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Letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

The following is a letter the Congregation’s General Council and Justice Coordinating Commission created for Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan:

Dear Cardinal Dolan,

We write to you as the Congregational Leadership Team and the Justice Coordinating Commission of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. We want you to know that we remember you in our Eucharistic liturgies when we seek God’s guidance for all Church leaders. Yours is a special responsibility considering your role in leading one of the largest archdioceses in the United States.

Our need to write this letter is sourced from our common call as sisters and brothers in Christ. We are dismayed by your recent and very public praise of President Donald Trump during your appearance April 26 on Fox News. Your enthusiastic praise for this president’s leadership was frankly shocking given how many of the Catholic, Gospel values we share are being challenged by the current administration.

We do not intend this letter to be about partisan politics. It is, however, about governmental policy and our call as followers of Jesus to speak up for those most marginalized. The very person you so lavishly praised as a superb leader has steered his administration into total disregard for climate scientists and the grave warnings they have been promulgating. This administration, in fact, continues to disparage sound scientific evidence supporting urgent reduction in greenhouse gases in order to mitigate climate change.

This is dangerous leadership. Has not our own leader, Pope Francis, called all people of the world to take swift and unified global action on behalf of our common home? The encyclical Laudato Si’ “unambiguously accepts the scientific consensus that changes in the climate are largely man-made” and states that “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.

It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” and warns of “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if prompt climate change mitigation efforts are not undertaken.

This administration has also blatantly denied the sanctity of life for those on federal death row. The Sisters of Providence have a long tradition of speaking out against the death penalty. The Indiana Catholic Conference of Bishops is also quite clear and public in opposition to the death penalty. Just within this past year, this administration reinstated the de facto paused federal executions by scheduling five persons to be executed. Thankfully, the US District Court for the District of Columbia blocked those executions.

At least for now, and only because of the federal judge’s ruling, Mr. Trump did not get to execute four federal death row inmates. We question your praise of such leadership that disregards the God-given gift of life and is contrary to public statements by your brother bishops and so many Catholic communities across the land.

We do not presume to know what was in your heart as you publicly shared such high praise for this president. We do not know what message you may have intended. What was received was an implicit, dare we say explicit, endorsement of this president at a time when he is running for re-election. To have him publicly supported by high-ranking and influential church leaders gives the impression that Catholics should support him. We cannot have the United States citizenry believing that this president’s leadership is consistent with Catholic values.

For these reasons and with all due respect we ask you to clarify your much-publicized praise for Mr. Trump’s leadership. As religious leaders, we are all called to exercise our influence with integrity and humility. As Catholic leaders, we have learned that lesson most keenly these past few decades. May Providence guide you with wisdom and strength in your service to God’s people in these challenging times.

Sincerely,

Sister of Providence Leadership Team

Sisters Dawn Tomaszewski, Lisa Stallings, Jeanne Hagelskamp, Mary Beth Klingel and Jenny Howard

Justice Coordinating Commission

Sisters Barbara Battista, Kathleen Desautels, Jeanne Hagelskamp, Mary Montgomery, Rosemary Schmalz, Barbara Sheehan, and Providence Associates Marsha McCarty, Pearlette Spring, Dinah Vasbinder, and Sue Weber

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The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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23 Comments

  1. Bob Johnson on May 8, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Dismayed or not this President is doing a Great job & will be re-elected. Frankly you should be righting to other Nations that need to do a better job on co2 emissions. Let me Remind you that He is the only candidate with Pro-Life values!

    • Dianne McGee on May 9, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      Pro-life values? Oh, no. Not when he gets to choose who has the value. Death row inmates have more value than that.

    • Barbara Battista SP on May 11, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      The current president disregards the life of the vulnerable all around us. The immigration policies; the under-funding of public education; making it harder for persons to have affordable access to quality healthcare; an attempt at resuming federal executions just to name a few are evidence of his lack of care and concern for the human community. To say that he is pro-life is not accurate, unless of course you are only referring to the life of the not yet born. This narrow view of life is not supported by Catholic teaching. We are called to support all life.

