Letters to the Bishop

Guts and the Grace of God

Your Excellency:

It’s the lusty month of May, and you are doubtless zipping from parish to parish, dabbing chrism oil onto the foreheads of gawky teenagers.  (Incidentally, would you ever consider restoring the slap on the cheek that once accompanied this rite?  Several young people of my acquaintance could use one.)

As you and your driver cruise from Charlotte to Boone, from Winston-Salem to Franklin, perhaps you’ll find the time to read the enclosed article from Time. “The Grassroots Abortion War” is set here in Asheville, my hometown and a city of your diocese.  The article mentions Asheville’s diversity (a few years back, Rolling Stone called Downtown Asheville “the freak capital of the United States”), the occasional cultural clashes, the local crisis pregnancy center, the Orange Street abortuary, and some members of a conservative Presbyterian church who regularly meet with the abortion clinic’s staff to hold a “dialogue.”  What the article didn’t mention were the local Catholic churches and agencies.

This omission is both appropriate and damning, Your Excellency.  As you are surely aware, the rambling Victorian house next to the abortion clinic is the home of Catholic Social Services.  Some good old boys in these mountains could spit tobacco juice from the roof of that house and hit the abortuary parking lot.  Despite...

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