Ever since Archbishop Raymond Burke left St. Louis to take up his post at the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, the archdiocese has been under the care of the archdiocesan administrator, Bishop Robert Hermann, until a new ordinary is named in the near future. The son of fourteen children and a St. Louis native, Bishop Herman has marvelously demonstrated the kind of resolute leadership that committed Catholics across the nation are so desperately seeking. (As an aside: I've had the privilege of having dinner with Bishop Hermann on several occasions; on one of which, he was enthusiastically showing off the slick features of his new iphone. Snapping a picture of the food on the table, he said, "When you turn the phone this way, the photo adjusts to the new position of the screen!")
While perhaps lacking the star power of archbishops Burke or Chaput, the perennially cheerful Hermann nevertheless raised more than a few eyebrows with his forceful preaching on the priority of voting pro-life in the run-up to the Nov. 4 election. In his homilies, letters and, most recently, at the US Bishop's Conference in Washington, Hermann relentlessly hammered home the fundamental moral issue facing our nation in the debate over abortion. Evoking the courage of our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hermann passionately challenged his brother bishops to take seriously the moral imperative to boldly lead Catholics in confronting the unparalleled evil of legalized abortion. Many Catholics I've spoken to in St. Louis are pleasantly surprised, not by Hermann's uncompromisingly pro-life tone, which everyone expected, but at the degree to which he has risen to the occasion after the departure of Archbishop Burke and the forcefulness of his message to the US bishops. Speaking to his fellow bishops, Hermann delivered the following stern challenge:
"We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution. I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion. If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."
Asked to elaborate in an interview given after the conference to the St. Louis Review, the archdiocese's Catholic weekly, Hermann said the following:
We have campaigned to save baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians-which doesn't make any sense whatsoever...There should be 50 million more Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look around and say, "Where are they?" And, "I'm very lucky to be alive."
We are grateful for all the soldiers who have died to defend our freedom. But at the same time, we aren't making similar efforts to protect the unborn.
If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, it it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we're willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people.
On Obama's pro-abortion stance: "When he promotes abortion, he is, whether he knows it or not, targeting blacks, because they have been targeted by Planned Parenthood with abortion information and facilities in their neighborhoods. So he and Planned Parenthood are helping to reduce the African-American population in this country."
Where else, among our leaders, are we hearing this kind of clear instruction?
Three cheers for Bishop Hermann!