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Will New Bishop, Biden Get Message?. . . Delaware Pro-Lifers Find It Easier To Place Theme In Secular Paper

July 29, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

Will failed attempts to place two pro-life advertisements recently in the Wilmington, Del., Catholic diocesan newspaper prompt the diocese’s new bishop to reflect on how the radically pro-abortion Joe Biden has been allowed to retain his claim to be a practicing Catholic in his East Coast home state?
Both ads, one by some pro-life parishioners at the church frequented there by Biden, St. Joseph on the Brandywine, and the other by Delaware Right to Life, subsequently ran at Delaware’s largest newspaper, The News Journal, without any problem.
On July 19 The Wanderer asked Joseph Owens, editor and general manager of The Dialog diocesan newspaper, about the pro-life ads not running. Owens promptly replied in brief comments.
“The Dialog typically does not discuss interaction with customers or potential customers with anyone but the customer, but I can say you have some inaccurate information,” Owens said. “In the first case, no advertisement was ever submitted for consideration to The Dialog from the parishioner group you mention at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine.
“In the case of Delaware Right to Life, The Dialog offered to work on messaging with members of the group. They declined,” he said. “You should note that the special section did include other messages of support on behalf of pro-life.”
David O’Flynn, a member of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Parishioners for Life, spoke with Owens about placing an ad in The Dialog.
O’Flynn told The Wanderer on July 19 that he decided not to run an ad there after a phone conversation with Owens, but instead turned to the daily secular News Journal, which was easy to work with.
“The demeanor he exuded on the phone, the tone of the conversation, and his curt responses gave me the clear indication he had zero interest and would be very difficult and time-consuming to deal with,” O’Flynn said. “I got the clear impression I was bothering him.
“I was astonished that I’d even need to convince the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and their publication to run a pro-life advertisement. So my decision was to not patronize The Dialog with my business and my money,” O’Flynn said.
He said The News Journal was “wonderful to deal with, very accommodating, and provided three days of run time for the same money,” $2,700.
The Wanderer provided editor Owens with O’Flynn’s entire comment concerning him. Owens replied on July 20, “Regarding my conversation with the parishioner, I’ll say only that my recollection is different than his.”
The half-page broadsheet ad ran as an open letter in The News Journal on May 14-16 and is reproduced at the pro-lifers’ web page,. It was headlined, “Pray for the President to Advocate for Life,” and included a prayer at the upper right that began, “Gracious and loving God, we come to you in humble prayer. Bless our President.”
A portion of the text said, “We write this letter with the utmost concern for the direction this president is leading our country in regard to the unborn. The president’s policies on abortion wholly contradict the Catholic Church’s core belief and scientific consensus that life begins at conception. . . .
“The prevalence of abortion is a fatal symptom of a larger moral malaise and lack of respect for life,” the parishioners wrote. “As someone who publicly professes his Catholic faith, Mr. Biden should surely confront this malady.”
The Wanderer did earlier articles about this challenge to Biden in its hardcopy editions of June 17 (p. 1A) and July 1 (p. 3A).
Moira Sheridan, the president of Delaware Right to Life, told The Wanderer on July 20 that Owens wanted an “optimistic” ad to go in a supplement welcoming new Bishop William Koenig to the Wilmington Diocese in July after Bishop W. Francis Malooly passed retirement age.
Sheridan recalled that the state pro-life group had run an ad in the supplement that welcomed Malooly upon his arrival as bishop, and The Dialog solicited the group’s ad this time around for successor Koenig.
“When Joe Owens called me about the ad, I knew what it was about: the ‘messaging’,” she told The Wanderer. “He questioned why we didn’t run a similar, optimistic message like last time and hoped we would change it to be more like the others. I told him the board spent a long time coming up with that message, with lots of back-and-forth, and that we were unwilling to compromise because it’s a message that needs to be heard.
“When asked why we didn’t want to run such a conciliatory message, I asked him, where has it gotten us? Where has it gotten the babies? He countered with something about it ‘closing the door’ on dialogue with the bishop, and I said that that particular message is something a LOT of people want to hear and you are effectively closing the door on that message and canceling our voice in the process,” Sheridan said.
“He asserted they wouldn’t print the ad as written and I said, so be it,” Sheridan said. “The board voted to run the ad in the local paper instead.”
Owens only commented to The Wanderer, “As for the special section, the messaging was in line with the title — ‘Welcome Our Shepherd’.”
Sheridan told The Wanderer that for this Dialog advertising supplement, “we discussed as a board the prospect of a more focused message, one that would address the obvious flouting of Catholic teaching by local Catholic politicians who present themselves publicly for the Eucharist at Mass while advocating strenuously for abortion on demand.
“Biden is obviously chief among these, but they include a number of high-ranking politicians, including the governor, mayor of Wilmington, state representatives and senators, and other key government positions,” she said.
“In short, we are awash with such ‘devout Catholics’ and thought it time to jettison the lukewarm message for one that fit our mission to ‘Defend innocent life from conception to natural death.’
“Millions of babies have died on these prelates’ and politicians’ watch and nothing changes,” Sheridan said.
As to the results of deciding to run the ad in The News Journal, she said, “Interestingly, we had a lot of support from pro-lifers who a few years ago would never have condoned such an ad. Many are fed up with the politicians and clergy who seem to work hand in hand to protect abortion.
“Delaware just passed two bills that further protect the abortion industry: one removes any punishment for doctors who kill women in the course of an abortion (HB 31) . . . and another allows abortifacient contraceptives to be given out without a prescription over the counter, including injecting said contraceptives (SB 105). . . . They await the Catholic governor’s signature,” Sheridan said.
“A bill to require women be given the option of looking at their ultrasound never made it out of committee despite almost 2,000 emails sent to legislators by constituents in favor of it,” she said.
“The time for lukewarm responses is over,” Sheridan said. “If Catholics don’t defend the Eucharist from heretical clergy and hypocritical politicians, they should expect such ads to be run. The war on babies and the vulnerable is a real war and we need to treat it as such.”
The Delaware Right to Life ad ran on one-quarter of a page in the broadsheet News Journal on Sunday, July 11, and began in bold type: “Delaware Right to Life welcomes Bishop William Koenig to the Diocese of Wilmington with an important message.”
The rest of the wording was in lighter type. It said: “We look forward to you providing the bold leadership your flock so desperately needs. Protect the sanctity of and increase respect for the Holy Eucharist by clarifying Church doctrine regarding the worthy reception of Our Lord.
“Refuse Holy Communion to Catholic politicians within your diocese who publicly oppose Church teaching on abortion, contraception, and end-of-life issues,” the ad continued. “In teaching ‘the fullness and the beauty of the Catholic faith,’ may the Holy Spirit give you the wisdom and fortitude to act courageously. The fate of many souls depends on your action.”