  2. Mary Heins on May 8, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks to the General Council and Justice Commission for this straight-forward objection to Cardinal Dolan’s conversation with President Trump on Fox News! I hope many other religious congregations do the same. It’s imperative that many, many Catholics voice their objections so that hopefully the Cardinal will address the Catholic population and the entire country to “clarify” his endorsement of Trump for re-election.

  3. Louise Weber on May 9, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Saying it like Jesus. Thank you.

  4. Bandarsamgong on May 9, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on sepulchers meaning.
    Regards

  5. Ginny on May 9, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you, sisters…
    You so perfectly voiced my own concerns about this president’s un-Christian behavior. It’s hard to understand how anyone who seeks to follow Christ can support behavior which consistently belittles and disrespects those who are of differing opinions or backgrounds!

    • Barbara Battista SP on May 11, 2020 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks for your support Ginny. Your post calls to mind how important it is for each of us to call out the very behaviors you mentioned. I do believe we can be civil and maintain relationships while pointing out such behavior. I think that is one of the key ways we can help influence our family, friends, and coworkers as we all prepare for this presidential election.

  6. Linda Hudson on May 9, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you, thank you for speaking out.

  7. Deanna Rose von Bargen, rscj on May 10, 2020 at 1:14 am

    How very much I appreciate your letter! Thank you so much for your courage.

  8. Charles John Collet on May 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    This was an excellent letter regarding Cardinal Dolan’s pandering to Fox News and this Administration with his “happy talk”. . I have written both Indiana Senators’ for their views. I hope it will lead to some contrition on the part of Cardinal Dolan. It is an up-hill effort because in 2016, 57% of Roman Catholic’s voted for Trump. They forgot the Sunday homily on love over hate, and, yes, the Good Samaritan, and let their bigotry’s and prejudice’s prevail. The Republicans know in their hearts that the right to life is more than some lip service to abortion before an election.

    • Barbara Battista SP on May 11, 2020 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks for your comment Mr Collet. I do believe we all share a responsibility, now more than ever, to seek out opportunities to engage in conversations that might open persons of faith and free them to explore the full depth of this administration’s harmful policies. I agree that folks “know in their heart that the right to life is more than some lip service to abortion” used as a carrot to get votes.

  9. Mary Carroll Blocher on May 11, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    I am so proud if the Sisters of Providence for speaking out against the bad example of Cardinal Dolan’s praise of Trump! I support the sisters in all they said; climate change,
    death penalty, immigrants and social change which reflects the Gospel!
    Thank you, Sisters!

    • Barbara Battista SP on May 11, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks for your support Mary Carroll. Let’s keep making some noise and calling out shameful behavior whether by the current occupant of the White House or Church leaders. We all can do our part to amplify Gospel values.

  10. Ann Clem on May 12, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    You have given many us the support we needed to hear, Sister of Providence.! I will be sharing your letter with the Association of US Catholic Priests (AUSCP). “”DO NOT BE AFRAID to confront reality and vote to bring our country leadership that reflects our faith. Society will never be perfect. We are called in ur society bringing to bear all of Jesus’ value.” (Document of AUSCP)

    • Barbara Battista SP on May 14, 2020 at 9:15 am

      Great quote Ann. The AUSCP has the right plan for how to live Gospel values. Our faith compels us to bring the Good News into all we do. Thank you for sharing this letter. We do not yet have a response from Cardinal Dolan.

      • Thomas J. Golden on May 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

        I don’t think you will get a response from Cardinal Dolan either. Some of our state governors (Cuomo in New York, Whitaker in Michigan, Evers in Wisconsin, and our own JB Pritzker in Illinois) seem to be much more Christian in their approach to care for the “flock” that is the citizens of their respective states. Still, you want an objective voice who can intelligently discuss the political situation as well as the current pandemic and the widely acknowledged miserable response from the current administration. Openly lying to the American people is inexcusable. To go on Fox News is tantamount to pandering to the president and little more than serving as a mouthpiece for arguably the worst occupant of the White House in history. Thankfully we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to exercise our right to vote our choice. We don’t need a cardinal to guide us. The Holy Spirit’s guidance supplants that of ANY clergyman any day!

