appropriate housing, employment, education, emotional support, etc.
Through the Walking with Moms in Need initiative, we hope to identify the gaps and limitations of the resources currently available and discern how we as a church can help fill the gaps and increase the resources.
It is not enough simply to support mothers and families during the pregnancy and at birth of the child. Our goal is to accompany mothers with the support they need so that they and their child will thrive for a lifetime.
We are fortunate in the archdiocese to have some amazing pregnancy resource centers that are eager to walk with moms, but they need additional financial and volunteer support. We also need to communicate more effectively the resources that are available.
If you are interested in assisting with the Walking with Moms in Need initiative, please contact your pastor or Debra Niesen, the consultant for our archdiocesan pro-life office.
Our commitment to help mothers, fathers and children thrive has also motivated the archdiocese to form a task force to examine how we as a church can help identify and equip foster care couples for children whose biological parents are unable, at least for a time, to care for them.
This is a huge need in Kansas. There are significantly more children who need foster care than available foster parents.
There are already many Catholic couples in the archdiocese who are serving as foster parents. Our church is grateful for the important service that you provide to children.
We know that foster parenting is not always easy. Our church wants to help and support you in your efforts to help every child to experience a safe and loving home.
I hope that we can raise up several hundred additional Catholic foster care families in the archdiocese. If every parish could raise up, at least, one new foster family, we would have more than 100 additional families.
Our larger parishes can potentially identify several possible foster families. Our hope is that the entire parish will become involved with supporting foster families in their critical role of providing safe havens for children whose biological families are going through difficult times.
If you are interested in assisting with the church’s efforts to help with the foster care crisis in our state, please contact Debra Niesen at our archdiocesan pro-life office.
Foster parenting calls for heroic love on the part of couples. If an entire parish community is committed to helping and supporting foster parents, this will be a huge morale booster for foster families.
Please make certain that you vote. Elections have consequences.
However, regardless of the outcome of the election, both pregnant women and foster families in our communities need additional support.
You can help build a culture of life by walking with one mom or assisting one foster child. Together, we can make a huge difference.