Bishop Wants To Talk To Biden

Owens did a long Q-and-A with Koenig that was posted at The Dialog’s website on July 18 but was conducted “several weeks” earlier. About halfway through, the editor questioned him about the diocesan pro-life office, then about Biden. Here are those exchanges.
“Q. The office of pro-life activities in the diocese has not had a director since the death of Fr. Leonard Klein in late 2019. What would you say to the pro-life advocates who believe the Church needs to be among the leaders in the fight against abortion?”
“(A.) I would certainly agree. We need to protect life and the sacredness of life from the moment of conception to natural death. And that there are different ways that we do that. Certainly, there’s prayer. Just this morning, one of the prayers in the universal prayer was the protection of all life.
“There’s developing programs that will help protect life and help people to have children. Provide for the needs of young parents or to-be parents. There’s the need to continue to make — who we are and what our faith tells us — make it known, in the public square also.”
“Q. We now have our second Catholic president of the United States in the nearly 250 years of our nation. President Biden is from Delaware and a regular churchgoer his entire life. There is a great divide in our diocese, as there also seems to be among leaders of our Church.
“Some of our local Catholics are proud to say our president is a Catholic. Others are quite the opposite — they believe he should be denied the Eucharist and some even say he should be excommunicated. What do you say to people who would like to engage in that conversation? People identify Joe Biden as being Catholic, but do the public policy positions of the president send a mixed message?”
“(A.) To me, this is something that has to be taken up with an individual. That’s the role of a pastor. And, so, I would welcome the opportunity. I’ve never spoken to President Biden. I would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with him. As a Catholic bishop, I am called to teach the fullness and the beauty of the Catholic faith.”

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