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.
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