  11. Gina Martinez on May 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you so much for this letter.

  12. Joanne Murphy on May 15, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you, Sisters, for succinctly stating Trump’s failings. I’m dumbfounded to learn that 57% of Catholics voted for him. It was eminently clear to me during the campaign that such a person was not worthy of being our President. I pray that this letter reaches ALL Catholics and that the 57% deeply reflect on their Catholic education.

  13. Virginia Anderson - Providence H.S., 1965 on May 15, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    I am embarrassed by these letters which seem to put more importance on the Cardinal’s interview than on the nation as a whole and its struggle to survive. The President is the one who, day after day, must keep the ship of state sailing, and this after being beleaguered on a daily basis by anyone and everyone. Cardinal Dolan has known Trump for many years, both being New Yorkers. I see his interview as ONE CHANCE to give the man some credit. If the man cured cancer, he would get no credit. Personally, I have no regard for your current grandstanding on climate change. There are just as many “experts” on both sides of the issue. You just choose to listen to those who promulgate your agenda. This issue pales with assisting the middle class get back to work and our country to ever survive. The current pope is a socialist, so I don’t consult him about political matters.

  14. Carolyn Kessler, SP on June 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    I commend all who had a hand in composing this letter to Cardinal Dolan. I’m incredulous at his praise of President Trump as are so many others. I’m also incredulous at the number of Catholics who support President Trump because of ‘his pro-life stance.’ He draws no connection between the unborn child and all those who suffer from poverty, including the elderly. As Pope Francis points out, the poor, the unborn, the elderly are equally sacred before God. His position does not make abortion the preeminent issue that is used by many Catholics to support clergy, such as Cardinal Dolan, who claim that it is. That narrow view of pro-life sets aside many crucial issues, one of which is immigration around which Trump continues to violate a host of Christian values with astonishing cruelty. Letters such as that from our congregation need to be added from others in leadership positions. Analysis of voters for Trump in the last election attribute over 3 million Catholics voted for him because of his narrow position on pro-life as articulated by leaders such as Cardinal Dolan. This year we can pray that those same individuals hear the voice of Pope Francis’ authentic Christian stance.

  15. PAUL PODEMSKI on June 14, 2020 at 9:14 am

    It’s evident that most Nuns today know what is going on inside the Church more than even Bishops or Cardinals. It’s time Nuns get ordained. I think they would make outstanding Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals. All it would take is one Nun to sue the Church for discrimination…. Do it .. The Chuch needs you !! The Sisters of Providence letter is SPOT ON !! Thank you …

  16. Michael B. on August 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    A little late, but I just read this article. I agree with the good Sisters of Providence.

    I just read another article about His Eminence Cardinal Dolan, similar in content. In the article, it said that Cardinal Dolan was going to say a prayer at the opening of the Republican National Convention next week. He said his decision is not political or partisan. Yeah, right. It’s the Republican National Convention. That’s not political? What hypocrisy. It’s no secret that Cardinal Dolan is a Trump supporter. It’s none of my business, but with all due respect, just what is the good Cardinal going to pray for anyway – an end to name calling, bullying, and harassment; an end to outright lying, bitter divisive and purposeful conflict-ridden decisions; an end to hatred of immigrants; an end to jailing of immigrant children; an end to blatant racism, white supremacy, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexual harassment; final acknowledgement of the serious nature of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the United States – or President Trump’s reelection?

    But, ten bucks says Trump’s good buddy prays (in silence) for Trump’s reelection anyway. Ten bucks also says Trump will then falsely tweet out a special thanks lie for Cardinal Dolan’s endorsement and that of the Catholic Church for his reelection.

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